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Route Planning Where to go, when, what are the interesting places to see
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  #1  
Old 15 Dec 2007
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Question Guatamala, lake Atitlan safe?

Hi everyone,

I'm currently in Zihjuatenejo, Mexico planning to enter Guatamala soon, in the next ten days. I've heard many nice things about Lake Atitlan and was wondering if anyone had any first-hand experience of the area.
I've heard there are dangerous areas around the lake but nothing specific. Antigua is also on my list, but nothing more than that. Are there other areas that would be worth visisting?
If anyone would like to meet-up for a coffee, , or whatever and discuss our respective journeys let me know.
Having a great trip so far, Mexico is great, just watch the other 'drivers' and stay alert. Hwy 200 from Zihjuat. to Manzanillo was a glorious ride, the Pacific coast to my right and moutains to my left, all under a canopy of shade trees above me and flawless, perfectly cambered pavement beneath my wheels! Some of the prettiest coast line I've ever seen.
Thanks alot!
Jeffmeister
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Old 16 Dec 2007
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I was in the Lake Atatlan area in October. There were some reported problems with hijackers on some of the dirt roads around the lake. It is best to ask the locals. A good place for information and coffee is the cross roads cafe in Panjachel. It was pretty rainy when we were there but still a great looking area.

If you are coming in through CA 2 there was heavy construction going on. Good and bad. The bad was heavy equipment and some muddy construction areas. The good was just go to the front of the line. No waiting they just waved us through. Dodge the heavy equipment but no traffic .

We also enjoyed Antigua. Get used to lots of cobblestone streets. The hike to the volcano is interesting, watch you don't burn your shoes. Be prepared for lots of young men with shotguns. These are guards. Everywhere. Really, the coke truck had a guard. Having said that we had no trouble in Antigua. I would't wonder around Guat city though.

Have a good time, we did. No major problems.

--chris
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  #3  
Old 16 Dec 2007
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The dirt road between San Pedro and Santiago has the banditio history and it's in the process of being paved. May take a while, but it'll get there.

I rode this a few years ago without problem, although that guarantees nothing.

You'll enjoy the area and I highly recommend San Pedro.
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  #4  
Old 17 Dec 2007
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Going into Panajachel, use only the northern route through Solola. That's the way I came in. I didn't want to back track out on my way through Guat. city and asked the locals about the southern route out of Panajachel. Every single one said they would not take the southern road (through Patzun, if memory serves me). When I was in Panama city, I met two bikers from New Zealand that were held up at gun point along that very same road I wanted to take. Luckily, they didn't loose their bikes, relieved of several hundred bucks! Made me glad that I went out the same way I went in.
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Old 17 Dec 2007
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Mexico to Guatemala

Zia is a great place. I was there on two occassions , and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

On the way to the fronterra, you may wish to stop in at Mezunte & Zipolete(nude) beaches. They are better than any postcard.

Two hours further on is Huatolco which is both a world heritage site and national park. Consisting of 9 bays and 36 beaches, it has a town with all of the amenities, fine dining, great music and lots of people having a fabulous time. I spent 1 week there in 2006 and 11 weeks at the beginning of 2007.

After that you can ride down to Tapachula and cross into Guatemala which is what I did. Cross in the morning because it gets very busy, very quickly!

An alternative is to ride up into the mountains of Chiapas and visit the Spanish colonial town of San Cristobal de Casas. I spent Christamas of last year there. If you like jazz, blues and excellent live music , make a point to visit the Da Da Club which is one block from the central park.

From there you can ride the Pan American down to Antigua which will take about 8 hours.Antigua is a larger version of San Crist, but busier.

When I went to Lake Aititlan, I took the advice of the lady who owned my hotel. I took a bus for about $10 bucks which took me to the point to get a boat. I spent 3 days in several locations on the lake. The lake is obviously polluted which was confirmed by several foreigners who were there trying to mitigate the problem. Being from Canada, a country of mountains and big lakes, it did not lift me spiritually. The Israellis loved it though!

I went up to Tikal and visited the Mayan ruins, the Copana Ruinas in Hondiras and rode along the Caribe coast.

Thus far, on my entire trip from Mexico to Ecuador, including Colombia, I have never felt uncomfortable or at risk.

Enjoy the ride!!
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  #6  
Old 18 Dec 2007
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Smile Thanks for the advice

Thanks everyone! I appreciate you all taking the time to give me your advice. If you have any more regarding getting through Central America, safely but at the same time seeing some sights and enjoying a good ride please fill me in.
I didn't have alot of time to research this trip as well as I could have so any help is greatly appreciated.
How is the Carribean coast as opposed to the Pacific? Would anyone recommend getting off the Pan American hwy at all?
I hope to see some of you on the road soon!

Thanks,
Jeffmeister
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  #7  
Old 25 Dec 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeff akins View Post
Hi everyone,

I'm currently in Zihjuatenejo, Mexico planning to enter Guatamala soon, in the next ten days. I've heard many nice things about Lake Atitlan and was wondering if anyone had any first-hand experience of the area.
I've heard there are dangerous areas around the lake but nothing specific. Antigua is also on my list, but nothing more than that. Are there other areas that would be worth visisting?
If anyone would like to meet-up for a coffee, , or whatever and discuss our respective journeys let me know.
Having a great trip so far, Mexico is great, just watch the other 'drivers' and stay alert. Hwy 200 from Zihjuat. to Manzanillo was a glorious ride, the Pacific coast to my right and moutains to my left, all under a canopy of shade trees above me and flawless, perfectly cambered pavement beneath my wheels! Some of the prettiest coast line I've ever seen.
Thanks alot!
Jeffmeister
My friends are 2 up on a klr there right now. I´ll let you know if they get in trouble!
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  #8  
Old 27 Dec 2007
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Originally Posted by jeff akins View Post
Would anyone recommend getting off the Pan American hwy at all?
Hell ya! Get off the PanAm. I highly recommend heading over to the north/eastern shore of Costa Rica heading south through Puerto Limon along the coast. Highway 36 if memory serves me. Puerto Viejo, CR (far eastern edge of CR nearing the border of Panama) is a lovely place with nice beaches and great surfing. At the dead end, a little further down from Puerto Viejo, is Manzanillo, a really small beach front town thats great to hang out in.

From there take the "Banana" Bridges into Panama. These are old train trestles once used to transport Chaqita(sp?) bananas via trains to the port and now converted for into single lane bridges for automobiles. Essentially, two rows of end to end 2x8's laid on the railroad ties along the outer edges of the old train tracks. They weren't the scariest bridges I crossed during my run to Tierra del Fuego, but they were enough to make me grip the handle bars a little tighter. The border crossing, which consists of the first Banana Bridge, is small and extremely easy to get through with your bike. It was one of the easiest border crossings I had in Central America. The ride south, back to the PanAm is wonderful, twisty, beautiful and well paved. Some maps don't show this road going all the way back down to the PanAm(just east of David), but it does. You can also make a side trip to Bocas del Toro, I didn't do this, but others have said they are some really nice islands to relax on. Don't think you can take your bike to the islands though.

This side trip was one of my favorites of Central America. Give it some serious thought. You won't regret it.
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