Travel reports Mexico

Arrival in Veracruz

We were aware that it would be a long day of travel. However, we did not expect a four-hour delay. We are at the airport in Hamburg early – due to Corona the airlines recommend to arrive at least three hours before departure. Annoyingly, the counters still don’t open until a good hour before boarding time. It is pure chaos. Surprisingly, we fly off on time in the direction of Amsterdam.

Travel reports Mexico

A short intermediate transfer and we are already on the plane to Mexico City. The eleven-hour flight with KLM goes smoothly. We quickly get used to wearing the mask throughout the flight. Even if Mexico doesn’t require a PCR test, it’s amazing that you can get on a full plane without proof of testing or vaccination. Especially if we consider that in Germany we hardly ever bought a Coke without a Corona test. We land on time in Mexico City, where a four-hour delay awaits us for the domestic flight to Veracruz. Instead of 23:00 we arrive tired at our Airbnb at 03:30 in the morning.

Travel reports Mexico

After the long time in hotels, we are looking forward to having our own apartment. Especially the kitchen, so we can cook for ourselves again. But we are cheering too soon. This is so sparsely furnished that a serving of noodles is the highest of feelings. So cooking is canceled again. Considering that eating out is almost cheaper than standing at the stove ourselves, we accept this. We test our way through the neighboring restaurants. After a good two weeks, the favorites are decided with a clear winner: El Muelle Terraza Bar. We spend a lot of time here; the food is excellent, the view top, the ambience and the music brilliant and the price-performance ratio first class.

El Muelle Veracruz

Here we also meet Jacky & Hansi from Basel from time to time, whose expedition vehicle “Chang” crosses the Atlantic together with Whaly. It’s good to spend time with like-minded people. The waiting tugs at the nerves; this way we can encourage each other and share joys and sorrows. Other recommended restaurants are La Bikina and Las Brasas. Cheap – and also good – you can eat in the small “tiendas” and restaurants. Mostly, however, it is not so cozy to sit there. At the main traffic point of the beach boulevard – around the aquarium – it is rather expensive and the music is loud. Although we love the salsa music; when you can barely understand your conversation partner, the purpose is defeated. This corner of Veracruz is generally very busy. In front of the restaurants we are canvassed on the street and souvenir vendors want to sell their sombreros. Nevertheless, we enjoy the exuberant atmosphere – it quickly becomes clear that Mexicans are happy people.

Mexico Boulevard - Travel reports

One surprise is how athletic the Mexicans are. It seems to be very active people. On the boulevard hundreds of people gather in the morning and evening on bicycles, inline skates, skate boards and scooters. In addition, there are countless joggers and walkers. The playgrounds are full; soccer is played on the beach. The promenade is definitely the coziest part of the city. There is hardly a better place to watch the hustle and bustle.

Veracruz beach promenade

Also worth a visit is the Zócalo – the main square in the center. Especially in the evening, the square comes to life with its countless restaurants. Street musicians provide a traditional musical entertainment, while you can be sprinkled by the atmosphere. The Zócalo is located near the port area. This is also the main feature; Veracruz is a port city.


It is not a tourist highlight. We do not see any other travelers, except those who are also embarking their vehicle. However, it has some Mexican tourists. What motivates them to come to Veracruz is difficult to judge. The beaches are not beautiful. First of all, it is not very inviting – at least for us – to go swimming next to the harbor. We can observe how one or the other rivulet flows from the residential quarters directly into the sea. Nevertheless, the Mexicans are not deterred from taking a bath. We gratefully refrain from cooling down, despite the enormous heat. We are still struggling with this one. Although “only” 32°, it feels much hotter. Not least because of the high humidity, which is between 80 – 90%. As soon as you step outside the door, it feels like you’re in a sauna. Sports activities are therefore either announced in the morning between 07:00 -09:00 clock or in the evening after 19:00 clock.

Mexiko Boulevard

Where is Whaly?

While the ship is still underway, we take care of the import papers. In the morning at 08:00 we meet in the office with the Mexican agents who help us with the import of the vehicle. Already in advance we are forewarned that the processing can take between two to six hours. After all papers are copied, we go to the bank by minivan. There we meet a huge queue in front of the building. A single person handles vehicle imports. One hour per customer must be expected. Quickly we are happy we have been paying for the service of the agents. They line up for us while we wait comfortably in a coffee shop. About 90 minutes later we are contacted. We may be able to return to the bank to complete the process.

Bank Banjercito

We arrive at the Banjercito counter, where the waiting really begins. At least in the air-conditioned interior. There are two more vehicles – one of them Chang – on board. Each of us is busy with the papers for at least an hour. There are ambiguities with the other two. In our case, we can handle everything “expeditiously” within an hour. The temporary import papers are issued – during ten years Whaly is allowed to stay in the country for a maximum of 180 days at a time – analogous to our visa. The whole procedure lasted until 15:00 in the afternoon. We doubt whether Corona is the only one to blame.

Travel reports Mexico

The cargo ship’s arrival date was originally August 10, 2021. It quickly becomes clear that this deadline will not be met. Finally, it will be August 15, 2021, when the Olympian Highway will finally sail into the port of Veracruz. Via “Vesselfinder” we track the ship to witness the arrival. This is in the morning at 05:00am. Too early to run to the harbor and making movies. In addition, the signal was sent only twenty minutes before; not enough time to even get there. Instead, we head to the harbor in the morning and grab a spot where we have a good view of the autoliner. After a while we give up; unfortunately we don’t catch Whaly driving out.

Olympian Highway

Customs inspection

Finally the big day arrives; we drive with our agents to the port for customs inspection. Seeing Whaly again after four weeks is a happy moment. And this undamaged as well as with a complete content. The concerns for the riskier route to Mexico are shattered – the relief is huge that everything worked out. One milestone is still to come: the customs inspection. The garage and outside storage areas must be completely emptied. A customs officer photographs the complete layout and the interior. However, this is examined more superficially. This is our new speciality: waiting. The drug-sniffing dog is still busy at the airport; 90 minutes late, he finally arrives at our vehicles. After everything has been sniffed out to his satisfaction, we are allowed to put the vehicle away again. Unfortunately, Whaly has to stay at the harbour. The pick-up date is the day after tomorrow. We will get through these two days as well.

