What 2 Moto Guides Do With A Week Off: Guatemala

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

  1. rebel346

    rebel346 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2007
    Oddometer:
    70
    Location:
    Bristow,VA
    That's me, working up here now. Hope all is well.

    Say hello to Nancy for me.
    #21
  2. richsuz

    richsuz Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2009
    Oddometer:
    97
    Location:
    Guatemala
    I did the 40kms Sebol road in July. But upwards (heading south), in the rain, I can tell you first hand it was loads of fun! :rofl

    #22
  3. Catours

    Catours Guatemala Tourer

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    153
    Location:
    Guatemala
    The sunset was priceless last night in Laguna Lachua, the sunrise wasn't bad either. We were told there were fish up to 2-3 meters in the lake. We hung out on the dock and watched in disbelief as the Sabalo fish were feeding, coming up to the surface showing their dorsal and tail fins.

    example of a Sabalo
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    Between the fish, local ducks, and then the howler monkeys yelling in the background, it was a pretty sureal morning experience. I guess this is why they are really trying hard to protect this precious nature reserve. Here was our planned route for the day:

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    We hiked back to the bikes, funny how you miss 2 wheels when you have to hike a few kilometers. From the park entry we started heading West on the main road.

    Leaving Laguna Lachua park
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    A quick breakfast in the middle of nowhere and then we started hitting gravel/dirt for a while.
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    We hit Rio Espiritu and ended up taking a "wrong" turn - turned out to be one of the best sections of riding in a long time. We continued on dirt along a beautiful river and then hit 25 kms of super new tarmac that twisted among the mountains, we had the whole place to ourselves! Eventually we came upon a deadend made up of a pile of boulders. Naturally we ride around that and decide to continue on. That lasted for a few kilometers of fun dirt until we were flagged down by some locals yelling "no hay paso" (you can't pass). Usually I would want to keep going, they seem to underestimate enduro motos here. But we were in the middle of thick, slushy mud and it looked like they were right! It took some effort to turn around, butit made the locals laugh and at least we got the bikes nice and dirty.

    the dead end
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    the mud
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    are you sure it doesn't keep going!?
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    turning around, Frenchy style!
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    where I stopped
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    me getting out of the mud
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    We backtracked about 30 kms to our wrong turn and took the correct fork towards Barillas. More steep climbs to high elevations and really small windy mountain roads. This is when we started to realize we were in Land Cruiser country, literally every truck was a cool Toyo Land Cruiser.

    1988 Land Cruiser, the guy was asking Q44,000 (~$5600)
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    We found a nice little hotel on the edge of town called "Santa Cruz" and unloaded our dirty gear. Nice rooms and secure parking next door in the garage, perfect for Q45.

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    Barillas is nothing spectacular, just a typical Guatemalan mountain town. We did find Q5 beers and a great Q20 burrito, we were happy campers!

    Day 3 Stats:

    - Q50 gas in Playa Grande
    - Q30 breakfast
    - Q65 gas just before Barillas
    - Q45 hotel
    - Q50 food/beer

    163 kms, 5 1/2 ish hours riding
    #23
  4. GuateRider

    GuateRider Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,422
    Location:
    Antigua , Guatemala
    Great pics :clap:clap:clap I like your style !!
    #24
  5. Catours

    Catours Guatemala Tourer

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    153
    Location:
    Guatemala
    I doubt our starting point and destination mean much to most readers, but if you look on a map they are only about 25 kms away from each other. Of course we didn't take the direct route! Here is the route we generally followed, you can see that we were very close to the Mexican border for parts of the day:

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    It ended up being one of our longer days, but trust me the riding was well worth it! First, a quick update on Santa Cruz hotel. The promised hot water didn't work, oh well I'm not that spoiled. We left town and continued West towards San Mateo Ixtatán and then onto Patalcal. This area is filled with mountain climbs, descents, and then more climbs - all the time with beautiful views.

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    In Patalcal we found ourselves at a split in the road, to the right we could see a blanket of fluffy white clouds above Mexico, so we decided to go for it.

    Mexican clouds in the distance
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    This is the road towards Bulej and then to Aguacate. After a snack stop in Yalambojoch, Frenchy noticed another flat tire. This guy has some luck, I tell you. He thought he was lucky to find a pinchazo just down the road but it turned out to be manned by a teenager who had no clue how to change a tire. Instead we used his air compressor and took care of it ourselves, tough life eh?

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    After we sorted the tire we got back on the road and happened to see a sign for Finca Chaculá (see RichSuz's recommendation in another post) and decided to pop in to check it out.

    Finca Chaculá
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    That worked out well and we got some really good advice on the local area and based on the guardian's tip we headed to El Cimmaron. Cimmaron is a deep hole in the middle of nowhere, perfectly round with 172 meters diameter and 180 meters deep. There is a fertile, fresh, and green forest at the bottom that is protected by the walls with no trails to go down. At the trail head from the highway, we decided to go as far as we could on the bikes. This was a fun rocky single track trial until we hit a really steep section that screamed "park the bikes and walk from here". We reluctantly obliged and started hoofing it on foot to the hole. It was more impressive than we expected but very difficult to capture in pictures. Hopefully these do it some justice.

