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Old 2 Dec 2008
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Guatemala routes? - Atitlan to Flores

Im planning on travelling up from Lake Atitlan to Flores in a couple of weeks, then back down via Rio Dulce to Honduras (Copan) possibly after visiting Belize. Will be travelling on my GS but will be riding 2 up and was hoping to make the trip in 2 days. The most interesting route looks like going via Coban with an option to to go the northerly or eastern routes but is this viable in the time given it is mountain roads and not wanting to ride at night? Can anyone tell me what these roads are like and what kind of progress you can make? Or should we just take the main road through Guatemala City and up via Rio Dulce (ive heard the road north of San Pedro is new and very good)

Any advice much appreciated.

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Old 2 Dec 2008
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On time and your trip

While I havn't been the routes your discussing I did just drive down to Costa Rica on the Pan Am from the states.
General time guidelines to consider, a border crossing can take anywhere from a half hour (rare in my case) to 5 hours. I seldom have been able to put in more then 300 miles a day down here, and thats driving all day with the light. Any big city is going to be time consuming and more dangerous in ways, and the chances of getting lost and taking alot of time to cross are good unless your good at the language and your lucky.
Anyway that should give you an idea of time and distances. Down here you just can't plan on making great time. In Guatemala I left at 6 in the morning one day and arrived in El Salvador at 9 at night, maybe covering 2oo miles or so total. Between 2 hrs at the border and the road in Guatemala being closed for almost 5 hours, it was slow indeed. Driving at night while possible, is not recommended, if you do, 40 to 45 should be your max speed, and one unseen pot hole could end your whole trip.
The horses and stalled vehicles in the road with no lights are just a bonus to night travel that can be dealt with at a slow speed.
Good Luck!
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Old 2 Dec 2008
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I wo;uld go thru Coban/Semuc Champey on the way to Flores. If you go to Semuc Champey, return to Coban then up to Flores. There is a more direct route to Flores on the map but the road is very funky and desolate. If any mishaps occur it will be a lonely stretch.
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Old 3 Dec 2008
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Originally Posted by brianb View Post
I wo;uld go thru Coban/Semuc Champey on the way to Flores. If you go to Semuc Champey, return to Coban then up to Flores. There is a more direct route to Flores on the map but the road is very funky and desolate. If any mishaps occur it will be a lonely stretch.
A buddy and I did this route (north out of Lanquin) about a month ago. It was a beautiful mountain dirt road punctuated by occasional little villages. The road is dirt but in pretty good shape, certainly a few trucks a day pass by that way.

After an hour or two we ran into massive road construction - they're building a pretty major highway.

You can find pictures here.

This is what a lot of it looked like. I loved it:

You can definitely go from Lago Atitlan to Semuc Champey in one day, and from Semuc Champey to Flores in one day, even on the dirt roads. However, I would add at least a day to explore Semuc Champey. Stay at a place called El Retiro Lodge in Lanquin; very nice (in a fun upscale backpacker way) if it's not full of people.
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Old 3 Dec 2008
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Great stuff - thanks for your help! Looking forward to it.
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Old 3 Dec 2008
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For a great route fromAtitlan to Flores go nortwest to Huehuetenango and start north out of the city them pick up Ruta Nacional 7W .This goes east thru the higlands and valleys, small towns with hotels at regular intervals to San Cristobal Verapaz .Excellent curves ,secenry .Pavement this past April until the last 25 km which was a steep mountain climb and under construction , required a delay as they stop traffic for several hours at a time and finally open for the nighht just around 5pm. Construction should be continuuin g now, maybe getting near finish.
RN 7W winds up on CA 14 south of Coban about 20km,
From/ Coban it is an excellent paved highway north into the Peten via Sayaxche ( ferry) then to San Benito/Flores. Great ride, then from Flores take CA13 south to Rio Dulce
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Old 4 Dec 2008
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I just rode the route from Flores to Gautemala City via Rio Dulce, starting with CA13 to CA9. There was a little patch of construction between Flores and Rio Dulce, nothing that was too bad. Just east of Guatemala City there were delays with road resurfacing. I arrived just as traffic was allowed to continue.

CA13 and CA9 are not amazing choices, good roads, but not overly scenic. CA9 has a lot of truck traffic. I was interested to get to GU City quickly and the route worked for me. Your mileage may differ.
Peter B
NYC to Tierra del Fuego (and back!) 2012/2013

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Old 5 Dec 2008
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Flores Route

Three of us on GSs made that trek southbound last Jan. From Flores we went to La Libertad and then straight south through Coban and Salama (Hwy 5) and then Hwy 17 to CA 9 around Guat City to Antigua.

(We tried to avoid Guat City to the north but rain and road construction pushed us to go south all the way to CA9)

Until we got on CA9 the roads were lightly traveled and we made great time. Ferry crossing in a town I don't remember. We made this trek in a day. Spent a leisurly morning in Antigua and then short hop on to Lake Atitlan.
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Old 5 Dec 2008
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Thanks! I was thinking of taking HW15 from near Atitlan up to HW17 then across to Coben then Semuc Champey. Sounds like the HW17 must be almost complete now and HW15 up to it looks paved on Google Earth at least. Doesnt look a huge distance if you take this route, but if anyone knows any problems with HW15 in particular would be great to know. thanks again - its the start of quite a long trip and I dont want to scare my inexperienced passenger to early on!
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