Travel reports Mexico

Two days later we can pick up Whaly. It’s a wonderful feeling to finally get back into the driver’s cabin and be free. After three weeks in Veracruz, we are glad to be moving on. The wait was becoming a test of patience. Staying in a city for so long in this heat was exhausting. Especially since our Airbnb was also no highlight. The space could have been better; however, we accepted that when booking. In hindsight, maybe we should have spent a little more money here. Now we are looking forward to getting that camping life back. From now on it’s again searching for pitches, cooking, grilling and admiring beautiful sunsets. Excited, we set off into an enormously diverse country and look forward to new adventures.

The police – our new friends

Three hours we wait again at the port before we finally receive Whaly. We are enormously pleased to finally be back behind the wheel. But the first kilometers are anything but successful: we are stopped twice by the police. The first time because we miss a red light. Actually, it is orange; which in Mexico is synonymous with red. In addition, the display changes from green to orange within seconds. The two policemen confiscate our driver’s license. This is considered a deposit until we pay the fine at the police station the next day – a whopping Fr. 150.00 150.00. A lot of convincing is needed to get out of this. Thirty minutes later, they get pity on usand close both eyes again. Two hours later we are stopped on the boulevard. Obviously, heavy vehicles are only allowed with permission; a prohibition sign is not to be seen far and wide. I would most like just hide in Whaly. I definitely don’t have the nerve for another discussion. But we master it a second time. After twenty minutes he looks at our despair and says goodbye with a Corona handshake and a friendly; Bienvenido a México.

Police in Mexico

The police presence in Mexico is disconcerting. Armed with machine guns, they stand on the loading bridges of the pick-ups. The drug war in Mexico is certainly not innocent of the high police presence. Even though this one is for our protection – we feel like we are doing everything wrong. As soon as we maneuver ourselves into a tricky situation, the law enforcement officers are guaranteed not to be far away. Rarely do more than a few minutes pass where we don’t cross them. One of the reasons why we say goodbye to the big city as soon as possible.


The first destination is Tlacotalpan, a Spanish colonial town that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Just under 100km the direct way leads us over the toll road; without toll it is 350km over the mountains. The fees of Fr. 2.50 were worth it. However, the highways are not in much better condition. Ankle-deep potholes and “topes” can also be found here. The speed decelerators cannot be compared to the European ones: there must be complete deceleration if we don’t want to break an axle. Partly they are marked; partly they come as a surprise. One of the reasons why driving at night is a no-go in Mexico. After 2.5 hours we have made the hundred kilometers.


In the app “i-Overlander” we see a place to stay overnight on a large parking lot directly at the Rio Papaloapan. Next door is the marina, in front two bars with cozy music. Somewhat uncertainly we observe the scenery and puzzle whether this is a safe pitch. Twenty minutes later we are approached by Victor, who speaks English and works for the city. “You can also stay for a month. There is water at that house back there.” Later he brings us his information sheet on the history and geography of Tlacotalpan – translated into English. Victor loves to show tourists “his” city. His dream is to work in the tourist office. We feel very welcome and park Whaly with a view of the river.

Pitch Tlacotalpan

The next day Victor is at the door. He contacted his friend, Julio. With a “tricycle” he wants to show us the city; free of charge. We accept the offer and let ourselves be chauffeured through the colorful alleys.


Julio explains the history of the different neighborhoods, Victor translates in English. Tlacotalpan was once a very important port city. Various goods were transported to Veracruz and from there to Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries. In addition, the region has a great music and poetry culture. In the 15th century, Tlacotalpan was taken by the Spaniards. The construction corresponds to the Spanish colonial style: large entrance arches with decorations, balconies, a tiled roof and a courtyard. Julio tells us that the government still prescribes this style of building. With the difference that today everything is colored. A certain color palette may be used to paint the houses. The colorful streets reflect the cheerful and upbeat nature of the Mexicans.


This is followed by a visit to the mini-zoo, the cemetery, the sports field and the church. The animals in the zoo (crocodiles, eagles and turtles) are not to be envied, the space is limited. The zoo owner presses a baby crocodile into our hands. A special feeling to hold such a crocodile in the arm; especially something dangerous without “secured” mouth. The highlight, however, is the visit to Julio’s workshop. He produces about three hundred wooden musical instruments a year. During the pandemic, there are still a hundred. He explains the process and shows us the different stages of manufacturing.

Julio's workshop

Julio is a musician at heart; he plays in a band and gives lessons. Of course, a small private concert may not be missing. We go to his home, where his son is already waiting for us with the harp. Together they play some songs. We feel their pride in music and are excited about your musical talent. An experience we won’t soon forget.


We are on the road for over three hours. To thank them, we invite them both for lunch and try the regional specialty: Arroz Tumbada. The flair of the city, the friendly and curious people as well as the acquaintance of Julio and Victor let us extend our stay. The plan was for one or two nights, but in the end it turned out to be five. Victor also introduces us to Alan, an American who lives here. We spend the evenings in a cozy bar and enjoy the company. A very successful start of our Mexico adventure.

La Jungla, Catemaco-Lake

Instead of the direct route, we drive along the coastal road through the Tuxtla, a hilly landscape on the Gulf of Mexico. Behind us, the rainforest slowly opens up. Our next destination. But before that we spend a night in Roca Partida, more precisely in Arroyo de Lisa, a village of 300 people. At a cabanas resort we inquire if we may spend the night on your large lawn. We may and do pay the owners Fr. 7.00 for the overnight stay. In return, we benefit from a secure parking space. Something that is paramount in Mexico. We have never felt threatened before. Nevertheless; a certain period of acclimatization can’t hurt.

