The following itinerary is listed with the Touring Exchange, P.O. Box 265, Port Townsend, WA 98368, 206-385-0667. They maintain descriptions submitted by bicyclists for about 100 tours in the United States and 25 foreign trips. Listings are available for the cost of photocopying and postage. Send $2 for their catalog.

CYCLING THE YUCATAN

INTRODUCTION

This is based on a tour in December 1987 - January 1988 by Tyler Folsom and Fran Solomon. This is a two week trip covering 290 miles. This itinerary is meant to supplement the one by Leslie Burkhart; see hers for a map. Her tour covers a similar route but makes more use of buses.

The people are great, friendly and easy-going. Knowing a little Spanish helps. This a relaxing area to travel in; we never felt apprehensive about getting ripped off. There is little of the macho mentality in Yucatan. We had no health problems and the food was wonderful. We drank water which we had filtered through a portable purifying pump.

LOCATION

Mexico, states of Yucatan and Quintana Roo. Start in Merida, end at Cancun or Cozumel.

 

SEASON

Tropical weather; can get quite hot in summer. Possibility of heavy rainstorms. Best in winter: November through March.

   

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Merida

Temp

23

24

26

27

28

27

27

27

27

26

24

21

 

Rain

3

2

2

3

8

15

14

13

15

10

3

3

Cancun

Temp

26

25

26

28

28

29

29

29

29

28

27

26

 

Rain

10

6

4

4

12

18

11

15

23

22

10

11

Average temperatures in degrees Celsius, rainfall in centimeters.

TRANSPORTATION

International airports at Merida, Cancun, and Cozumel. Buses will carry bikes in the undercarriage and go everywhere. We used first class buses, which are like Greyhound.

 

ACCOMMODATION

Hotels available at all suggested overnight stops. Cost [as of 1988] is $5 to $25 for two people to a room. We traveled light with no camping gear. Rooms can get scarce and more expensive along the Caribbean coast; try to arrive early here or else bring camping gear. Our land expenses were about $15 per person per day. Camping available at Merida, Uxmal, and most places on the coast. One possibility is to buy a hammock and blanket in Mexico and use this at campgrounds.

 

TERRAIN & ROADS

Flat terrain, a few gentle hills near Uxmal and Coba. Roads are two-lane, paved, literally no shoulder at all. Drivers are cautious, slow down if they can't pass and give bikes plenty of room. Because of the flatness, there is no spectacular scenery; you never see the sea from the coastal road. We had mostly tailwinds; I'm not sure if that's luck or typical.

 

REFERENCES

Tom Brosnahan, "Frommer's Mexico on $20 a Day", Prentice Hall Press, 1987.

An edition covering only Yucatan is also available. Great for transportation schedules, hotel and campground listings.

C. Bruce Hunter, "A Guide to Ancient Maya Ruins", University of Oklahoma Press, 1986. Complete descriptions of 24 sites in Mexico and Guatemala.

Carl Franz, "The People's Guide to Mexico", John Muir Publications, 1986. Good background on travelling and living in Mexico.

Map -- "Mexico Sureste (peninsula) Carta Turistica", Instituto Nacional de Estadistica Geografia e Informatica, 1987

ITINERARY

Day 0: Fly to Mexico

Day 1: In Merida (5 miles)

The airport is only five miles from the center of town so biking in is a good introduction to the city if you arrive in the morning. Sunday is an ideal day to arrive since there is less traffic and the downtown streets are pedestrian only. Spend the day exploring the town.

Day 2: In Merida

Look about some more in the morning. Take the bus out to the beach at Progreso for the afternoon.

Day 3: Bike Merida to Uxmal (52 miles)

At about the halfway point, stop to visit Hacienda Yaxcopoil, an old henequen estate. Don't be alarmed if you are surrounded by children asking for pesos; they won't steal your stuff and this is the only spot on this trip where this is likely to happen. Camp or get a room at Rancho Uxmal, 4 Km before the ruins, then go on to the ruins for a preliminary look or catch the Sound and Light show at night.

Day 4: In Uxmal (5 miles)

Spend the day exploring the ancient Mayan city.

Day 5: Bike to Kabah (17 miles); Bus to Merida and Chichen Itza

There are some interesting ruins at Kabah. You can catch a bus from Kabah for Merida at noon and then another bus from there to Chichen Itza.

Optional side trip: go to Sayil, Xlapak and Labna to explore more ruins.

Day 6: In Chichen Itza (6 miles)

Explore the ruins.

Day 7: Bike Chichen Itza to Valladolid (28 miles)

Spend more time at the ruins if desired or stop and visit the caves at Balancanchen. Stroll about Valladolid in the evening.

Day 8: Bike Valladolid to Coba (72 miles)

Get an early start. This is a long day because there is no place to stop in between. Nuevo Xcan (about 7 Km past Xcan) is the biggest village on the route. From here turn off highway 180 onto the road to Coba and Tulum. This is a good paved road and pleasant due to very light traffic.

Day 9: In Coba

Climb more pyramids and tramp through the jungle to discover unexcavated remains. You can boat or swim in Lake Coba. Coba is a pleasnt Mayan village.

Day 10: Bike Coba to Tulum (30 miles)

The town of Tulum (groceries and cheaper restaurants) is 2 Km south of the junction of the road from Coba. The town has no bike shops, but we were able to buy a bike tire at a cafe to replace one slashed on a can two days earlier. Continue north from this junction to get to the hotel, ruins, and campgrounds.

Day 11: In Tulum

Split your time between the ruins and the nice beach a mile or so south. These ruins are small and get mobbed with tourists so get there either early or late.

Day 12: Bike Tulum to Playa del Carmen (41 miles)

4 Km north of Tulum you pass an unmarked Mayan building beside the road. It's worth looking at since it has some well-preserved frescos. A bit farther on, Xel-Ha ruins are interesting. The tour buses don't go here and these are some of the best murals you'll see. Stop and snorkel either at Xel-Ha (lots of tour buses) or a few miles farther north at Xcacel. Akumal has no facilities except expensive resorts.

Day 13: In Playa del Carmen

The beach here is lovely and if you walk a mile north you'll find a nude beach. This town is booming with tourists but the big hotel chains and condos aren't here yet. Very relaxing and mellow.

Day 14: Bike to Cancun Airport (34 miles) and fly home.

Cancun is an artificial city, consisting of resorts and tourists. We dislike such places, so skipped it.

Alternative: from Playa del Carmen, take the ferry to Cozumel, spend some time there, and fly home from Cozumel.

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