After finally getting to Flores, we focused on finding as much information as possible about the El Mirador trek. Lots of agencies can organise that for you, but we always want to avoid third party involvement and support the most needing and honest people in the community. Our effort paid off when we’ve finally found the Cooperativa Carmelita field office on the island. Carmelita is a small village up north of Flores, which is always the beginning and the end of the trek. It’s also a hub for all the guides, personnel, supplies and cargo mules, so that’s the place where you will start your adventure.
We can honestly say, that the treatment we received from the Cooperativa Carmelita was truly exceptional. In the field office we’ve met Oscar – an English speaking representative, who explained us a lot and gave all the information needed before booking the right trek and how to be prepared. In our case it was the 6 days trip, as we wanted to see some more and didn’t want to come back from El Mirador the same way. The price was 2250Q as of Jan/Feb 2017 which includes your transportation, the guide, 6 day/5 night trek with tent accommodation and 3 meals a day.
The routine on every day is quite similar. Early wake up, breakfast, walking with sightseeing, lunch, walking with sightseeing, dinner, sleep.
Toilets are free everywhere and they are just holes in the ground with toilet seat on top (throw the paper inside).
Showers are available on every campsite, but free only in El Tintal. Every other encampment will charge you 1oQ per person or per bucket of water (depends if it’s a proper shower or just a bucket)
On every campsite you will find the security guards that take care of the camping grounds and secure the ruins from unwanted visitors. Every single one of them was a very cheerful and friendly person, willing to help and keep you company.
We wake up early in the morning (4 am) to be picked up in front of our hostel at 5am. After collecting the whole group, we are being transfered inland to get into the Cooperativa bus. It’s a chicken bus, to be honest, but hey, it’s part of the adventure, isn’t it? The road to Carmelita takes about 4 hours and it’s not in good condition – don’t be fooled by the marking on google maps. After arrival, we’ve met our guide (Don Hugo!), gave some cargo to be put on the mules and went for breakfast. Our group consisted of 8 persons. Soon, we were already on the track. First leg was about 4,5-5h walk to the first camp at El Tintal. On the way we had a short break for lunch (sandwiches). The camp itself was better than we expected – it had a kitchen, toilets, showers, roofed camping site etc. We set up our tents (you can either have your own or use theirs), took a shower and the dinner was already waiting for us.
Longer trek ahead – about 7-8 hours to reach El Mirador camp. Slightly worse conditions as the showers were paid (10Q per person) and the toilet was too smelly. Same type of cooking and camping facilities. We stayed here for 2 nights. In the evening – sunset spotting at the top of the El Tigre pyramid.
Early wake up and sunrise on top of El Tigre. Sightseeing the whole complex before lunch. After lunch, trip to la Danta – the highest of the structures in El Mirador and the whole world – with viewing sunset from the top.
We split up – half of the group is coming back to Carmelita the same way (5 day trek) and the other half (us, german couple Nina and Jannes, the guide and the cook) are heading to Nakbe, Wakna and La Florida (6 day trek). We trek for about 4h to Nakbe camp, which is the biggest of all. When the archeologist are working during the wet season, the camp is being habitated by almost 300 people. We sightsee the complex and see the sunset from the top of the pyramid.
The most tiring part of the trip – almost 9h of walking to La Florida. We skip the Wakna complex (that’s the 7 days option) and head directly to La Florida.
Leaving La Florida and arriving back to Carmelita (about 2-2,5 hours) to get a shower and lunch. Going back to Flores on the same bus departing at 12:30.
Along those days we were able to spot plenty of spider monkeys, nosebears, parrots, Tucans, small boa snakes, some scorpions, plenty of unique insects along with hundreds of versatile Mayan structures. It gave us a great insight in the life of Maya back in the pre-, post- and classic era. Our guide was only speaking spanish (for english extra 200$) but it was even more fun to try to figure out everything he says and learn the language on the way. Senior Hugo was very patient and attentive, so whenever our faces looked weird and we have stopped noding, he was immediately trying to rephrase what he said with very expressive gestures and sounds.
All of that was an unforgettable experience and we would recommend it to anyone who likes to go one step further, challenge himself and who feels that accesible sights, full of tourists are lacking the “real feel” to it.
(And here our guide, Don Hugo, explaining Mayan sculptures 😀 )