Arroyo de Lisa

The coast is not inviting for swimming. The sea is too rough, there is too much trash on the beach. In addition, the weather does not cooperate. In the last few days we experienced rain like we never felt in Europe. Within a very short time, the streets are flooded. Welcome to the rainy season in Mexico. We continue in the direction of La Jungla. We have read and heard a lot about the campsite in the middle of the jungle. It is supposed to be a natural paradise – which, however, is not very easy to reach. The road to the camp leads through the middle of the jungle and is narrow for a truck. The biggest challenge are the deep branches. We are soon glad for our branch deflector: the first liana quickly becomes a victim of the construction. The ride is an adventure. With a few more scratches in the cabin we arrive in the natural paradise.

Whaly in the jungle

La Jungla is also a place of excursions for day tourists. At the moment, however, Corona seems to have the upper hand; we are the only visitors during three days. On weekends, two Mexican families show up. The restaurant is comfortably laid out by small refreshment pools. One of them even has a slide that leads into a pool with a gorgeous view of Catemaco Lake. A perfect place to watch birds and enjoy the atmosphere.

Catemaco La Jungla

At the pier Sandro starts the first fishing attempts of Mexico. Some local fishermen even give him bait in the form of worms and small fish. They place themselves right next to the pier and want to show us how it works. In fact, you have a few on your hook. In the end, it works for Sandro, too. Unfortunately, the fish are much too small. Fishing makes only limited sense. Instead we enjoy the spectacular view of the jungle and observe the wildlife: Hummingbirds, Kingfisher, parrots and various water birds. Swimming is unfortunately taboo because of the crocodiles.

Pier Catemaco

During a walk through the rainforest, we even find the howler monkeys who were loudly cheering Whaly on as he drove through the jungle. The next day even a whole family of howler monkeys right next to our campsite makes us happy. Standing in the middle of the jungle in this natural paradise is a unique experience. The only drawback: the tall grass is crawling with small animals – including spiders. But this is part of the rainforest and does not stop us from enjoying the idyll to the fullest.

La Jungla

In the morning we wake up to the screaming of parrots. “They’re really close,” I say. Indeed; when we open the door a couple sits directly in front of us in the tree enjoying breakfast. They are not disturbed by our observation. After thirty minutes, move on, but keep coming back in the following days.


Chiapas – here we come!

The state of Chiapas is a highlight for many. This will also be the case for us. Encounters with indigenous peoples in mountain villages where life beats a different rhythm. Mayan archaeological sites in the middle of the jungle, impressive waterfalls, lakes and outdoor adventures in the refreshing Highlands. Many highlights await us in the coming weeks. Today, three hundred kilometers are on the agenda to get from the state of Veracruz to Chiapas. A cinch in Europe, a world tour in Mexico. Later in the afternoon we reach our destination: the waterfalls “Los Aguaceros”. Completely alone – once again – we have the free choice of place. Already just the panorama with the circling vultures is breathtaking.

Los Aguaceros

This gorge must now be overcome if we want to reach the refreshing waterfall. 700 steps and a jungle walk are on the program. The effort is worth it. Along with clothes and shoes, we climb through the water pools until we reach the refreshing waterfall.

Los Aguaceros

Not far away is the Sima de la Cotorra. A crater-like hole with a diameter of 160m and a depth of 140m. Home to hundreds of cotorras, a species of parrot. If we look closely, we can see murals of indigenous peoples. If you feel like it, you can abseil down or be transported over the Sima via zip line. Nothing for us.

Sima de Cotorras

The journey here was a test of patience – a 12 kilometer long gravel road peppered with potholes. Only for one night we have not taken this on ourselves, we agree. In the end, there will be five. However, not in the Sima de la Cotorra, but at the not far away restaurant El Péricon. A magnificent panorama, a third of the cost and incredibly friendly people convince us to stay here.


Every day, another couple works in the restaurant. By the weekend – when a few guests finally show up – all three families are on hand. The rest of the week we are your only occupation. You visibly enjoy this; full of passion and joy they entertain us. Suddenly they discover our Petromax fire bowl. “What is this for?” they ask us. “To make a campfire,” we counter. “Good, then we need to get more wood!”. Armed with a wheelbarrow, Jorgé sets off into the forest. Meanwhile, it starts to rain heavily. Equipped with a guilty conscience, we set ourselves to spaghetti. But as soon as the rain stops, Jorgé asks us where we want to build the fire. Too late to say “no.”


Within minutes our fire is burning – despite previous rain. Our Mexican hosts show us how to cook frijoles and are delighted with the Mexican music blaring from our speakers. At some point – a good hour later than usual – they do go home, while we enjoy the first barbecue around the campfire.

The next morning we are slightly hung over and have to clean up our mess around the house. But there is more cleanup to be done. We use the pitch to finally get properly organized after shipping. Everything is stowed back in its original place, Whaly once again cleaned out. In addition, we complete an important task, which has been on our stomach for a long time: The spare wheel. With UV radiation twice to three times as high here in Mexico, the rubber is quickly destroyed. A cover must be made. We find this in the form of a garden table cover, which is not a bad fit at all.

spare wheel

After about two months we are drawn to mountain biking. Trails we will not find. However, the surroundings give hope for a nice bike trip. We find a path that leads into the middle of the reserve “El Ocote”. However, we are rejoicing too soon. The road is peppered with huge puddles, some of which we can only just cross. The main problem is the mud. This settles so firmly on our bikes that the gearshift fails. Too bad. There is nothing else to do but turn around. Mountain biking after heavy rain is not a good idea.


A horror ride takes us to Chiapa de Corzo. We pass through the city of Tuxtla Gutierrez – a city of half a million people. Half as bad without the highway reconstruction work. So, on the other hand, two bypasses are waiting for us, which are not truck friendly. Since the police do not stop us, we are of good cheer that no prohibition sign escaped us. As we stand in front of a slope that resembles free fall, skepticism returns. The only thing left to do is to shift down to first gear and hope that no vehicle is coming towards you. We are happy when we arrive in Chiapas de Corzo and finally find a parking space. Romanticism must give way to practicality. The only place that is suitable for our size is the bus parking Las Palmeras.

