Week of January 31-February 7, 1996
Rafting Ethiopia's 'Grand Canyon'
Condo-free beaches on the Mexico-Belize border
Q: I am planning on flying to Cancun in the beginning of March and driving south for an eight-day trip. I read the letter in your current database. Can you recommend places further south? Do you have recommendations for inexpensive fares? We don't mind driving and we would prefer small guest houses, although camping would be OK.
A: If you're game for a three-hour, 30-mile ride on a bone-jarring dirt road from Majahual--a trek so bad you'll start wondering if it's worth it--I recommend heading down to Xcalak, a small village on the border with Belize, about 180 miles south of Cancun. To take your mind off the godawful ride, keep your eyes open for jaguars, pumas, and wild boars in the bush beside the road. That is, if you can muster the energy.
Once you're safely ensconced in Costa de Cocos, a cluster of octagonal bungalows hidden in a coconut grove a half-mile north of Xcalak, you'll thank the road for keeping out the hordes. The diving there is excellent, thanks to Chinchorro Banks--a large atoll about 20 miles offshore. Dive trips to the Banks cost $85 per person for a group of six. Or sign on with a group fishing excursion for bonefish, yellowtail, and giant tuna. When you tire of the rigors of Caribbean living, you can always opt for an afternoon of snoozing on Costa de Cocos's five-acre stretch of cleared sandy beach.
The wood-and-stone bungalows are comfortably equipped with tile floors, platform beds with mosquito netting, and private baths. Meals--mostly fresh fish and fruit--are served in the adjacent lodge. Rates are $44 per person, based on double occupancy, including breakfast and dinner. For more details and reservations, call 800-538-6802, and be sure to check out "At Play in the Fields of Maya" in the Destinations section of our October 1994 issue.