A small and well mixed group from Austria (Karl), Germany (Leopold), Switzerland (Heinz) and Bill (USA) is ready for some adventure. Together with them the guides José (from Guatemala) and Manuel (from Italy) they are gonna explore the secrets of the ancient Maya civilazion and some of the finest motorcycle roads of central america.
(PHOTOS: Manuel Marabese and José Pinto)
While in Europe and North America our friends are celebrating Carnival/Fasching in an ending winter, here in Guatemala we are roasting in a sunny 38°C day on the way to Rio Dulce on the Lake Izabal.
Soon we leave the traffic of the capital Guatemala City behind us and cruise on a very busy road towards east until we finally reach some verdant hills: the lake and the Caribbean coast are not far away anymore!
The very well deserved first coffee break of the tour. The altitude is decreasing and the temperature is rising.
They are so nice to provide some shade for our horses while we sample a typical lunch.
Ready to jump in the pool of the resort? We are now on the shore of lake Izabal, the largest in Guatemala and also the safest harbour during the hurricane season in the Caribbean. The area is full of elegant catamarans, yachts and sailing boats.
Our second day starts definitely in a more relaxed way: no city traffic and heavy trucks zigzaging between busses and cars like a mad hatter. Weather is already steamy with a very humid yet sunny morning but as soon as we start riding it's great. Gentle breeze on our face, green pasture surrounded by hills and a lush vegetation.
After visiting the magnificient ruins of Tikal in the middle of the jungle yesterday afternoon, today it's time to head towards Belize. The border is just an hour from us and we are going to spend the night in a jungle resort a few km before Belmopan.
We are waking up with the sounds of tropical birds and othe inhabitants of the forest... tasty breakfast with a gorgeous view and then ready to roll! We are gonna cross entire Belize today (yes it's a small country but it could deserve so much more time, there is plenty to see!) and enter Mexico, spending the night at the Bacalar lagoon.
The highlight for today is the archeological park in Tulum, a late Maya city from the 13th to the 15th century. It's position is idyllic, set on a cliff and surrounded by sandy beaches...
Today we will discover a bit what Playa del Carmen has to offer: surely enough beach and lounge bars, classy nd yummy restaurants and plenty of shopping possibilities. Quite a big change from the previous days in more remote areas...
The day resting in Playa has been pretty enjoyable but we came here for the ride! So we keep going along our route today, crossing the pancake-flat Yucatan in direction Valladolid, a splendid colonial town not far from Chichen Itza, the uber-famous Maya site par excellance.
The ride is short so we will have time to discover the ruins in the afternoon.
Waking up right in the middle of the Maya site is quite a stunning experience. The air is (almost) cool until around 7am... afterwards it starts to get warmer. We enjoy the morning sun rays on the caracol (the Maya astronomic observatory) and a plentiful Maya breakfast before hitting the road.
Lesser known places on our route, along the villages of the so-called Ruta Puuc. The destination is the Campeche, colourful colonial town on the ocean, with well-preserved pastel buildings and a lively Zocalo (the main square).
We start moving southwards, the tour goes back towards the highlands and soon the temperature will drop a bit. The last days have been failry hot and a cool breeze is gonna be highly appreciated by our "alpine team" of the group, while Bill-Mohave-Desert is happy enough with a 35°C+ temp!
In the afternoon we reach Palenque and we are gonna spend two nights there, enjoying this scenic area of Mexico.
A rest full of adventures and relax is awaiting us: in the morning we hop on the pick-up for a visit to the nearby ruins of Palenque, one of the oldest Maya sites, dating from 6th to 8th century. Plenty of wonderful pyramids, the royal palace, tombs, other temples... Simply stunning!
And in the afternoon we take our bike for a short stroll among the nearby mountains to refresh ourselves in the waterfalls Roberto Barrios.
Mountains everywhere! Ohh yeah, after the pancake-flat Yucatan peninsula we deserve loooots of curves and mountains roads until the end of the tour!
Ehy.. wait a second? Who said we deserve also those absurdly annoying 1000 home-hand-made topes (speed bumps)? It's like going on a rollercoaster with some spicy traps here and there.... after crossing the mountains of Chiapas and reaching the lively San Cristobal for lunch those few miles of smooth, straight road was a delight...