Chiapa de Corzo

As a so-called Pueblo Magico, the colonial town is worth a side trip. We immerse ourselves in the craftsmanship of the people. Souvenir stall after souvenir stall is lined up with handmade jewelry, bags, shoes and clothes. The first time we see other tourists. The first time we have to turn away persistent sellers. Among them small children. As much as their fates take us with them, we have to realize that we cannot change them. You can also buy the traditional dresses. We ask a saleswoman how long she works on such a dress. Her answer is five months. The dress is sold for about three hundred euros. Depending on the size of course. In general, the handmade jewelry is enormously cheap; the hours of work that the women spend seems poorly compensated – at least in our eyes.


The main reason why we are drawn to Chiapa de Corzo is the Cañon de Sumidero. With a height of up to 800m an impressive sight. Boat tours start at the river and take us into the fascinating world of the canyon. For twelve Swiss francs we are guided up and down the river for over two hours. Waterfalls, countless crocodiles, monkeys and birds accompany us on the way. For us, the more special experience than looking down on the canyon from the viewpoints. A tourist trip, which was worth it.

Canon de Sumidero

San Cristobal de las Casas

The road from Chiapa de Corzo winds up the mountain into another world. The traffic is adventurous. Truck after truck fights its way up the hill. Some of them completely overloaded; this at least gives an idea of the speed. Walking speed is partly already optimistic. The result is dangerous overtaking maneuvers – fortunately the road is wide enough for three to four vehicles. What is also fortunate is that Mexicans obviously see around the bend. We are also not unhappy when we reach San Cristobal de las Casas, located at 2’200m above sea level, without any accident.

San Cristobal de las Casas

The first days we would like to camp in the city. Finding a place to spend the night turns out to be more difficult than expected. Before the search even begins, the police stop us again. Whaly has landed in the middle of the city – in the truck ban. In Chiapas, it is apparently common practice to confiscate the license plate instead of the driver’s license. Neither is ideal. If only we had replaced our original signs with the copies. It will be Sandro’s first task as soon as we find a pitch. But we are getting used to it; after 20 minutes, we can also avert this operation without paying a bribe. With the police scare in our bones, we take the bypass road to the town’s campground. The price-performance ratio does not convince us. Next attempt; the Ecopark Encuentro. Unfortunately too tight leader Whaly. If we don’t want to end up in the river, we better turn around. We discover a restaurant with a large fenced square and a magnificent view of the city. Unfortunately closed. “The owners live there, just knock,” says the Mexican from the gas station across the street. Knocking does not help. However, the door is not locked. “Let’s go in and someone will come,” we tell ourselves. In fact, someone shows up. After initial skepticism, they are ready to leave us for 10 euros. A bit much, but for proximity to the city and wifi we accept the offer for two nights. Stupidly, we don’t realize until we enter that Whaly is too high for the entrance gate. Next time we measure before we all go wild. The next attempt – in the meantime it is darkening and pouring with rain – leads us over a slippery road. Wrong time in the dark and rain. Finally we end up in El Arcotete Park, eight kilometers away, where I actually wanted to go at the beginning.

El Arcotete

The place is perfect. In the middle of the natural paradise we stand for two euros a night. Hardly a soul is to be seen; except another Swiss truck. Ulf and Berna have already been on the road for seven years. The first campers we meet in Mexico. We enjoy the company around the campfire or in their truck if it rains. There is more than enough rain. September is the peak of the rainy season; almost every day a downpour greets us, sometimes with heavy showers. The only advantage; our water tank is always full. We also leave the hot temperatures in the lowlands. With sunshine we enjoy spring-like 20-25°, at night it cools down to . Amazing how we can determine the climate in Mexico with just a few hours of driving. The Collectivo – a shared cab – takes us to town for fifty cents


San Cristobal de las Casas is a beautiful colonial city with a mixture of modernity and indigenous people. The backpackers add the international touch. We quickly see why the city is so popular. Many get stuck here – including us. Two weeks we are in this wonderful area – until the rain drives us away. For hours we can stroll through the colorful alleys.

San Cristobal

Many cafes and restaurants invite you to watch the hustle and bustle. Not only souvenirs are available for purchase. Orange juice, fruit, ice cream – whatever your heart desires can be found somewhere. The main street has a tourist touch, but it is always cozy.

colorful alleys

We also use the trips to the city to update the website in the Internet café, install new apps, download maps, communicate with friends, or make travel plans. With our limited Internet volume of 8 GB, that’s not possible. In addition, we do not have a network on the pitch. We spend the time away from the city completely offline. Something we are now not only used to, but also enjoy. Nevertheless, we also appreciate the hours spent in the cozy café.


When we drive back to the campground with the Collectivo, we feel like we are in another world every time. The path leads through the middle of an indigenous village. It is a different life that prevails here. Washing machines do not exist; washing is done in the well or river. The women weave textiles for hours, which they later sell at the market. The men work in a carpentry shop or workshop. Next to our truck passes regularly a farmer’s wife with her flock of sheep. Many meet us critically, but many are also friendly and curious. In Chiapas, a quarter of the population still speaks an indigenous language, and in the highlands alone there are four Mayan variants.


The villages of the Tzotzil and Tzeltal around San Cristobal de las Casas are so isolated that they have preserved ancient traditions. Also the classic clothing: the women wear black woolen wrap skirts with white or blue decorated blouses. The men white cotton pants with a white shirt and a warming wool poncho. On weekends, they all come to town in their traditional costumes to sell their products at the market.

Market Vendor

The market fascinates us. On the one hand, the craftsmanship, which could not be more colorful. Whether it’s wool ponchos, scarves, ornate leather goods, painted wooden toys, amber jewelry – there’s nothing you can’t find here. The incredible thing are the prices: for twenty euros you go home with a filled bag of souvenirs. The highlight for us is the “real” market. The way Mexicans shop. And that is exactly what we would like to try as well. During the two weeks we manage (almost) without a supermarket. Cheese is bought at the cheese dairy, spices at the spice shop, bread at the bakery, meat at the butcher’s or the market. Nothing that Europe doesn’t have. The way and the tradition is nevertheless different. Vegetables and fruits are piled up by the kilo in small mountains at the market and beautifully presented.

