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TallTourist 02-04-18 08:10 PM

Guatemalan High Plains Info Sought
 
Hi,

I'm typing this in Los Encuentros, Guatemala and hoping to take off either tomorrow or the next day to the North (RN 15) in search of this beautiful high plain area I was told about but I didn't get many details on. The guy that told me about it said the roads were paved which is important because every 30kms or so of rough dirt roads seems to snap one of my rack bolts and I don't have many spares nor the inclination to jackhammer my kidneys with my 32 and 40mm wide tires and rigid frame, been there, sucked I'll revisit the idea when I have suspension or a fatbike.

Anyway, are any of you familiar with this area? I see on my map an area called "Altiplano" but it doesn't give mch detail on what the terrain is like. Anyone been there? I'd like to go check this area out and then head into Mexico Playa del Carmen area from Guatemala so any advice on that crossing from people who've been there would be good too :) I guess I'll wing it either way but some consejos would be appreciated :D

chrisx 02-04-18 09:04 PM

Headed north on 15, sounds like you are going to Chichicastenango or Quiche.:recum:
Personaly, I would rather go up in the mountains, say the Ixil triangle, Nebaj, Cotzal, Chajul. If you have not spent time in a Mayan village, you have not visited Guatemala. The Mayan villages in the mountains are low crime areas. Chichi is for tourists. In Antigua the Maya are waiting to sell you something, in Chimaltenango there are few tourists and no one notices you, in Chajul, on the back streets, Mayan children have never seen a gringo before.

Semana Santa, the week before Easter Sunday. No one does it better than the guatemaltecas.
Mardi Grass starts in a few of days, big party somewhere or other.

My trip to Guatemala, next month will include visits to Uaxactun and some other lesser known ruins, perhaps Yaxha.

You never found a new tires? Are you on a 26er?


Tapachula border crossings are used by all the trucks on the pan american hwy. Perhaps la Mesia or Gracias a Dios would be more to your liking?

Abu Mahendra 02-04-18 09:42 PM

Huehuetenango & the Cuchumatanes mountain range is...
 
the place. Up there at some 3,500masl the trees are stunted, it is cold and humid, and the landscape begins to resemble the high Andes. You'll see eerie vegetation such as plants that look like giant asparagus. Worth visiting. That Cuchumatan range is responsible for a few major Guatemalan and Mexican rivers.


Originally Posted by TallTourist (Post 20150870)
Hi,

I'm typing this in Los Encuentros, Guatemala and hoping to take off either tomorrow or the next day to the North (RN 15) in search of this beautiful high plain area I was told about but I didn't get many details on. The guy that told me about it said the roads were paved which is important because every 30kms or so of rough dirt roads seems to snap one of my rack bolts and I don't have many spares nor the inclination to jackhammer my kidneys with my 32 and 40mm wide tires and rigid frame, been there, sucked I'll revisit the idea when I have suspension or a fatbike.

Anyway, are any of you familiar with this area? I see on my map an area called "Altiplano" but it doesn't give mch detail on what the terrain is like. Anyone been there? I'd like to go check this area out and then head into Mexico Playa del Carmen area from Guatemala so any advice on that crossing from people who've been there would be good too :) I guess I'll wing it either way but some consejos would be appreciated :D


TallTourist 02-04-18 11:13 PM


Originally Posted by chrisx (Post 20150966)
Headed north on 15, sounds like you are going to Chichicastenango or Quiche.:recum:
Personaly, I would rather go up in the mountains, say the Ixil triangle, Nebaj, Cotzal, Chajul. If you have not spent time in a Mayan village, you have not visited Guatemala. The Mayan villages in the mountains are low crime areas. Chichi is for tourists. In Antigua the Maya are waiting to sell you something, in Chimaltenango there are few tourists and no one notices you, in Chajul, on the back streets, Mayan children have never seen a gringo before.

Semana Santa, the week before Easter Sunday. No one does it better than the guatemaltecas.
Mardi Grass starts in a few of days, big party somewhere or other.

My trip to Guatemala, next month will include visits to Uaxactun and some other lesser known ruins, perhaps Yaxha.

You never found a new tires? Are you on a 26er?



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4evy_IMFKQ

Tapachula border crossings are used by all the trucks on the pan american hwy. Perhaps la Mesia or Gracias a Dios would be more to your liking?


Hey Chris, Looking online I think I will do the loop of the towns you mentioned AND the high plains. I've got months and months before I run low on money so time's not much of an issue, thanks for the suggestion :)

Is that loop of road paved? I'm guessing no but I might make it through with only one or two broken bolts so it's not a huge huge deal.

Nope I'm on a 700c bike. a 26" wheel bike would be so easy I could buy tires and tubes everywhere. I did manage to find the 40-622 I have on my rear wheel now just a week or so before my Schwalbe gave up the ghost and I found a more aggressive one for dirt/crappy dirty pavement a few weeks later. Still no tubes but luckily I have lots of patches and one spare. Guess I'll have to wait til mexico to get some fatter rubber or maybe even england when I head over that way.

TallTourist 02-04-18 11:32 PM


Originally Posted by Abu Mahendra (Post 20151021)
the place. Up there at some 3,500masl the trees are stunted, it is cold and humid, and the landscape begins to resemble the high Andes. You'll see eerie vegetation such as plants that look like giant asparagus. Worth visiting. That Cuchumatan range is responsible for a few major Guatemalan and Mexican rivers.

