Mexico and Central America Ride Planning and Road Wisdom

Discussion in 'Americas' started by Jeff Munn, May 30, 2006.

  1. Sjoerd Bakker

    Sjoerd Bakker Long timer

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    Ah , as usual I took your question quite literally as an actual inquiry open for answers from anyone .
    Okay , Cal - yoohoo !, - you haven't yet answered Skizz - do your 'splainin :lol3

    I will add (again ) that it is important to keep every document and scrap of paper they give you when entering at each border so that you can present them at time of exit and avoid complications .
    I once sat around the GT customs of Puerto Barrios for an hour when I had misplaced one of my GT pages and they phoned to HQ trying to ascertain my legality . When I did locate that page it instantly solved the problem .
    Leaving Costa Rica to Panama , on trips before internet , I was asked which border port I would use going back into CR ,in order that they could notify that crossing in preparation and they handed me a small form to hand off there . Now with internet connections that is a needless exercise .

    Okay ,over to Cal .
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  2. Cal

    Cal Long timer

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    Skizz The crossing I used was Las Manos and it was a few years ago. The agent was the one who suggested I leave the paper work in his office for the return trip. He had an official stamp for my passport that he used which explained the TVIP was on hold and it had an area in the stamp for the official TVIP number.It was a big stamp!! I do not have that passport now so I can not show it to you. I am on the road sorry about the late reply. Just re read your question and the Guatemalans do not require you to return at the same border as you keep all your paper work,I entered and exited at different crossings.
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  3. SkizzMan

    SkizzMan aka SkiddMark ;^)

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    Many thanks for your kind response
  4. jackattack13

    jackattack13 Adventurer

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    What would be a "minimum recommended" length of time to do a San Diego to Panama to San Diego trip? I am guessing 90 days...does this seem right?
  5. SkizzMan

    SkizzMan aka SkiddMark ;^)

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    You can make the ride down there in 15 days averaging 250 mi/day. 30 days would give you plenty of time to explore. 60 days total RT and you’d see a lot.
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  6. Precis

    Precis Maladroit malcontent

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    Depends on so many things: Covid is the elephant in the room, obviously. Borders for foreign nationals are going to be tough for a while yet. Plus, what bike you are riding; where you plan on staying: breaking up camp can take more time than checking out of a hostel; where you plan to ride - dirt or slab; how much time you want to spend sight-seeing: there is so much! Time of the year - we got hit by two Cyclones.
    You'll know that Mexico is longer, top to bottom, than the lower 48 and the further south you go, the more beautiful it gets, IMO. Once out of Mexico, how good's your Spanish? getting stuff like tyres and chains, then fitting them, can easily take a day or more.
    And then of course, you'll get swept along with the whole vibe of the place - and not just the time of day, but the day & the date just kind of cease to be important!
    Next time we do Central, we plan on taking at least a year...
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  7. jackattack13

    jackattack13 Adventurer

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    Basically COVID has wrecked my entire plan. I was planning on taking a year off and running the entire Pan American on my 2015 Tiger 800 XCX, have purchased 90 percent of the gear needed etc., then the job market tanks, and borders close, and I lost all confidence in the ability to quickly return to the US and find employment once the trip was completed. So now, I am in talks with my employer to do a 90 day Leave of Absence and I will ride to Panama and back to San Diego versus the entire trip, and then complete the SA portion in the future when things are less chaotic.

    I want to stay in Hostels and Hotels for the trip, but might pack a tent for Baja beach camping. I plan on sticking to slab and minimal dirt as I will be riding solo and not looking for unneeded risk if I go down on a remote trail or back road and get injured. I am monitoring the current status of the borders and it isn't looking good for now, but all I can do is wait and see what happens. But currently am looking at 60 to 90 days as of right now, as that is what my employer is willing to work with me on. Thanks for the reply!
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  8. Cal

    Cal Long timer

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    My first trip south was Calgary/Yaviza/Calgary in 50 days I was on the road pretty much everyday,usually stopped about 2or 3 pm and did about 250km a day.
    Calgary San Diego return is about 6 days,(long days!) So your 60 day plan gives you time to spend a few days in places you like and bike repair days.
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  9. Precis

