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Central America and Mexico Topics specific to Central America and Mexico only.
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  #1  
Old 16 Mar 2009
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Guatamala in a few days.. 20 MARCH

Hola,

Will be heading to Guatamala in a couple of days for the Central America module of our trip and just wondering as I surf through Horizons if anyone outthere who can give us a bit of a heads-up about the place.
Any tips or tricks for the border?
I hear there is a risk of bandito's, more there than the rest of the region?
I hate the thought of racing through countries 'to get somewhere safe'.

Anyway look forward to hearing from you, or even bumping into you if you're in these parts.

dylan
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  #2  
Old 16 Mar 2009
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Every country will warn you about the danger of the country to the south... Canadians think the US is dangerous. Americans think Mexico is dangerous. Mexicans think Guatemala is dangerous, etc.

It's all a little true, and all a little false. Depends on where you go. Guatemala, for the most part, is fine and I enjoyed my rides down there. Virtually every capitol city in Central America is dodgy, and we avoided them... though, mostly we avoided them because there are more interesting places to see!

Use common sense. Don't ride at night! Some dirt roads in Guatemala (I'm told) have a bandito problem - like the roads on the back side of Lago de Atitlan - but these roads are generally difficult to find.

As for the borders, always ask for a receipt if you have to pay for something. Try to not stand around looking stunned. Have lots and lots of patience. Remember, it's all part of the trip!
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  #3  
Old 17 Mar 2009
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My favorite "do not miss" place in Guatemala was Samuc Champey. You get to it through Lanquin, near Coban. It is a stunningly beautiful series of turquoise blue pools, with a river running in a cave beneath it. Worth the effort.
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  #4  
Old 17 Mar 2009
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Guatemala

Hi Dylan

We were in Guatemala in September 2008.
We only crossed the Guatemala/ Honduras border & it was fine. (4x4 not motorbike)
Your bike will probably be checked for drugs after the border but this is a painless experience & the border guards we met were polite, courteous & more interested in us & our vehicle & where we were from than an actual search.

Guatemala city can be hairy particularly at night. (We got lost hence night/dusk driving). Again the locals directed us to a policeman who escorted us to our destination safely. The locals told us to avoid zone 1.

Tikal is absolutely fantastic & well worth the visit. (Comparable to Machu Pichu!)The views over the tree canopies will never be forgotten. Make sure you take water as once in the reserve we only found two places to buy drinks & the reserve is vast. (In September Tikal was deserted.)

The roads through Guatemala are in good repair surrounded by some fanatic scenery.

We never had any issues with the Police checkpoints, when they realise you are Western they normally just wave you through. (The usual wave & a smile always has a positive reaction). Most of the Police wear “Anti corruption” badges & we were never asked for bribes or fined! (Unlike S America & Honduras)
Hopefully you will enjoy Guatemala as much as we did.

Have a fantastic trip.
Simon
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  #5  
Old 19 Mar 2009
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Dylan
Am now in Hutulco saw a gs and a ktm today but they just roared by me ,I tried to get their attention,anyway I to will be in Guatamala in 2 or 3 days .
Where are you and where are you going to cross?

I plan to visit Xela for a week and San Marcos San Marcos for a day to see a family I know there, then just kind of bum around.
Cal
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  #6  
Old 19 Mar 2009
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While in Guatemala

There are a few nice places in Guatemala, depending on wich border you enter from Mexico those places are closer. Here is a brief list of nice places:

Antigua Guatemala (colonial city funded in 1524)
Pacaya Volcano (active volcano, you could get closser to the lava rivers)
Atitlan Lake (bautiful lake surrounded by volcanos and small towns)
Semuc Champey (strange small lakes with cristaline water that formed like a bridge, where a river passes beneath them)

Regarding security is better to ride during sunlight, if you stay in Guatemala city try to avoid Zone 1, 3 and 8.

If you what more details or where to stay I could recommend you some places.

Regards!!!!
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  #7  
Old 19 Mar 2009
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Forgot to mention that if you need to perform any repair or buy something for your bike like tires, Guatemala City is the place for it in Central America, all major brand dealers are located here and major credit cards are accepted.
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  #8  
Old 22 Mar 2009
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In Guat right now! Semuc Champey is really great - and the trip there is fun. Didn't feel very safe in Guat City, but had a very positive experience at the capable service department at the BMW dealer there. Also had a midnight run in with a +50 person masked vigilante neighborhood protection gang roadblock while in a pickup truck "taxi" on the backside of Lake Atitlan that scared the pants off me - but there ended up being no problems. The roads are fun but the drivers are much more aggressive than in Mexico. Just expect cars coming at you in your lane around every corner and its fine. As for the border, crossed at La Mesilla and it was a quick 30 minute affair - immigration, aduana, bank, aduana, done. $40Q if I remember right. What else, yup, love the roads. Up at 3,000m the clouds blow by you on the CA1 and that is fun. The back road from the Atitlan to Antigua (not back up to CA1) was good fun too! Have a terriffic time!! J
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