Back in the mountains

Trip Start Jul 15, 2009
Trip End Jul 15, 2010

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Flag of Guatemala  , Western Highlands,
Saturday, February 6, 2010

A day and a half ride from Flores and we were finally back in the mountains. It had been a month and a half in the low lands so the change was more than welcome. I was excited about having amazing views again and seeing a whole new landscape. We were heading toward Lanquin, a little town snuggled by towering mountains of lush cloud forest. Of the two ways to get there we took the most direct but because Lanquin was in the middle of nowhere this meant hitting dirt and rocky roads again. I think that Guatemala actually has very few tar sealed roads.

The first day in the mountains was tough tough tough, hot hot hot and very humid. We climbed to 1200m and near night fall we were over the road from a little tienda (small wooden shacks selling basics supplies to the locals). We asked if we could camp in the space over the road and they said we could sleep in the house just above a bit as no one was living there. Now a house around these parts is no more than a frame with wood panels slapped on the outside, a corrugated iron roof and a dirt floor. It was perfect! We pitched our tents on the inside with our fly's as the roof had holes, then the wind and rain came in, hard! I thought the roof was going to fly off or collapse in and take my head off. Still, I slept well but woke once to see clouds blowing in through the door. In the morning I found water had come through the foundation wall and dirt floor and somehow wet my clothing bag (my pillow) blow up matt and my book. I had set up in a dip on the floor!

We were now up to the elevations of 1400ms and well into the cloud forest. As we rode past small shacks spotted around in the bush the kids would yell out Gringos. They actually went mental when they saw us and it got tiresome after a while. Little punks, we could hear them from the other side of the valley and all, they! Over all people were friendly but some wouldn’t look at you or say hi, like, they were shit scared of gringos, I’m guessing to see a white person on a bike on this road probably does not happened often, if at all. Some people have been attacked by villages as they think gringos want to steal the kids, or kid’s organs.

The road took a huge 800m drop down 11k to Lanquin, a seriously rough road with big F you rocks. Nancy had a bail, I put my bike down and Matthews’s bike deteriorated from a previous problem. His rear rim was cracking from spoke to spoke internally. Once there we found our accommodation. It was just out of town on the river with huts, restaurant and hammock area, office with internet room. I pitched my tent under cover in the hammock dome.

There was one reason from coming here and that was to see Semuc Champy. Some say the most beautiful spot in Guatemala. Semuc is amazing, a place where the raging river drops through a hole in the surface and runs through a 300m long underground chamber before popping back out. On top are beautiful turquoise and green terraced pools stepping down to the caves mouth were the rio was gushing out. The water in the pools comes from little streams either side in the valley. Magic! The climb to the lookout was very tough but well worth the view.

Also highlights at Lanquin are the caves, which I was disappointed with. It was an impressive cave and it felt like I were the first to discover the cave as no one else was there. The bad side was it has no real path, was really dangerous as you slip around in the bat shit, this meant people could clamber around touching everything, so, all the stalagmites were damaged. Overall after being to Carlsbad caverns in New Mexico I’m not sure what would impress me. Lol, I’m a cave snob!

We stayed in town for three days before leaving. Unfortunately some ass stole Matthew’s camera which was a big bummer. We took a truck up to the top of the hill and then headed to the town of Coban. The road was all tarmac and smooth sailing. Coban had a few treats available. A fine hostel with GAS water heating. First hot shower in a month and a half, and not just hot, I think I tried to boil my skin off it was so good.

We rode past a few coffee plantations (finca’s) on the way in and as there was a finca in town. We took a tour around to see the different types of coffee plants, learn about the process and sample the brew, and buy the chocolate. Nice! Also on the outskirts of town a privately owned orchid garden which you could have a little tour. Coban has the National Orchid show. They had thousands of varieties and we got to see some cool sights. Some of the flowers were so small you almost need a magnifying glass to see them. 90% of orchids grow on trees and all the trees around the garden had plants latching onto them, even the TV antenna. Some of these plants were 30years old.
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Kelly on

Wow, amazing photo's!

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