Guatemalan Adventures

Week 7 – Flores Island to Lake Atitlan

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A ruin temple over 60 metres high
Temple at Tikal National Park

After a long journey from Caye Caulker, we finally arrived in Flores, Guatemala. It was time to start the Guatemalan adventures. On Flores, we only went and grabbed some food and settled in for the night.

The next day we explored the ruins of Tikal National Park. These ruins were amazing. They are situated in the middle of a jungle where these impressive Mayan ruins are scattered throughout acres upon acres of land.

As I am a budget traveller we opted to explore the ruins by ourselves. It was doable. However, we did nearly miss the famous Temple 5! Wondering through this magical jungle you were surrounded by wildlife. Birds filled the air with their tune and monkeys swung from tree to tree.

The monkeys howled loudly, they were everywhere. I feel I spent more time watching them than looking at the ruins. This experience of wandering ruins without information boards would have been better with the guide. This is so you understand the history of the ruins. Here, I would recommend getting the guide plus it wasn’t too much extra money anyway.

Guatemalan Adventures to Lanquin

Waterfall Pools lined with lush green forest during the Guatemalan adventures
Waterfall Pools at Semuc Champey

After, exploring the ruins, the next day we took a tourist bus to Semuc Champey. Semuc Champey was quite the trek to get to. It included a 12-hour bus ride through very windy mountain passes multiple times. Therefore due to the nature of the journey this ride was hell. I couldn’t tell you how many mountain passes we crossed to get there but it was unpleasant. The windy roads seemed to last forever and worse was knowing that we would be doing it all over again to get to Lake Atitlan.

Semuc Champey in my opinion was not worth the torturous journey to get there. I had seen it online with a lot of hype yet for me, it really didn’t live up to it. Normally, I am not disappointed with nature but I felt that I had seen better. The hike was a tough one and long to get to the viewing platform that overlooks the natural limestone bridge. All in all this leg of the journey could be skipped. Also, It was not cheap getting to and from Lanquin nor do hostels have cooking facilities. Therefore, for a traveller on a strict budget, this trip really starts to add up.

Exploring Lake Atitlan

green trees filling th ebackdrop with a natural pool of green and blue water
Semuc Champey

Last up for this week was exploring the many small villages that sit along Lake Atitlan. Arriving after dark was scary. The ‘ferry’ port is in a very random, dark street. Plus, that skipper was very reckless and sped across the dark lake. We made it but those bumps were something else. The small villages each offer a different feeling and are worth checking out each of them.

It was nice to kick back and relax for 4 nights. At this point, we have moved so quickly through Guatemala that it was a welcomed break to be in one place. We even finally managed to do our laundry which at this point was everything that I had in my suitcase.

The next chapter is all about continuing the Guatemalan adventures with a unique experience in Antigua, Guatemala.

A World Wonder in Mexico

Week 5 – Valladriod to Bacalar

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A World Wonder in Mexico

Finally, I was about to cross off another world wonder from my list. This time it is the world wonder in Mexico. I was excited. We changed our plans slightly which made it easier to get to ‘Chichen Itza’. This is something I enjoy about being on the road you are able to change plans at the last minute. I feel having fewer plans allows you to keep the freedom that comes with exploring the world that we live in.

We Based Ourselves in Beautiful Valladriod

the main temple ruin of Chichen Itza. The world wonder in Mexico

Valladriod is a cute town a little like Puebla with its colourful buildings. It was hot here. Very hot. Walking around in the midday sun was just a no-go. Therefore, we chose to get the 7 am colectivo to Chichen Itza because the earlier you go the fewer tour groups and less heat. It’s a win-win. We managed to get our pictures without people in and more importantly enjoy the site without the crowds.

I will say that the price they charge for the number of ruins you can actually access is extremely high. It really does feel like a tourist trap. If it wasn’t one of the wonders of the world. I would miss it entirely and find lesser known ruins to visit. Again, we didn’t do a tour because we are budget backpackers. However, there was a lack of information boards. This seemed to be a theme across Mexican tourist attractions. Therefore, online research is a must to understand the sites you are visiting.

