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I know there has been a thread on this recently but I couldn't find it. I'd like to here from anyone who's been on the road crossing from Palenque to Tikal THROUGH EL CEIBO NOT the Frontera Echeverria way.
I believe there is a fully paved road route through El Ceibo and the only problem is that the Guatamala side do not have the facilities to stamp the bike in. A trip to the Belize border however will sort that out. Have I got this right? Am planning to be that way in about a week. Anyone else around?
If you scroll down my blog to 'viva mexico', there's a section when I crossed from Guatemala to Mex using the river crossing from a place called Bethel (I think, my maps were terrible though), it was west from the main road south of Flores (the turn off may have been from Sayaxche on Ruta 5) , I went to Palenque from there. Think it might be a different crossing from the one you mention but still an option.
Today I crossed from Palenque to Flores (near Tikal) on a fully paved road. This route is now totally up and running and will surely become the favourite route for bikes who want to get from Palenque to Tikal. Fully sealed road, 220 miles and the whole thing took us under 8 hours (left Palenque at 8, arrived at Flores 3:30)
We left Palenque at 8 a.m. A few miles out of town we took a road to the right, signposted as La Liberdad. It's a short cut towards Tenosique. After 30 miles you turn right (signposted Tenosique) and in another 30 miles you enter Tenosique. There is a PEMEX just as you enter town. About 500 metres past the Pemex is a hotel on the left (Don Juan I think) which, from the outside looked OK. It took us just under 2 hours and about 60-70 miles to get to Tenosique. But then we got lost in town for 30 minutes. After the Hotel, at the traffic lights, turn right and then there is a roundabout. I went left (third exit) and went into town. I think I should have just gone straight ahead...
From Tenosique to the border (El Ceiba) was about 45 minutes and 40 miles. Good road, but no services and nothing at El Ceiba. The Mexican side of the border has FULL services for checking out of the country. A Bancajeto to cancel your temporary import card for the bike in an air conditioned room. Unfortunately I didn't check whether they are open on Mondays, a previous thread said they are shut on Mondays. I was there on a saturday. Perhaps the next person who goes by can check. It took us 15 minutes to check out of Mexico!
Immediately as we crossed the border a guy stopped me to get the passports stamped. He's in the first (and only) white and blue building on the left. Took 5 minutes, cost nothing. He then points across the road to a parked up lorry on stilts. That's where you get the bike stamped in. The two guys in the “building” were fantastic. Friendly and helpful and absolutely no whiff of bribery at all. They apologized as the electricity wasn't working and I had to jump into a tuk-tuk to go to a photocopy shop as you have to have a photocopy of the Guatemalan stamp that has just been put in the passport. (Other photocopies needed were, driving license, passport photo page and Bike title)
Once I'd done that he got me my temporary Guatamala bike import papers and a sticker to put on the bike. Cost – 40 Queztals ($6) (There was a little mix up as he was worried about my bike being able to leave Guatamala as my license plate said “Alaska” not “USA” but we sorted that out.) This side of the border took about an hour but 20 minutes of that was me getting the photocopy. When we left they insisted on taking our photo on the bike. THAT'S never happened to me before at a border crossing.
We then had the wheels ceremoniously sprayed with something that cost 20 Q ($3) and we were on our way. Under an hour and a half for the whole thing and actually quite a pleasant experience. The El Ceiba side of the border has nothing in the way of hotels. But on the Guatamala side I did see a hotel on the right 500 meters into the country. Looked OK if you were stuck for somewhere, there's nothing else for 150 miles.
It took 2 hours 45 minutes to get to Flores, about 150 miles on a really good road (except for the topes). Total mileage from Palenque to Flores – 220. 150 miles from the last PEMEX in Tenosique to the first gas station I saw in Guatamala which was 20 miles before Flores. So fill up in Tenosique.
The businesses in El Ceibo will all gladly work with Pesos. The way things are going there may already be a bank or a bank machine in El Ceibo.
Don't sweat it, there is a bank in El Naranjo and certainly down the road to Tikal and to Coban there will be bank machines before you run out of gas.Even in El Naranjo they will accomodate pesos as before the new road this was the major boat landing point for traffic to and from Mexico on the Rio San Pedro
We're on our way there and thought I'd add a couple notes to the route from Palenque.
leaving the ruins continue straight until the roundabout and go left there (there's a supermarket just down the road on the right if you need to stock up)
After a wee bit you see the sign for La Libertad to the right.
The road comes to a T in La Libertad. You want to go left there. Shortly thereafter (couple miles maybe?) you will come to another intersection (almost a T) with a sign for Tensonique to the right.
We enjoyed the road to La Libertad (80 Kph and hardly any people Yay!) but beware of the sneaky potholes. Some are pretty big and hard to see in the dappled sunlight through the trees. Also, NONE of the topes are marked in any way and some of those sneak up on you too.
When you get to the edge of Tensonique there was a Police checkpoint where they're writing down everyone's name, plate number, and asking where you're coming from and going. Didn't seem to care about the panniers. To the right of the same intersection as the checkpoint you should see a sign for a California Autohotel. It's pricey ($450 pesos for a night with a garage) but it's, clean, nice, and has AIR CONDITIONING and wi-fi with good download speeds (for Mexico) the heat was killing us (my head's still throbbing a shower and an hour later). It should be noted that the rooms with two beds have twin sized beds, not full. So sharing one will be tight.
