UPDATED December 29, 2023

BY Guest Author

IN Ruta Maya

no comments

UPDATED December 29, 2023

BY Guest Author

IN Ruta Maya

no comments

10 Highlights of the Ruta Maya Cycling Adventure


Becky Timbers was the Content Creator on the 2023 Ruta Maya. In her final report, she looks back on some memorable moments the riders encountered on their journey through Central America. You can follow more of Becky’s writing on her blog – Two Wheeled Wanderer.

Every bicycle trip – no matter its length, its route, or its tour type – has moments that we will remember – the good, the challenging, and the unexpected. There were plenty of these memories to reflect on for the Ruta Maya riders, who recently finished their tour in Tulum, Mexico after pedalling over 3,000 km from Costa Rica. From lush jungle gravel roads in Guatemala to contemplating the mysteries of ancient Mayan civilization, here are 10 of the best highlights our riders shared from their Ruta Maya adventure.

1. Interacting With The Locals

A few Ruta Maya riders join some locals on their ride | Photo credit: John Archibald

Bicycle trips have a way of bridging the gap between travellers and locals. Pretty much everyone around the world is familiar with riding a bike, so cycling tourists can connect with locals in a way that backpackers or other tourists can’t. The Ruta Maya riders enjoyed getting a glimpse into the day-to-day lives of the locals along the route. From grabbing a cold drink at a Coke stop and attempting conversation with the family to pedalling a few kilometres with a local bike group to letting kids take turns sitting on the saddle, these small shared moments are often what make trips so memorable.

2. Sunrise Over Tikal

Watching the sunrise at Tikal and listening to the jungle slowly wake up was an unforgettable moment of the trip

Visiting the impressive Mayan ruins at Tikal in Guatemala was definitely a highlight of the trip. But those who opted to do the sunrise tour (which meant waking up a 3:30am on a rest day) were rewarded with something even more special. Sitting on the steps of an ancient Mayan temple looking out over the jungle as the howler monkeys and birds began their wake up calls was an unforgettable experience for many of the Ruta Maya riders.

3. Exploring The Colonial Town Of Antigua

Antigua, Guatemala

Antigua is a beautiful colonial town located in the central highlands of Guatemala. It’s surrounded by three prominent volcanoes, one of which is actively smoking. The Ruta Maya riders had a full rest day in Antigua to explore the city’s cobblestone streets and take in the Spanish architecture. Antigua is also known for its great restaurants, cafes, and boutique shops.

4. Walking The White Sand Beaches Of The Caribbean

The white sand beaches of Ambergris Caye were hard to leave!

After thousands of kilometres and countless metres of climbing, the Ruta Maya riders finally reached the Caribbean after crossing into Belize. We took a boat to the island of Ambergris Caye where we enjoyed a stunning rest day relaxing on the white sand beaches, snorkelling in the Caribbean, and drinking cocktails in the open-air bar. There was even talk of ending the trip then and there and spending the last days lounging on the beach…

5. Catching The Sunset Over Lake Atitlán

Sunset over Lake Atitlán

Lake Atitlán is one of the most picturesque spots in Guatemala. The blue waters of the lake are surrounded by volcanoes and mountain ridges which create a beautiful skyline, especially at sunset. Seeing the reds, pinks, and oranges reflect over the waters of Lake Atitlán will be an image the Ruta Maya riders remember for a long time.

6. Meeting New Cycling Friends

The Ruta Maya riders in Antigua

The fastest way to make a friend for life is to travel with a stranger.” – Unknown

One of the best parts of joining a bicycle tour is meeting interesting and unique people. The Ruta Maya riders were a diverse group of individuals and I think many of them would agree that one of the best highlights of the trip was building friendships and connections with each other!

7. The Spectacular Views And Remote Roads Of Guatemala

Guatemala had some of the best views of the trip!

Guatemala was many of the Ruta Maya riders’ favourite country for a number of reasons, including its incredible scenery. Over 40% of the country is mountainous and the route we took provided plenty of opportunities for epic vistas around almost every corner. We pedalled along remote dirt roads and up high, winding passes and the views never got old.

8. Embracing The Mud On The Ride Through Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve

Embracing the mud on the ride through Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve

Our second to last day of the trip took us through the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve in Mexico. We were warned that there would be mud, but I don’t think anyone was prepared for how much mud we’d encounter. No rider ended the day with a remotely clean kit, but everyone did finish the day with a smile and tale to tell.

9. The Morning Descent Down From Valle de Angeles In Honduras

The descent down from Valle de Angeles was one of the most magical moments of the trip.

Every trip should have a few moments that will stay engrained in your mind forever. For the Ruta Maya riders, the descent down the winding paved road from Valle de Angeles in Honduras is one of those moments. The morning light cast a crisp glow over the surrounding mountain ranges and low clouds hung over the valley. It was stunning! The most magical moment, though, was turning a corner and seeing the silhouette of this horse set against the morning sky.

10. Bikes On Boats

Crossing the Pasión River on a rustic wooden car ferry

The Ruta Maya route included a number of boats and ferries to get riders and their bikes across rivers, lakes, and channels. The rustic wooden car ferry across the river in Sayaxché, Guatemala was a crowd favourite!


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