Our Second to Last Stop Was Touristy Tulum

Me on a mopped

Okay. Tulum was the first place I was meant to be visiting two years ago. I was excited however quite frankly I wasn’t sold on Tulum once I arrived. Before, we even arrived we heard bad stories involving the local authority against backpackers. This automatically put us on edge.

Therefore, due to the stories, we took out the money we needed in Valladolid. So, we wouldn’t need to use an ATM. Apparently, backpackers were followed home from these. Then, pulled over for a traffic violation. So, just be careful and aware when on the roads.

In My Honest Opinion

I was not too fond of Tulum. I really thought I would be. Maybe a few years ago before the tourist boom, it was a magical place. However, now it is overrun by beach clubs, expensive restaurants, and rip-off taxis. Okay. If you enjoy beach clubs and have a lot of money to burn through then you may have an entirely different opinion from me.

We had so much go wrong during Mexico that the scooter going wrong was the final straw for me. I was ready to get out. Start fresh in a new country at this point in time. These small things always going wrong really did influence the negative feelings I have towards Mexico.

The Amazing Lake Bacalar

A boat perfectly framed by two beams floating on lake bacalar

At least Mexico had one last surprise up her sleeve. This beautiful lake Bacalar was made up of seven different shades of blue water. The massive lake was warm, crystal-clear water, and hosts an impressive sunrise and sunset. It was great to spend the day relaxing heating up in the sun and then cooling in the water, trying to unwind and shake the negative start to this adventure through Central America.

Check out the other journal entries in my travel journal here!

Stories From Mexico

Week 1 – Mexico City to Oaxaca City

Wow. This doesn’t feel real. I have waited two years to step foot in Mexico. The emotions and overwhelming feeling of being able to travel again; will be something I will never take for granted. This trip was to see if travelling is still in my blood. Whether it was time to settle down or to keep on exploring. So, this adventure starts with stories from Mexico and it will continue through Central America where only time will tell what my future will hold.

Disclaimer: This blog contains affiliate links meaning I earn a small percentage of every purchase at no cost to you.

We start this week off in Mexico City. A long-haul flight. Jet lag…I forgot how it felt. I don’t know why but I really suffer from it when flying East. I was definitely feeling the jet lag and mixing that with inconsiderate roomies (hostel dorm room) meant survival on little sleep. However, there was no time to rest. I was more than ready to experience everything Mexico had to offer.

Stories From Mexico City

A Mexican flag flying
Mexican Flag Flying

Mexico City is a vast, hustling, and charming place. Like every good backpacker attending a free walking tour is a good way to get your bearings and learn about a place. Strolling through these magnificent old Spanish buildings and listening to the stories of how these came to be. It did something; it re-ignited the passion in me, the passion for travelling. Despite the lack of sleep, I was happy to feel full freedom again.

Don’t get me wrong the nerves were there. Yet, with each passing day, they started to settle down. The nerves come from entering the unknown. However, it wasn’t long before I found my travelling legs again. It all came back just like riding a bike. The ways to keep safe, the know-how to haggle, or just finding top places to visit. My knowledge of doing hadn’t left me during the last two years but my confidence did.

With each passing day, my confidence came back almost like it just needed to be dusted off.

Next, It Was Time for Puebla City

A beautiful coulorful street full of houses
The colourful Streets of Puebla

With my confidence dusted off, it was time to move on from the hustle of Mexico City to a nice quieter town. This meant my confidence could grow even more. Puebla City was very charming and beautiful. The rows of colourful houses. The locals filled the streets to celebrate Holy Friday. This experience right here, witnessing a truly local celebration is one of the many reasons I travel. It was all about getting lost in these streets which makes this place special and definitely worth a visit. Unfortunately, we only stayed the night but wished I stayed for another one.

