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Old 01-18-2013, 09:08 AM   #31
Catours OP
Guatemala Tourer
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Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Guatemala
Oddometer: 153
Day 5: Soloma to Nebaj via Cuchumatanes and Laguna Magdalena

We got up this morning excited for the days ride. We were out of the door for an 8am start and started heading South towards the infamous Cuchumatane mountains. Here was the approximate route for the day:

The Cuchumatanes are the highest non-volcanic mountain range in Central America with altitudes ranging from 1600 feet to 13,000 feet. About 30 kms outside of Soloma we took a quick break at Piedras de Captzin:

From here we continued down to the turnoff for La Torre and Puerta de Cielo as recommended by GuateRider. This turned out to be a great morning of riding, basically just exploring the big park and turning down roads until we reached the end. Great views, big elevation climbs and lots of space all to ourselves! The ride up to the La Torre lookout was especially nice and we were treated with a view of at least 4 volcanoes including Tajumulco, highest peak in Central America.

Sign for the Cuchumatanes park

Then we took a quick ride down to Laguna Magdalena. Easy to miss this turnoff since the sign is only facing the Northbound traffic, you'll be looking for the "Siete Pinos" sign. From there you have a nice 17 kms into the countryside and to the entry of the park. Frenchy remembered GuateRider telling him "be sure you ride around the lake" so we decided we should ride down the footpath towards the lake. We should have realized the strange looks from the locals but again we rode too far in on a path wasn't meant for motos (deja vu with Cimarron). After several sections of steps up and down, footbridges, and rocks, we decided to park bikes and continue on foot. This is where we met up with a local motorcycle club - "La Cofradia". They were a big group of local riders from Nebaj/Quiche region - a mix of big quads and dirt bikes. Always nice to meet up with fellow riders and compare routes, machines, and stories. They were good guys and gave us one the best quotes from the whole ride. The park guard tried to charge us the tourist price for entry (Q20) and as I was explaining to him that we always pay the national price (Q10) because we work here in Guatemala - our new friend said "ellos estan mas Chapin de marimba!" translated: They are more Guatemalan than Marimba (the national instrument of Guatemala)! Needless to say, we only paid the Q10 entry. We hiked the rest of the way into the lake and enjoyed the views of this aqua green wonder. I will let the pictures tell the story:

Sign at the turnoff for the lake

After the lake, the guys invited us to follow them back to their camp for some food and drinks. Another example of the great hospitality I have experienced in Guatemala over the years. We drank, ate, and answered a lot of curious questions before finally continuing back towards Nebaj with part of the group down a great route with lots of mud and really cool roads.

We were late in the day and rode the last hour in darkness with an awesome full orange moon in the distance. We followed Eric on the quad back to Nebaj and directly to his Shell gas station. He had his guys at the station wash our bikes for free and then we finally said goodnight to the guys and found a place to crash. The Villa Nebaj is a nice place in town with really comfortable rooms and wifi in the lobby.

p.s. Frenchy hit a dog, I hit a sheep. Everyone was okay.

Day 5 Stats:

- Q23 breakfast
- Q58 gas in Tres Caminos
- Q40 dinner
- Q140 hotel
TOTAL: Q261, ~$34

188 kms today
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