Landy Stuck - big trip - landy stuck - peten maya biosphere


Extracting Da Fridge

Huge ruts made by...

...this thing

December 14/15 2001

Undeterred by our last failed attempt to reach El Mirador, we drove north towards Dos Lagunas and deep into the Peten Maya Biosphere. With Uaxactun barely left behind, the track rapidly deteriorated into a deeply rutted bog. We amateurishly charged into the first obstacle and promptly got stuck. Ali decided to take the more severley rutted branch of the track and grounded with his wheels spinning in the air. A great start to the day and the first of many recoveries of the coming journey.. We winched ourselves out and then towed the floundering Fridge free, finding that he'd leaked oil everywhere. A quick re-seal of his rocker cover gasket and despite dropping his tool bag in the mud things were soon sorted.

Click to see the state of the bag contents!

Ruts aplenty


The track regularly split off into branches of twos or threes where the original had become too boggy, so we had to get out and walk the alternatives before commiting ourselves. Often one was just as bad as the other.

The mud holes were deep and sticky so we had to hit them with a reasonable speed to ensure a successful exit. This was usually accompanied by the underside of the landy smacking down hard on some mud covered rock and us slewing sideways before madly bouncing out.

For very deep ruts we had two methods. Short stretches more than a few metres long could be hit with speed, letting momentum carry us over, sliding on the diff guards like a sledge. Longer ones needed to be straddled which meant that one of us had to drive very slowly in low first or second while the other acted as guide. Inevitably the landy would slip into the ruts, sometimes we could power out, mostly we had to use the sand ladders to enable us to drive back up onto the edge of the track again. Other times we had to winch or tow each other through. The sand ladders also came in useful for reducing the depth of the ruts and allowing essential clearance for the differential. The disadvantage of using the sand ladders was that they'd fill with the glue-like jungle mud and subsequently weigh about 40kgs each which made putting them back on the roof very difficult.

The track was hacked out of the jungle and very narrow in places, snaking between overhanging trees. We managed to break both surfboards before realising that we should've put them inside the landy first.

Sand ladders useful in the mud

T parks in a mudhole

Camping by the track

After a day of mud and sweat we'd covered only 15kms of the 40 or so necessary to reach Dos Lagunas with El Mirador being a further 100kms beyond that. Darkness was encroaching when one of the huge-tyred Toyota pickups we'd seen in Uaxactun appeared from the gloom behind us, just after yet another a particularly strenuous winching session. The three heavily stoned occupants said that the track ahead was bad and there was still a long way to go. We decided to call it a day and turn back while there was still a hope of getting to Flores for Saturday night oil changes.

Shortly after turning around Fridge got stuck sideways just before a big mudhole at the bottom of a dip. We tried to pull him out backwards but we didn't have enough traction. The only alternative was to winch him through onto the sand ladders on the other side of the water. Unfortunately, the churning of Fridges wheels meant that we got stuck nose down in the mud too. It was totally dark by now and attaching winch cables while knee deep in mud is not really much fun. Nevertheless we winched out successfully and, exhausted and hungry, found that the top of the hill was a suitable spot to camp. Our mud caked clothes were left out ready to be uncomfortably slipped into the following morning. We had a surprise when Fridge handed back our 'missing' Haynes manual (which apparently wasn't in his landy) but was mysteriously discovered, all soggy, behind his front seat.

Emerging from Tikal, muddy but happy

Wing, mudguard and lightguard took a beating...

...but all is patched up later

Refreshed, we retraced our tyre tracks and used our recently gained experience to clear almost every obstacle in a fraction of the time taken the previous days disasters.

We stopped at the Jungle Lodge Hotel to say goodbye and to flush out the radiator which was caked in dried mud, causing slight overheating. Fridge arrived shortly after and wickedly handed us our light guard which had dropped off due to previous damage and been driven over. Once on the road to Flores we quickly realised that having 10kgs of mud inside each front wheel doesn't do much for steering stability. We stopped by Lake Peten Itza and cleaned it off. Overall damage was just the lightguard which we had welded, a new dent in the sill from driving over the sand ladders, rear mudflap hanging off and front mudguard ripped off. All is easily fixable and the landy lives to fight another day.

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