Riders in Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua where should I go?

Discussion in 'Latin America' started by canoeguy, Feb 14, 2014.

  1. canoeguy

    canoeguy Been here awhile

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    Mexico seems to get all the love on this board but that is the start of my journey.

    So on my way to Panama tell me where in your country, in your opinion I must see. What would be a travesty to miss? What is your favorite spot?

    Mountains, beaches, dirt or pavement, let's hear it!
    #1
  2. BikeMex

    BikeMex Been here awhile

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    Hello Conoeguy

    Just have a look on this video and tell me if you like the places.

    https://vimeo.com/84584296

    Then I can give you some more informations about Riding in Nicaragua.

    If you come to Leon, visit us :1drink

    Hope to see you

    Jürgen
    #2
  3. Animo

    Animo Been n00b awhile

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    #3
  4. Solohobo

    Solohobo Been here awhile

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    It really depends on how much time you have, and your interest, and even time of year, weather wise.

    But if you bought a Lonely Planet/Moon/Roughguide guidebook for any country, there is over 200 pages of info and places of interest for each country.

    For Guatemala, which I spent 3 weeks in and just scratched the surface:

    Tikal Ruins/Flores/Peten
    Antigua
    Lake Atitlan
    Xela and the Highlands
    I have yet to get to Semuc/Lanquin, Nebaj, Rio Dulce/Livingston.

    For Nicaragua, I spent a week there:

    Granada, Massaya, Ometepe, San Juan del Sur, need to get to Estelli and the Sandanista/Coffee Country...

    Here is my list of CA tips.

    I suggest you get a mace for the GF, a knife in a market in Mexico, and both take self defense classes. Police and justice dont exist in Latin America, period.

    Here is my Central America on a motorcycle list, or car for that matter.

    You need to read up on Central America, get a guidebook like Shoestring or Roughguide, MOON or LP.
    1- Crime and petty theft is a major issue in Central America, I have been going there for over decade. I have hiked and traveled much of Guatemala, Dove in Honduras, and poked around Nicaragua. I go to Costa Rica for weeks at a time... You need to park the bike in a secure, guarded area at night, in a home or hotel hallways is best, you dont park on the street or left unattended. You cant leave anything unattended on the bike. Period.

    2 Camping, its not something that is recommended overall, its not safe, and gringos are targets for theft of belongings, you cant leave anything unattended.

    3- The main Pan Am Hwy is all 2 lane, thru mountians, no shoulders, and cargo trucks and nutty drivers, its nothing like the USA, and average speed is about 40MPH, 80KPH...the roads are often pot hole strewn and have washouts, landslides in rainy season.

    4- Rainy season is May to Dec, Hurricane season is from Aug to Nov, the peak rainy season is Oct, the Yucatan to Panama on the caribe side is a hit n miss. Costa Rica/Panama in Oct early Nov best avoided, its daily heavy rains, key parks are closed, and many beach towns shutter for the month of Oct/

    5- You need the title to the bike in your name, which needs to match your Passport. You also need to hit borders in early AM, as you need to que up to get out of one country, and then que up again and go thru processes taht can take 2-6 hours of paperwork, import fees, insurance and copies of copies of copies to 4 different office on the border...The bike will go in your Passport, you cant leave the country without it...or else pay import fees and taxes, usually more than 100% of the value of the vehicle, which they determine the value, not you, and its not in your favor. have 12 clear pages in Passport for CA.

    6-You cant enter Panama without a "Proof of Onward Travel" as of late via bus or flight, meaning you need a flight, so check into that, as you have a vehicle.

    7- Capitals are best avoided, though the main Pan Am connects them all. They are polluted, congested, crime ridden not a good place to get lost as a gringo on a nice bike.

    8- Budget, a backpacker can go thru CA staying at hostels, eating local food (rice/beans) for $25 day, $40 day private room/cabina/bath, $60 day for nice, and $100 day to eat and stay in gringo level places.

    9- Best camping options are in National Parks with ranger stations, Costa Rica has the most options, great hiking, super scenic roads and varying climates and eco systems.

    10- Do you plan to take spanish immersion? This would help the trip huge, and also open many more doors for staying with locals and pitching a tent on private property. Tent camping in hot, humid, rains for hours on end is no fun, promise, I am a huge camper, fishing and hiking person.

