GUATEMALA African Plains (?) to Lagoon
A rocky ascent from the humid heat near the coast into the fresh mountain air for camping beside the lagoon
Dist: 63 km; Date: Aug 2017
The Guatemala BMW dealership organized this route as an outing on day 1 of the two-day GS Trophy qualifier.
The route begins at Auto Safari Chapín, which is an East Africa-inspired wildlife park. The BMW had arranged with the park to allow the competitors to ride through the wildlife exhibits on their motorcycles, walking the bikes where necessary so as not to spook the animals. From the park, ride northwest on the CA-2 highway for less than a kilometer until you reach a pull-off on the left-hand side.
The road is smooth but unpaved at the onset and then becomes rockier as it begins to ascend. Then you pass a stretch where the road is paved in parallel tracks. About 15 km give or take the parallel tracks cease and it is almost uninterrupted rocky ascent – and occasional descent – from here on out. Not excessively twisty, the road meanders to the northeast with a handful of tight, rocky switchbacks that are sure to get your dander up.
About two-thirds of the way up you reach a small reservoir and hydroelectric plant during the tightest series of turns. Shortly after the power station the road straightens out for the remaining dozen kilometers until you reach the Interamerican Hwy or Carretera a El Salvador. Turn right and in 12 km merge left to go north on Ruta 2 or Carretera a Fraijanes. In just about a kilometer as you reach the far end of the town of El Cerinal you will see a sign and turn-out on your right for the Laguna El Pino.
The picturesque lagoon and its immediate surroundings are a national park. There are accommodations here, grassy, forested areas for camping near the shore, and a fun dirt road that circumnavigates the lagoon.