The first police Checkpoint in Tenosique is just in front of the Welcome to Tensonique sign (en Español). Look right at the intersection and you'll see a little no-name restaurant shack on the corner. There's a big smiley woman who runs the places and seemed to have fun communicating with us gringo's who could barely speak her language. The Empanadas were mediocre but the Carne Asada was great.
California Auto Hotel at that intersection had sheets of dubious cleanliness and we think it had bedbugs.
There are two Pemex Gas stations in Tenosique.
After the first one you'll go through a few intersections. Keep glancing right until you see one with a rotary at the next block. Go right. Go through the rotary. Keep going straight(ish) until the road comes to a T. Turn left and you'll immediately see a sign for El Ceibo and the second Pemex. Since you're probably doing this in the morning and you need a good breakfast consider stopping at the restaurant just after the Pemex on the right. The guy who seems to run it is nice, smiley, taught us a few words of Spanish, and thinks the big loaded bikes are cool.
After a little bit there is a sign for El Ceibo to the right. There you'll find another police checkpoint where they will write down your name and bike info again and ask where you're going and coming from.
At the border. It's pretty much as Lonesome George described it except you don't need your Title in Guatemala. You need your registration. Yes, in Canada they're the same thing, but for US folks just the registration is fine.
The Mexican side of the border is totally backwards. It's set up for people coming from Guatemala not going to it. Enter the Driveway thing, go to the last building. There's a little air conditioned room with Mexicanos on the window (far right door) where they stamp your passport out. Then move on to the next building (the middle one) have the guys check your paperwork against your VIN then they'll take you in to the wonderfully air conditioned building where the Banjacero will do their thing. When you're done there continue past the Aduano building (you never enter it) in the nothing to declare lane (as if you were entering the country) hang a U-turn and go back towards the building you went in first, drive past it and into Guatemala.
Small building on left in Guatemala. Money changers appear as if by magic. I think we got swindled for 100 pesos but it's possible I just miscounted. So be careful and hand the peso bills to them one by one and count as you go. Double check their calculator too, but save your coins. You'll need about 13 pesos for the Tuk Tuk ride to get copies of your passport stamp and return, 5 pesos for 2 photocopies (which may take a while as there wasn't electricity for the copier when I got there), and 20 pesos for the half-assed fumigation of your tires. Not sure why Lonesome George got charged Quetzales. Maybe that was a typo. The guy had a tupperware bucket full of pesos.
You could walk but it's nearly a mile and you probably don't want to leave your bike that long at customs. Plus you'll get a quickie view of the great marketplace.
in the customs truck you'll fill out your paperwork, sign a couple papers, get sent to the green bank trailer next door where he'll probably have to go turn on the generator to be able to turn on the computer in order to do something with the paperwork you were given, and give you something to take back to customs.
then go forward 20 feet to fumigate your wheels.
All very above board. Nothing even hinting at corruption (except the money changers).
125 miles from Tenosique to La Libertad where you'll find gas. Just after Mile Marker 551 is a passable looking hotel on the right with large gates (that probably never close).
Shortly after you leave town there will be a large fork in the road with San Francisco to the right. Going left appears to be the shorter distance to Flores, but it's also dirt. From the look of the start it's a wide well graded dirt road, but we were running short on time before sunset and wanted to get a hotel in Flores so we took the right which is paved all the way. The map claims this fork is in Sta. Rita but there is no sign of habitation near it.
At the end of San Francisco is a minor fork with the road mostly curving right. You want to take the left which is marked as going to San Benito.
Did the crossing last Sunday. Easy crossing, very helpful on the Guatemalan side. All the above info is correct and accurate as of last week. Wanted to verify rumor that the border is closed on Mondays. In fact, the entire border is open and fully operational every day of the week EXCEPT, THE MEXICAN VEHICLE IMPORT/EXPORT DESK IS CLOSED ON MONDAYS.
We headed off for the border about 8am the next day. The general exit was easy, although a little timely with all three of us. No hassles though. On the other side at the massive new El Ceibo crossing things were fairly smooth as well. Firstly we checked ourselves into the country at immigration and then moved on to check the bikes in. At El Ceibo there is no credit card facility to pay the Banjercito temporary vehicle import permit (TVIP). It is NECESSARY to bring $400 USD to pay the fee plus a little extra for other small fees. All in all it cost about $440 or so to exit and enter at El Ceibo and was quite an easy border crossing. Highly recommended!
we are currently in Palenque and we were thinking to cross tomorrow into Guatemala via El Ciebo crossing. Is the Banjercito office still closed on Mondays or now it is open all week?
If it is still closed, what do you suggest? Stay in Palenque 1 more day or just go to Tenosique?
You're probably on the road again by now, but my vote would be to head for Tenosique. The road from Palenque to there will probably take you longer than you're expecting. We generally prefer to get to borders as early in the day as possible to allow for more time to find somewhere to stay if things end up taking unexpectedly long.
Can't offer any info on the Benjercito being closed or not. But, I do know we didn't have to pay $400+ to get OUT of mexico.
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