GokyoRi, Nepal

On GokyoRi Summit with Everest in the background

Nepal, the Himalayas, Everest, GokyoRi, Renjo Pass. All these places were never on our bucket list, but after visiting with our friends Maurice and Jan ….. well, … suddenly it was at the top of our to do list. Now, all we had to do, was to get fit and organised for the heights. ……. Whether we would physically be able to do it was another question.

We made it !!

Kathmandu (1,400m) day 1

Well here we are on day one of our adventure. We have just landed in Kathmandu, Nepal. We had a good flight with Qatar from Johannesburg. 

Approaching the Himalayas

The visa on arrival cost us US$40 each. Pema, our very friendly and competent Sherpa guide picks us up at the airport and takes us to the Dwarika hotel for the first night. Our friends, the Johns are already at this very nice hotel. We’re on the 4 th floor in a very large room. We enjoy our last big dinner, tequila sunrise and green echo drinks, for a while at least. We go to bed feeling happy with our Oxygen saturation at 97%.

Dwarika Hotel
Kathmandu from our hotel


Lukla (2,860m) and Monjo (2,835m) day 2

We rise at 4.40am to checkout at 5am.  Pema’s son (Tenzing) and 4 friends from Utah (Danny, Ben, Shaylee, Austin ) and (Larry) are already in the bus and we’re off to the airport. We’re flying with Summit Air to Lukla, arguably the most dangerous commercial airport in the world. Our luggage restriction is 10kg checked and 5kg in hand. Some improvising happens with the luggage. All heavy jackets are worn and extra camera lenses end in jacket pockets. The flight is only 45 minutes.

We arrive safely at Lukla. Quite a busy little airport with fixed wings and helicopters landing and taking off constantly. Breakfast is bread, eggs and ginger tea. We repack our backpacks, buy some water and toilet paper for NR1000. We have a 2 hour hike until lunch time.

Leaving Lukla

Lunch is ginger tea, potatoes and bread, outside in the nice warm sun. The afternoon hike of 3 hours brings us up to Monjo.  Along the way, we passed many trains of donkeys and cows (Yaks are only above 3,000m), all with bells. The ablution facilities, like the long drop, next to the road, aren’t always five star.

Getting the bureaucracy out of the way.


It takes us 5 hours to cover the following 7km. The road is very busy with hikers, porters and animal cargo trains. Our sleeping facility is nice and clean. We’re on the top floor. Dinner is spaghetti, noodles, green spinach and of course ginger tea. Lucky me, I love ginger tea and can drink it all day. We even have a nice flush toilet. It’s 9pm when we go to bed.

Lukla

After the large earth quake of 2015 most of the T-houses were rebuilt and changed into very nice clean B&B style small hotels. They have flush toilets, electricity, lights, plugs to charge batteries and even clean beds. You just need your own sleeping bag. Sometimes they even have showers, but the wash basins with running water is good enough along with the wet-wipes that we brought along. Much better than what we expected.

All set and ready to start the trek
Maurice, Jan, Esmé , Danie
Monjo – a beautiful sunny lunch stop

Namche Bazaar (3,480m) day 3

Today’s hike is uphill all day long. We cross two very high and impressive suspension bridges along the way. You have to get your timing correct so that you don’t end up on the narrow bridge at the same time as the donkeys, yaks or cattle.

Suspension bridge

We make it to Namche Bazaar at 3,480 m where we have lunch and dinner. The air is becoming thinner and breathing is not all that easy anymore. By 8pm we are all in bed. It’s quite cold, but our -40 degree C goose-down sleeping bags do the trick. Namche was the epicentre of the large earthquake of April 2015. The town has completely been rebuilt and everything seems to be quite sturdy. Namche is a bustling little town.

Namche Bazaar – a welcome sight

Namche Bazaar (3,480m) day 4

After a 7am breakfast of 2 eggs and oats we spent the day stroling around Namche town to acclimatise. Two suitcases that were misplaced by the airline are delivered at our hotel. (They were flown up by helicopter from Lukla). We have wifi here in town! I’m impressed. After lunch, we hike up the steep hill behind town to the helipad and from there to the Everest Hotel at 3,880m from where we have our first great view of Everest. (Only it was hidden in a fluffy white cloud). From there the hike is more or less downhill to Pema’s home in the town of Khumjung. The view is great from the Everest Hotel. Although cold, we are having great weather, clear skies and no rain.

First good view of Everest in the background.

