Guatemala was calling, we just had to decide which way to get there. Through Yucatan and Belize, back towards San Cristobal or the loop, along the Guatemalan border past Bonampak, Yaxchilan and the Montebello Lakes. We decided on the road less travelled and take the loop. According the guide books, the road hasn’t been paved all that long so it sounded a bit more adventurous. Ruth and Merv decided to come with us, the Belize option being an expensive one.
First, however, we wanted to see the Mayan ruins at Palenque, the town itself is largely unmemorable, the only good thing about it was we stayed in a hotel with excellent parking and a pool!! All for 50 pesos each a night. Normally the only pools we get are on the bathroom floor, just a pity it was too cold to take advantage and go for a swim.
The ruins at Palenque were as spectacular as I remembered ,the sheer size of the site and the jungle setting making it so memorable.
The next day we left our posh hotel and headed towards Bonampak. No sooner had we left the main road from Palenque, the rain began, at first just a light drizzle but then full on, we were glad we were taking the paved road and not some of the muddy tracks that branched off. We reached Bonampak in about 3 hours, parked the bikes and were taken by the local Lancandonian Indians to the ruins.
The rain actually stopped for the couple of hours we were looking round the ruins, which were worth the ride, but kept up for the rest of the day. Accommodation was a bit tricky to find, due to signs that pointed off to non – existent campsites or cabanas in the jungle. Tarmac turned to dirt (read mud) as the daylight threatened to disappear before we were safely off the road.
We found a place across an interestingly constructed bridge
that had wooden huts in the jungle for an ecological rather than economical price, but it was preferable to camping. As we lugged our stuff from the bikes, down the ever darker jungle paths the rain continued. I read that there were only an average of 3 rainy days in November in Mexico, I think we have had all Decembers rain too. Good news for those here this month then!!
We survived our night in the jungle, despite the spiders, mosquitoes and our own cooking. It wasn’t actually raining the next day, so we set off for the Lagos de Montebello, several beautiful lakes near the border, hardly visited and a great place to camp, walk and swim – ha, we should be so lucky!!
The road, was in the morning rather boring, only made a little more interesting by the military checkpoints about every 75kms. The same routine; stop, hand over passport and tourist card, chat politely until all details entered onto their forms then off we go with a smile and a wave. The afternoon brought much more interesting scenery and roads and less checkpoints, manned ones anyway. The hillsides were jungle and the road wound up and down through the mountains. At one point we were so high, and in cloud so thick, we couldn’t see more than 15m or so ahead.
Unfortunately this cloud followed us and discharged its rain as we entered the Montebello National Park. So, as we rode past, we could only just make out the lakes I had so wanted to see. There was no point staying by the lakes in the rain, so we rode straight on to Comitan and checked into a hotel with hot showers!! It would have been a great trip, but for the weather!!
An early morning start is the norm for border crossing days, however, with only 160 km’s to ride today and news from other travellers that the border at Ciudad Cuautémoc / La Mesilla is reasonably quick and painless we took it a little easier.
We almost missed the Mexican side, but got stamped out and received confirmation that we had exported our bikes. It was all very calm, with only a few people hanging around, and the odd bus coming from the direction of Guatemala. Odd, I thought, this being a Saturday too, I expected a little more to be happening.
We then rode the 4km’s to the Guatemalan side – a completely different story!! It was like Piccadilly Circus, there were so many people that we could hardly drive our bikes through. Helpful bystanders pointed out where we needed to go, first stop was the fumigator who sprayed our bikes for 18.60 Quetzals each. Of course we hadn’t got quetzals yet, so off to find the money changers, ah the “helpful bystanders” should have guessed!! After a bit of haggling we changed our pesos, paid the fumigator and then headed to immigration. Another stamp, a piece of yellow paper and 30 pesos lighter (good we didn’t change all of our pesos!) then it was the turn of customs. This took a little longer, photocopies of everything, forms filled out, data entered into a computer, into the bank next door to pay 46 Quetzales, then we were given a blue sticker for the bike and they wished us a nice stay in Guatemala.
I somehow don’t think that other borders are going to be as easy as this. After all the formalities were finished with, we chatted to Robert, a Spanish guy travelling on a Brazilian registered XT, who was coming into Mexico. Swapped information and our last pesos, then it was time to do some riding in our third country.Posted by Sian Mackenzie at December 01, 2002 10:00 PM GMT
Our veteran travellers share their tips (and great stories) for staying healthy, happy and secure on your motorcycle adventure.
"A fantastic, informative and inspirational DVD."
"It's brilliant - thank you very much!"
Check it out at the HU Store! Remember to use Coupon Code 'ONTHEROAD' on your order when you checkout.
Next HU Events
- Canada West: Aug 21-24
- USA North Carolina: Sept. 4-7
- France Mini: Sep 5-7
- Canada Ontario: Sept. 11-14
- NEW! UK - Haggs Bank: Sept. 19-21
- USA California: Sept. 25-28
- Aus Queensland: Oct 3-6
- Aus Perth: Oct 10-12
- Aus VIC: Oct 24-26
- NEW! Aus NSW: Oct 31-Nov 2
- NEW! South Africa: Nov 13-16
- NEW! HUMM Morocco: May 13-16, 2015
What others say about HU...
"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA
"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada
"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia
"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders
10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!
NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!
Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!
What turns you on to motorcycle travel?
Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!
New to Horizons Unlimited?
New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!
Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.Read more about Grant & Susan's story
Membership - help keep us going!
Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.
You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.
Books & DVDs
All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.
MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!
Story and photos copyright © All Rights Reserved.
Contact the author:
Editors note: We accept no responsibility for any of the above information in any way whatsoever. You are reminded to do your own research. Any commentary is strictly a personal opinion of the person supplying the information and is not to be construed as an endorsement of any kind.
Hosted by: Horizons
Unlimited, the motorcycle travellers' website!
You can have your story here too - click for details!