Vegetable market

Whole chickens – live and dead – are also available for purchase, of course. For us a first, that we buy meat at a market. We invited our camping neighbors for a goulash. Therefore, we buy a good kilogram of pork and beef. The sellers seem quite surprised that two foreigners buy meat at your stand. To be honest, we are ourselves. It definitely tasted good and no one complained about a stomach ache the next day.

Meat purchase

By mountain bike we explore other surrounding indigenous villages. The inhabitants of the better known ones – San Juan Chamula and Zinacacantán – are still somewhat used to tourists. However, they do not seem enthusiastic. Already at the entrance to the village there is a “photography prohibited” sign. Other small Tzotzil villages we pass have probably never even seen a tourist. When we buy something in a tool store, they don’t stop grinning. Others ask us enthusiastically where we are going. A little off the tourist trail, the indigenous people seem much friendlier. Exploring the area on two wheels is an experience we won’t forget: From jungle trail to highway, from cowboy to Indian, from big city to mountain village.


The last time it really rained on us in the area was during our trip to the Grutas de Mamut. Already in the morning we had to change the pitch because the river overflowed its banks for the first time last night. Arrived still dry at the Gruta, it is already pouring again when we come out. The visit is still worthwhile. We had not expected the cave to be so large and impressive. Once again to ourselves, we were able to visit our first gruta in Mexico. After two weeks, it is now time to move on.


We are getting a new member!

Our decision to move on after two weeks begins to waver. The rain god of San Cristobal de las Casas hears us. Finally, the sun is shining without those pesky cool showers. But there is another reason why we stay longer. Intensively we considered the last days, whether we buy a motorcycle. These thoughts were already buzzing in our heads in Switzerland. At the time, we decided against it because we wanted to avoid the extra weight on the rear axle. In addition, we first wanted to see if it made sense with our travel patterns. We like to spend a few days – or even weeks – at a bike, kite, or dive spot. The motorcycle gives us flexibility for shopping, eating out, sightseeing and exploring the surroundings. Not to forget: sightseeing tours. The search for the suitable bipedal driving base starts, and quickly ends successfully.


In Switzerland, it would have been an impossibility to buy a motorcycle at this price. After a few minutes of paperwork we leave the store with our new motorcycle. The registration including the license plate will take a few more days. Time we use to organize and build the rack. This turns out to be more difficult than expected. All the metal dealers we approach sell only six meters at a time. We need different material. With six meters each, we build a structure for ten motorcycles.

The only solution is to travel from locksmith shop to locksmith shop looking for the appropriate pieces. A nerve-wracking affair. The Mexicans look at us completely puzzled when Sandro starts digging through the material and I explain what we need. They are obviously not used to two foreigners buying metal from them.


A few hours and locksmiths later, we find our stuff in two different workshops. Now the question arises, how do we transport a 1m70 long pipe with the motorcycle. Not at all. A cab will probably laugh at us if we stand on the street like this. However, the owner is in the mood to make some more money. He wants to deliver it to us at the “campsite” after work. We agree and hope that he really shows up. Indeed; almost on time it clatters for metal on the bumpy road. Smiling, he drives in and hands us the pipe. The night guard of the nature park looks at us incredulously and probably thinks; okay, they’ll stay a while. An exhausting day is coming to an end. Not only the locksmiths. The appropriate screws and a cover for the motorcycle were also on the shopping list. The day was rounded off by renewed discussions about the registration – which apparently is not as easy as promised.


The construction phase can begin. Cutting disc, welding machine and various other tools are unpacked. Sandro has had the idea in his head for a long time; now it’s time to prove that it works. Three days he works on the completion of the rack. The result is impressive. With the crane for the spare wheel already installed, the motorcycle is loaded in a few minutes. The project was exhausting and exciting at the same time. Thanks to this, we perceived the city, the local life and the Mexican culture in a completely different way. Now, however, it is time to move on.

Finished construction

The first stage leads us to the waterfalls El Chiflón. During the dry season, turquoise pools invite you to swim. Now in the rainy season unimaginable. The current is too strong, the water too muddy. Turquoise blue looks different. In turn, impressive amounts of water pelt down the cliffs. We fight our way up many meters of altitude and about 1.5 kilometers to the top waterfall. On the way there are always panoramic views of the smaller falls. Imposing is especially the 70m high “Velo de Novia”. Close to the viewpoint, it plunges into the depths – after a few seconds we are soaking wet. An experience that is much more intense in the rainy season and makes us gladly forgo the turquoise swimming experience.

El Chiflon

This we find at the sources of Uninajab. Combined with the gigantic view and spectacular sunsets, a worthwhile side trip. The pools of various sizes have a pleasant temperature. The upper basins, which shine with beautiful views of the Chiapas lowlands, become our favorites.

Quellen Uninajab

We are allowed to spend the night directly on the village square, we experience the sunset from the first row. Not only the dusk we may enjoy (almost) alone, but also the morning hours. The first Mexicans don’t show up until noon – until then we claim the pools unrestrictedly for ourselves. One of the many advantages of traveling with your own vehicle Because it is so beautiful, we spend three nights here.

Sunset Uninajab

Lagos de Montebello

The only national park in Chiapas is our next destination. Situated at 1’500m above sea level, we encounter more than 50 lakes of different colors. Surrounded by pine forests, a completely different environment awaits us once again. One of the aspects that we like about Mexico. With a few kilometers or meters of altitude ride changes climate and landscape. So we feel at our new pitch at Tziscao Lake almost like at the lakes in Canada.

Camping Montebello

The passing guard, however, says that overnight stays are not allowed. The campground is located on the opposite side. Since we like it better here, we finally find a deal with him and are allowed to stay. During the day it is quiet. It gets exciting in the evening. Then the Mexicans come and treat themselves to your shower. Unimaginable in Europe. Standard in Mexico. Every evening we watch the spectacle of families with five to ten children arriving and “showering”. Lake Tziscao is excellent for swimming. Several times a day we enjoy jumping into the refreshing, crystal clear water.