Nice, thanks! Where in the Cuchumatan range is good to visit? I can't really camp (and don't want to) with the stuff I have in cold weather as I'm acclimated to the 30 degree coastal weather now and have no sleeping bag nor a good tent or sleeping pad so that may be limiting but then again I don't sleep in hotels either since the dogs usually bark all night to keep the bus horns company haha. Maybe I should try camping again.

Abu Mahendra 02-05-18 12:08 AM

Todos Santos Cuchumatan
 
You'll find guesthouses in Todos Santos.



Originally Posted by TallTourist (Post 20151201)
Nice, thanks! Where in the Cuchumatan range is good to visit? I can't really camp (and don't want to) with the stuff I have in cold weather as I'm acclimated to the 30 degree coastal weather now and have no sleeping bag nor a good tent or sleeping pad so that may be limiting but then again I don't sleep in hotels either since the dogs usually bark all night to keep the bus horns company haha. Maybe I should try camping again.


chrisx 02-05-18 08:43 PM

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/...emala-pacunam/


Originally Posted by TallTourist (Post 20151176)

Is that loop of road paved? I'm guessing no but I might make it through with only one or two broken bolts so it's not a huge huge deal.

Nope I'm on a 700c bike. ¡

You could find a room in Nebaj, and take a micro to the other villages on market day, 7 quetzales was it? Big hills up there. If memory serves, the road to Nebaj is paved, but some of the side trips up there are not.

I sent you a private message

TallTourist 02-05-18 09:16 PM


Originally Posted by chrisx (Post 20153101)
https://news.nationalgeographic.com/...emala-pacunam/



You could find a room in Nebaj, and take a micro to the other villages on market day, 7 quetzales was it? Big hills up there. If memory serves, the road to Nebaj is paved, but some of the side trips up there are not.

I sent you a private message

Yeah I think I'll do that. Just even dumping the panniers for a day or two in a hotel would be enough. My wheels are pretty good but the rack bolts are pretty much pretzel sticks. :)

Abu Mahendra 02-05-18 11:54 PM

if you want to see the Andean-esque landscape of which you asked, it is in Huehue (Todos Santos way), not Nebaj (El Quiché way). The ride from Huehue capital to Todos Santos used to be memorable. Fog, precipices with buses strewn about, muddy and dramatic landscapes. This is what you came for, ain't it? You can always take a bus from Huehue to Todos Santos. Hope you brought cold weather gear. It snowed there last year.



Originally Posted by TallTourist (Post 20153149)
Yeah I think I'll do that. Just even dumping the panniers for a day or two in a hotel would be enough. My wheels are pretty good but the rack bolts are pretty much pretzel sticks. :)


DropBarFan 02-06-18 12:03 AM

FWIW I have a Guatemalan friend who moved back to Guatemala City recently after living in the USA for many years. She's not a biker so I'm not sure how much info she could provide about the rural roads. But if you think it's worth a try I could email her.

TallTourist 02-07-18 11:49 AM


Originally Posted by DropBarFan (Post 20153323)
FWIW I have a Guatemalan friend who moved back to Guatemala City recently after living in the USA for many years. She's not a biker so I'm not sure how much info she could provide about the rural roads. But if you think it's worth a try I could email her.

Ah that's alright, I'm going to go and have a look. It's not a really far stretch of road anyway so even if I snap all my rack bolts I should be able to jury rig something or get a ride somewhere that can sell me parts.

Thank you for the offer :)

TallTourist 02-07-18 11:52 AM


Originally Posted by Abu Mahendra (Post 20153319)
if you want to see the Andean-esque landscape of which you asked, it is in Huehue (Todos Santos way), not Nebaj (El Quiché way). The ride from Huehue capital to Todos Santos used to be memorable. Fog, precipices with buses strewn about, muddy and dramatic landscapes. This is what you came for, ain't it? You can always take a bus from Huehue to Todos Santos. Hope you brought cold weather gear. It snowed there last year.

Yeah, I'm going to go check both areas out, I have lots of time and yes I have loads of warm clothes etc. It's nice to be actually using the stuff for a change! :)

chrisx 02-07-18 03:43 PM

The road from Huehue to San Mateo goes over a mountain and is interesting to be sure. To me, interacting with the maya in a little village is more interesting than the land scape, but, that is just me.

DropBarFan 02-07-18 09:29 PM

Good luck with the rack bolts. IMO touring bikes should have M6 bolts.

TallTourist 02-10-18 09:34 PM


Originally Posted by chrisx (Post 20156621)
The road from Huehue to San Mateo goes over a mountain and is interesting to be sure. To me, interacting with the maya in a little village is more interesting than the land scape, but, that is just me.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0E1efv6mLA

It's funny I actually find the local people to be generally very rude and want nothing to do with them. The only time people are polite is if there's money to be made.

People routinely laugh at me I guess because I'm so tall or shout "GRINGOOOO" incessantly at me or wait until I pass then say something to me or to their friends and guffaw about it and when I turn around and ask what they said they make up some garbage about not referring to me. Between that and practically every vehicle with a horn that passes blowing out my eardrums I'm feeling downright hostile. Oh and then there are the dogs that chase me or charge me so I have to stop and waste time teaching other people's dogs all to the owner's amusement.

Guatemala is a beautiful place but the people have been the worst part for me.

I've met some nice people, of course but they tend to be people who have traveled a bit and are therefore more aware of what is acceptable behavior. Here, staring incessantly and laughing at people is a-ok.

I sure hope Mexico is different. I'm about ready to go back to Canada haha.


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