    11- Dengue Fever is a issue in rainy season, cover up. Get Typhoid, Dyptheria and Hep A-B (Hep B is sexually active) and a Tetanus booster

    12- You should buy mace and a good knife once in CA, have a smoked face shield, and dont take routes you dont know if its not safe, drug traffickers and gangs are a issue, you need to know where not to go, they usually dont mees with a foreigner, but if they do, your most likely good as dead..

    13-ATM Debit Card with No Foreign Transaction fee and a low Non Netrwork Fee.

    14- Medical Insurance that covers a motorcycle, and also has evacuation insurance, the majority of CA is rural, and hours to a decent hospital, otherwise it is crude clinics that have old xray equipment (if lucky) few english speaking medical personnel, and access to a MRI or Cat Scan will only be in the capitals, and you have to pay first. If serious trauma (motorcycle accidents usually are) then you need to get to Houston/Dallas, Miami, on a MedVac plane, commercial flights wont allow sick people to fly. Thats $50K.

    15- Dont plan to rider more than 4-5 hours a day, the sun is intense in CA, roads are small and you need to be alert, on defense, its fatiguing and stressful in a car, muchless a moto....

    16- Wear full protection, full face helmet (tons of bugs and gravel on roads in tropics) back protector, waterproof riding suit, not a rain suit, these will be like a sauna in 95 degree and 100% humidity. Riding pants and boots, not shoes. Stay hydrated too, major heat and sweating is non stop.

    17- Get a good GPS, waterproof, signs and roads are not well marked and not easy to figure out.

    18- You will share the road with farm animals, farm equipement, people, children as there is no where else for them to walk to town, school, home, bus stops...

    19- Many countries have new motorcycle laws, you need to wear a bright vest in Costa Rica now. Helmet laws are enforced with vigor.

    20- Read the "Driving the Americas" website and forum.

    21- If you take your time and kick back, know some spanish, its a epic journey with rich culture, beautiful vistas, amazing scenery, nature and wildlife, ecu systems, warm hearted and salt of the earth locals.

    22- 99% of tourist/travelers visit CA and have a great time no issue, so have some street smarts, know where not to go, and be careful at night, as its when most shit happens.

    23- *******Dont travel at night, ever, ever ever**********get to where you need to be by 3pm, it gets dark 530-6pm.
    #4
  5. ThirtyOne

    ThirtyOne unfiltered

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    Everything above, especially #23. Never ride at night. I've been in Honduras for 2 years, teaching. I lived in eastern Honduras and now am in the middle of the country between the two major cities. Hit me up if you're planning on coming through.
    #5
  6. canoeguy

    canoeguy Been here awhile

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    Wow solohobo,

    Very appreciated. I guess a bit about what is up will help. I am moving to Panama. So I am riding the bike there first, leaving the bike and then returning and collecting the wife and flying back down.

    I have spent time in Costa Rica and Panama, but not the other countries I will be riding through.

    I will have medjet and I will avoid known trouble spots. I was a Marine grunt and have six years of mixed martial arts under my belt. I just resigned as a deputy sheriff. So I guess I am about as prepared as I can be without a gun. I also am very aware of my mortality and will do my best to avoid any issues. I always carry a knife for utility and often a machete when on the property in Panama but I think that could get me in trouble just riding around with one:D Though a breaker bar or an E-tool is innocent enough an good to have anyway.

    I honestly don't anticipate any trouble. However I am always a reserved and somewhat suspicious guy. I tend to always be prepared. I am one of those guys who won't sit with his back to a door. I also have experience in places where they are much less friendly to Americans than C.A.

    I will be taking a month and a half or so for this trip. And a week of spanish immersion may happen if it works out. I don't have a schedule per say. Just see the world a bit. I love ancient cultures and nature. Especially nature.

    I have my title and I won't spend any time on the pan American if I can help it. I will not ride at night. I will avoid most cities like the plague.

    So keep it coming guys. I am taking notes and trying to figure out what I must see. Thanks.
    #6
  7. GuateRider

    GuateRider Long timer

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    Since you are cross posting this same post all over the forum for the last couple of days, I thought a correction is needed .
    All your points I'm not referring to are mostly OK

    Some police officers are corrupt , in some country more then in others , but they do exist and they are not all bad ! At least in Guatemala I have not heard of any rider being asked for a bribe .

    #1 Crime is an issue for us locals , we have issues with kidnapping or burglars . Travelers are not affected by this problems ; petty theft does happen .