The Week Ended in Oaxaca City

This crazy city was where our first hiccup happened. Sometimes you book a bad hostel even though it has the best reviews. This was exactly what we did here. After, much back and back with a very rude member of staff we were offered some money back and left. However, due to this experience, we learnt to cross-reference the reviews. Another tip I would give if you can book directly with the hostel. Although, we were off to a bad start in this city that soon changed as we explored.


Exploring The Surrounding Area

ME standing looking over the valley from my stories from Mexico
Hierve el Agua

The ‘Hierve el Agua’ was quite the journey to get to. A bus that didn’t show up for 2 hours to a crammed trip up the mountain in a back of a pickup. This is what makes backpacking on a budget unique. These experiences. These stories you are left with to tell. You know… do you remember when we got 11 fully grown adults into a back of a 4×4 pickup? The unthinkable, the unimaginable. The crazy ones or the ones that are just too funny not to share. The memories that will always be cherished.

To Summarise The First Week

Stories from Mexico would be eye-opening, a wake-up call that backpacking on a budget comes with good and bad experiences but each one will shape you in a way only travelling can. It was a full first week always moving the way I like it for now. Travelling is still in my blood.

New travel journey entries will happen as time goes by so click here to discover more!

An Ultimate Month in Mexico

This is the ultimate month in Mexico route that I followed. However, I chose these places based on other blogs I had read. Then I selected what I would find interesting. Therefore my advice would be for you to do the same. Use this guide to help you make the perfect itinerary for yourself.

Disclaimer: This blog contains affiliate links meaning I earn a small percentage of every purchase at no cost to you.

All prices are correct as of May 2022

Mexico City – 3 Nights

me sitting down enjoying the Teohiuacan ruins on the ultimate month in Mexico
Teotihuacan Ruins

I started this trip in Mexico City and the first thing I did was a free walking tour. This is a great way to see the highlights and learn about the city. I just found one online from a basic Google search and went along to the meeting point. These do work on a tip basis so make sure you bring some cash with you.

Teotihuacan Ruins is a day trip from Mexico City. It is pretty easy to get there with local transport or a tour. First, you get the metro to Autobus del Norte metro station (MXN5 per trip). For females there is a women’s and children-only section, I would advise you to use this. My trip was hassle-free but not all are. Next leave the metro station and the bus station is directly in front of you. At the bus station look for the ticket office labelled ‘Piramides’ and the bus leaves through gate 8. This costs MXN 52 for each way. The bus does take a while (roughly an hour) as it stops many times to pick people up however it drops you by the entrance gate 2. The ticket price for the ruins is MXN 75. To get back to Mexico City you do the route in reverse.

The Colourful Puebla City – 1 Night

A beautiful coulorful street full of houses
Puebla City

Here we ended up just walking around the streets. These were so pretty and colourful. I would add this to your trip as it is a simple 2-hour bus ride from Mexico City. I caught the ADO buses throughout Mexico. It was simple to book through their App and they cover the majority of the country. Unfortunately, we were here on a public holiday therefore everything was shut. Hence just walking around was the only activity I did.

Beautiful Oaxaca City – 3 Nights

This walking tour was very good and the guide spoke very good English. Again, I would always recommend a free walking tour as it is a great way to get your bearings in a new place. Remember, these work on a tip basis.

ME standing looking over the valley
Hierve el Agua

Hierve el Agua is a beautiful waterfall 45km from Oaxaca City. It was simple enough to get to using local transport. First, you can catch a bus (MXN20) from the second-class bus terminal to San Pedro de Mitla. The company for this bus is ‘Goma’. The information online says it comes every 15 minutes but we ended up waiting nearly 2 hours that morning. Crazy. Next was the pick-up truck up the mountain. I should warn you that they cram in as many people as possible. I paid MXN75 each way and we were a total of 11.

Along the way, you have to pay the ‘town tax’ of MXN10-15. Yes, really, the locals have made this up but you can’t get around it and finally the entrance fee of MXN50. Again, to get back follow the same route but in reserve. Also if you are a solo traveller a tour would be a great way to meet people.

