To end in beauty and in cycling this year 2019, we chose to migrate to the extreme south-east of Mexico, in Mayan country towards the Yucatan peninsula and the Quintana Roo. From Mérida to Bacalar, we took advantage, despite mass tourism, of a large, invigorating sun and natural wonders. Here are our best memories 🙂
From Mérida where we are welcomed with onions by our hosts Warmshowers Ken & Erin, we leave on a small road to Izamal. The day is very peaceful, punctuated by multiple “topes” (donkey backs in good shape) and a few typical villages: a large sleepy square decorated with tropical trees, some shops and Christmas decorations of course!
In Izamal, the yellow city, we stroll through fairly quiet alleys reminiscent of Andalusia, then we visit the huge central church and an ancient Mayan pyramid, small and rather conquest.
In Valladolid, we celebrate Christmas at the youth hostel around a buffet shared between backpackers and then discover our first cenote the next day (natural pool, generally quite deep and with crystal clear water). The city is not particularly charming elsewhere.
60km further south, after a somewhat monotonous road, full of plastics and wild dumps, we discover Coba and its large Maya archaeological site. Ironically, tourists travel by the hundreds by rental bikes (after coming by bus and pick up …) but we are forbidden access with our own mounts! We will therefore spend a good two hours on foot but the place is worth the detour. Then we stop for the night in the cool, at the edge of the jungle, at the Malinche Inn Café which we highly recommend!
Next step: Tulum! We land on December 27, at the heart of the holidays of hordes of Europeans and Americans who have come to seek the sun and relax on the Caribbean coast. Suffice to say that at first glance, we are a bit wary. But ultimately the charm operates, largely thanks to Ursulla, an Austrian converted into a local guide, captured by magic via a Warmshowers contact. In 2 quick days, we visit a new cenote and enjoy local and varied food in town.
What’s next? Punta Allen by a somewhat bumpy road along luxurious hotels for 10km then 40km on a rather wild tricky path in the reserve of Sian Ka’an. The sea, very close to the path, takes on its sublime blue and green hues but also, as in Indonesia, its piles of waste on the shore.
We spend the end of the day at a charming campsite which was advised to us by Ursula. The atmosphere is tropical: coconut palms, songbirds and … mosquitoes!
From this fine arm of land, the next day, we reach by boat a deserted path that winds between mangrove and jungle for more than 50km. We can see a couple of foxes, spider monkeys and some birds that camouflage themselves decidedly too well!
170km further south, after a stop at the edge of the lagoon, and hours of boring pedaling on endless straight and flat roads, we find the Caribbean Sea at Mahahual. High diving site, and stage of gigantic cruise ships, the village remains pleasant and lends itself well to cycling. We cook and rest in a nice campsite and hop here we are in 2020!
On January 1st, we meet at 10am to make two beautiful dives along the coral reef. We wish a happy new year to some parrot fish, angel fish, groupers, moray eels, a stingray, a turtle or even crayfish. But let’s not embellish too much, the corals are still well damaged by human activity…
Last step at Quintana Roo, we spend 2 days in Bacalar and Xul Ha on the edge of the famous lagoon with 7 colors.
Biking is again very practical for getting around the various sites, where the vast majority of tourists flock to taxis and buses … A kayak trip and a few swims round off these two beautiful weeks in the heart of winter!