The frequency of our joint motorcycle trips has slowed down a bit during the last couple of months as a result of the covid pandemic and rainy season here in Mexico. This didn’t stop Guido, Coen and me from making a major offroad/camping trip in Mexico’s Sierra Gorda mountains last month.
Jasper couldn’t make it unfortunately, but Coen, a 43-year old adventure guide and camping crack, who has ridden South America from North to South on a Honda Transalp, did join us on this epic trail.
TLDR? Here’s a video compilation of the trip!
Planning the trip, Guido and I were looking to stay off the highways as much as possible. Since we were going through some uncharted territory, we had to use Scenic, Google Maps and Wikiloc to find a route that would take us about 3 days, hoping that we would complete at least 80% of it.
Coen and I departed early on Friday morning from Malinalco (a picturesque colonial Mexican town where I currently reside) to catch up with Guido in San Juan del Rio, very close to the impressive Sierra Gorda mountain range. After a couple of greasy, but tasty tacos we took off to Presa Zimapan, a major lake at the foot of the mountains in the state of Hidalgo, from which we continued to the local mining capital of Zimapan.
After we fueled up on gasoline, wine and water (not sure how the wine bottles survived) we drove towards the mining complex, passing a number of sleepy, dusty villages on the way. As the mine (el Carrizal) is still operating, one should take extreme precaution while descending towards the river as big trucks with ore and debris are making their way up through the tight and gravelly hairpin corners, sometimes leaving just a foot of space for one to pass.
Once descended, the REAL adventure started – a 31km (20mi) offroad trail through a beautiful canyon with numerous river crossings, an ideal mix of dirt, gravel and larger rocks and virtually no one around.
The trail was exhaustive and took us more time than we thought. Guido’s old Yamaha, with low ground clearance and road tires was struggling to make its way through. As a result, Guido came off the bike on two occasions. Coen and I were riding a BMW G650gs and a KTM 1090 Adventure R, bikes that were better outfitted for the circumstances, but also nearly dropped it during a river crossing.
Less than 500m before the end of the trail, my luck ran out when I hit a large rock with the rear wheel, causing a big rip in the tire. After inspecting the tire, we concluded there was little we could do to fix it. We then decided to ride 3 km to the nearest village (5 houses really) to ask for help. Lucky for us, there were a couple a guys with a pickup truck who offered to bring us 30 km (19mi) to a bigger town with a workshop.
We decided to find a camping spot and set up camp in a camping shelter just a few kilometers from the town of San Joaquin. The bottles of wine and Guido’s Jack Daniels survived the trail and helped us stay warm in the foggy and rainy forest.
The next day, we picked up the KTM from the shop, and drove via Pinal de Amoles to Jalpan de Serra, where we stopped for lunch. In Jalpan, we planned the second part of our trip, and while we were planning to go further north, we decided that we wanted to make camp somewhere close to a river, and basically just dropped a pin somewhere on the map close to a river.
After a combination of highway and some nice muddy offroad, we ended up in Neblinas, a small village some 2 hours east of Jalpan. There we had a well deserved beer and stocked up on some caguamas (1.2L beer bottles), and tried to make our way to the river, which according to some locals was not that far away. We parked the bikes with a very friendly local family, which helped us to find the trail that led to the river. “Not that far away” in this case was just about an hour’s hike with full equipment on a very slippery trail.
The hike was well worth it though. We reached the river, set up camp and managed to make a campfire with wet timber on which we cooked some tasty noodles and salted meat in the pouring rain.
In the morning, after breaking up camp in the rain, we hiked all the way up to the house of the kind family where we left our bikes, where we were welcomed with a hot cup of coffee! Departing from Neblinas, we drove back via Jalpan de Serra to San Juan del Rio where we concluded our trip.
Despite the rain, dirt and flat tire, we’re itching to go on a similar trip soon!