After cycling along the Golf of Mexico to the city of Campeche we go more inland of the Yucatán Peninsula. We spend two nights with Daniël in Campeche, leave the coast behind us and follow a small road into the jungle. We pass the small village named “China”. The road winds deeper and deeper inland. The region is known because of the many Maya ruins. The first one on our route will be the Edzna ruins. A quite famous and big one.
On the iOverlander app we couldn’t find out for sure it will be possible to camp at the Edzna or at least close by. But we will take the risk, for so far we were always capable to find a place to stay, so why not now also.
Halfway the road to the ruins we pass an eco campsite. It’s still early in the afternoon but we wanna give it a go and we turn around to see if the campsite is open.
The guy at the desk is very friendly and tells us it’s possible to camp, to eat delicious fish and to dip in the swimming pool. This sounds pretty much like a good plan for us. We check in, put up our tent somewhere in the dense jungle of the campsite and go for a search to the swimming pool.
The pool is found easily and the rest of the day we hang around it.
We are the only guests on the whole campsite so no jelling kids or other noisy guests, just we, we self and us. In the evening we eat some good fish and the owner tells us a lot about the Maya history and culture. He also works as a tour guide so he knows a lot about it.
When we walk back to our tent we nearly got lost in the dark nightly jungle forest. The night is filled with birds and for us unknown animal sounds. Are there monkeys and crocodiles living in this area we ask ourselves? Despite the jungle animals we sleep as a Canadian black bear in winter time.
The next morning we pack up our stuff again and head to the Maya ruins of Edzna.
We expect it will be busy so we go early but on the site itself we see it’s not crowded at all. We spend a few hours hanging around the ruins. Quite interesting to see this historic site and we take loads of pictures.
After leaving the ruins we hop on our bikes again in search for a nice place for the night. Small villages come and go, and by the end of the day, it’s nearly dark already, we ask some people for a place to stay. They answer; in the next village called Ich-Ek, just 5km away, is an eco center where you can camp. “Ok, gracias!!”
We enter the next village in total darkness and ask around for the eco center. The eco center is unknown but the old guy tells us; in just 100m on the right is a big park with big trees where you easily can camp for free. "The village is save so no worries"
We set up our camp quickly and fall asleep shortly after.
When we pack up our camp the next morning the whole village still seems to sleep. It’s Sunday morning and on Sundays Mexican people are up late, most shops are closed and you see guys drinking beers along the road.
Just out of town we see another archeological site, very close to the road. We jump of our bikes and walk into it. It’s still early, there’s no one there, just one guy sweeping the place. After 10 minutes of walking around the guy comes up to us and tells us his name is José and the works here for nearly 25 years already. He knows a lot about the Mayas and he can give some explanations about this site and Maya culture if we like.
“Sure... go ahead!”
He starts telling... and telling and showing us around, half Spanish, half English. He really knows a lot about it and after 45 minutes for sure we know a lot more about the Maya culture then before. Interesting.
We give Jose 100 pesos and move on to the next, some bigger town for some groceries. The plan for the coming night is to try to get a camping spot at some caves further up the road so we need some food to survive. It’s not a far ride so we take it easy. After 50km we find the caves and ask the guys over there if we can camp here for the night. “Si si, no problemo”
“Muy bien, gracias!!”
We park our bikes, drink and eat some and go down in the dark caves. Inside the caves it’s warm and humid. There are just a few people around and the deeper we go in the darker it gets. Once the cave was well lighted but now most lights are no longer working. The word maintenance is not well known in Mexico. Once things build they are rarely maintained and will fall apart after years.
After leaving the caves we walk the jungle environment around the site as well. We discover huge holes in the ground where you can look inside the caves from far above.
Back at the entrance the “cave guy” explains how things work here at night. He will leave one toilet unlocked for us but he will lock the main entrance fence so no one can go in or out.
Since we are inside the site he explains how we can escape it the next morning when he is not around yet.
“On the side of the fence you can break open some barb wire and sneak out. Please close it afterwards again” he explains “have a good night” and off he goes.
We love it how easy going Mexican people can be 😊
The night is quiet a half lighted moon is watching over us from a dark sky filled with a million of stars.
The next day, another short cycling day is in front of us but includes the visit of the Uxmal Maya ruins. We don’t take the normal paved road but we find an off the beaten track one through some tiny villages.
