Monday, April 20, 2015

The Double Header

Check out this sweet client posted video of a recent Old town Outfitters trip up the twin summits of Acatenango and Fuego volcanoes. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Here is a video of a recent trip down to the pacific coast of Guatemala to the beach town of Monterrico.  Old Town Outfitters offers a one a two day sea kayaking trip in the mangrove canals of this quaint little beach town.  This trip is a great opportunity to see the diverse waterfowl and other animals that make this mangrove ecosystem their home.  We head out to the sea turtle conservation project on the beach to see what is being done to help the resident population of turtles and with a little luck during the right time of year you will be able to sponsor your own turtle for release.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Biking to the ruins of El Mirador

Just just recently got back from an one of a kind mountain bike trip out to the Northen Jungles of Peten, Guatemala.  Our idea was to be the first to ride the famous Carmelita to El Mirador trail.  This trail has long existed, infact it dates back to the Mayan pre-classic period and follows much of the original Mayan Sakbe or Mayan highway from Carmelita to the ruins themselves.
 In its heyday Mirador was one of the largest Mayan city/states in the area.  It still boasts the largest pyramids built by ancient peoples, ANYWHERE!  In modern times these trails have been used by Chicleros, or the men who walk out into the junlge to harvest Chicle.  This is the stuff that we used to use to make gum.  Today the chicle trade isnt quite what it used to be but the trails still exist.  Most of the traffic on the Sakbe these days are adventurous backpackers and gear laiden mules headed out to the ruins.
 After having hiked this trail years ago I wanted to be the first to take a crew in on bikes.  Having seen the trail, the lack up elevation that I am acustomed to in the Guatemalan highlands,  and mapping the distances it didnt seem like this was going to be too hard.  After all, the trail is only 43 kms. from Carmelita to Mirador.  Most groups walk this in two days overnighting on day one at the ruins of Tintal.  
 We sent an advance team to Carmelita with the gear and food that we would need and loaded the mules.  They set out a day ahead of us so that, assuming all went to plan that they would be arriving in Mirador about the same time as us.  We had caluclated that the mules would take a full 2 days to get there while we on bikes moving much faster (we hoped) would be able to cover the 43 kms. in a hard day.

We didnt really take into account the heat and humidity into our calculations of effort and time needed to make it to Mirador.  It is totally do-able in a day.  But you need to be prepared to have access to a LOT of water.  Upon planning the trip everyone that we spoke with out in Carmelita tod us that it was going to be hard going and hot but at the very least that it was dry.  What no one told us was that it would be potentially better to go a little later in the season.  They had gotten a  lot of late season rain which with all the mule train traffic had created this lunar hardened mud post hole effect that was like riding through a 43 km. boulder field in 35* heat and 90% humidity.
 We did make it though.  Crossing the many altos and bajos (high and low ground) where the terrain would change from rolling, beautiful singletrack to hardened mud post hole hell out to the ruins.  We slung our hammocks and listened to the sounds of the jungle and mosquitos lull us to sleep.  We decided that we would give this trip another shot the next May a little later in the season when enough mule traffic would work to smooth out the crusted mud formations and thus make it a slightly easier ride.
We spent 3 nights in the woods riding from ruin to ruin far away from anywhere.  It was a pretty amazing experience.  One that although was the hardest 43 km ride ive ever done and looking forward to next years trip.  We are hoping to create a tour to help the locals promote and protect this amazing resource.  Stay tuned to jump on the next ride out.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Volcano Bashing in El Salvador

Our neighbor to the East, El Salvador doesnt seem to get the tourism focused on the outdoors quite like we do here in Guatemala.  So we decided to head over and check things out.

I must say we were pleasantly surprised by what we found.  Only a few short hours from La Antigua, Guatemala you can be cruising the "Ruta de las Flores", an old back-roads Salvador feel with cool little colonial and artisan towns with quaint B&B's and fun bars.