Montebello bathing beach

To visit the lagoons, we unload our motorcycle. Since these are far apart, the motorcycle offers itself. Sightseeing is not possible with the mountain bikes. One of the reasons why we decided to buy the bike. The bikes are too valuable to leave somewhere (even locked) and visit a lake, viewpoint or ruin. The most beautiful lagoon for us are the Cinco Lagos.

Lagos de Montebello

Our highlight is the hike from Laguna Pojoj to the Cinco Lagos. The four-kilometer trail through the pine forest leads past various viewpoints over Laguna Pojoj. Arrived at Cinco Lagos, the return is either by rowing boat or on foot. We decide on the latter.

Lago de Montebellos

Lago International is also exciting, because half of it is located in Mexico and the other half in Guatemala. This is not far from our pitch, so we combine the visit with a run. In general, the area is a great place to refresh your fitness level with swimming, running and TRX. After a brief Guatemalan welcome and a few new Mexican friends, we walk back to Whaly.

Fotos Mexikans

Almost with a heavy heart we move on after three nights. If we stay longer everywhere, we will never do the complete Panamericana route. Along the border road to Guatemala we now explore the remote part of Chiapas. A Mexican recommends us to visit Las Nubes and Las Guacamayas. We gratefully accept local recommendations.

Las Nubes

The detour to the waterfalls is a test of patience. A dusty, twelve-kilometer dirt road eventually leads to these dramatic cascading rapids. Probably a paradise for skilled kayakers. Accordingly, river rafting tours are also offered at different levels of difficulty. Something we do without. The nicely designed complex with cabañas in the middle of the jungle is very inviting. Unfortunately, only the parking lot remains for us to camp. Again and again we come across beautiful, green grassy areas in Mexico with the note “Camping”. However, since Mexicans camp with tents, these are often not for us. The term campsite should therefore be used with caution.

Las Nubes

A two-kilometer loop trail leads through a beautiful jungle landscape to the viewpoint over the Rió Santo Domingo. A fantastic view. The park staff tells us on our return that the best visibility is at six in the morning when the fog over the river clears. It is also the best time to see a toucan. The alarm clock set, we set off the next morning – Sandro stays in bed – into the dark rainforest. At the top it is already a little after half past six, but the view is still spectacular.

Las Nubes

The path continues along the border road. Increased caution is called for due to drug smuggling and migration. Especially since there is nothing but rainforest far and wide. The region is so isolated that it is hard to imagine how the few people in the tiny villages spend their lives. There are no gas stations. Diesel is sold in canisters at the roadside. The looks were already friendlier. Our emotional state is a bit queasy; however, far from anxious. Nevertheless, we are happy not to have a breakdown. We pass two military posts, which kindly wave us through as soon as they make sure that we are not a transporter. The road is in poor condition. After the turnoff to Las Guacamayas, the jungle recedes more and more from the road. “I wonder if this center line really used to be in the middle?” I ask myself. On the right, the road has simply broken away in places. Once again, whoever is behind the wheel should have put all their concentration into driving. It is a long forty kilometers before we arrive in the jungle paradise.

Whaly Las Guacamayas

Directly at the Rió Lancandon we can park Whaly. Across the river is one of the largest remaining rainforests north of the Amazon Delta – the Monte Azules Biosphere Reserve. Spending the night here is a unique experience. Howler monkeys are on the move all day in the trees around our vehicle. But they are also very active at night. Roaring in an impressive volume reaches us again and again from the jungle. A special feeling to lie awake at night and listen to the roar. That alone makes an overnight stay here worthwhile. The surrounding area offers quite a bit of wildlife. Our highlight is a beautiful, large iguana, which makes itself comfortable on the bank directly in front of Whaly.


We do not see the bright red macaws (the guacamayas), which are threatened with extinction. Obviously, we were quite happy in La Jungla, where we had them right next to the vehicle. The owner of the camping likes to entertain. For over an hour she tells me stories about the Corona situation, drug problems and much more. The nearest hospital where oxygen can be safely provided is four hours away. When caught with marijuana the one is banned from the village for two years. It is these stories and tales from locals that make traveling so exciting. And once again, I’m glad that Spanish skills are on the upswing.


A Mexico trip without Mayan ruins is not a Mexico trip. But which of the countless temples is the best to visit? For two weeks we are on the trail of the Mayas in the states of Chiapas and Campeche. Next to the Yucatán Peninsula, a region that was very intensively populated. The journey takes us about 1’500km back into the past. The Maya flourishing period was between 700 – 900 AD; the period of the Postclassic.

Maya Ruins

Yaxchilán is one of these ruins, which is reached only with great difficulty. This preserves this mystical atmosphere. We are not disappointed. The temples are located in the middle of the jungle, on the border with Guatemala. We can only get there by boat. The starting point is the small village of Frontera Corozal. Directly on the river we spend the night with Whaly, where we are expected at the jetty at seven in the morning. The ride through the jungle landscape takes about an hour. A crocodilebasks on the shore,howler monkeys make themselves heard in the trees. There is still fog over the river. Together with the sunrise, this is responsible for a special mood.


The entrance to the site is through Edificio 19, El Laberinto. A magnificent view opens over the plant, which is also still in the fog. We continue past the steam room and the ball court. In the past, it was only used for sporting activities; its main use was for spiritual and religious ceremonies. Therefore, there is a ball court in every Mayan facility. In Yaxchilán there are many structures and stelae. Stele 11 was created from several kilometers away from the Gran Plaza. These – as well as the temples themselves – are “only” a milky white after more than 1,000 years. In the past, red temple walls and stelas in red, green, blue, yellow, white and black dominated the cityscape.


A walk through the jungle leads us to the Acrópolis Sur, which consists of three buildings. The tour ends at the Pequeña acrópolis. Again and again the monkeys scream, a family of toucans also moves through the trees. Again and again the monkeys scream, a family of toucans also moves through the trees. After that we go back by boat. Thanks to the location in the middle of the jungle, the solitude as well as the boat ride, these ruins have a special charm. For us, one of the top two plants; for Sandro, number one. Mine will come later.


