Patrol 4x4 - Nissan Patrol Forum banner

1 - 20 of 340 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
225 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hi everybody!

I have posted a few pics here on the forum earlier, but so far no travel stories from the Americas. As I've used this forum for inspiration and advice when planning this trip, I would like to try to give a little bit back in form of stories and pics from the journey from the US east coast to Alaska, and the long way south to Tierra del Fuego on the southernmost tip of Argentina.

We are now in Guatemala, but I'll start the blog from Pico de Orizaba in Mexico. Older blog posts can be found on our pages unurban (in english). We will of course try to answer questions (if any...), but it could take some time before we reply.

So! Here it is..
E&M
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
225 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
Pico de Orizaba, Mexico



After strolling around in the city and on the ruins it was time to turn up the action level a click or two. Close to our route to the east coast is the Peak Orizaba, the highest volcano in North America, the third highest mountain in North America, and Mexico’s highest point. Pico de Orizaba rises 5635 meters above sea level (18488 ft), and fortunately for us, it is the perfect time of year for climbing it! We had already spent about two weeks at about 2000 meters (Mexico City and Teotihuacan is at about 2300 meters), so the acclimatization had already started and would give us and advantage when driving up to base camp.

We didn’t know too much about the mountain and the routes going up to the summit, but after doing a bit of research on the internet we had a fairly good idea. One detail that we really liked was that with a 4x4 you can drive all the way up to the basecamp, called Piedra Grande, at 4250 meters (13944 ft). Our map did not show the road up to Piedra Grande, but on the internet we had found a company called Summit Orizaba ( Climb Pico de Orizaba | Summit Orizaba )in Tlachichuca that said they could help with everything needed for the mountain. So on the way to the mountain we stopped by their place where we met a smiling and helpful Maribel. She gave us a description to find the road up to Piedra Grande and some info about the conditions on the mountain.



Then it was just to start the climb/drive up to Piedra Grande driving through a really nice landscape and forest with amazing views to the mountain.



The Patrol definitely felt the altitude, and just before 4000 meters we had to engage the low gear. But we made it up to base camp at 4250 meters with no problems, and that is good when we know we are going to the Andes further south.



At Piedra Grande we found an almost flat spot and put up the roof tent and the annex so we had our base camp. While putting up camp we could really feel the altitude, and only small efforts (as putting some rocks on our annex (on the “snow valences”)) felt like hard work. Still we were able to eat a good dinner and have a good night’s sleep.
Since there is a road going all the way up to Piedra Grande, most people that go for the summit arrive there one afternoon, sleep in the basic hut that is up there, do an acclimatization hike the next day, go to bed early, and then get up and start the climb to the summit from the hut at 2-3 o’clock the following night. As we are not really short on time we decided to take it a bit slower and get better acclimatized.



Our first day in base camp we were reading books in camp, enjoyed the view which is just amazing, and towards the evening we did a short walk. When we got back to our camp we were invited to eat tacos and mole from a group of Mexican students that had parked next to us.



These guys were just up for a day trip, enjoying the views and had a picnic. While we were camping up at Piedra Grande, we saw several cars with Mexicans doing the same thing.

On our second day in camp we had a slow start, but at lunch time we packed up about half of our gear and hiked up to 4740 meters were we put up our mountain tent as an advanced basecamp.



When it was all set up we hiked back down to the car to sleep there one more night, and then move up the next day. But the next morning Malin did not feel ready to try for the summit, so we spent another day reading and relaxing in camp. The rest did good, and the day after we both felt ready to move up to our small tent. Well up by the tent we put on crampons and hiked another 200 meters up the hill so we had a better view of our route the next day.



Our alarm went off at 5 o’clock in the morning and even Espen managed to get up early. Everything is moving in slow motion at this altitude, so we weren’t ready to start the summit attempt before 6.45. The advantage at starting relatively late is that the sun is getting up at the same time, and it followed us the whole way up so we did not have to walk in the shade. This makes a big difference at high altitude as it is difficult to push on in order to get warm.

cont....
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
225 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Pico de Orizaba - part 2

cont...



