February 24-28 and March 2-6 hikes

We will not be available to read email or answer calls between 15-28 February. Here is the final layout:

February 24-28: 5-day hike, 3 places free. Using mules (possibly volunteers) and not carrying any packs. Price 100 US, food and gear included. Mules cost extra, see posts below. Meeting in Galeria el Zotz, Flores on the 22nd February at 5 pm and again on the 24th 7 am.

March 2-6: 5-day well-planned hike including Nakbé and Wakná, using mules and community guides. Meeting in Flores on the 28th February, 8 pm at Galeria del Zotz, Flores (beside Cafe Yaxha). Trip to Carmelita starts next day early, we stay there a night and hike out on the 2nd of March. Return to Carmelita and Flores on the 6th. Minimum donation is 150 USD, which gets you good food by local cook, a jungle guide, helpers, travel to and from Flores and all accommodation in Carmelita. Plus some secret places to visit...
Profits from this hike will be used to help Carmelita locals establish a private collection and museum of Maya artifacts in their community. Donations above the minimum are gratefully accepted.

All hikes guided in native English by experts.


Feb 15 - 20 hike: few places left

The next hike, leaving on the 14th from Flores by private truck to Carmelita, has a few more places waiting for some adventurous spirits. We preferably carry all our food and gear, purify our water and usually sleep in our own jungle camp than together with dozens of other tourists at the base camps. Cost is US$ 100 per person and includes basically everything (click here for detailed info)

If you would rather do the hike with mules, tents, mattresses, sheltered camps, then consider joining our March 1-7 upcoming hike, featuring Nakbé, La Muralla and the whole 5-day hike as well! This is the first time we will test our GPS map&guide for Nakbé, and will have full guiding in English.


The Sherpas of Mirador

"No one who is a bit concerned about the environment and the future of El Mirador would consider using mule caravans inside the Park."
(Oscar Vesquez, chiclero, near El Florida, leading his 4 mules home)

Those who have been to El Mirador surely remember the ankle-breaking imprints of mule hoofs in the
rock-hard mud of the trail. Only in the dry season, of course, in the rainy months these trails are kneaded into a slimy, knee-deep cereal-like paste by the poor animals. On the other hand, the average tourist will not carry all gear, food, water and extras on a humid, hot, multi-day jungle trek, no matter what the environmental concerns.

And then comes the issue of the Ramon trees (the only species that horses and mules can eat in the jungle, resulting in muleteers fiercely chopping all of them around the camps) and the critters (the pack animals carry domestic pests/diseases into the core of the Biosphere Reserve and vica versa), and that of watering holes being infected by domestic animal droppings, etc...

All these and more were the topics of many late-night arguments beside campfires, until an idea stuck that we thought might be worth a try. Why not use humans instead of mules? If it is possible in the Himalayas, why not here? Conserving the environment always costs more than not caring, so obviously it will be more expensive to pay local workers to carry your backpack than rent a mule. Also, they need their own food, water and gear too, so you still have to pack tight. But then instead of having mules snort beside your tent the whole night, you will have plenty of friendly locals sitting with you around the campfire sharing stories of their lives.

After a few trials it seems to work fine, now all we need is some time and enthusiastic hikers to work out the details. A human train without the swarms of mosquitoes, horse-flies and friends, darting silently through the jungle on moss-covered, narrow trails... it is worth the effort, believe us!


Next public hike: February 15-20

As you can see, we are back in civilization, after a 2-month long stroll in the rainforests of Petén, Lacandón, Chiapas and Belize. All we can say folks: it will blow your mind away! Soon we will post photos as soon as we can convert and select our 10k+ pictures from RAW.

But more interesting is our new venture with Atitlan Adventures, a small outfitter based at San Pedro La Laguna on the shores of Lake Atitlan. Thy offer highly specialized overland adventures by truck, and are busy setting up their activities in Petén as well. Their first major venture will be driving from San Pedro to Flores, and bumping around Petén, mostly the Rio Azul, El Mirador, Petén Itza and Laguna del Tigre areas. This trip is still available with limited places, featuring a free El Mirador Hike, whose hikers will join us on the next public hike. This hopefully means lesser costs and more fun.


Detailed pricing

There seems to be a little confusion about what exactly is included in the featured tour (the next one leaving on February 15).
So, lets see:

Price includes:

·         transportation from/to Santa Elena
·         3 meals a day during hike plus accommodation and food in Carmelita before and after tour
·         all entry fees, permits and taxes; information on current excavations
·         native English guide certified in wilderness first-aid, first-aid kit, GPS and detailed site maps
·         a requirement of minimum eight participants

Not included in price:

·         local guides, mules/horses to carry gear or ride on
·         hammock, net, blanket
·         emergency evac due to blisters, fatigue, health or other issues
·         helpers to set up your tent, cook your food, wash dishes, carry water, tidy up and pack your bag: meaning your personal help is needed all along with common chores
·         tips/snacks/donations

Extras can be rented per day (based on 1 US$ = 7,8 Q):

·         mule                                    US$9
·         muleteer (arriero)            US$14
·         extra hiking days               US$20
·         local cook                             US$14
·         local guide                           US$21
·         hammock+net+cover     US$3
·         Hennessy hammocks      US$20

Please note that one mule is needed to carry all the luggage of two persons, and one muleteer plus his mule has to be rented per four mules. The Hennessy hammocks are professionally designed jungle expedition hammocks with an asymmetrical design for comfortable sleeping, rapid assembly and a built-in rain tarp and mosquito net. Also, they weigh a lot less than the traditional hammock-tarp-net trio.

Our price is 150 US$ per person for a group of at least 8 persons for the 5-day hike. Every extra day will cost 20 US$ per person, for less days we subtract the amount (a 3-day trek would cost 60 USD per person for a group of 8). For groups less than five, the per person price will also be proportionally higher.