Notes from an Explorer
Viaventure director and resident adventurer Beat Brunschwiler has an endless collection of Central American travel tales to share, particularly of the action-packed variety. An electro-technician turned outdoor guide, whitewater rafting expert, and avid mountain biker (and by avid, we mean obsessive), Beat left his native Switzerland for Central America to learn Spanish and bike across the region, with one trip in particular spanning from Costa Rica to Guatemala. Nearly twenty years later, he still calls Central America home. “The climate, people, terrain, and, of course, now my family have kept me here,” he says. “Plus, every new outing brings the possibility of new adventures, and I’m sure there are plenty of surprises still out there!”
We recently caught up with Beat between scouting trips (as the mastermind behind our multisport tours, he’s constantly on the hunt for new adventures and outdoor experiences), pinning him down just long enough for a quick Q&A on active thrills in Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras. Read on and enjoy the ride.
Where are you returning from now?
I was on a three-day solo mountain biking and hiking trip that took me totally off-the-beaten track in Belize’s Mountain Pine Ridge area. The wildlife in Belize makes excursions there so interesting and really adds adrenaline to the rides.
Why are Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras such great destinations for multisport activities?
The opportunities for outdoor adventures in all three countries are so abundant and offer a very good way for travelers to get an up-close look at the local culture, people, and natural beauty of a region. In Honduras, you’ve got some of Central America’s best whitewater rafting. Guatemala has great hiking and biking just outside tourist hubs like Antigua, Lake Atitlán, and Quetzaltenango. Or you can choose to go really remote and head to northern Quiché and the Cuchumatanes mountain range in western Guatemala; this area is beautiful and mostly tourist-free. And while everyone knows that Belize has some of the world’s best scuba diving and snorkeling, the jungle treks, caves, and canoeing on offer really impress, too.
What multisport activities would you recommend to people who love a challenge?
Mountain biking is world class in Guatemala. It’s both technically and physically demanding. Volcano climbing (there are lots of volcanoes in Guatemala) also offers a real challenge with great rewards. Summiting Victoria Peak, Belize’s highest mountain, is quite an adventure—it usually takes three days!
What are some fun adventure activities for families?
In Belize, I’d try caving, cave tubing, and snorkeling. Honduras has whitewater rafting for novices and up. Kayaking or mountain biking around Guatemala’s Lake Atitlán are good options; so is climbing one of the country’s smaller volcanoes.
Of all your many outdoor adventures, which has been your most memorable?
One day, I had been riding by myself through western Belize for hours without seeing another person or animal, when out of the blue, I was face to face with a midsize jaguar. I followed it for a bit by bike, but it was much faster than me. My craziest outdoor experience involved trying to avoid flying lava rocks on top of Guatemala’s Fuego volcano as I ran to safety. No, we don’t offer this as a tour.