Not quite Guatemala—Part 1


There was one time, way back in Belize when we were very nearly in Guatemala.

Top notch security on the Guatemalan border. It sure keeps out those pesky tourists.
Top notch security on the Guatemalan border. It sure keeps out those pesky tourists.

Location: El Pilar ruins, Belize. Distance to Guatemala: 615.18 m (2018.32 ft)

But ultimately we decided not to go, and returned to Mexico instead.

We then of course faffed about for quite some time in Mexico. So long in fact that many of the friends we thought we would see again in Guatemala were, by this time, in Costa Rica, Panama, and even South America. Whoops.

The rumour going around was that we were going to apply for Mexican citizenship. The thought did cross our minds. We love Mexico. But seriously. It was time to burn some rubber and leave Mexico in our dust. Sort of.

Maybe after a detour around the Mexico/Guatemala border.

From San Cristóbal, it would have been possible to drive directly to the La Mesilla border crossing and be in Guatemala the same day. It would have been a 175 km (108 mi) drive. We could have breakfasted in Mexico and enjoyed dinner in Guatemala.

Nope. Too easy.
Nope. Too easy.

Instead we opted for the smaller, quieter border crossing at El Ceibo. Which meant we might as well drive back through Palenque. The road between San Cristóbal and Palenque is famous for road blocks. But it sounded like the protesters would open the road each day in the mid afternoon if you waited patiently, so even with the delay, the 219 km (136 mi) journey to Palenque sounded pretty manageable.

Too straightforward.
Too straightforward.

Instead, we opted for an elaborate detour around the Mexico/Guatemala border with time to partake in some sightseeing en route. No rush… right?

Just right.
Just right.

Location: San Cristóbal de Las Casas. Distance to Guatemala: (as the crow flies) 121.58 km (75.54 mi)


First stop, a rock arch in a nature reserve just out of San Cristóbal.

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Location: El Arcotete. Distance to Guatemala: 120.15 km (74.66 mi)

We don’t want to drive too far in one go, now do we?

Next up. A recreation park featuring some caves, just down the road.

Location: Rancho Nuevo caves. Distance to Guatemala: 112.62 km (69.98 mi)

Time to make some serious progress towards Guatemala… oh look—a waterfall!

Location: Cascadas El Chiflón. Distance to Guatemala: 56.76 km (35.27 mi)


Now we’re seriously closing in on the border.

Location: Lagunas de Montebello. Distance to Guatemala: 3.82 km (2.38 mi)

The weather was a bit bleak when we first arrived at Lagunas de Montebello

If we camp really close to the border, does that count as visiting Guatemala?

Location: Lago Tziscao. Distance to Guatemala: 1.02 km (3,332 feet)

Either way it’s a great spot to watch sunrise.


(You can see a larger panorama in more detail in our full screen panorama gallery)

Then there was that time we did go to Guatemala, but didn’t get our passports stamped.

Location: Lago internacional. Distance to Guatemala: 0km

From there we can only drive further from the border… or go back and get our passports stamped. We of course, drove further from the border.

At first, only a short distance to take a look at Lago Pojoj.

Location: Lago Pojoj. Distance to Guatemala: 3.19 km (1.98 mi)

You can see this panorama a bit larger in our gallery as well.


Then we drove a bit further away.

Location: Las Nubes. Distance to Guatemala: 13.86 km (8.61 mi)

Our favourite thing about this spot? The nice peaceful swimming hole located just at the top of this set of churning, crushing falls that eventually disappear into a rocky gorge and emerge hundreds of metres below in a valley. Way to make health and safety very much optional Mexico.

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Anyway. Onward and… further again from Guatemala. We wanted to explore the jungle, but were too cheap to pay for the boat trip. So we looked at the captive Scarlet Macaws and played about on the grounds of the luxury eco hotel that we were equally to cheap to stay at.

Location: Las Guacamayas. Distance to Guatemala: 20.09 km (12.49 mi)

The next stop on our itinerary tiki-touring around the Mexico-Guatemala border was the mysterious Yaxchilan ruins.

But, since we took such a long detour on route to Guatemala, it is probably best if you read about that in our second instalment of ‘Not quite in Guatemala’. Stay tuned…

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