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Bicycle Touring Sian Kaan Biosphere Reserve

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Bicycle Touring Sian Kaan Biosphere Reserve

It was easy to the leave the tourist trap of Tulum and head south into Sian Kaan Biosphere reserve. I longed to be away from the comforts of hotel rooms and restaurants. With a couple of days food Sonja and I set off. The plan was to stop at the famed Mayan ruins of Tulum but the sheer numbers of people there was so staggering that we thought it unlikely to have anything resembling a positive experience when visiting the ruins. So we passed and set our sites on Bicycle touring to Sian Kaan Biosphere Reserve.

With little knowledge of what lay ahead we paid our entry fee of a couple of dollars and set off on the slowly decaying dirt road. In Mexico, the law states that all beaches in are public lands and cannot be privately owned, the truth is different. On Mexico’s Mayan Riviera most of the access to the beach can only be gained through private houses or expensive resorts. So our plans of enjoying the beaches in this area were thwarted. There were several places where beach access were made possible and we took the opportunity to get the sand between our toes.

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Trash on the beaches Sian Kaan Biosphere Reserve

The route from Tulum to the only town in the reserve Punta Allen was 56km. We found several camping opportunities next to the beach but a poor choice on our part had us camping at a spot surrounded by countless loads of plastic. The beach in this part of Mexico is prone to loads of flotsam and jetsam washing up on the beach. The prevailing winds and tides pushed all the trash from the whole Caribbean onto this coast.

A quick walk on the coast reveals that the usual coastal trash abounds. Rope from vessels that travels the waters, fenders and buoys make up a part of the trash but the overwhelming culprit of the trash is plastic. Plastic, plastic and more plastic, mostly in the form of bottles and containers.

The more I travel in this world the more I see plastic contamination of the environment. Be it plastic bottles, plastic bags or whatever. And the worst things about plastic in the sea environment is that it does not break down but breaks apart to form these oceans of micro plastic which are then consumed by sea creatures. Sorry for the rant, but when traveling the world, the affects of plastic are very much in your face. Maybe one day we will do a better job with managing or eliminating plastic. Rant over!

Our campsite was just behind the dunes. The sound of the waves and smell of the salt air did a wonderful job of assisting with the pleasure of rest and relaxation.

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Punta Allen

On our second day in Sian Kaan Biosphere Reserve we continued along the coastline to the town of Punta Allen. A light lunch was had at one of the small local eateries before we set off in search of a boat to take us across the narrow channel to the remote jungle on the other side. There was a remote road through the jungle and back to the main highway.

After speaking to a boat captain I was a little confused. We were told to wait in the jetty for the boat. For a couple of dollars we got a five minute ride at high speed across the bay. We were now in the middle of nowhere. Loaded with several litres of water and a couple of days worth of food we set off.

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Early camp on a roadside gravel pit, due to the jungle we thought there would not be much in the way of camping opportunities.

Initially the rough dirt road followed the mangroves. Rare pink spoonbills flew away from us before we had a chance to take a good picture. The open mangroves and lack of shade made for hot cycling. It wasn’t long before the road entered the thick canopy of jungle. I had hoped to see a troop of monkeys or the odd Jaguar. Only the calls of the birdlife could be heard.

Camping in the Jungle

Camping opportunities appeared to be rare due to the dense rainforest so when an open gravel pit presented itself it was time to make an early camp.

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Nice peaceful camp, wish all were like this

The following morning a rough and often water filled road led us through the heat and back to the highway. I had hope of seeing some wildlife. The odd butterfly was my only reward. So ended our short and sweet little bicycle touring trip through Sian Kaan Biosphere Reserve.

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bicycle touring Sian kaan biosphere reserve

The heat of the late dry season hit us when we made it back onto the main highway. The next stop would be a quick stop in Bacalar before entering Belize. The upcoming trip would be my third visit to Belize.

Next : Belize Zoo and Backroads


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About the Author:
Brad is an Australian who has completed the hiking Triple Crown after he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail and Appalachian Trail. He has hiked on every continent (except Antarctica) and has cycled from Alaska to Ecuador. He is an expert on outdoor gear currently living in Chile.

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4 thoughts on “Bicycle Touring Sian Kaan Biosphere Reserve”

  1. I’m really enjoying reading all of your articles, Brad. My son and I are considering biking to the Mirador Basin and your first-hand account provided some very good insights.
    I’ve bicycled all over the Yucatan for the past 20 years, including a self supported solo trip to Calakmul back in 2012. What a fantastic place! So much history and wildlife (the Yellowstone of Mexico). I’ve actually considered biking to the Mirador Basin from there, by way of pathways used by locals but I guess I’m just not that intrepid. One thing I wanted to mention was your trip down the Boca Pailla road from Tulum to Punta Allen. After your boat trip across the lagoon, you could have continued straight on that road instead of turning right and heading out to the highway. The road continues deep into the reserve (where you might have spotted a Jaguar!) before it empties out in Phillipe Puerto. Didn’t see another soul except a park ranger for that twenty-five mile stretch. Pretty buggy and slippery as hell (tumbled off the bike multiple times) but very peaceful. I share your concern with plastic. Mexico used to deliver bottled water in 5 gallon glass containers many years ago but all of that has been replaced by plastic bottles in all sizes and shapes and the most obvious places they show up are along the shorelines. And, Mexico has undergone a great change during the last fifteen years. Tulum used to be one of my favorite places but real estate development, drugs, crime and the party crowd have overwhelmed its charm. It’s very refreshing, however, to read your posts and I admire your toughness and dedication in visiting places that are not easy to reach. It ain’t easy living off a bicycle for long periods of time but the rewards of self sufficiency make for great memories. Thanks for all the great posts!

    Reply
  2. I have also traveled the road from Tulum to Punta Allen and was absolutely shocked at the amount of garbage on both sides of the road not only the beach incredible how the people down there throw their trash into such a beautiful environment, it seemed to me anywhere past the resorts resembled a garbage dump

    Reply
    • I know, it’s not very nice and it’s a biosphere Reserve. But to be fair the trash on the beach is blown in from the whole of the Caribbean.

      Reply

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