    #3 WRONG The Panamericana in Guatemala is for 80 % a new 4 lane road with shoulders ; traveling speed can be way over 40 MPH . But you are right, nothing like the US : No Highway Patrol and no speed limits :evil

    #5 WRONG You can very well leave the country without your bike (many people have stored their bikes in my place while the flew back home) . You just need to be back and take the bike out of the country before your TVIP expires.


    #7 Big cities are all alike , not only in CA . You get in the wrong neighborhood in any big city of the world and you better find a way how to get quickly out of there. As far as congested ...they all are a piece of cake compared to rush hour on the freeway in LA


    #12 Buying mace and a knife ?? That's :topes !! Never bring a knife to a gunfight!
    If you should get robbed , the other guys will have a gun or at least a machete; and they are not some Indiana Jones gringos with a recently bought knife , they have been carrying whatever they carry for years and they know how to use it.
    You are right about drug traffickers not messing with tourists , so there is no need to worry about ending up dead


    #15 4-5 hours riding a day is a good advice , because it gives you time to see something . But if you have to, riding the same amount of hours as up north is not a problem .The heat and sun is not more intense as it is in Arizona or Nevada . Just like you said , don't ride at night for any reason !


    #17 A good paper map might work better in CA then most of the GPS maps




    Don't read any newspapers , don't believe anything you hear on TV , don't read too many travel guides , just use common sense and don't worry . Remember you are a guest in another country,be respectful with locals and the local laws and regulation (even if you don't understand them) and you will have a great time :freaky
    #7
    Oblio likes this.
  8. canoeguy

    canoeguy Been here awhile

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    OP here, Just to clarify my feelings on #12. I have never felt in danger in Panama or Costa Rica. I don't let myself get to that point by being in the wrong place.

    I don't harbor any Indiana Jones illusions. but I do carry myself with confidence, not arrogance and generally I don't feel like most people who are criminals are looking for a struggle or a fight. They want a soft easy target. I am certainly not saying to fight as that may get you killed. That is for each person to decide if they will resist. Just looking like you are aware of your surrounding area can be enough to dissuade many thugs.

    I can tell you this. A knife is deadly. extremely so and they do massive tissue damage. In law enforcement there is a "21 foot rule" basically stating that a knife wielder in this zone is an immediate and deadly threat and constitutes a good reason to defend your life with deadly force. So if anyone encounters an assailant with a knife, don't be stupid.

    The flip side of this is violence of action. I have seen many instances where an aggressive response can stop an assault. But in my experience the victim has to be 100% committed and 100% ready to carry out the counter. Most people are not mentally prepared for this.

    Now having said all of that...I read about the folks in Nicaragua who on a deserted road while riding have a gunman step out and stop them and proceed to rob them. Why would you stop? why would someone assume that they would not kill you after you stopped? Failed logic if you ask me.

    I fully expect to ride through all of these countries and feel fine about my surroundings and safety. I fully expect to have fun and laugh and enjoy myself with locals. I fully expect to have zero issues at all for that matter. After all I am riding a KLR!
    #8
  9. ThirtyOne

    ThirtyOne unfiltered

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    Here in Honduras it's a good idea to read the guides and newspapers to find out what's going on where. Many Departments have drug trafficking routes and roads filled with bandits. Definitely places to stay away from.
    #9
  10. DaveCR

    DaveCR Been here awhile

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    Canoeguy.. In regards to Nicaragua.. Safest Country in CA.. I've been living there for 3 years and now I get it's true.. There are bad barrios in Managua, which is natural from every big city.. But the rest of the country, super safe.. Friendly people.. Willing to assist when you need help.. While on the road, just be careful to follow the basic road signs.. Police is usually hidden next to a tree or after a curve where they have good visibility.. If by any chance you get pulled over, try to explain you have learned your lesson and you will not do it again.. If they give you a ticket they will remove your driver's license.. Be nice.. Talk to the guys.. If you have not received a ticket within the next 5 min you got pulled over you will probably get out of it..

    Places.. Matagalpa, Selva Negra, Esteli.. Nice places.. Go to La Calzada at Granada and have a beer at night.. If you have time take a little lancha and take the tour to visit the little islands.. Go to Laguna de Apoyo, spend some relaxing time at the monkey hut..

    Enjoy your ride.. Let me know if you need any help!