Monte Alban ruins is a perfect morning out as it is only 10 km from the centre. I got the tourist mini-bus at 8 in the morning costing MXN100 for both ways. It was worth it as I arrived before the crowds and enjoyed Monte Alban in peace for a short while. The entrance costs MXN70. After exploring for a couple of hours I got the mini-bus back at 12pm. That was plenty of time to wander around and explore.

Amazing Puerto Escondido – 3 Nights

my turtle in a coconut ready for release on the ultimate month in Mexico trip
Turtle Release on Puerto Escondido

After exploring three cities I was ready to explore the beaches of Puerto Escondido on this ultimate month in Mexico adventure. I did just that by foot. I explored the coastline simply by walking to a different beach each day sometimes two in one day. The only activity I did was the realising of a turtle. This cost MXN100. I had read good reviews about the company online however once there it did feel that they cared more about the money than the turtles. In future, I would skip this experience.

San Cristobal – 2 Nights

El Chiflon Waterfall was the reason we stopped by San Cristobal. The waterfall was still 3 hours away by local transport. The journey there included a straightforward ADO bus to Comitan then a colectivo to El Chiflon (MXN35 each way). The entrance was MXN50. This place is incredible and definitely worth the trip on the local transport or guided tour. Again, reserve the route back to San Cristobal.

Beautiful Isla Mujeres – 4 Nights

a yellow and orange sunset over the clam sea
Sunset on Isla Mujeres

This island felt very touristy and it was more appealing as a 2-week holiday destination rather than a backpacking experience. To get over to the island I got the ferry with Ultramar costing MXN362 for a roundtrip. Once, on the island, we explored the beaches and the southern point of the island. This place does have some good snorkel sites you can access through tours.

Cozumel – 3 Nights

I did a shore scuba dive here to see if I like scuba diving still. The answer is yes. I didn’t see much marine life on this dive but people who went out on the boat saw lots. So, even if you want to try scuba diving for the first time I recommend going out on the boat. Also, I cycled to the beaches on the far side of the island as they aren’t lined with beach clubs; however, they were full of seaweed but still so beautiful. If you like beach clubs then you will find a great spot with good snorkelling and free of seaweed.

Vibrant Valladolid – 2 Nights

Ruins at Chicken Itza
Chichen Itza

This was a last-minute change to the ultimate month in Mexico as once I researched Chichen Itza, I felt it was best to go from Valladolid. The town is very cute and colourful much like Puebla.

Chichen Itza is a world wonder therefore it was a must-stop for me. To get there I took the 7am colectivo from a car park opposite the ADO bus station. The entrance fee was expensive at MXN571, MXN80 has to be paid in cash and the rest was either cash or card. If you plan well you can visit a nearby cenote before heading back to Valladolid.

Also, I visited Cenote Oxman whilst here. I got a taxi both ways for a good price and an even better price on the way back. I did get lucky as a taxi was dropping more people off as I left. This is a cool underground cenote with a nice pool area to chill out in after.


Touristy Tulum – 3 Nights

The second to last stop on an ultimate month in Mexico adventure was the very overrated touristy Tulum. Yet, if you don’t mind paying for beach access through many wonderful beach clubs then you will enjoy this place more than I did. I rented a scooter (MXN500) for the day. I visited Akumal Bay to see the turtles that feed there. However, this experience was very unpleasant. You have to pay to even access the beach. Also, they try and stop you from swimming in a certain area of the sea where they run the snorkel tours. It is possible to see turtles for free with great patience and ignoring the locals telling you where you can swim.

Incredible Laguna Bacalar – 2 Nights

A boat perfectly framed by two beams floating on lake bacalar. The last stop on an ultimate month in Mexico
Lake Bacalar

The last stop on an ultimate month in Mexico was this gorgeous lake. The lake was beautiful and there are two free spots to sit on a deck and enjoy. The water here is known for having 7 different shades of blue. The town itself isn’t much but it getting more discovered by tourists. So, get there quickly before it is overrun just like Tulum.

You can read about my other experiences in other countries here.