Roberto Barrios Cascadas

In addition to Yaxchilán, the Bonampak site is on the agenda. Unfortunately, we had to cancel them. A cab driver blocks the road at the turnoff to the ruin. We are not allowed to drive the remaining 15km with our own vehicle, but have to take a cab. There is exactly one vehicle there, no official parking and only one pillone on the road. The whole thing seems very unofficial and arbitrary. Since the police sits bored a few meters away, I ask them if this is true. Obviously, yes. We forgo the visit and stop at the Roberto Barrios waterfalls instead. These have been recommended to us several times. And indeed – we have arrived in a little paradise.

Robert Barrios

Kaskadenartige Wasserfälle fliessen durch die Landschaft. A total of nine cascades, which land in different pools. All invite you to swim. Partly with current, so that a rope helps to pull through the water. Of course, we test all the pools and find our two favorites. On the one hand, a large pool for swimming; on the other hand, the small whirlpools, which remind us of a wellness facility – only here it is natural.

Roberto Barrios

Besides, it is a nice pitch. For the equivalent of 5 euros we are allowed to stay 24 hours. So we enjoy the waterfalls for ourselves until the first tourist buses arrive in the afternoon. Apparently, it is no longer an insider tip. We enjoy the sunset again in total solitude and refresh ourselves one last time before closing the doors in Whaly for the next night. In return, we forgo the waterfall of Agua Azul; which is not “Azul” now in the rainy season, and swimming is currently not possible.


Palenque – you hear it again and again and read it in every travel guide. Despite the fear of the stream of tourists, we set off. But it starts with the accommodation. The only official place for campers charges fantasy prices – by Mexican standards. The search continues; we ask at some hotels and restaurants. There too; fantasy prices. We finally find what we are looking for – on recommendation – at a restaurant. Quite a cozy place, where even the bright red macaws fly by daily at dusk.


It is famous because the tomb of the last great ruler of Palenque – Pakal – was discovered and excavated there. The sarcophagus is now in the museum, which is unfortunately closed. Excavation work in Palenque began in 1940 – but only 7% has been excavated so far. It is said to be about 20,000 square kilometers in size; in its heyday, 20,000 people lived in this city. Still without tourists – but passing various souvenir vendors, we reach the Grupo de la Cruz, where the sun is just shining beautifully through the jungle.

Maya Ruins

Right next to it, the Templo de la Cruz Foliada rises into the air. Unfortunately, the pyramids of Palenque may no longer be climbed. In a way understandable. Nevertheless; compared to Yaxchilán, where we are allowed to climb everything – we absorb the atmosphere only half as much. Despite the beauty and good condition of the facility.


The Palacio is unfortunately covered due to maintenance work. We imagine how the royal family housed it as a residence, but also for ritual purposes and important meetings. We imagined the ruins of Palenque to be somewhat larger overall. Relatively quickly we have visited these – almost disappointingly quickly – and return to the motorcycle. After the archaeological sites of Yaxchilán and those to come, we might as well skip Palenque. The Ramba Zamba around the plant simply ruins too much.



We have a long way to go. After two months in Chiapas, we leave the state today. But we are still on the tracks of the Maya. However, the next destination is too far away to reach in one day. Die Fahrtage sind anstrengend in Mexiko. Without full concentration on the road, it quickly ends in disaster. Or at least in open cabinets in the living cabin. Twice it happens within a very short time, and a Topes is overlooked. Both were in the shade and of course unannounced; the mean kind and barely visible. Even with the modest speed of 40-50km/h an unpleasant experience. More than 200km per day is therefore no fun. Our stopover today is Salto Grande near Candelaria. Ein 11km Abzweiger von der Stadt – diesmal in erstaunlich gutem Zustand. In the Rio Candelaria we can cool down – at least to some extent. In addition, Sandro once again tries his luck at fishing. We discover a Mexican fishing – with harpoon. Huge fish up to 9kg would have it here, he says. Enviously we congratulate him, as he runs a little later with a broad grin and a big fish in the hand beside us. Sandro unfortunately only lost the bait in the currents of the river. “Maybe a harpoon like that would be worth it after all?” we say to ourselves.

Salto Grande

The next day we start the journey to Calakmul. The remote Mayan ruin was recommended to us – despite the exhausting journey. From other side we hear that it is not worth it because you can only get there by cab. We want to make our own picture and go there. At least this time we would be prepared for it – not like in Bonampak. From the junction of MEX 186 it is 60 kilometers through the jungle. At the entrance we are relieved. The first 20km we are allowed to drive with the truck. The remaining 40km unfortunately not, because the road becomes too narrow and the trees too deep. At least this time we get a reason. We are allowed to cover the 40km from the second barrier by motorcycle. We ride the first kilometers, spend the night in the parking lot and look forward to riding the motorcycle through the jungle the next morning.

It is still early – we start at seven in the morning. Even getting there is an adventure. Every now and then an animal crosses the road. Unfortunately, not the jaguar, which should live here. Apparently, this one is actually spotted from time to time. Unfortunately not from us. Since we had not expected this either, the disappointment is limited. Once again we are the first at the entrance gate. Two more cabs are on site with tourists. The only ones we encounter for the first three hours in the ruins. The visitors do not arrive until later, when we are already on our way back. Shortly after our arrival it is clear why Calakmul was recommended to us. Impressed we stand by the highest pyramid, the Estructura II.


The atmosphere is magical. The howler monkeys are in top form. Far and wide nothing but the jungle. Unlike Palenque, the pyramids may be climbed. A hard piece of work. The stairs are steep; the steps narrow. The Mayas were adventurous architects. Slightly out of breath we arrive at the top. The view over the jungle and the steep steps of the pyramid is impressive. And this in complete solitude. A completely different feeling than in Palenque. We enjoy the view, watch the monkeys and treat ourselves to a cup of coffee, which we have taken with us.


