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Tales from an intrepid viajero in Latin America Despite promising myself that I´d never be so self-indulgent as to write a blog that´s exactly what I´m going to do. Welcome to the blog that I´m writing while studying Spanish and travelling in Latin America over the next 8 months

Trekking across the Cuchamantes Mountains

GUATEMALA | Tuesday, 6 January 2009 | Views [1136] | Comments [5]

I`ve just done a 3 day trek/journey across the Cuchamantes mountains between Nebaj and Todos Santos in the north of Guatemala. The majority of the trek is at around 3000m and the scenery is generally pretty impressive if it isn`t foggy.

Day 1

We set off from Nebaj but can`t see anything as we are walking in the clouds. It is quite nice walking in crisp, cool air but would be all the better if we could see something. We stop at a random village to eat lunch. Everybody in the village is completely drunk as it is New Years Day and they are celebrating the inauguration of the new mayor. As the festivities come to an end people leave "cattle style" in the back of a one of those large agricultural vehicles where they cram in cows. I make a note that I won`t be doing anything like that in the near future. After lunch we continue walking for through the mist for another few hours. Our guide shows us the mirador where there is usually a spectacular view - I take a photo of the mist so that I may imagine what it might be like. Arrive at Palop (random village in the mountains) at around 6pm.

I am accosted by some random person who starts to tell me their life story. When he gets to the bit about his dad dying due to some firework that exploded badly he breaks down in tears. This is probably a good opportunity to work on my empathy skills but at this point I am thinking that the bloke is a complete nutter. I tell him that his story is very sad and pray that he buggers off.

There are 14 of us and only 12 beds in the room we are staying in. Not to worry, I wasn`t expecting a bed anyway. Suddenly, the person who has a top bunk says they are claustraphobic and would rather sleep on the floor. I prepare myself for a good nights sleep only to see her removing the mattress from the bed. Have to spend the night sleeping on the boards of the bed - I´m sure the floor would have been more comfortable. Dinner consists of heuvos, frijoles and tortillas. Manage to boil some water and have a bath of sorts before retiring to bed.

Day 2

Get up at 5am to start walking at 6am. Breakfast consists of boiled eggs and tortillas. Yum. We start walking at 6am and luckily there is not a cloud in sight. The mountains are really beatiful when the weather is like this. Just the kind of idyllic scenery that I was expecting. There is quite a lot of uphill but I feel pretty good even with a heavyish backpack. We eat our pack lunch which consists of an omellette, frijoles and tortillas. Some clown mentions something about how much he loves egg and frijoles - you can eat mine next time mate. We continue walking in the mountains after lunch and I´m very much enjoying my day. We stop at around 4pm to get a lift to our next stop. We`re in luck - a lorry that would normally be used to transport livestock stops for us and it is full of wood. I get the job of jumping into the lorry and finding a place for everyone`s bags. Everyone else jumps on later. I hear our guide coming to some sort of arrangement with the the guys in the front of the lorry. I hear something about dropping off the wood at the mill. Half an hour later after being flung around the back of a lorry on top of a pile of wood we come to a stop. The men from the front come around and tell me to start unloading the lorry - I start to understand the deal. I relay the message to the non Spanish speakers who look somewhat flabbergasted. The locals look on as a bunch of "gringos" spend 45mins unloading a lorry full of wood.

We reach our destination for the evening and two people have to sleep on the floor. I volunteer for the floor as none of the beds have mattresses. Suddenly a mujer appears with two mattresses for the two people who are sleeping on the floor. Good things come to those who wait. Suddenly everyone wants to sleep on the floor and we end up agreeing that 6 people will sleep on mattresses for 2 people.

Dinner consists of eggs, frijoles and tortillas. Que rico. Suddenly I`m not feeling so clever. Get up during the middle of the night and start to throw up. At least the dogs seem to find my puke very nutritious. They finish off 3 days worth of eggs and frijoles in no time. Saves me having to clean up a pile of sick at 11pm in freezing temperatures. I spend the night becoming very well acquainted with the outdoor toilet.

Day 3

Start the day by throwing up again. The prospect of walking 20km only makes matters worse. Pump lots of water that I`ll need during the day. We start walking through the beautiful mountains and at least the weather is nice. I feel like I could collapse at any moment. From being way ahead of everyone suddenly only the old couple are behind me. People start offering to carry the emergency tent for me. Fool that I am, I decide that this is a good opportunity to show everyone what mental fortitude is in practice. "No I`ve carried all this stuff for 3 hours, 2 more isn`t going to kill me". I drink a coke to give me some energy as I can`t hold down any solids.  Suddenly a bunch of stray dogs attack us. Some poor girl gets bitten by a dog and everyone has to attend to her.

We reach the point where we can get a lift into Todos Santos.  I pretty mcuh collapse in a heap and lie on my backpack. We get on the pickup. It is actually more uncomfortable than walking as 14 of us are squeezed into the back of a tiny pickup. The rest ask how long it would take to walk to Todos Santos. Apparently, 2 hrs. The others walk to Todos Santos while I accompany the backpacks there in the pickup. Todos Santos has a great setting in the mountains and I rest in the midst of the dramatic mountain scenery.

Tags: trekking



Living the dream Amil! Sounds like a lot of fun, kind of!! Keep it up - hope the stomach recovers.


  Martin Jan 7, 2009 5:55 AM


Amil, it sounds like you are having a splendid time! Sensible travelling from a sensible traveller!

  R J Priestland Jan 10, 2009 3:56 AM


Hardcore trekking Amil. Needless to say, I'd wilt after about 2 hours...

  Chris L Jan 12, 2009 3:17 AM


So, boiled eggs and tortillas are the Guatemalan equivalent of potato croquettes and millionaire's cake from Iffley News? Slightly more nutritious at least. I'd like an update on the success (or otherwise) of the reforestation project, please. Did you finish, or were you chased away by angry, pitchfork-wielding locals? Take care.

  Ted Jan 18, 2009 1:15 AM


Great honest gitty writing Amil.

   James R Jul 13, 2010 10:58 AM



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