It was slow going up, and the last hill (at about 35 degrees) is a “monster”! You don’t really see the summit, and it feels like tis hill doesn’t have an end… The last 100 meters we were just able to walk 30-40 steps before we had to rest. But at 11.30 we were on the summit. And it was spectacular!!



It had a huge crater in the middle that is not visible before you suddenly are standing on the edge. Some years back we climbed Elbrus in Russia, witch is about the same height (5642 meters) and also a volcano, but there the summit is just flat. Not nearly as spectacular as the summit of Orizaba.



We were the only ones on the summit, and we were sitting there for 45 minutes at 5635 meters in sun and with no wind.



The views in all directions are amazing, and we could look down on the town of Tlachichuca 3000 meters below us. Climbing the “monster” hill was worth it!

Walking down from the summit was so much easier. Back down at the small tent we had some food, packed up, and then continued the hike down. At 16.30 we were back down to the Patrol at base camp, and we made a quick decision to pack up this camp too and drive the 1 ½ hours off the mountain and down to Tlachichuca. A warm shower at the SummitOrizaba, dinner at their restaurant, and a proper bed, was more tempting than one more night in the tent in 0 degrees celsius...



All in all a fantastic experience!

 

·
4x4 Addiction
nissan
Joined
·
9,534 Posts
Thanks for sharing. Great pics.
 

·
Rogue
nissan gu patrol
Joined
·
20,220 Posts
WOW! Im so jealous!
 

·
Registered
nissan
Joined
·
124 Posts
Wow thats unreal! Im so jealous!! ...and what a good choice in vehicle to do it all in aswell! Looking forward to further installments! :p
 

·
Premium Member
Triton n Lovin it.
Joined
·
26,128 Posts
Spectacular scenery and good effort!:cool:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
225 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
Rain, ruins, and roadblocks!

After about a week up in the mountain we drove from Tlachichuca at 2700 meters where it was all dry and yellow, and got down on Mex 150 and continued to drive down and down. The landscape changed a lot with the altitude, and after a couple of hours driving were we at 100 meters and driving next to sugarcanes and lagoons in 34 degrees Celsius. It was amazing to suddenly be in the tropics and jungle, it was so green.
First stop in the lowlands was Catemaco in the state of Veracruz. One day we drove out to have a look at the cost at the Mexican Gulf.



There we found some really nice beaches, but the weather was gray with a drizzle. Not so good for beach life.

During the night we learnt why this area is so green. Rain, rain and a lot of rain, so the next day was a good day to leave Catemaco. We decided to drive the road on the east side of the lake and not the normal one on the west, but 40 minutes into the drive it was full stop.



Because of all the rain, a river that was not marked on our map was flowing over the river banks and a bridge. If we really had to, we could probably have crossed, but thinking about the rivers that was marked on our map further down on this road, we decided to turn around so that we wouldn’t be “trapped” between rivers. The whole drive from Catemaco to Palenque, about 460 km, it continued to rain.



In the Lonely Planet we could read that Palenque is “in an area that receives the heaviest rainfall in Mexico”.

After one more day with rain the rain god finally decided that it was enough and we could explore the Maya ruins in Palenque.



Palenque flourished from 600 to 800 AD and is known for its fine stucco bas-reliefs and inscriptions.



After exploring the nicely restored ruins,



we just had to follow a path out in the jungle to see if we could find the parts of the ruin city that are still covered by jungle.



From Palenque we wanted to drive 225 km further south in Chiapas to San Cristóbal de Las Casas. About 40 km south of Palenque we had to stop behind some cars that had stopped in the road in front of us. Then we saw that the locals, kids, teenagers, men and women, had put homemade spike roadblocks across the road in front of the cars, and they refused to remove them until a “toll” was paid. First they wanted 100 pesos to let us pass, then we saw a Mexican car paying 50 pesos and they were happy with us paying 50 pesos too. Then the spike roadblock was pulled to the side and we could pass. Chiapas style toll road….. After a few more kilometers we saw that a string was pulled across the road and we were thinking “oh no, not again”. Then we saw that a middle age women is using this trick to stop the cars to sell bananas. We did not feel the urge for bananas at this moment, so she let us pass.

