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Published: April 21st 2011
Lago Péten Itza
Looking towards Cerro cahui reserve
Opposed to staying on the island of Flores
I got off the bus, that had taken me on the mainly asphalt road from the Belizean border, at El Cruce where I shared a minivan with 2 Australian ladies to take us the last few kilometers to the town of El Remate
. I was very lucky with my room at the Sunbreeze hotel
where I was given the last available room at the back with lake views for just Q80. This lake, Lago Péten Itza
is the second largest lake in Guatemala and very rich in wildlife. (such as crocodiles!) After dumping my bag and talking to the friendly owner Umberto I headed to the lake for a swim. Although the water is beautiful, christal clear water, the bodem of the lake is mostly grey clay, so jumping in from the ´beach´ is not really nice. I walked my way a little north, finding my way though a field of horses to one of the little wooden piers with tatched huts at the end of them. Here I jumped in the refreshing lake, immediately swarmed by large numbers of small fish. Fantastic! I ate a Q30 pizza (incluye una cola) with views
of the setting sun over the lake.
Went to sleep early as I was going to the ruins of Tikal
at 5:30 a.m. the next day.
The collectivo that picked me and a bunch of others up was right on time, taking us to the Tikal ruins in an hour, in time for us to see the rising sun coming over the tops of the highest ruins. If you were fast, that is. I followed a German girl who seemed to know what she was doing, and climbed up the west tower on the central plaze just as the sun came up from behind the east tower. Beautiful indeed. Good thing about the sun coming up, was that the temperature was rising with it. Wearing just a shirt, it was quite cold, with the fog hanging in the park. As I was told beforehand, the forest surrouning Tikal was coming alive with the screams of howler monkeys, the beautiful calling of a variety of birds and all the other usual jungly sounds. (no Tarzan though) As I hoped to see as much wildlife as possible, I moved my way along quiet paths to less popular ruins, and behold, I
did get to see lots of wildlife. To name a few: spider monkeys, deer, coati, agouti, toucan, ocellated turkey and howler monkeys.
As the collectivo back to El Remate was no earlier than 14:00, I had seven and a half hours in the park, which I spent mostly walking. I must´ve walked 20 k´s that day. I walked nearly every route and path possible and enjoyed most of it. Twice I walked back to the entrance where I had a drink and a rest. Some of the best walks, I think anyway, are the ones going to zona P & H and the walk to Palacio de la Acanaladuras.
As the tourist buses were coming in at around 10, the park started to become crowded, so coming early in the morning was definitely a good choice, although watching a sunset over the ruins must be pretty amazing too!
Definitely worthwhile the trip, bigger than Copan Ruinas in Honduras, but mostly due to its setting right in the heart of a jungle, it´s not hard to imagine how for many years the Mayans lived here during their empire.
Back in town I spent the rest of my day lazing
at the lake and swimming. Met two French who had bought a camper in California and driven it down to Guatemala through mexico. The guy was in a wheelchair too! Another guy from Cali was camping out at the same spot, sleeping in a smal tent. Pretty neat. (and cheap!)
While walking through town that evening I met the Ozzie ladies again and chatted a bit with them. For dinner I shared a table with a few Canadians who gave me loads of tips on work etc. for when I´m heading to Canada in May. It was a cheap dinner, Q15 only with a nice chickenleg, rice and tortillas.
My third and last day in El Remate I got up early (again) and walked north along the lake to the Cerro Cahui Biotopa Reserva
which opened at 7 am so I had to wait a little before the gates were opened and I could pay the Q40 entree fee. It took a mere one and a half hours to the second of the two lookouts, with again, the screams of howler monkeys everywhere around you. Stunning views of the small town of El Remate, the Péten Itza lake and
the lagoon behind it.
I just sat there smoking a sigarette and drinking water, being warmed by the rising sun.
I took my time walking back down the other side of the 3 hour loop, and had a nice omelette for lunch. (Accompanied by a beer, as I had worked so hard he he) I met up with some lovely girls and a guy from Basque country (north Spain) with whom I had an interesting conversation on culture, language and independence. I spent a few hours with them at the lake. As I walked back to my hotel I noticed a large wooden skeletton structure being put up, right in front of the cabins with lake views. So when I saw Umberto, I asked him about it. It seemed a neighbour had decided to build a large bar/club there.... Well, what an idea! I hope he doesn´t succeed in it, it would be a shame of the rooms that Umberto just finished building. I wonder about the safety of the neighbour too, as I heard from a foreign national who had lived in El Remate for about a year already, how another guy, the owner of a previous bar in
or Agouti in English (Tikal Park)
town that started getting drug-related problems, was shot to death! I don´t know if it´s true of course, but that might well be Guatemala for ya..!
The next morning at 8, Umberto´s brand new mini van doubling as a collectivo would drive me to Santa Elena, from where I was going to take a bus to Guatemala city. We picked up a few more people, including the 2 Australian ladies, to whom I will refer from now on as the ´moles´. (Don´t ask) I was able to use a undesignated ATM with my meastro card, so I was able to pay for the reasonably ´luxurious´ bus to the capital. It only stopped once during its 9 hours (it had a very smelly WC on board though) and it was just about dark when we were dropped off in zona 1. Next time from Guatemala city!
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