Adventure Team
Challenge 2002

Africa 03 Journal

Africa: Kalahari

Africa Overland

 

Central Africa

Namibia

Botswana and South Africa

Alaska

Behind the Rocks

Belize 2004

Bill Burke Trail Leader Training

Black Bear Pass

Black Dragon Canyon

Blanca Peak

Camel Trophy

Chinaman's Gulch

Clayton, OK

Colorado State Forest

Dome Plateau

Eastnor Castle

Ellis Jeep Trail

Engineer Pass

Expedition Portal

Fins N' Things

Ft. Hood, Texas

Green Ridge Trail

Hackett Gulch

Hackett Gulch 2

Hackett Gulch 3

Hellroaring Rim/ Gemini Bridges

Hole in the Rock

Holy Cross Trail

Independence

Ice Racing

Indian Peaks

Klondike Bluffs

La Ruta Maya

Leadville Mining

Long Way Home

Moab Spring '01

Moab Labor Day

Mosquito Pass

Mount Antero

National Rally 99

National Rally 01

National Rally 02

National Rally 04

National Rally 06

National Rally 08

Off-Road Impact

Onion Creek

Outback Challenge Morocco

Overland Expo 09

Overland Expo 10

Pinatubo, Phillipines

Poison Spider Mesa

Qatar

Radical Hill, CO

Red Cone Peak

SEMA 2004

SEMA 2008

SEMA 2009

 

Drive to SEMA

At the Show

Top of the World

Twist Off 1999

Twist Off 2001

Venezuela '03

White Rim Trail

Yellowstone NP

 

Adventurers

AEV J8 MILSPEC

Biosphere 110

Chris Tullmann

Craig Jones

Dan Cronin

Dustin Hindman

Firetruck D90

AEV J8 Sarge

Joshua White

Nathan Hindman

Patrick Scranton

Rover Tracks

Stuart Nance

 

 

Day 8

Tikal, guatemala to Blancaneaux, Belize

Click on any of the following images to view them at full size.

The jungle canopy of Guatemala is covered in a dense blanket of pre-dawn fog.

Despite earlier interests from members of our expedition, only Craig and Nathan awoke early to hike up and see the sunrise from the top of Temple IV. According to the GPS, sunrise was supposed to happen at 5:30 am. Taking into account about a half hour hike to the temple, we left the lodge just after 4:45 am in complete darkness. By the time we made it to the trail to the ruins, the eastern horizon was just starting to light up. By 5:20 we were sitting on top of the temple waiting for the sun to come up. The jungle all around the temple was covered with a blanket of fog, with ruins and hills occasionally peeking through the top of the dense fog. As the sun came up, we began to hear the haunting calls of the howler monkeys echoing across the valleys. A few minutes later the sun eerily crept its way above the clouds and bathed everything in a soft warm glow. It was truly one of the most incredible experiences of my life.

The rising sun beings to burn off the morning fog.


The temples of Tikal tower above the jungle canopy.


An endangered oscillated turkey roams the grounds of the Jungle Lodge.

We walked back into the lodge about 7 am, just as everyone else was waking up and heading to the restaurant for breakfast. After breakfast, the group packed up and headed out to meet up with the Nances and Bibbs who had gone on a jungle canopy tour. This tour took them through the upper canopy of the trees via zip line. After reuniting, we took the obligatory photos at the impressive Tikal National Park entrance gate. We had had to forego the official entrance photos when we arrived, because it was well after sunset at the time.

Big Bird and Camel pose for a photo at the entrance to Tikal National Park.


Everyone re-groups outside the entrance to Tikal National Park.

Just as we were about to put away our cameras, load back into the vehicles and drive away, a spider monkey clamored out of the jungle and played around in the trees by the side of the road. He didn't seem to be scared of us at all, and took almost as much of an interest in us and our cooing as we did in it. We had seen a few monkeys in the park the previous day high above our heads but this was the first close up encounter we'd had. The locals at the entrance station probably thought we were crazy; 18 people snapping photos and talking to a monkey.

A spider monkey plays int he trees outside the entrance to Tikal National Park.


The spider monkey hangs by its tail, taking an interest in all of the commotion a bunch of gringos are creating over him (or her).

Back on the road, we made a beeline for the Guatemalan border to cross back into Belize. Driving along in the daylight, we saw all of the interesting sites that we missed in the darkness two days ago. Just outside of Tikal we passed through the town of Peten on the shores of Lake Peten. It was amazing to see the townspeople out in the lake bathing and doing their laundry in the lake water. You see images like this in National Geographic, but never really envision people living their daily lives like this.

Locals wash their laundry along the shores of Lake Peten.

On the road to the border, progress was slowed down considerably as we got caught behind a large crowd of people blocking both sides of the road. Before we got the chance to push our way through someone noticed a coffin being carried at the forefront of the crowd-a funeral procession to the village cemetery. We respectfully followed the group at a moderate distance marveling at the culture similarities and differences. Someone in our group quoted over the CB from Don Quixote, "and his funeral was followed by kings from foreign lands." We couldn't help but ponder what a strange thing that must have been for these villagers to have their procession attended by a strange group of nine Land Rovers from thousands of miles away.

Disco Stu and Camel stop at the Belize/Guatemala border.

Our border crossing back into Belize was uneventful, in fact, it was the smoothest border crossing we'd had so far. After four border crossings, we were becoming seasoned pros. In San Ignacio, we turned off the Western Highway of Belize. Leaving the paved road, we started our trek into the Mayan mountains of western Belize. Thirty minutes later, we were pulling into the Mountain Pine Ridge forest reserve, home to Blancaneaux Lodge. Although we had only climbed to about 1,200 feet above sea level (low by Colorado standards) the fauna changed considerably as the palm trees gave way to tall pines. It was ironic for us- we had traveled 3,000 miles to find that our destination reminded us very much of home. 

The sad thing was that, like home, the Mountain Pine Ridge area has a big problem with pine beetles destroying the pine forest. Huge patches of pine trees had already died, the brown trees, a visible reminder of the beetle's path of destruction. Sadly, we later learned that the government doesn't have any real course of action for containing the pine beetle.

Entering Blancaneaux was like walking into paradise. The lodge consists of cabanas and villas nestled along a river with semi natural pools you can swim in. All of the rooms are thatched roof huts with stucco walls. The living room has no doors, but instead opens up straight onto the porch with palm trees growing up through the deck. The bathroom is exquisite - the tile shower opens up to the heavens and you literally shower with the sun or stars gazing down upon you and the breeze tickling your bare skin.

After unloading the vehicles we traipsed around the grounds, checking out our home for the next few days. We could play croquet on the lawn, visit the horses at the stables, get a cool drink or a bite to eat at the bar/restaurant, take a dip in the river, take a hike, or just relax in the hammock at the cabana.

That night we were greeted with a large buffet and native drummers and singers from the area. After eight days on the road, this lodge is close to heaven and the miles we've driven to get here seem to melt right off of us.

The open living room of our cabana at Blancaneaux lodge. The hammocks and deck overlook the swimming areas of the stream.


The stairs from the deck lead straight down to the river.

 


 

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

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