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If you’re thinking about touring Mexico and Central America and want to camp along the way but are uncertain if it’s smart or safe, then you’re like us and likely haven’t found any much information on the subject.  And because of that the little information we could find led us to the conclusion it just wasn’t the best idea.   We bought into the negative hype and hysteria that just plain traveling in Mexico and Central America wasn’t safe, let alone camping.

Yaxche Eco Campground, Bacalar, Yucatan:   Bathrooms, showers, crystal clear lagoon.

Yaxche Eco Campground, Bacalar, Yucatan: Bathrooms, showers, crystal clear lagoon.

We contemplated for days and ultimately decided to leave the gear behind for a few reasons.  First, we weren’t sure if we’d be safe.   We had heard about campers being scared shitless being awoken in the middle of the night, harassed and moved on.  Who wants to wake up in the middle of the night and pack up?  Not us.  Second, we didn’t want to worry about the extra gear while we were off hiking, swimming or poking around town as we heard it would likely be lifted as soon as our bikes were out of sight.  This is a valid concern and we suggest you have gear security in place for your belongings.   Since we are traveling on motorcycles, we used Pac Safe locks on our bags and gear and so far haven’t had any troubles    Third, we didn’t want to pack all the gear and extra weight for 6 months if we weren’t going to actually use it.  So we left all the gear behind sans the sleeping bag, cocoon sheets, a tarp and a very small kitchen with a jet boil and few basic items.  We figured we’d use the sleeping bag in case we landed in some divvy motel that had questionable bedding, and have ended up in a couple of those places and were happy to have it with us.

K'In Balam, Palenque we stayed in the cabana but camping was allowed on the property as well.

K’In Balam, Palenque: we stayed in the cabana but camping was allowed on the property as well many other campgrounds in the park

And so here we are now in Belize missing out on all the camping opportunities since Mexico and wishing we had our gear. 

There have been so many times we could have pitched a tent on the beach, by a river, in a campground the lawn of some hotels or people’s yard.  We’ve received enough feedback to know that it’s a good idea to ask the locals to be sure you’re not just squatting on someone’s property without permission.  Who better to ask than the locals!  Not only about camping but everything.  Locals are the wealth of information.

We have found plenty of inexpensive hotels and cabanas to stay in, but camping is one of the things we really love and when it’s free as it works better on the budget.

Rio Hondo, San Antontio Belize.  We could have easily pitched a tent along the river.

Rio Hondo, San Antonio Belize. We could have easily pitched a tent along the river.

While we haven’t been camping in Mexico and Central America, we’ve ran into plenty of people who are; backpackers, motorcyclists, car campers and overlanders.   In our opinion, it’s definitely worth consideration if you’re deliberating whether to do it or not.  We thought it would be helpful to know that in our 6 weeks in Mexico and Belize there were plenty of opportunities we could have used it and have since been kicking ourselves in the derriere for not bringing the gear.  

We haven’t done much research on campgrounds in Mexico and beyond as we don’t have our gear.  In our travels established campgrounds don’t appear to be as widespread as they are in the states or Canada, but again we aren’t seeking them out (it’s that if you’re not looking, you don’t notice thing).  We do know you’ll find plenty of them in or near national parks.  Obviously you’ll have to research areas you’re traveling and whether those campgrounds have services like water, bathrooms, etc.  and know that primitive camping is just that, primitive, with no services whatsoever.  

We can’t guarantee what kind of  camping experience you’ll have, but just want to toss out our observations.  You will likely do a combo of camping and hoteling, but at least you could have the option right?   We’ll write more on the subject as we continue through Central America and will hopefully be able to provide more useful information on the subject.