    Precis Maladroit malcontent

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    Don't shy away from "Love motels" based on their name: Clean, discreet and cheap, plus they have private garages to work on the bike and aircon to dry your washing! Using iOverlander will let you see what other travellers think of accommodation nearby and it ties in with Maps.me which works off-line to get you there.
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  10. b4thenite

    b4thenite Long timer

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    @jackattack13 Do you really need/want to go to Panama and back? Or do you want to experience what it's like riding and exploring Latin countries?
    90 days are plenty of time to get lost south of border. You can fly by Baja California in 3 or 4 days, but what's the fun in it? Find your own spot, camp for a while till the natives drop some fish in front of your tent.
    Experience Oaxaca, so when you leave, you'll have pang of pain. Spend time riding through Guatemala highways connecting all those mountain top villages, see how the modern road transformed people.
    Spend a week on Belize beaches. I bet you'll meet someone. Even I did.
    Think about it, my friend. 90 days are too precious to just to speed down and come home. In my experience, coming home is the most difficult ride.
  11. Precis

    Precis Maladroit malcontent

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    Amen.
    Much as the US is utterly boring by comparison to CA, getting on that plane at LAX to come home was absolutely the worst part of the previous year's travelling - and that including breaking an ankle in Peru!
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  12. Wattner

    Wattner Long timer Supporter

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    I've taken quite a few trips where I ride south, then find a safe spot to leave the bike, fly home, gather supplies and return to continue the journey further without the dreaded return.

    I'll be doing that again soon I hope, although this time mostly West USA, maybe dipping south for a bit. Just a thought...
  13. jackattack13

    jackattack13 Adventurer

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    To answer your question honestly, no I was not originally interested in riding back. I am only working with the cards that have been dealt due to COVID. And I figured I can make a nice route to backtrack to the U.S. without overlapping too many locations. I am planning on taking my time as much as possible given the time constraints, stopping in amazing locations, and even plan on flying my girl out to visit in CR or Belize. I love travelling, seeing new things, meeting new people, and am totally bummed that I am forced to cut my trip so short, but it is what it is. I can always ship my bike to SA later and finish my trip another day. Such is life.

    Does anyone have a list of Points of Interest for Mexico and Central America? Best way to find out about new places is word of mouth, not Google IMO. Thanks all of the advice! This community is amazing and I have yet to even start the trip!
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  14. MikeS

    MikeS Fur shur! Vamos! Supporter

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    Trip Advisor and sites like that. iOverlander.com has a lot of sites of interest, along with camping sites and motel reviews. Mexico has a designation of "Peublos Magicos" for a number of towns throughout the country. Ancient ruins and gravel roads are on my travel and interest lists. Get a map, search the internet and IMS right here, read Mexico and CA ride reports, and mark spots of interest on your map. There are so many options that it becomes a personal choice of what you decide to see and experience.
  15. Precis

    Precis Maladroit malcontent

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    My wife's a scientist: she researched TTD (Things To Do) in Mexico as if she was doing a PhD on the place.
    We did almost nothing on her list - because we came in from the south, not the north and at the wrong time of year for migrating butterflies - and because there was just SO MUCH to see and do!
    Who knew they've just started excavating a series of magnificent 500 year-old tunnels just discovered at Puebla? How about the (pretty scruffy!) town named for my birthday? All the cool parks, pueblas and people? We just followed our noses, really only heading to Teotihuacan - and staying OUT of Mexico City - deliberately. Mexico is the country we both wish to explore more thoroughly the most when time permits.
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  16. SkizzMan

    SkizzMan aka SkiddMark ;^)

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    Well, México City doesn’t belong on everyone’s list but it’s always on mine. Every year. I quit driving cars there in 2009 after which I explore the city only by motorcycle. You couldn’t make a dent in that town if you gave it a full week. It has nearly everything to see and in Mexico. Truly an amazing place.
  17. jackattack13

    jackattack13 Adventurer

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    Does anyone have any recommended phone apps for navigating Mexico and CA? I am not interested in purchasing a stand alone GPS if not needed. I have a InReach Explorer I can pair to my phone via bluetooth if needed, just need a decent mapping app. Thoughts?
  18. Blind Warrior

    Blind Warrior Lost in the Ozone

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    Have you tried Maps.Me?

    You download the maps ahead of time, so you do not need a cell connection to use them. It will still use your phone's GPS to indicate your position without a cell connection.

    https://maps.me/en/download/
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  19. Davidprej

    Davidprej Davidprej Supporter

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    You are opening Pandora's box. Do some searching on this site and Google in general and you'll be overwhelmed. My advice? Just use Google maps and KISS. Just download the maps when you have Wifi and you'll be fine.
  20. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town... Supporter

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    Google Maps is pretty accurate till you get to very rural/wilderness areas, but that’s true in the US too. I used both GM and maps.me in March while in the Copper Canyon area with mostly good results. I had started to confirm routes using both after being set up for failure by Google a couple times in the Baja backcountry.