There are many Yaks and tourists along the way. Fortunately this is where we split off from the main “highway” to Everest base camp and the hike becomes less crowded and much less dusty.

Everest Hotel

Khumjung (3,790m) day 5

After a good night’s sleep in Pema’s family home the “Gompa Lodge” at 3,790m in Khumjung, we are treated with a 7am breakfast of french toast and hash browns.

Sunrise in Khumjung

The house is quite warm inside and we slept with only a t-shirt on (in the sleeping bag of course!). Guess what we had to drink …… ginger and lemon tea. All meals are 100% carbs … not my normal diet, but it seems to work well over here. The toilet is again the normal squat toilet and we’ve been without showers for the last 5 days but we are now quite efficient in cleaning with our wet-wipes. We visit the Samten Choling Monastery where the Yeti skull is kept. The town is a very interesting place. It’s claimed that this skull is preserved from what used to ba a real live Yeti.

Cow dung being dried for “fire wood”

The valley around the town is very picturesque with all the surrounding high mountains. A Yak is a male and a Nak the female. They give wool, cheese, milk and meat, are essential for the locals and can only live above 3,000m. They are not related to cattle, they are more like buffalo.

Prayer wheel for good Karma

There are many Prayer wheels in all towns. You spin them in a clockwise direction for good karma. Lunch is potatoes. We walked around and had a look at the school and hospitals which honour Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay.

Dinner is lemon tea, yak meatballs and potatoes. At 9pm we are in bed. Breakfast will be at 7am tomorrow morning and then we will be hiking higher again.

Khumjung
Samten Choling Monastery and the Yeti Skull


Phortse (3,810m) day 6

Breakfast at 7am consists of 2 eggs and porridge. The hike this morning is very steep and tough, but, the stunning scenery makes everything well worth the effort and more.

Lunch is at Mong, 3,979m. Above us there is a lot of helicopter traffic. Apparently most are doing rescue work and not much sightseeing. Our lunch time view is great and lunch is one egg, bread and cookies.

We arrive in Phortse 3,810m high at 2pm where we check in at Pema’s lodge, “The Peaceful Lodge” which has 30 rooms. Luxury ! …. We have an ensuite bathroom with a flush toilet and warm shower, our first shower and flush toilet in 6 days!. Dinner tonight is a Sherpa Stew, which is delicious. It is very very cold outside. The fire stoves are wonderful and our warm -40 degree C sleeping bags are worth every penny!.

On our way to Mong
Mong

Yak wool is very rough and the fine 100% yak wool garments in the shops are apparently fake.

All along the way are the painted “mani stones“. You have to walk around them in a clockwise direction for good karma. With an oxygen saturation of 93% we are quite impressed with ourselves. Tomorrow we are going to make a quick hike up and down the mountain behind the town to help with our acclimatisation. The distance we hiked today was 12.6 km.

The way to Phortse
Peaceful Lodge


Phortse (3,810m) day 7

Today is Esmé’s birthday! Plans have changed and we will now hike up the mountain behind us tomorrow and spend today strolling around town. There are 2 Buddhist priests spending a few days in the lodge, praying the whole day, blessing the lodge and the family living there. Pema bakes a birthday cake for Esmé and we all share it at dinner.

There is a very modern beautiful building in town “The Khumbu Climbing Center” that was conceived and supported by the Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation. It was designed by students from the Montana State University School of Architecture under the guideance of Michael Everts. ” Today was a very relaxing and pleasant day that we spent walking around town to acclimatise and get used to the hight and thin air.


Phortse (3,810m) day 8

Today is our 2nd day in Pema’s Peaceful Lodge. We spent a few hours climbing the mountain behind the town, up to 3,800m which apparently is just as high as we are going to be at tomorrow night in Na. The saying is hike high and sleep low. It is certainly working well for us. We are all feeling great !

Phortse


Na (4,440m) day 9

We leave Phortse in a very thick cold mist.

We stop for lunch at the Khangtekha Lodge (4,390m), where we meet a group of Basques (not Spaniards) that are on their way back. This “lodge” is a great stop for lunch, but, I’m glad we’re not sleeping there.

lunch break

We have to drink some very sweet mango flavoured sugar water, …. which actually tastes quite good. We reach the Cholo View Lodge (4,440m) just before dark in Na and dinner is ready at 6pm. After visiting the squat toilets we are in bed early. It is very cold. I started drinking diamox 125mg bd today, only because I have them, I can’t say it makes me feel any different. I stoppe drinking them again after Gokyo Ri, as I didn’t think it was making any difference to me. We were well enough acclimatised because we were taking it so slow.

