Into Guatemala and Lago de Atitlan

GuatemalaPosted by Espen Wed, January 26, 2011 03:10:29

After hanging out for almost a week in San Cristobal, we packed up the roof top tent and drove towards the Guatemalan border. As we’ve mentioned in a previous blog post (or was it only on our web page???), we have adjusted our route to meet up with some family from Norway on Yucatan in the beginning of March. We are therefore making a loop down into Guatemala and Belize before driving back up to Yucatan. And this means multiple entries to Mexico for both us and the vehicle… Which, according to guide books, shouldn’t be a problem as both the vehicle permit and the tourist cards should allow multiple entry to Mexico. But theory is one thing, crossing the border can be a different matter.

We spent a night camping at Lagunas de Montebello. This is an excellent option if you are driving south along the Pan-Am, and want to cross the border at La Mesilla in the morning. It took about an hour and a half to get to the border from the campsite.

It would also have been fine to spend a few days at the lakes as it is a really nice and quiet area.

Because of heavy rain in September and October the beach front cabañas are no longer at the beach front, but in the lake…

We had to get exit stamps from Mexico without handing in our tourist cards, and for unknown reasons this turned out to be a problem at La Mesilla. So we actually ended up having a beautiful drive along the valleys in Chiapas along the Guatemalan border. It took us about fours to reach the city of Tapachula, where we ended up spending the night in a “auto hotel”… We weren’t exactly impressed with our overland camping abilities this night.

The next morning we went for the Talisman border crossing, and here we got our stamps and the help we wanted. A detailed description of the border crossing and the paperwork is posted on our web page for those interested.

From Talisman – El Carmen we drove the RN-1 highway towards Solola (via Quetzaltenango), and from there to Panajachel at Lago de Atitlan. This was an interesting drive. From almost sea level at the border the road takes you up to about 3000 meters (9000 feet), and then back down to about 1500 meters (4500 feet) above sea level at Lago de Atitlan. Along the road we could also see traces of the above mentioned heavy rain, as the road foundation in jungle areas is not the best…

Five months later they are still working on clearing the landslides.

The road to Panajachel IS steep....

1000 meters (3000 feet) lower In Panajachel we camped at Hotel Vision Azul. We found the coordinates and a description on the web page at “dare2go.com”, but we have to say that the new owner (English speaking) has made major upgrades. This shows also on the price (75Q per person), but the facilities are clean, the shower is warm, toilets have seats, there is free WIFI in the hotel lobby, and the location is fantastic!!

Next stop: Antigua!


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