The first part of the route is paved but soon it changed into dirt road and the dirt road changes in a small single track where no cars can go. We only see some small motorbikes crossing us.
At the middle of the day we arrive at the ruins site.
On the ridden tracks no tourists at all, on the ruins site thousands. We have settle in again.
The ruins themselves are awesome again and so different from what we saw before on the other ruin sites.
By the end of the day we have to find ourselves a place to stay again. On our iOverlander app we find a small campsite but on arrival it is closed. It’s nearly dark now. Kim remembers herself another iOverlander spot close by behind an old restaurant fallen in a ruin.
When we arrive on the place in deep dark it seems okay for us and we dig ourselves through the high grass to the back of the building which was a restaurant years ago. The night that follows is filled with the same stars as the night before and we fall asleep quick.
Early in the morning we are awake again, pack up and continue our route further north again. After just a few hours of cycling we arrive at a nice cenote at the end of a very bumpy dirt track. A cenote is a cave filled with clear water where in you can swim most of the time.
We pay 30 pesos each (€1,50) and jump in. We swim for a hour and dry up in the warm sun.
If we ask the guy we can stay here for the night it’s no problem. We put up our tent and take another dive in the cenote.
The next early morning before anyone is around we skinny dip in the cenote. The place is so relax we decide to gonna stay another night here. The rest of the day guests come and go but it isn’t busy at all. At one point a small tour bus comes along, people go to the cenote but one guy starts looking at our bikes. After checking them out he asks if they are ours. He introduces himself as Piero from Italy, cycling from Argentina to Alaska. The same route as we do but in opposite direction.
He also tells his tour guide today is also his Warmshowers host in Merida. We promise each other to keep in contact to meet again in Merida when we’re there.
The other day we do another early morning dip and take off. On the road again to find ourselves in another hidden cenote again after just a 30 minutes ride. This cenote is so off track no one is around at all and we spend the rest of the morning hanging around and relaxing.
A few days ago we arranged a Warmshowers host in Merida. Merida is a town with 700.000 people living. It should be a nice place to visit according to one of the Lonely Planet tour guides on our e-reader. After the cenote we are heading towards Merida and after eating two huge pizzas in a small take away we meet our host Ken at his remarkable house in the town center.
Ken is a retired American who now lives with his wife the good Mexican life.
Merida is even much nicer than we expected and we end up staying at Ken for four nights. (at most “nice” towns we often think “just another town”)
After checking out Merida four days in a row and meeting up with Piero the Italian cyclist and his host Raúl we cycle out of Merida. Because we don’t expect to see any decent supermarkets the coming days we go along a big one in town first.
Instead of going straight on the highway to our next destination, the Itza ruins we take a detour on a smaller road which leads via the town of Izamal. The road is quiet and passes a lot of small villages. By the time we reach Izamal it’s late in the afternoon so we need a place to stay. On iOverlander we discovered a small hotel/campsite close by the city center already so we gonna check it out.
When we arrive in front of the closed fence of the campsite it looks closed. When we try the lock on the fence we feel it’s not locked so we go in. The site looks good and has a Caribbean vibe but there is no one around.
After a good search we find a Mexican lady who leads us to the owner of the campsite.
An Austrian guy shows up and asks us if we made a reservation. “Euhm... no!!”
“How many nights do you wanna stay?” He asks.
“Just one night”
“We don’t have real sites for tenters, it’s really rocky everywhere”
“We came cycling all the way down from Alaska already, we camped on rocky grounds before so that’s no problem for us”
“Ok” he says unsympathetic “I will show you where you might camp”
“Is it off season?”(because we don’t see anyone else around)
“No, we have the most of our guests in the hotel.” He answers grumpy.
“The camp spot looks good to us, thank you for letting us stay 😬”
When we put up our tent we meet a German guy who is already on this spot for four weeks to fix his old camper van again. He tells he’s touring to Argentina as well and will probably needs another two weeks to fix his van.
When we start cooking our meal a bunch of dogs show up and start barking at us.
When we hop on our bikes again the next day our destination will be two other cenotes after each other. At the second cenote we also can camp according iOverlander.
When we arrive nearly at second one, two overlander motorcyclists arrive as well. Adrian from the Uk and Joos from Peru, both going south but both in their own way.
Adrian on a Yamaha XT600 enduro. He is in his fifties and managed he can travel for another six years by renting out his house. Joos in his twenties worked in the States, bought himself a KTM streetbike and now driving back home to Peru. Parts of the route they travel together to keep costs as low as possible by sharing hotel rooms and to have some company around.
