Jungle and Ranches


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I moved yet further into the jungle or was it further into the land of the ranches. The road into the lowland jungle was a set of rolling hills. I was either going uphill or downhill. The slopes of the rolling hills held yet more plantations of food crops. Some areas were inaccessible to farms, they were home to stunning deep canyons with clear, inviting blue water. I was tempted to stop at one for a swim. But I didn’t. I am not sure why I didn’t stop, it’s not like I had to be somewhere better than this. Mental note for next time, stop at a stunning freshwater river for a swim, just watch out for the crocodiles. I’m in Snappin’ Handbag country now. That’s what I call Crocodiles!

Ranches and Narcos

By late afternoon I had passed the majority of the hills. The flat lands signaled the start of the large cattle ranches. Many areas appeared to be recently clear cut to make way for more cattle. I heard a rumour that the Drug Narcos are buying up land here to turn into cattle ranches. They are alleged to smuggle drugs inside the bodies of cattle as they transport them. These comments were told to me by small family run farmers. Truth, jealousy or a combination of both between the large farmers and small family run farms. No doubt there is some sketchy stuff happening in this part of the world.

Military checkpoints

There were many military checkpoints in this part of the world. I inquired about my safety. I was advised that there was no problem. It was all very quiet at the moment, they told me. Drug smuggling, gun smuggling, people smuggling and the occasional robbery was all that occurred out here. But I was safe, nothing to fear.

Several times while cycling I saw the Mexican Marines. The are the bad arse dudes of the military. When things need done, that is who they call upon to do it. Kind of like the SAS or Navy Seals. They were heavily armed when I saw them, with steel hard looks on their faces. Not the kind of people I would like to see if I was a bad hombre in this part of the world.

More to come

At night I camped in a recently cleared field. Again I am saddened to see so much jungle destroyed in the name of beef. Tomorrow I will try to get to the remote, jungle shrouded Mayan ruins of Yaxchilan. I place I have dreamed of visiting for many years. It will be quite the mission to get there, stay tuned.

By the way, today I clocked up 0ver 23000km of cycling today. The mileage is moving along quite nicely. I guess it will be over 50000km by the time I reach the tip of Argentina.

Jungle canyon
Steep cliiffs lead to a nice looking river canyon
Meeting of the water in the canyon
I was tempted for a swim in this river. As I think back, why did I not stop. Next time I will not let a place like this pass me by.
Coffee, Cocao, bananas, corn and cattle. That is Guatemala on the other side of the small hills
My campsite next to a freshly cleared section of jungle. Making room for a new Cattle Ranch. It was sad to see this happening before my very eyes.
23000km of human powered cycling and counting
My view of the road at 23000km

Next : Yaxchilan – The Hidden Jewel in the Mayan Crown

Bicycle Touring and Bikepacking Pages might like:
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|  | | Snowys.com.au | MEC Canada -Bicycle Touring Gear | Wildfiresports.com.au

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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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12 thoughts on “Jungle and Ranches”

    • I think it’s stored in the memory so a flat battery should not be a problem. I also write down my distance and other stats every day in my hand written diary.

  1. Crocodiles = no swimming, lol! It would have to be a quick dip! Very interesting post about the farming and cattle since we raise cattle here in Texas. How bad are the mosquitoes there?

    • It is a different type of cattle farming here. Slashing and burning the virgin rainforest to make way for grasslands. The hard hoofed cattle then erode the marginal topsoil and cause erosion that silts up the rivers. There is only a very thin layer of soil on top of the limestone that covers this whole region that the Maya called home. I can understand progress, but at what cost.

      The mosquitoes haven’t been bad at all. I expected the worst but haven’t reached for my deet repellent yet. Despite the rain, it is still the dry season here.

      • What a terrible way to ruin a beautiful rainforest! It must be sickening to see such devastation taking place in a part of the world which you love and get to appreciate in person. We rotate our crops and cattle to different parts of the ranch to minimize the effects on the land and to allow it to replenish. Glad the mosquitoes aren’t bad! I have my head net ready for the Sierras in July, haha.

      • I suspect they also rotate crops here too, and leave many fields fallow for many years. It’s the fallow fields that I spend most of my time camping in. Good luck with the bugs in July, you might need it, specially with the predicted high water levels this year.

  2. Congratulations on biking an insane amount of miles. I bike about 15 km/day to work. At my rate, it will take me forever to catch up to you. Stay safe!

    • Thanks Alison. I normally don’t cycle more than 80km in a day and I guess it averages out that I cycle only about 4 days per week when I’m not hiking some long trail somewhere. Great to see people cycling to work and not driving if they are close enough to do so. I used to cycle 52km per day (round trip) to get to work and back before undertaking this journey, what a great way to stay fit.

    • Both. I will be returning to USA in April to hike the Appalachian Trail. When I’m done I’ll be continuing my journey south. Hiking and cycling my way to Argentina. I will get there eventually.


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