Leaving Phortse
On the way to Na – lunch stop
Cholo View Lodge


Gokyo (4,800m) day 10

The air today is cool and crisp. No, actually not … it is very cold with a clear blue sky. Today I’m taking Diamox and Adalat … only because I have them and I’m curious to see if it’s going to make me feel any different.

Gokyo Ri Summit, where we’re going

Today we don’t have a long distance to go to Gokyo town, but, it’s quite a steep haul. We hike past 3 of the spectacular turquoise glacial lakes in the Sagarmatha National Park making them amongst the highest fresh water lakes in the world. We arrive at the Gokyo Namaste Lodge in time for lunch and this is also where we will be staying for the next 2 nights. There are quite a few tourists around. Some seem to be a bit dodgy.

GokyoRi

GokyoRi Summit (5,356m) day 11

Today we rise and shine at 5am to have breakfast at 5.30am. We begin our hike to the GokyoRi summit at 6am. We have to start early so that we can reach the top before it becomes too cloudy or windy. It is very cold, we are wearing all the down shells that we brought. It takes us 3 hours to reach the summit. Half way up there is an area with many piles of rocks, made by previous hikers. The top is at 5,356m. It’s a perfect clear day with a great view of Everest as well as all the surrounding mountain ranges. The view of the glacier and 3 lakes is also great. It is very steep, very high and going very slow ! The view from the top is stunning, the lakes, glacier, Everest …. stunning!

Gokyo Ri summit

We can see Renjo La Pass which is on tomorrow’s to do list. Renjo Pass is actually slightly higher than Gokyo Ri. Many of the hikers over here are doing the 3 passes trek. They are all 3 over 5,000m and are much more scenic and less crowded than Everest Base Camp. We both have an oxygen saturation of 93% and are quite happy with that. We are back at our hotel for lunch and found a nice spot in the sun. Tomorrow’s hike will again begin at 6am, about the same height as today and will take us 5 hours.

GokyoRi Summit
Enjoying the view.

Renjo La Pass (5,406m) day 12

Early rise again today with breakfast at 5.30am and we start walking at 6am. This is a tough climb today. Much harder and longer that yesterday. The air is thin and the climb is steep! Trekking the Renjo Pass/neck/summit at 5,406m or 17,738ft feels like quite an achievement. Once again the top is festooned with many coloured strings of prayer flags all over the rocks.

Renjo Pass/Neck/summit

The view is incredible from here. The whole Everest mountain range, the turquoise lakes and glacier are just picture perfect ! As we cross the pass we are greeted by a large convoy of yaks, about 20. They don’t have it easy either, breathing heavily with their tongues hanging out. We are now passing very close to the Tibet border.

Today’s hike was quite long, 7 hours in total. At least the 2nd half is downhill. We reach the Lanston 3 passes Lodge before dark and are very happy to see a bed and a coal/dung stove. We are doing the route in the correct direction, some hikers are doing the circuit in the opposite direction, but, doing it that way the route is too steep and too long for comfort. Dinner is soup, eggs and hash browns. By 7pm we are in bed. It cost me $80 to charge my battery pack during the night. We haven’t had any telephone or wifi signals since Phortse. The road is quite pleasant in that there are hardly any other people and people on it. Which means no dust.

Waiting to catch up with rest of us!
Stones, Stones, Stones! The only way to cross Renjo La Pass
Renjo La Pass Summit
3 Pass Lodge

Thame (5,406m) day 13

After a long day’s down-hill hiking we reach Thame. The place where we wanted to sleep was full. So were most places, but, we found rooms at the Tibet Guest House.

The food was good and the fire warm, what more can you ask for. Maurice knocks his delicious sherpa stew bowl over by accident and a friendly German girl cleans it all up in no time. Even though our room is right next to the only public toilet, we slept well.

The Tibet Guest House, Thame arriving late afternoon

Namche Bazaar day 14

After breakfast at 7.30am we once again fall in the road on our way to Namche. It should take us about 5 hours. The road is now wider and easier to navigate, but, more dust and more people and more animals. Most of the hikers along the way seem to be either German or French. Many helicopters around! There were 4 standing at the one lodge. Lunch was an excellent garlic soup with potatoes at a small place with beautiful yellow flowers, right next to the road. It’s still early afternoon when we arrive in Namche.