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    From Cimarron we headed south on nice tarmac to Nenton. This is when our day took a turn for the better as we headed East on some amazing mountain passes. At one point we got to a "T", looked around and decided to go left. Once again this was technically the "wrong turn" but it turned out to be one of the best sections of riding in our whole ride. Essentially climbing up to ~4,000 meters, going back down, back up, over and over on small dirt roads. There was also some great Pine forest with really deep silty sand, fun for me but maybe not as much for Frenchy trailing behind sans rear suspension. We ended passing through San Sebastian Cuatonm, then Pet, and finally to Soloma. We had to agree that was one of our best days of riding ever!! Again, as the crow flies - Barillas to Soloma is only 25 kms but I can't imagine a better route than today's 208 kms! Unfortunately we don't have a lot of pictures, but trust me it was an amazing section of riding! We were too busy enjoying it.

    this gives you a glimpse of the road, you can see a few sections:
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    Day 4 Stats:

    - Q9 snack
    - Q30 lunch
    - Q65 gas just past Nenton
    - Q40 gas in Soloma
    - Q65 hotel
    - Q15 tacos
    - Q2 internet
    - Q18 dinner
    TOTAL: Q244, ~$31

    208 kms, 6.5ish hours riding
    #25
  6. richsuz

    richsuz Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2009
    Oddometer:
    97
    Location:
    Guatemala
    On Jan 1st, We took off from Chaculá, Went from D to E on your map, but then on to C on a different road that takes you to the same spot with the fluffy clouds. the three way split. On to San Mateo Ixtatan. The longest day for us as well. 12 hour ride from Finca chaculá to El Unicornio Azul. Best riding day of my trip as well.:clap

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    #26
  7. Catours

    Catours Guatemala Tourer

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    153
    Location:
    Guatemala
    you have a nice collection of bikes forming there, your kids are lucky!
    #27
  8. richsuz

    richsuz Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2009
    Oddometer:
    97
    Location:
    Guatemala
    Only the YS250 and one of the XR125Ls belong to us. The other two are friend's bikes that I was lucky enough to borrow...yes I have good friends I can borrow bikes from.:clap
    #28
  9. BcDano

    BcDano One Lucky Dude

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2010
    Oddometer:
    329
    Location:
    Rolling on the RTW
    Hey Chris,

    Nice to stumble upon more photos of your week off adventure. We are headed up that way and then back down to Antigua again later in the week, catch you and Frenchie then.
    #29
  10. coors

    coors gs 1200

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2008
    Oddometer:
    65
    Location:
    guatemala
    Keep it coming cant wait to see what happens next :-)
    #30
  11. Catours

    Catours Guatemala Tourer

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    153
    Location:
    Guatemala
    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:

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    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:

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    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
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    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
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    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.

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    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
    #31
  12. Tengai In Toronto

    Tengai In Toronto Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2011
    Oddometer:
    186
    Location:
    Toronto
    Sounds like an awesome ride. Chris, I think I met you.....or someone else from CATours when I stopped by there last spring. There's some amazing riding central/north/western guatemala, whether it's paved twisties or nice dirt tracks. You guys are definitely on the right sized bikes for what you're doing. I felt like an overweight pig on a fully loaded 650. Keep up the good work!
    #32
  13. Cal

    Cal Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2008
    Oddometer:
    967
    Location:
    Calgary
    That photo with the guy carrying the 100lb saw log on his back, up hill, illustrates how soft we are here in our lifes.
    #33
  14. Catours

    Catours Guatemala Tourer

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    153
    Location:
    Guatemala
    First priority this morning was finding duct tape to "chapus" my riding boots. You would think any old hardware store would do, but apparently its a specialty item around here, finally got a roll after 5 or 6 spots. Boots patched, success. Then Frenchy and I made our way back to Eric's house for breakfast/show and tell with the club guys. His wife cooked a great chapin breakfast and the extra treat was an assortment of cheeses from the local farms. Nebaj is known for good cheese, check out Mil Amores farm for more info. We got some route advice from the guys and ended up with a nice back road plan to take the long way to Quiche. They mentioned hot springs along the route, more on that later. Here's the approximate route we followed:
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    We rode south to Sacapulas and then took a left after the cemetery to a steep dirt/stone climb and finally to a high plateau of open country riding.

    The view down to Sacapulas
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    Frenchy coming up the dirt twisties
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    Lots of livestock including bulls, horses, sheep, dogs, etc.
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    The end of the road
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    The route continued to Canilla - San Andres - and then to the Aguas Calientes. Turned out to be a bit of a bust. The water was super hot, but the river was really dirty as it was the local laundromat, toilet, and whatnot all mixed together. So we got back on the dirt towards Quiche and enjoyed a fairly relaxed day in terms of kms and seat time.

    Day 6 Stats:

    - Q50 gas in Nebaj
    - Q35 gas in Quiche
    - Q70 hotel
    - Q35 snack
    TOTAL: Q190, ~$25

    116 kms, 4ish hours riding
    #34
  15. AppFan

    AppFan Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2007
    Oddometer:
    448
    Location:
    Concord NC
    Stumbled across your thread a few weeks ago and it got me to thinking. I lived in Guatemala for a few years back in the 70s as a kid and have always wanted to go back and see it again. Figured this would be an incredible father/son trip. Told my dad about CATours and he got pretty excited. He's never ridden and is 70 something now but has scheduled some lessons to see if he feels up to it.
    Hopefully that goes well and I'll be seeing you guys later this year!
    #35
  16. MufflerBearings

    MufflerBearings Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2012
    Oddometer:
    131
    Location:
    Ciudad Catedral
    I re-read this one after chatting with David and Jose at CATours during a recent visit to Antigua, GT. My wife and I were in town for general tourism (no riding this trip), and dropped by the shop to check it out. The guys were nice enough to keep the shop open after hours and we enjoyed a very pleasant evening talking all things moto over some beers. Thanks David and Jose! :freaky

    And kudos to David for showing in this report just what the mighty DR200 is capable of. I can't wait to return to Guatemala for some riding with these guys.
    #36
  17. ALthe3rd

    ALthe3rd Kind of Gassy

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2013
    Oddometer:
    18
    Location:
    Arizona
    This is fantastic! I am going to spend some time in that part of the world before I depart this existence.
    #37