What 2 Moto Guides Do With A Week Off: Guatemala

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by Catours, Jan 2, 2013.

  1. Catours

    Catours Guatemala Tourer

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Guatemala
    As the titles says, we are two motorcycle tour guides at CATours in Antigua, Guatemala. We had the week off between Christmas and New Year's, of course we took off to explore the lesser known spots in this awesome country. If you like enduro style riding, this is one of the best routes I could imagine in Guatemala. We got a few suggestions from fellow inmates here in Guatemala - GuateRider and RichSuz, besides that we just took a map and figured it out along the way.

    The riders:

    Me (Chris), southern boy from GA with 3 years of guiding in Guatemala under his belt. Riding a 2007 Yamaha TTR250.

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    "Frenchy" (David), our guide from Quebec, riding his 2007 Suzuki DR200. By the way, he found out his mono shock was shot just before this trip. We priced one in the capital and Suzuki wants Q5,000 (~$650), what the f*#K. I found one on ebay for $50 and he decided to continue on the trip anyways, while it was in transit down here. Ever ridden on just the spring, Frenchy can tell you more.

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    The area:

    We run a lot of trips out of Antigua to popular tourist destinations, mostly around the black circles - see below. We decided to check out a new area, NW from Antigua, crossing through the HueHue, Quiche, and Alta Verapaz regions - red circle.

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    #1
  2. Comrade Art

    Comrade Art Working stiff

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    Guatemala is squeezed between 4 different countries so you don't hear to much about it.
    Looking forward to your report and pics :thumb
    #2
  3. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

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    awesome. i spent 3 weeks traveling around Guat. and looking forward to your RR. we did Flores/Tikal, Rio Dulce, Atitlan/Pana/San Pedro, Chicicastenango and Antiqua.
    #3
  4. Cal

    Cal Been here awhile

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    Great!
    Guatemala is one of my favorite countries and I am also thinking of buying a DR200.
    #4
  5. eddie98

    eddie98 Been here awhile

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    what part of GA are you from?
    #5
  6. Catracho

    Catracho Adventurer

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    Good luck on the trip. I lived in El Remate for 2 years and rented out my 200cc yumbo's when I was there. I did many tours around Lago Itza, and ruin trips up to Yaxha and Nakum. Incredible riding up there and a nice place to camp. I recommend the smaller bikes as you can take them anywhere. Also go to Uaxactun, 25 km passed Tikal. I swear I saw a jaguar on the trip back to Remate. Do a trip of the lake and stop at La Lancha, Francis Ford Coppola's slum. Any questions let me know, also if you're hiring.
    Cheers
    #6
  7. KMC1

    KMC1 There is no spoon.

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    Dang!!!

    You guys should have called! I wanna to! :freaky
    #7
  8. Catours

    Catours Guatemala Tourer

    Joined:
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    Grew up in Savannah and then lived in Atlanta for about 12 years between school and work.
    #8
  9. Catours

    Catours Guatemala Tourer

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    How long ago were you renting bikes? I've been here 3 years but CATours has been around since about '99... hadn't heard anything about rentals up there. How'd the Yumbos hold up? Had a friend buy one to ride to Costa Rica with me last year and it was a POS, but I kind of figured that from the beginning.

    Last time I was up in Peten, I did the lap around Lago Itza - not a bad ride. Good rope swing near Flores!
    #9
  10. Catours

    Catours Guatemala Tourer

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    Where do you want to buy it? There are a lot down here and I think Frenchy will be selling in the next few months.
    #10
  11. Catracho

    Catracho Adventurer

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    I was in El Remate from 09 to last year, before then I was in Copan Ruins for 3 years. I actually was impressed with the Yumbos. I bought them new in San Pedro Sula, Honduras for about $1300. They of course are not the quality of Japanese bikes, but with enough duct tape, string and wire they will hold together. I had over 12000miles on them, no issues at all.
    #11
  12. Catours

    Catours Guatemala Tourer

    Joined:
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    Day 1, Christmas Eve. We got an early start and hit the road at 6am from Antigua with Lanquin (Semuc Champey) as our destination. Here was the general plan:

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    About 30 minutes into the ride we knew that leaving that early was a questionable decision, too damn cold that early in the morning. We stopped just before San Raymundo to warm up a bit and let the sun show itself.
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    Just after San Raymundo we started hitting a great dirt road that twisted along the Rio Motagua. I knew the bridge in La Canoa had washed out a few years back but we decided to check out this route anyways and take our chances.

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    So about 100 kms into the day, we find our first obstacle.. Rio Motagua. I'll let the videos and pictures tell the story:

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    Here you can see the original bridge pillars and where it sits now, a few hundred feet down the river!
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    Frenchy went first with his DR200
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    then I came across
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    Of course we found this guy after we both crossed... apparently he heard from some of our local audience that the crazy gringos were crossing on their motos and he showed up with his "barge" to offer his services. The locals lay their bikes on the side and let him take them across, I like our way better!