But crusing Salvadors backroads wasnt why we went.  We wanted to check out the rarely visited interior of the country with her National Parks, caves, waterfalls and volcanic peaks.  We headed first for the sulfuric crater lake volcano of Santa Ana.  Its an hour or so hike up to the cone where you are looking down on this super cool blue crater lake.  Its not a super hard hike but is very different from the Guatemalan peaks that we normally hike.

Its an easy 4 hour drive to Santa Ana from Antigua and after your hike its only a bit further to the Ruta de Las Flores where you can find food festivals, outdoor beer gardens, scenic lakes, caves and waterfalls.  We headed to Juayua first and caught up with the street-side feast that was going on.  It was like a little piece of Guatemalan Europe.  Folks drinking beers and eating food in the streets.

Just outside town is a waterfall with a system of caves that you can swim through.  Each tunnel takes you further into the mountainside and into a larger chamber.  Pretty sweet! After lounging in the pools we headed back to town for beers and a night out before we headed over to Lago de Coatepeque, the Salvadoran version of Guate's Atitlan.  It wasn't as big but it sure was pretty, we had seen it from the tops of Izalco and Santa Ana volcanoes and knew we wanted to head over and check it out.

Funny how after so much time here in Guatemala that I had neglected our Central American neighbor.  She's so close and offers so much to do than just hanging on the beach and surfing.  Dont get me wrong, Zonte and the rest of the beaches are pretty stellar.  But this highlands "Ruta de las Flores" side of Salvador was a great change from my normal trip.
We'll most likely be adding this to the long list of amazing trips on the Old Town Outfitters website.  Stop in and get yourself booked up on our next adventure!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Surfing the Pacific Coast

We have teamed up with our good friends down at the Paredon Surf House on the sleepy but up and coming surf beach of El Paredon.

Unlike many other Guatemalan beaches Paredon as its known, has a good surf break and super fun waves even if your not a surfer.  Our new trip will be sea-kayaking and surfing focused.  Like our kayak trips to Monterrico we will spend some time exploring the back waterways and mangroves before heading out to the beach for a fish lunch.

We'll overnight in ocean front thatch bungalows.   We'll have an afternoon surf lesson as well as one the following morning before breakfast.

Get in touch with us at Old Town Outfitters for more information on this new great trip down to Guatemala's Pacific coast

Friday, November 8, 2013

An Exploratory trip to Guate's Green Heart

This past weekend we took off and headed north from Antigua the the lush green department of Alta Verapaz to the hidden travelers hang out near Las conchas.  This is a place that we had heard about for years but just hadnt for whatever reason found the time to get out and check it out.  It had always be rumored to be what Semuc Champey was before the tourist crowds had taken it over and made it a mainstream Guatemalan dstination of the "Gringo Trail."

No, no, this place is legit!  It is a bit far removed from Antigua but perfected placed in the middle of the country to become THE stopover spot on an overland trip between Antigua and Tikal or the Rio Dulce.
Las Conchas definitely lived up to all the hype that had been circulating  about the remote jungle river and cave system.

We loaded up the 4x4 and rolled out to our friends hostal on the Rio Chiyu just downstream from Las Conchas.  We set out not only to take advantage of cold beers, jungle swimholes and jumping off the staircased waterfalls but to create an all-in-one tour of this area of Guatemala that is not focused on Semuc Champey and the overrun town of Lanquin.

What we found was pretty amazing!  A short pick up truck ride away from the lodge is the trail head to the Setzol caves system.  Its an hour hike through the lush forest to the entrance of Setzol where a beautiful river emerges from the cave.  We spend an hour or so exploring this cave before heading further down the trail to yet another cave that seemingly no one knows the name of!  This cave still has Mayan artifacts inside, making it a truly special place.

Our recee trip has turned into a new classic Old Town Outfitters tour called the  "caves and waterfalls"  tour.  Get in touch with us and join onto our next adventure to Las Conchas before it gets turned into another Semcu Champey!