Mountain Biking in the Cuchumatánes. Known as “The Alps of Guatemala” this remote mountain range is home to rocky, high alpine riding. Some of the biggest mountain bike adventures in Guatemala can be found here.
La Sierra de los Cuchumatánes is the highest non-volcanic mountain range in Guatemala. It’s not only the rise what makes this region impressive – its the elevation. With 1500 square kilometers averaging over 3000m above sea level the Cuchumatánes is the most extensive highland region in all of Central America.
Mountain Biking in the Cuchumatánes
The riding in the Cuchumatánes mountains is unlike anywhere in Guatemala. Here the country’s normal richness of culture and ecosystems is turned up to 10. Mountain Biking in the Cuchutmatánes is highly technical, raw and varied! Sharp, rocky limestone and boulder fields at altitude transition to deep pine forests, rich green pastures and tropical grasslands below.
Mountain biking in the Cuchumatánes is as close as you can get to riding in the Andes or the Alps in Guatemala with expansive tree-less terrain. The Cuchumatanes mountains are home to some of the longest sustained downhills in the country with 2000m+ (6500ft) descents. With an abundance of footpaths and ancient Mayan trails the Cuchumatánes mountains are just starting to be discovered for their mountain bike potential.
Location and Climate
The Cuchumatánes mountains roughly parallel Guatemala’s northern border with Mexico. Topping out at 3800m (12,500ft) the mountain range rises like a wall from the tropical lowlands of Comitán Chiapas in Mexico. Due to the altitude the climate in “los Cuchus” is distinctively cold and this region is one of the few parts of Guatemala to receive the occasional snowfall.
Todos Santos Cuchumatán
Rich in history, the village of Todos Santos is an isolated town with a uniquely preserved Mayan Culture. In Todos Santos residents speak the Mayan language of Mam, and follow the Mayan Calendar. Men wear traditional dress or traje with hand woven brightly striped pants and colored collars and hats.
Otherworldly and beautiful the high alpine Plateau of Chiantla is home to a harsh climate. Locals here herd sheep and llama and brave sub-zero temperatures at night. The flora at this altitude is home of enormous and distinctive agave plants. Mountain bike trails here follow centuries old stone walls and terraces.
Mountain Biking in the Cuchumatánes – Quiché
The Cuchumatánes mountains reaches across several departments: Huehetenango, and Quché. Crossing the divide the the eastern side of the range (Quiché) the air immediately becomes more humid and the landscape greener. Deep pine forests, and green alpine pastures are home to some of the finest dairy in the country. The steep mountains here as well as the European style houses give the area the name “little Switzerland”.
Eco tourism is just beginning to catch on in the Cuchumatánes as locals and foreigners discover the numerous azure lakes and streams hidden within the range including Laguna Brava, el Cenote del Cimarron, Laguna Magdelena and Rio Azul.
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Travesia de los Cuchumatánes
Held every November, the The Travesía a los Cuchumatanes is one of Guatemala’s oldest mountain bike events. This massive group ride, organized by Huehue Mountain Bike Paradise attracts mountain bikers from across the country to ascend the Cuchumatánes via a rough dirt climb from the city of Huehuetenango.
Most of the Cuchumatanes is over 10,000ft. Which means the weather here can be cold. l. Morning fog fills the valleys and the temperatures here can drop around freezing. Average daily temps range from 10-20°C (50-65°F)
Shoulder Months (October, November, December)
Peak season – green and lush wildflowers abound.
Dry Season (Jan- May)
Hardly any rain – perfect riding weather.
Rainy Season (May-Oct)
During the rainy season (May – September) afternoon storms engulf the area around 3pm – and the rains go through the night. Trails get quite muddy.
Trail / Enduro full suspension mountain bike with at least 130mm of travel