BMBBMFJ ecotour

ecotourism.org ecotours$15-$39/pp donation includes all transport, snacks and lunch

Duration walking 3-4 hours / Riding 1-2 hours
Meals/Snacks included – wild jungle fruits along the trail
Mountain Bike/MTB included / optional
Difficulty easy to moderate hike / ride + 500ft of vertical gain + a couple of very fun MTB sections.
Guide included + MTB technical assistance if needed + some good local stories – all true :)

This is a private ecotour through the local Maya hills. We’ll see Maya farmers tending to their crops. Great place for huge Blue Morpho butterflies. Huge wild mango trees, mango, banana, jocote, noni, star fruit and more – jungle fruitalicous!.

BMBBMFJ ecotour description

An easy walk or MTB ride through the Maya hills of Peten Guatemala. We’ll bring water and a snack and leave morningnish. We’ll walk/ride through two of Buenas Cosas Partner Communities. Women making tortillas and selling vegetables on the sides of the dirt roads. Plenty of hello’s and good day’s from the local Guatemalans we pass on the road.

At the end of the dirt road, there’s a great little trail that rises a few hundred feet to the top of a hill. Wildflowers are every where – a nasty little dog too – but he just barks, never a bite. The city keeps a water tank on top of the hill – source of public water for several of Buenas Cosas Partner Commuties. The views are excellent. Flores and San Miguel off to the right and the Maya villages of San Andres and San Jose to the right. Vast expanses water reflecting the jungle that surrounds Lake Peten Itza. We head downhill from there and pass a couple of small Guatemalan Ranchitos. A few cows, horses, chickens wondering freely. Bits of jungle, corn and beans and butterflies abound. Very fun little downhill on an MTB.

We make a right onto a bit of double-track and head toward the ancient mango trees. On our way to the mangoes, we pass several hand dug watering holes. Not uncommon to see the local women washing their clothes – with husbands/farmers tending to their fields on the sides of the small canyon we’ve entered. We reach the ancient mango teees and perhaps grab some wild mangos for a quick snack. If not, there’s plenty of opportunities for more wild snacks further up the trail – no worries :)

We walk/ride the double-track to a fork in the road. To the right, a small canyon pass and the quick way home – although, you’ll need to be fast – many angry Maya farm dogs – MTBs only, please – thrill of the chase – it’s always fun :)

We’ll take the left double-track and head up the larger canyon. Now it starts getting jungly and green, green, green. The small hills that surround the canyon rise on each side, their sides covered with patches of jungle separated by lovingly attended plots of corn, black beans and squash. These are small plots rented by the city to local farmers to grow food for many of our Partner Communities. The flowers and vines are knee/hip high as we climb towards a small pass. Single-track, woohoo! The jungle closes-in on either side as we climb to the top of the pass – we’re passing though a tube of jungle bush and wild fruit trees – guyaba, grenadina and more. We reach the small clearing at the top of the pass and stop for a quick break before descending another jungle tube, its walls of bush, trees and vines surrounding us.

The descent is perfect. Be sure and duck to avoid the vines that pass low-overhead. Watch for the roots poking through the rich fertile topsoil. A favorite spot for the gian Blue Morpho butterflies common to the section of trail. A hug flash of psychodelic Blue explodes in front of your path – that’s a Blue Morpho. In Belize, they’re called ‘Belizean Blues’.

We exit the amazing little downhill to a double-track and take a right. Quite often, more Blue Morphos, as we wind our way up a small canyon. More neatly attended plots of corn, black beans and squash start to a appear on either side of our path. Entrances to small farms. Crudely crafter scare-crows scattered about – freaks out the locals as well as the grackels who want to eat the crops.

Another perfect little downhill – very fun on an MTB – to tee in the double-track. We can take the left and go to San Antonio and more adventure, or take a right and work our way back. We take the right and canyon opens to much larger expanses of jungle, crops and caretaker shacks. Not uncommon to encounter a local Maya rumbling down the double-track with with horse-cart and a couple kids – perhaps the entire family. We pass a hand-dug water well and head-up another small canyon to another small pass. We pass through another jungle tube and exit at the top of the pass. The valley opens and we start our descent. Double-track and small abandoned ranchitos on either side. We stop at the former ranchito of Maria Teresa – she left her ranchito years ago and moved back to town. Why? We can’t understand. The peace and quite of the area, completely off-grid, is amazing. Jungle-topped hills surrounding the entire property. Maria Teresa’s ranchito, with the help of nature, has transformed itself into a permaculture food-forest. We ride/walk right up to and into what was her front porch and look out over the small property: mangos, cashews, almonds, bananas, guyabas, papayas, macal and more. We stop for a snack. Thanks for the snacks, Maria Teresa.

Relaxed, refreshed and ready for more Guatemala adventure, back to the downhill – woohoo. We roll down the small climb from Maria Teresa’s abandoned patio and back to the downhill double-track. If you’re on an MTB this is the fastest part of the ride. Watch roots protruding from the hard-packed Maya clay – they’ll take you down, fast. Huge sweeper to the left. Don’t miss the Maya limestone hole halfway up the side of the hill on the right – still used today by the local Maya to construct their wood cook stoves (polloton). The canyon opening faster and larger, right-hand sweeper with quite a bit of chatter and then a rather fast and tight left, 100 meters and a right to the last section of absolutely perfect single-track.

We pass more abandoned, but still farmed, ranchitos of pineapple, papaya, limes and bananas on the right.

It’s strange to see all these potentially wonderful ranchitos abandoned for the lure of the ‘city’. Most of the owners live only a few kilometers away, hooked to diesel-generated electric power grid (4X more expensive than the US) and the local monopoly’s water wells. These landowners have all the water and power they need on their ranchitos. But that’s a permaculture discussion and this is a simple trail guide :) back to the trail…

One more small climb to the last pass. As we reach the top of the climb, the vista opens to wonderful and final view of the Lake Peten Itza directly ahead, the Maya villages of San Andres and San Jose in the distance. Prepare yourself, properly done this can be a 50mph downhill on an MTB – woohoo – be sure and jump the small ditch that runs across the road at the bottom of the descent – don’t want to bend a rim. It’s a short, sweet downhill that drops into another one of Buenas Cosas Partner communities. A few blocks through the community and we cross the main street and into another Buenas Cosas Partner Community. Much better to take backroads than walk along the main road with the occasional chicken bus nearly blowing you off the road.

We pass a small herd of goats grazing in the fields and make a right. Past the newly drilled water well with it’s huge block wall – nice construction work – another good permaculture topic. Past Tienda de Las Canches as they make their tortillas with the neighbors flowing in and out of the store. Lots of friendly hellos from our friends. A few more blocks and we pass Margarita’s house – she’s usually there making tortillas. Careful. Zaira’s usually around and likes the throw water at passing MTBs – hikers, you’ve got no similar sorts of concerns. A quick right, then a left and we’re back at Buenas Cosas Community Center in Bellos Horizontes.

Hope you enjoyed the BMBBMFJ ecotour. After all that, it’s time for a cold refreshment. Beers are $1 each. Want one? Better still, how about a delicious and packed with protein sesame+cinnamon+banana smoothie :) Yep, that’s locally grown sesame, cinnamon and bananas – permaculture.

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