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
    #10
  11. Kcizik

    Kcizik Adventurer

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    Agree with the above, Matagalpa and jinotega are by far some of my favorite rides. Def. spend a night or two at the laguna de apoyo.
    #11
  12. Solohobo

    Solohobo Been here awhile

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    Hey Guaterider I appreciate your input. Ahh yes, CA-2 is 4 lanes now, my error. But between rains and washouts, it can be two lanes in rainy season, and shortly there after...

    Is a motorcycle different then a car? Its is my understanding, the vehicle goes in your Passport as a Visa of sorts, so leaving the country without the vehicle, is not possible, saying you will be back in time to customs/immigration will not fly.

    That is why its hard to buy a car in the USA, and sell in CA, as you need to import it, to get it out of your Passport, so you can leave without paying the import fees/taxes. Is it different for a moto?

    Costa Rica is the only country I am aware of, where you dont get the vehicle in your Passport, so, you could leave it there, and never come back for it with no penalty. Otherwise, you need to have proof you sold it , with paperwork of importation all buttoned up, otherwise, they will hit you with a import fees/taxes. which can be 100% of the value of the vehicle.

    Is a motorcycle different?
    #12
  13. BikeMex

    BikeMex Been here awhile

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    Hello,
    they don't stamp your vehicle in your passport in Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Panama and the north of these countries I'm not sure in the moment.
    You are only allowed to park your vehicle as long as your Permit says. In Costa Rica for example 90 days, in Nicaragua only 30 days. In Honduras 90 days.

    Riding is dangerous in the night of course and be aware of animals, cows and horses are always a problem.

    In Nicaragua you will have not much traffic beside the cities and the PanAm highway. It's very good for riding. And the best riding is in the northern mountain area of course.

    Ometepe Island is also very nice to visit. But a big part of the road there is a sandy and rocky gravel road. Many people think it's a good road around, that's not true.

    If you come from Honduras to Leon. Visit us and I can give you a lot of information for your trip. We have even cheap guest rooms.

    Good trip

    Jürgen
    #13
  14. canoeguy

    canoeguy Been here awhile

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    Thanks, for the great info guys. Keep it coming. And Jurgen I very well may come and see you.

    Now let me throw this out there...Is there anywhere that you guys would recommend a very obvious gringo would best avoid. I know about areas of Mexico best avoided. and I know of the dirt road near Atalan. Anywhere else?


    Edit: In fact Jurgen, I may take advantage of a week of Spanish lessons!
    #14
  15. GuateRider

    GuateRider Long timer

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    The Panam is actually CA-1 and not CA-2 and even in El Salvador it is mostly a 4 lane highway . It is still a miracle to me how an eventual washout can turn 700 KM of 4 lane highway into a 2 lane road :evil:evil

    And yes , a motorcycle is different then a car , but when it comes down to the TVIP they are the same . You can leave them both in the country while you leave it and come back before the TVIP expires and go on with your vehicle .

    And as far as it being difficult to sell an US car here in CA , that's also wrong . Over 60 % of the cars in Guatemala came into the country as used vehicles from the US...
    And it's not difficult neither for a bike , I have helped several inmates doing it.It doesn't take more then a couple of days until you have your local license plates.

    Like every where in the world, for imports you have always to pay duties .
    The value of the vehicle will be defined by the Aduana/Customs only , if you don't have an invoice to backup the real price paid for the vehicle originally.


    And BTW , all this information is first hand(I've done it personally) it doesn't come from the internet or any overrated travel guide

    Salud:freaky
    #15
  16. GuateRider

    GuateRider Long timer

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  17. AndyT

    AndyT Been here awhile

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    Is this the same macadamia farm that the touts in Antigua try to sell tours to, or is this a different one? And is there more than one?
    #17
  18. GuateRider

    GuateRider Long timer

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    There is only one , so it must be the same .

    But the guided tour of the farm is FREE , and so are the samples of salted and chocolate covered macadamia nuts .

    It's like the border crossing : Don't pay any helpers, it's free and easy to do it by yourself
    #18
  19. TeeVee

    TeeVee His mudda was a mudda!

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    jurgen,

    he will be on a klr. the ometepe road is fine for that.
    #19
  20. BikeMex

    BikeMex Been here awhile

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    Hello TeeVee

    The bike says nothing about if the rider want or can ride this kind of gravel roads :D

    I only want to warn him. I know other riders which had a bad surprise riding this road.

    Saludos Jürgen
    #20