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Old 01-18-2013, 10:08 AM   #31
Catours OP
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Location: Guatemala
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Day 5: Soloma to Nebaj via Cuchumatanes and Laguna Magdalena

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:



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:



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












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












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.







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
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Old 01-18-2013, 10:44 AM   #32
Tengai In Toronto
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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!
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Old 01-18-2013, 02:57 PM   #33
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That photo with the guy carrying the 100lb saw log on his back, up hill, illustrates how soft we are here in our lifes.
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Old 01-23-2013, 04:01 PM   #34
Catours OP
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Day 6: Nebaj to Quiche (the round about way)

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:


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


Frenchy coming up the dirt twisties


Lots of livestock including bulls, horses, sheep, dogs, etc.


The end of the road


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
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Old 02-09-2013, 04:23 PM   #35
AppFan
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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!
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Old 09-27-2013, 02:05 PM   #36
MufflerBearings
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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!

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.
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Old 09-27-2013, 04:29 PM   #37
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This is fantastic! I am going to spend some time in that part of the world before I depart this existence.
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