Yucatán – boring cycling connecting superb locations

If you ever heard about any place in Mexico, it would be probably Yucatán peninsula. But now we are telling you that it’s the worst place in Mexico in terms of interesting cycling. And you’ll have to deal with incredible heat and headwinds whichever direction you’re going. Why so judgemental?

Yucatán is made up by three states – Campeche, Yucatán and Quintana Roo.

We entered Campeche at the Gulf of Mexico coast coming from Tabasco. This part is not so bad itself, you cycle by the coast where you can actually see the water and take necessary dips when the heat strikes. And the heat is unbearable at times, so we had to go back to the method from summer in US – early wake up, cycle until midday, then siesta in the shade, back on the road around 4pm.

The most interesting part of Campeche is cycling between the ocean and Laguna de Términos. There are two islands connected by long bridges. We were lucky to have few very nice locations for camping on this stretch. Campeche city is a beautiful city to explore but for us it was spoilt by my illness so we stayed mainly at the hotel.

From Campeche to Mérida be prepared for super uninteresting stretch of the road unless you decide to break it with a visit to one of the archeological sites (Uxmal, Ruta Puuc sites). We didn’t have time for it plus I was sick, so we went straight to Mérida and crossed to Yucatán state on the way.

Mérida was a big big surprise. We have seen quite a few Mexican cities on the way but Mérida is so different. When you cycle on the main avenida –  Paseo de Montejo, it feels like being on Champs Elysees in Paris. The architecture, width of the road, everything. We stayed in Mérida for two full days, enjoyed eating out, meeting new friends, doing an interview for a local newspaper. Just riding the streets of Mérida was quite pleasant itself.

From there we were heading to Tulum to meet our friends from London. That’s when the true non- excitement of the roads through Yucatán stroke. Long wide flat road surrounded by jungle. Wind and heat. Hard to find proper shade, as it’s dry season and the jungle’s thin. The only relief from time to time is a tourist attraction on the way. Be careful, when we say tourist attraction we mean it. Apart from Baja California, San Miguel de Allende and Mariposas Monarcas Reserve it was really difficult to meet a foreigner in Mexico. Here it’s the exact opposite. So if you want to see Chichén-Itzá, Cobá or other famous sites, sleep nearby and go there first thing in the morning. Otherwise you may suffocate in the amount of people. Also bear in mind that because it’s so touristic, it’s much more expensive than the rest of Mexico and you pay for entrance everywhere. To the ruins for example you pay fee for the foreigners which might be pricey. 

They are definitely worth it though, Cobá even more than Chichén. It’s set in the jungle with paths connecting three subsites and you can move between them by bike (rented at site), bike taxi or on foot. Plus you can climb one of the pyramids, something that is no longer possible in Chichén after a tourist fell and died.

Definitely a must-do is to visit a cenote. Cenotes are lakes fed by underground rivers, sometimes in caves with collapsed ceiling, sometimes on the surface and they are location specific to Yucatán peninsula. You can swim there, in some of them even dive. Amazing places and we explored only a few!

Don’t skip Izamal on your way, ciudad amarilla. It’s a nice place to spend an afternoon in the shade of one of the restaurants before going back on the road.

Tulum is a great place to have something nice to eat, especially if you’re making your life difficult by being a vegan :D. There’s a shop with bulk products that might be of interest to the cyclists and that’s it mainly. The ruins seem overcrowded at any given point of time, it’s full of tourists and beaches are not very pretty to be honest (loads of sea weed). We were happy though as it was a place of meeting with our friends and after 10 months we felt at home again.  Together we went for a day trip to Akumal to see some turtles and were lucky!

From Tulum we took another very boring road to Laguna Bacalar where we are staying now as you know. The only beautiful part of this stretch are the masses of butterflies flying all around. On the other hand you have to deal with a sad sight of many dead ones struck by the cars.

So…. if you’re on a bigger tour like us, it’s probably worth detouring to Yucatán and seeing its world class beauties. But if you’re deciding on doing a shorter tour in Mexico, we strongly recommend other areas you may have seen on this blog before. The flavour of Mexico you get from them is more realistic and the cycling itself brings more joy than just connecting locations.

Follow Luba Lapsanska:

Older woman, 33 years old, experienced. She stopped being a doctor and started being a traveller. She likes animals more than people because they don't lie. She also likes looking at the the world through the viewfinder of her camera.

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