Beautiful sunny lunch stop
Namche

We go to the same hotel and get the same rooms as before. The room is nice and warm during the daytime with the sun shining in. The hotel also has a shower, but we decide to rather give it a miss and stick with our wet-wipes. After settling in we set off to roam the town and update our emails at the Yak restaurant that has free wifi. Tomorrow is market day in Namche and it should be interesting. Dinner is pizza and garlic soup. The food on this trip worked well for me. I love both garlic and ginger which formed a major part of our diet. Pema is going to his house and back over night to switch off the lights that he forgot when we were there. With an oxygen saturation of 97% we are feeling good.

Namche Bazaar

Namche Bazaar day 15

After breakfast at 7.30am we stroll around town and make our way towards the market which is a great disapointment. Nothing worthwhile at all. At the Sherpa Barist Cafe there was a film showing about summiting Everest, a very good film and a very pleasant coffee shop. It is an overcast cold day.

Market day, Namche Bazaar

Monjo day 16

We leave at 8am and todays hike takes us to Monjo. We stop for drinks at Top Hill ( where the terrible squat toilet next to the road was on our way up). We sleep at the Sherpa View Lodge where they make the best ginger tea. The beds are good and the fire place very pleasant, a good choice. The food is also very good.
Well, we did it and it is with a feeling of sadness that we realise that this was it. But with a feeling of great achievement.

Lukla day 17

Today’s hike is mainly uphill to Lukla. We’re very glad that we did not try to do it yesterday. We manage to get an earlier flight back to Kathmandu and fly out of Lukla at 2pm. We’d rather spend an extra night in Kathmandu than Lukla. The traffic in Kathmandu is terrible, but, we arrive at the Mandana Hotel in one piece. A very nice hotel, much cheaper than the previous one and it is in a touristy area where you can do shopping and walk around the streets, which was not possible at our previous hotel. We had a great dinner of pork chops, ostrich and beef as well as a good red wine. A great way to conclude our successful hike up the Himalayas.

We did it! Lukla

Kathmandu day 18

After a good breakfast we spend the day walking around, catching up on our email and relaxing.

Back in Kathmandu

It’s interesting that any cold weather down clothing and sleeping bags are much cheaper and of better quality over here in Kathmandu than what we were able to get anywhere else. We had a couple of beers and coffee at Phat Kath Pokara, before we start heading towards the airport for our flight back home.

This was a trip well worth doing. We proved something to ourselves and doing GokyoRi rather than Everest Base Camp was a very good decision. If we ever decide to do a “next time ” we would like to do the 3 passes or the KalaPatthar summit, but not Everest base camp.

Observations & Notes

  • You need good sturdy boots.
  • Fitness, average is good enough.
  • Take it slow when going up, hike high and sleep low.
  • Take wet wipes.
  • A battery charger pack, is essential.
  • Layer your clothing, you have to change a couple of times a day.
  • Be within the weight restrictions of 15 Kg, they do weigh everything.
  • Get the warmest goose down sleepingbag you can find, it doesn’t have to be waterproof.
  • Don’t take a heavy camera, keep it light.
  • All clothing and sleeping bags are better priced and with a wider selection in Kathmandu than what you will find at home. (wherever your home might be).
  • Water purifying tablets are unnecessary, you can buy water everywhere along the way.
  • Don’t go without an experienced Sherpa. Our guide, Pema Sherpa, was excellent!

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Thailand (3) Kayaking

 

We are boarding the overnight sleeper train in Chiang Mai to Bangkok for the last time. From Bangkok we will take a local bus and  a red taxi truck to our hotel in Kanchanaburi. From there to the River Kwai for our kayaking.

 

   

Today we rise and shine at 6am to get our red taxi truck for the one and a half hour ride to the  River Kwai where we will be kayaking for a couple of days.

After reaching Kanchanaburi, we first had to go and see the famous River Kwai Bridge

   

Our luck was in …. while we were on the bridge the train crossed the bridge a few inches from us.

Quite a tourist attraction, many groups and souvernir shops all around.

From there onto the Wat Tham Khao Pun cave with a temple inside. It was really hot inside, but the view from the top of the hill was great. During WW2 the Japanese soldiers used these caves for their logistics and supplies.

 

   

The museum on the outside was quite informative and interesting with all the old photographs of the time when the bridge was built.

Lastly we made a stop at the war cemetry for the allied soldiers that lost their lives over here in WW2.

Now on our way with the red taxi truck.

Along the way we stopped at the Hellfire Pass and  had a walk through the very grim history of that part of WW2.

