The People's Guide To Mexico

The Best Of Mexico

The Ruta Maya


•Sacred Monkey River: A Canoe Trip with the Gods

I was just on your site and didn't see my favorite new book about Mexico. Sacred Monkey River: A Canoe Trip with the Gods is the real thing. In 1997, Christopher Shaw, an ex-river guide and writer from the Adironadacks of northern New York put two canoes and all his gear in and on a beat-up Nissan Sentra and drove to Chiapas. Shaw paddled from the headwaters of the Jatate River, through the heart of Zapatista country to the ruins at Yaxchilan on the Usumacinta River, looking not for a first descent.... but rather to understand the place from the perspective of a paddler, to see the country at "canoe speed," as the people of the place do and have for thousands of years. Full Review by Walter Martin Order Sacred Monkey River

The Ruta Maya: What Is It?

"First and most important, The Ruta Maya or Mayan Route is not a single route or itinerary. Like the so-called ‘Gringo Trail’ you won’t find the Ruta Maya on your Mexican road map or in the index of a geography book. That’s because the Ruta Maya isn’t really a place — it is a concept..... (more) by Carl Franz

Suggested Itinerary

"Lorena and I are also birders and we’ve travelled extensively (and cheaply) in the Ruta Maya area. Start by taking a bus or colectivo cab from the Cancun airport to the bus station. From there, consider a direct bus to Chetumal (if you want to bypass the more crowded Mexican Caribbean coast).

If you have time and the inclination, however, bus to Tulum and from there to Coba, one of the best birding spots on the Peninsula. I birded in Coba with researchers from the Smithsonian — they considered it very good.....


To paraphrase one of my father’s favorite lines, “If I had a peso for every word I’ve written about safety in Latin America, I’d own a hacienda by now.” As often I repeat myself, however, this perennial topic just never seems to go away.

Considering past and present events in Central America, this isn’t too surprising. In fact, anyone who hasn’t had second-thoughts about their personal safety while travelling in Guatemala must not follow the news. To the popular media, Central America is synonymous with civil unrest, coups, kidnapings, guerrilla movements, urban gangs and ‘grinding’ poverty.

Travel Tips: Getting There: When, Where & How?

The Ruta Maya includes a complex range of topography and climate. In January you’ll find teeth-chattering night-time temperatures in the highland villages of Guatemala’s Cuchumantanes Mountains — and humid, lazy-warm weather in the lowland jungles just a day’s travel away. Here’s just a few quick ideas to guide you toward agreeable travel conditions:

• The lowlands of Guatemala and Belize are warm virtually year ‘round, but temperatures frequently dip below 60°F in the jungle on winter nights. Expect damp fog and heavy dew if you’re camping.

• The so-called dry season is seldom entirely dry. It is more accurate to call the winter months on the Ruta Maya the ‘drier’ season, especially in Guatemala’s Peten, the Rio Dulce basin and southern Belize. I always carry a compact folding umbrella (also great for sun protection). A very light poncho is good, or you can imitate the locals and buy a colorful sheet of plastic for cheap, ready-to-use raingear.

Book Review: The Last Lords Of Palenque

The Best of Mexico
The Copper Canyon
Baja Peninsula & Sea of Cortez
Chiapas & San Cristobal de las Casas
Guatemala & The Ruta Maya
Mexico Itineraries & Road Reports

©1972-2002 by Carl Franz & Lorena Havens