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    From their we continued on to Salama and then checked out a great 27 km dirt pass that wound up the mountain and then back down the other side to Pantin. A much better option than the tarmac round about way if you ask me. We only saw one car during the whole pass, beautiful views up there. This is where you pop out, on the highway heading to Coban.
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    Frenchy is known for his flats and he didn't disapoint on day 1. Just outside of Coban we were using our skills once again. Nothing two guides can't handle, back on the road in 30 minutes.
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    great views in Alta Verapaz
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    We made it to Lanquin in the afternoon and went to my favorit lodge, El Retiro. This was a great place to spend Christmas Eve and the next morning becuase I knew there would be lots of travelers and a good time to be had. They are known for their all you can eat buffet dinners, perfect for the moto traveler. We stuffed our faces and then taught all the Europeans how to play flip cup... just your average Christmas holiday.
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    Day 1 Stats:

    - Q53 gas in Salama
    - Q68 food
    - Q100 room
    - Q75 beer
    TOTAL: Q296, ~$38

    268 kms, 7ish hours riding
    #12
  13. coors

    coors gs 1200

    Joined:
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    guatemala
    Im in i already like this report :clap

    Ohh thats true i was part of the trip :evil

    I can tell you i was glad not to have a bigger bike for once, To do this ride without a rear shock would have been difficult on a bigger bike.

    Still went well, best ride of my life, guatemala has so much to offer to riders

    Frenchy
    #13
  14. Catours

    Catours Guatemala Tourer

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    For those of you that aren't familiar with Guatemala, or Lanquin more specifically - this should be near the top of your places to see if you come to Guatemala. It is a natural wonder that combines amazing rivers, waterfalls, caves, rope swings, tubing, and of course great mountain riding! We passed through this time so we could continue to unknown spots but I'm going to give you some pictures from past rides we've done to this area.

    view from the mirador down to the cascading Semuc pools
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    awesome swimming spots
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    cliff jumps
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    rope swings
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    and great dirt roads all around the area
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    <object width="640" height="360"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/8-BQQAMYxmo?version=3&amp;hl=en_US&amp;rel=0"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/8-BQQAMYxmo?version=3&amp;hl=en_US&amp;rel=0" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="640" height="360" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object>
    #14
  15. Cal

    Cal Been here awhile

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    +1 riding and swimming at Semuc Champey is fantastic!! One of many memories of my visits to Guatemala:clap
    #15
  16. eddie98

    eddie98 Been here awhile

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    Good to know. I've been in GA since 1992. I'm from Guate, most of my family is still down there. They live in Mixco/ San Lucas. Next time we are down in Antigua I'll look you up.
    #16
  17. Catours

    Catours Guatemala Tourer

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    Sounds good Eddie, small world. I have some motorcycle friends up in San Lucas, the Rivas family that has the German Shepherd school.
    #17
  18. Catours

    Catours Guatemala Tourer

    Joined:
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    Guatemala
    No rest for the weary, even on Christmas morning. We were up early in Lanquin and hit the road by 8am to head towards Laguna Lachua. From here on we were heading to new territory for both of us. Nothing better to me than that feeling of riding into the unknown, so much fun! Here was our planned route for the day:

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    After the 12 km climb from Lanquin back to the highway for Coban, we turned right towards Pajal instead of going back towards Coban. The stretch of dirt road from Pajal heading North lasts about 40 kms and has awesome views and climbs.

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    Then as it seems to happen fairly often in Guatemala, we hit perfect tarmac and ride mountain twisties all the way to Sebol. There you turn left and take a quick detour to get on the Transversal del Norte heading West. You'll cross this river on the quick detour:

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    The TDN is a wide freshly laid road that is quite boring if you ask me... very straight and smooth. Although I guess its a nice break for our bodies and Frenchy's suspension-less DR. That made for a quick ride to Raxruja and lunch at Pamela's diner. Pretty good food for being in the middle of nowhere, just hope you don't have 5 year old Pamela throwing a tantrum for her TV show/Pizza like we did. Kids can be spoiled anywhere in the world, this one definitely was.

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    From here you could continue on the boring pavement West to get to Laguna Lachua, but that's not we were after. So we turned left at the fork and headed South to Chisec. Stopped in a little market to buy dinner rations (no restaurant in the Laguna Lachua park) and then 35 kms after Chisec found the interestion to head North again. We asked a few collectivo drivers to confirm the turn and they said "si, pero muy mal camino"... music to our ears! We ended up on this "bad road" for about 70 kms until getting back to the dead end at the TDN. The scenery was great but the road was really rocky and a bit rough late in the day. The local kids liked our bikes so we let them play around a bit.

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    Once we hit the dead end, turn right and only a few kms to get to the entrance of Laguna Lachua. This is a scientific reserve and they are pretty strict on rules, no alcohol!? So we buy a few beers and enjoy them in the parking lot. From there its about an hour, hour and a half hike into the lake. We arrived at the perfect time in the afternoon and were rewarded with the famous sunset we'd heard about.

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    The lodging out here was surprisingly really well situated. They have a good lodge, full kitchen, space for camping, and latrines. Carlos who has been working 15 days on and 15 off for 17 years at the park was interesting to talk to (when he was awake) and he helped stir the fire to boil our water.

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    Day 2 Stats:

    - Q55 gas in Lanquin
    - Q49 food
    - Q45 gas in Chisec
    - Q190 total for park entry & lodging
    TOTAL: Q339, ~$44

    230 kms ridden
    #18
  19. rebel346

    rebel346 Adventurer

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    Hey Eddie, I used to be on GSB with you when I lived in Woodstock. Matter of fact we rode Blood Mountain and up into Tennessee a time or two together.

    Chris, I also grew up just outside of Savannah, cool RR keep it coming.

    Cheers!:D

    Earl
    #19
  20. eddie98

    eddie98 Been here awhile

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    Your name sounds familiar. Didn't you used to live off of Town Lake pkwy? we had breakfast at Waffle House? What are you doing up in VA?
    Nancy says hi also.
    #20