 

   

Now onto the kayaks. The double kayaks were very heavy and maneuvered like a container ship. So we decided to take turns in the singles, which were much better. On the first day we did our 21km water. Along the riverbanks are many resorts and dense bamboo forests that spread all over the mountains in the back.

 

     

Lunch stop was near the Burma Railway line and bridge where the Japanese Harakiri caves are. 

Some elephants came down for a swim while we were there.  We rowed 23Km on this stretch.

   

    

Our last night at the river was spent at a very nice resort with a swimming pool and a room over the river. The good dinner was also not totally unwelcome. Outside the hotel are an old WW2 Japanese jeep and lorry that is still used by the hotel. 

   

 

Back to the PhiPhi hotel in Kanchanaburi where we had a very competitive game of pool.

   

Last dinner on waterfront was deep fried pork streetfood that we bought at the night market …. and it was delicious

  

7.30am leave with red taxi for our two and a half hour bus ride to Chiang Mai.  Interesting, our bus runs on gas. Chai spends his time on the cell phone sorting out our day rooms and transport to Bangkok airport from where we are flying out at 6pm tonight.

   

 

From our red taxi, to the public bus, then a van and lastly we arrive in  Bangkok at 11am. After cleaning up in the dayroom our airport pickup arrives at 1 pm just after we finished our lunch of chicken curry and green chilli soup.

And, …….. that brings us to the end of an interesting and physical very active trip. Well organized by Intrepid and well worth doing.

 

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Thailand (2) Cycling

      

Still in Chiang Mai. Now for the cycling.

After breakfast we left our luggage at the Ratana hotel and were on our way to collect our bikes.

Ratana Hotel

Ratana Hotel Chiang Mai

 

Intrepid sub-contracted Chiangmai Adventures for this part. They (Titi and Ao) were very well organized and we especially enjoyed their unorthodox way of traffic control. It worked extremely well.

We left Chiang Mai at 9am and started cycling after we first tested and adjusted our bikes on a circuit at the Huay Tung Tao Lake.

Huay Tung Tao Lake

We couldn’t go all the way around the lake since they were busy with roadworks and all the tar was wet, …..not good for biking …..This lake with its surroundings is a very nice picnic and camping area. The track where we first tested the bikes was really great and the circuit is about 1.5Km long.

After the adjustments we were off. First along the water canal, then through a couple of small villages and all along many rice paddies. The last part was quite a serious uphill to the Big white Buddha, from where there is a great view.

Our guide Titi gave us a lengthy explanation on what happens to rice, from the paddy to the table.

Our lunch stop was at Suan Baan Pha, which is a very nice resort in its own right.

Suan Baan Pha

The ride up to the top of the mountain to the temple and large white Buddha was very steep and tough in the 36C and high humidity, but, well worth it.

Tonight we stayed at the Royal Ping Resort that only has beer and it was quite expensive at 120 batt a bottle. We had a good dinner and a reasonable breakfast. Today we are going to climb the same height as yesterday, but, over a longer distance.

On our way again.

The Wat Ban Den Temple is a stunning place. You can spend a couple of hours walking around this place.

 

 

 

Miwan restaurant

After a great lunch at the Miwan restaurant we were on our way again to the Mae Ngat Somboon Chon Dam. Also a steep climb, but over a longer distance than the one of yesterday.

 

Ride 40km today. Two very steep hills to Mae Ngat Somboon Chon Dam and waterfall. Doing this in a temperature of 36C and 100% humidity makes it just so slightly more difficult.

We end the days ride at the Bua Tong Sticky Waterfalls.

Bua Tong

 

After being stuck in the rush hour traffic we eventually reach the Ratana hotel.
We had an expensive but good dinner at the Riverside restaurant.

After breakfast we went up mountain with red taxi Isuzu to see the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple.

This temple has a nice view, but there are too many tour groups.

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple

After a shower in our dayroom we spend the rest of the afternoon walking around.  We bought some Durán toffees, somehow no one else seems to like them.  We take the same red taxi truck to the  train station for the overnight sleeper train to Bangkok. From there we will go to Kanachaburi for the next part, …. kayaking on the River Kwai.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thailand (1) Hiking

 

Well here we are in Bangkok. Qantas gave us very good service on plane. Our priority visa-pass  was a blessing, there was no one ahead of us in the customs line. The transport to hotel is good over the long distance to the Nuovo City Hotel. Although I’m not a beer drinker, you cannot survive in this very hot and humid atmosphere without beer, ….  which comes in quarts.