We realized it was Saturday and the road between Palenque and Agua Azul is probably full of tourists so we’re guessing the locals use the opportunity to take in some extra money on the weekend. Chiapas is one of Mexico’s poorest states and about a quarter of the inhabitants are Maya. The Zapatistas are fighting for indigenous rights.
The major attraction along the road is the Agua Azul Waterfalls, and we had read that this tourist destination was run by the local people.



First we were stopped and had to pay 10 peso per person to the local Zapatistas, and then a bit further down the road 25 pesos per person as an entry fee for the area. And then in the end it was the boys that wanted 5 pesos to look after your car….



In the end we were able to have a look at the waterfalls, and they weren’t exactly azul because of all the rain, but it is a really nice waterfall and worth the stop. After a walk up to the top view point and some photos, we got some empanadas from a food stall, and continued on to San Cristobal de Las Casas.

From Agua Azul there were no more unexpected stops or fees (just an army check point). It had been a long day driving on narrow winding roads and we were pretty tired when we got to the campground. Interesting day, and now it is time to go to bed.

Goodnight!
 

·
Registered
nissan
Joined
·
1,177 Posts
Great stuff ! :D

I must say, your pictures really make this thread special, so far i love how they are all very different and interesting ,but best of all, they are all very good quality images.



Keep up the good work ,and best of luck with the rest of the trip.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
225 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
San Cristobal to Guatemala and Lago de Atitlan



After hanging out for almost a week in San Cristobal, we packed up the roof top tent and drove towards the Guatemalan border. As we’ve mentioned in a previous blog post (or was it only on our web page???), we have adjusted our route to meet up with some family from Norway on Yucatan in the beginning of March. We are therefore making a loop down into Guatemala and Belize before driving back up to Yucatan. And this means multiple entries to Mexico for both us and the vehicle… Which, according to guide books, shouldn’t be a problem as both the vehicle permit and the tourist cards should allow multiple entry to Mexico. But theory is one thing, crossing the border can be a different matter.

We spent a night camping at Lagunas de Montebello (pic on the top). This is an excellent option if you are driving south along the Pan-Am, and want to cross the border at La Mesilla in the morning. It took about an hour and a half to get to the border from the campsite. It would also have been fine to spend a few days at the lakes as it is a really nice and quiet area.



Because of heavy rain in September and October the beach front cabañas are no longer at the beach front, but in the lake…

We had to get exit stamps from Mexico without handing in our tourist cards, and for unknown reasons this turned out to be a problem at La Mesilla. So we actually ended up having a beautiful drive along the valleys in Chiapas along the Guatemalan border. It took us about four hours to reach the city of Tapachula, where we ended up spending the night in a “auto hotel”… We weren’t exactly impressed with our overland camping abilities this night.



The next morning we went for the Talisman border crossing, and here we got our stamps and the help we wanted. A detailed description of the border crossing and the paperwork is posted on our web page for those interested.



From Talisman – El Carmen we drove the RN-1 highway towards Solola (via Quetzaltenango), and from there to Panajachel at Lago de Atitlan. This was an interesting drive. From almost sea level at the border the road takes you up to about 3000 meters (9000 feet), and then back down to about 1500 meters (4500 feet) above sea level at Lago de Atitlan. Along the road we could also see traces of the above mentioned heavy rain, as the road foundation in jungle areas is obviously not the best…



Five months later they are still working on clearing the landslides.



The road going down to Panajachel IS steep....



1000 meters (3000 feet) lower in Panajachel we camped at Hotel Vision Azul. We found the coordinates and a description on the web page at “dare2go.com”, but we have to say that the new owner (speaks English) has made major upgrades. This shows also on the price (75Q per person), but the facilities are clean, the shower is warm, toilets have seats, there is free WIFI in the hotel lobby, and the location is fantastic!!





Next stop: Antigua!

E&M
 

·
Registered
nissan
Joined
·
124 Posts
Im loving this thread! Great photos guys!
 
1 - 20 of 340 Posts
Top