We visit the cenote with the four of us. By the time it’s closing time we go out again to put up our tent on the cenotes parking. Adrian and Joos come out as well and we chat for a long time on the parking till it gets dark.
When they take off to their hotel we finish our tent and cook some easy pasta. We fall asleep not long after.
The next morning we pack up early and cycle the 20km to the Itza ruins. These ruins are probably the most famous ones in the whole region. Nearly 2.500 people visit the ruins every day. When we arrive at 9am it’s busy with loads of tourists already. The rest of the morning and early afternoon we spend walking around the big archeological site. It’s definitely worth the visit and despite the few thousand visitors luckily it’s not overcrowded.
When we met Raúl (the host of Piero the Italian cyclist in Merida) he managed a host for to stay with in Valladolid. Valladolid is just 40km from the Itza ruins so we paddle to Daniel the host in the late afternoon to stay with him. He is a nice guy and really into cycling. He shows us his medals he won or got by different mtb races and tours. We camp in his huge backyard.
We make it a short stay and leave early the next morning. Tulum, a hippyish beach town at the Caribbean coast will be our next spot to lay out our legs to rest for a few nights. The town is 115km away so we don’t want to leave to late.
The road to Tulum is straight but boring and being not even halfway we get loads of rain over us. We try to seek for something to hide under but it doesn’t work out so we paddle on in blistering rain.
Just before Tulum we eat some awful pizzas in a tiny town. By the time we enter Tulum the rain just stopped but we’re still soaked. At a small campground along the Tulum beach we check in for two nights and get a cold shower. It’s dark already and we go straight into bed.
When we wake up at 6 in the morning* we start the day with a long beach walk. The sun is about to rise in a few minutes and the yesterdays rain is gone.
(*When camping we wake up every morning around 6 when the sun comes up. At night we go into our tent around 7 when it’s dark already for a hour. We read some and fall asleep. On camping days we try to live with the sun rather then live with the clock as much as possible. It feels super chill, you get enough sleep and it feels to us as ultimate freedom.)
After breakfast we walk into town, a 4km walk. When we take off an American lady stops by and offers us a ride in her car into town. Thanks 🙏
Tulum is filled with small boutiques, tourist shops, bars and restaurants. We find the place way to expensive compared to other Mexican town so we keep our money in our pockets today.
From Tulum we head south. We skip the very touristic towns of Cancun and Playa del Carmen just north of Tulum. We have seen enough tourists the last few weeks.
On iOverlander we found a nice camp spot along a lake with another cenote. According the description it should not be crowded and a bit of the route everybody else is going.
The road is a bit boring but straight and with finally some tailwind. The last few weeks we had headwinds all the time so now we can make more progress in less time.
During the ride we have some rain but not to bad. By the end of the day, on just the last 15 kilometers it starts raining again but now so hard the road looks more like a huge river. The last 3 kilometers are off the main road over a small dirt road. The dirt road is turned into a river as well. It’s dark already so to find our route is even harder. To find the exact campsite location we need the iOverlander app again but everything is completely soaked, even our waterproof Samsung phone doesn’t like it anymore. By luck we find the spot. The guy on the site greeds us and offers us as fresh hot coffee first. He also tells us he has cabins free where we can stay in if we like. “Yes sure we like that!” Putting up a tent in a sort of a river stream is a challenge we don’t like to manage now anyway.
Because we planned not to stay very long in Mexico anymore the last time we took money out of an ATM machine we took as less as possible, just enough to sit out our last days in Mexico and not to end up in Belize with loads of Mexican pesos left. This resulted now in not have enough money for two nights in a cabin and be able to eat in the neighbour restaurant. But because the place is to nice to stay just one night and to let dry out our soaked stuff we decide stay two nights and eat whatever we can find on leftovers in our panniers.
At the day of we do some writing for our website and visit the not so spectacular cenote which is completely drained into the lake.
When we leave the place the dirt road to the campsite is still filled with a lot of water but it’s no longer some kind of river.
We hit the main road again and go south to Bacalar, 110km away from here for camping and to get new pesos out of an ATM machine.
Bacalar is just a few kilometer away from the Belize border so it will be our last Mexican camp spot.
After spending 3,5 months in Mexico we look forward to a new country but first we gonna stay for two days in the small but nice town of Bacalar which has a pleasant hippie vibe.