We’re on the  2nd floor in the hotel and breakfast is fortunately not included because being close to backpacker area there are many inexpensive restaurants close by.

 

 

 

Wiring along the streets is a form of art in it’s own right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a walk around the old town on our own we went on a guided cycling tour along the backstreets seeing the sights of the old town of Bangkok with Intrepid

Our cycling route in Bangkok

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This whole area looks so different at night, with all the lights and night markets around.

Night market

   Night market

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some live entertainment along the river near the  Royal Barges Museum

 

 

 

 

 

We took the overnight sleeper train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. This train is really quite comfortable, clean and efficient. Although there was a baby crying all night, we slept well.  Also, the a/c is not adjustable and makes it quite cold and the light always on. The toilet ok-ish, fortunately we did not sleep near it.

 

At the market there are all kinds of “tempting snacks” such as: ……

Frogs

Placenta from water buffalo

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before we could start, we all had to register with the Tourist Police first

After buying some food supplies we made a stop at the Mok Fa Waterfall before our serious hiking is starting.

Mok Fa Waterfall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quite a stiff hike up the mountain in temperatures of 36 degrees C and humidity of about 100%

Our guide is Cai from the mountain Karen people

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our  hiking on the first day was 4Km. This might not seem to be much but in a humidity of 100% and temperature of 36 degrees C, the hiking on a steep uphill, makes it feel much more than the 4Km.  The squat toilets actually work quite well ….. though after a day’s hiking your knees and quads are a bit wabbly and it is not always so easy launching yourself up into a standing position afterwards.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some really large trees along the hike in the forest.

 

 

 

 

On the 2nd day’s hike of another steep 11Km, we slept ín a house situated on a river bank and it was quite comfortable. Each of our mattresses on the floor had its own mosquito net and the shower in a water drum worked very well. After a good home cooked dinner we had some “local tequila” and I’d rather not ask what exactly it was.

Transporting wooden poles

Monkey bridge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They call this a monkey bridge because you certainly look like a monkey negotiating the wooden slats.

 

 

Homestay for the first night.

 

 

 

 

 

and a  home cooked dinner.

 

The last day’s hike was also tough and our one guide, Bat, fell ill and stayed behind in the one village. Tonight we are staying in the Ratana Hotel in town its about 2 star.

 

 

Tree climbing steps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We went for a much deserved massage in Chiang Mai after we returned back from the hike. The Thai Massage was painful but good. Night Market was very interesting. We ate pork ribs and belly with beer, it was great.

 

The hiking is now over and tomorrow we start the cycling part.

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Guatemala

Guatemala was never on our list of must do countries. As we were visiting the Yucatán in Mexico, with a short stay in Belize, we researched the most beautiful Maya Ruins and Tikal was one of them. So after arriving in Belize City we were transported to San Ignacio. We stayed in the Midas Resort only 13 km away from the Guatemalan border.

After a fairly early start – our transport’s 4×4 refused to start but he managed to find another – we arrived at the border between Belize and Guatemala, Melchor de Mencos.  Customs took us maybe 40 minutes in total as there were quite a few people and lots of vehicles parked in any way you can think. A luxury van waited for us and after buying our tickets to Tikal, we were off. The countryside was beautiful and charming. We passed Lago Petén Itzá, the second largest lake in Guatemala, 32 km long x 5 km wide.

 

Lago Petén Itzá

 

Tikal National Park is located in Northern Guatemala’s Petén Province within a large, lush forest region sometimes referred to as the Maya Forest. Tikal was a major Pre-Columbian political, economic and military centre and is one of the most important archeological complexes left by Maya civilization. Tikal is a Unesco World Heritage site and its most striking feature is its towering, steep-sided temples in a magnificent jungle setting. The panoramic view from Temple IV is absolutely magnificent. Plazas and temples, cleared of trees and vines, have been partially restored. As you visit the sites remember to step softly beneath the dense canopy. You might meet up with Howler and Spider monkeys or even a school of Agoutis. Enjoy the loamy aromas of moist earth and vegetation. Be sure to spot the Tree of Life, a truly beautiful tree!

View from Temple IV

 

 

 

Temple

 

 

 

 

Temple

 

 

 

 

Tree of Life

 

After experiencing the rich Maya heritage, the diverse cultures and the lush surrounds, we decided Guatemala will become a new, maybe daunting, but definitely exciting adventure.

 

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