Calakmul is one of the least explored Mayan ruins to date. It was discovered in 1931. The city was inhabited from the middle of the Preclassic period (500-300 BC) to the Late Postclassic period (1200-1521 AD). Obviously, there were several periods of growth and flowering here. We take our time and soak up the atmosphere. We run up and down stairs until we are tired. Again and again we marvel at the rainforest from the tops of the pyramids – the largest remaining rainforest in Mexico. From the Estructura VII we have a nice view of the highest pyramid; where in the meantime a few tourists have arrived.


The remoteness is reminiscent of Yaxchilán, but the temples here are much larger. For this reason Calakmul is one of the two favorites, for me even more impressive than Yaxchilán. Not least because there are some beautiful murals and artwork. Partly in very good condition.


There are numerous Mayan sites to be discovered along MEX 186. We set off in the direction of Becán, where we arrive later in the afternoon. But the ruins are closed. In a small street we park Whaly for the next night, right next to a range. No problem, says the owner. Despite the closed gate, we set off for the ruin. We discover a guard. Due to the pandemic, the facility has been closed for two years. “Can we still go in?” I ask him. “Sure, MXN 200.00.” he says. “MXN 80.00,” I suggest. “Okay, MXN 80.00,” he agrees. If only negotiating could always be done so quickly. Once again we are alone on the road, and this in a beautiful evening atmosphere. Once on the highest pyramid, we can enjoy it.


Chicanná is only a few kilometers away. In the morning at eight o’clock we stand in front of the entrance gate. It is simply worth visiting the Mayan temples as early as possible . Not only are the tourists still in bed, but the atmosphere with the mist, dripping trees, screeching birds and roaring monkeys is at its most intense. The facade of the Estructura II is especially beautiful. A mask representing the god of creation Itzamná. Here, too, everything was obviously painted bright red in the past.


As – for the time being – last side trip into the world of the Mayas we visit Edzná. This is located only one hour from Campeche. Yes, we are slowly approaching the sea. Therefore, we expect more tourists. But here, too, we are alone. Incredible how Corona – and perhaps the rainy season – stops tourism. As campers, we live in abandonment all the more. During the last three months we met three campers. More by chance we still plan Edzná on our route. A very good decision. We had not expected this to be so impressive. All temples are located close together around the Plaza Principal. From the top we have a good view over the plant.


The most impressive building is the Templo de los Cinco Pisos. The only one that may not be climbed. On each floor you get to a sanctuary.

Cinco Piso

To the west rises the temple of los Mascarones. Two stucco masks in good condition were discovered during the excavation work in 1988. They represent the sun god in two different forms: Sunrise and Sunset. With these two impressive masks we say goodbye to the world of the Maya for the time being.


For a long time we were looking forward to the beach. After three months of traveling in Chiapas, the time has come. But the disappointment on arrival in Campeche is great. After an extensive search, we find that the beach is not suitable for beach camping. The city is too hectic; we don’t feel like spending the night in a shopping center. We would like to stand a few days to process the impressions of the last weeks. In addition, we have driven many kilometers – time for a breather. We drive up and down the coast for what feels like an eternity until we find something. In a restaurant a little outside Campeche we are tolerated after asking several times. The beach is officially closed due to the pandemic, but the restaurant is allowed to keep its access to the sea open. On the left and right, everything is cordoned off with barrier tape. We do not have to pay anything. However, we are expected to consume something from time to time. We like to do that; the fish also tastes very delicious.


In the evening, unfortunately, close at five o’clock, so we are left only the parking lot with a locked door to the beach. A guard suddenly appears out of nowhere and opens the door for us. Regrettably, she doesn’t take her patrols of the neighborhood that seriously and doesn’t show up every day. Well; the lively little woman didn’t contribute that much to our sense of security either. Not only the disappointment about the beach in this region accompanies us these days. A lot of other things go wrong, too. Starting with a broken Go-Pro stick, over a no longer working charger of our jukeboxes to a defective Mac Book. We are lucky with the computer. In Campeche, we actually find anApple dealer. The technical service helps us; after two days we can pick up the MacBook in working order again.


Campeche offers colorful alleys and a beautiful old town, which is why it is considered Pueblo Magico. In 1540 the city was founded by the Spaniards. The port gave Campeche great importance; gold and silver were regularly shipped to Spain. As a result, pirates besieged the city for almost 200 years. Measures were taken against this with the construction of a wall around the city. Today, this is largely destroyed. The two entrances – the sea gate and the land gate – are still included in the original. The wall can be visited. From above, we can see how the two gates are precisely aligned. We continue strolling through the colorful alleys of the colonial town.


Something very special are the magnificent murals. The Mexicans are world champions at this. Again and again we discover a colorful painting in the streets. In Campeche, it is mainly tributes to the Mayans.


Before we leave Campeche, there is one more thing on the program. The thought of buying a harpoon won’t let us go. Fishing from the beach is difficult. Since we hardly eat meat anymore, more fish would be great. In the largest fishing store in town we get advice and finally find what we are looking for. The owner is obviously so fascinated that foreigners buy a harpoon from him that he finally gives us a generous discount despite initial refusal. With the harpoon in hand, we set off and are curious to see how quickly we will amortize it.

Fishing store

We try our luck with a nice beach pitch in Celestún. But the beach is not the reason to go to Celestún, but the flamingo colonies. In the nature reserve we find a perfect pitch in the middle of the flamingos. At first a bit unsure if we can really stay here, it turns out to be no problem.

Flamingo Celestun

On one side is the mangroves with flamingos and water birds, on the other side is the beach. We enjoy the early morning hours at sunrise with hundreds of birds and flamingos. A sight we know only from good nature documentaries. Unbelievable this scenery. Once again we feel privileged to be able to experience this thanks to our vehicle. The flamingos are on site all day. So we experience breakfast, lunch and dinner in the company of these beautiful animals.


For variety, a few meters on the other side is the beach. Sandro unpacks the fishing route. And indeed; one bites. For swimming, unfortunately, the sea does not necessarily offer cooling. The water feels even warmer than the air temperature – and it is high. Thus, despite the wonderful ambience, the days become hot and uncomfortable. After three nights we therefore move on and say goodbye to this natural spectacle and wonderful place to spend the night.

Mexico Travel report
La Jungla