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Belize 2010
The Legend of Camp 6

Story By:
Graham Jackson

Pictures By:
Nick Taylor
Aaron Zielski
Dave Richardson
Joey Chong

Videos By:
Michael Calkins

This was a No Limit Expeditions trip.

“And we’re stuck,” Nick smiled ruefully at me.

“Made it a long way,” I shot back.

He looked back out of the driver’s window at the muddy track behind the Defender. “Is that five meters?”

“More like three. Let’s pull cable.”

It was the beginning of day two on the fabled Camp Six road in the Chiquibul forest of southern Belize, and we’d already turned back. And by beginning of day two, I’m being very clear; the three meters of progression was from where we had camped the night before. Nick had barely got the 110 onto the track before all traction was lost and forward progress halted.

Camp Six was made famous by the Land Rover expedition where Bob Burns and a group of ex-Camel Trophy team members took some journalists into the jungle and had ploughed through the mud to test the mettle of the new LR3 and Range Rover Sport platforms. It returned to fame more recently being named by Four Wheeler magazine as one of the 100 roads to ‘wheel before you die’. But calling it a road is highly generous. It is a vague two track through the jungle that gets so little traffic it is typically completely overgrown. So overgrown, in fact, that just finding the trail-head is a very advanced exercise in land navigation. The Chiquibul is some of the most dense forest in Central America, and gets 1.5 meters of rainfall a year. It also has some of the highest jaguar concentrations in Central America. Given that it is also extremely remote makes the challenge of Camp Six much more than just the mud and the road.

Our team of eight people and two Defender 110s was on the first exploratory expedition for No Limit Expeditions. We had four very adventurous clients with us who agreed to all the uncertainly of a test trip. There was also myself, James and Angela of No Limits, and our good friend Nick, all around Defender and overlanding guru.

We had arrived at the turn off at around noon after a visit to the Caracol Mayan ruin site. After verifying that there actually was a road there, we started cutting. Land Rover had the benefit of a local team to clear the road before they arrived. We were given no such luxury, so progress was less than walking pace as four of our team went ahead with machetes to clear space for the two Defenders.

Because of the overgrowth, the road wasn’t water logged, and the mud was manageable. A few short winch pulls and we were progressing steadily if slowly until we came to a downed tree and progress halted. It took our main machete man Vince a good 45 minutes to cut the tree by hand, and with some winching we were able to clear it out of the way.

Progress so far? About 0.7 of a mile and it was already late afternoon, but at least we had come to the top of a raise and it was downhill as we progressed. As twilight began to fall, and the need for a campsite became more obvious, Nick and I took machetes and scouted ahead of the convoy trying to find a level place with enough space to make camp; not the easiest thing in such dense forest.

As we walked, slicing at low hanging vines, we assessed our progress so far, marveling at the work it had taken, and lauding our luck that it was not raining. With the slightest additional water the track would become a quagmire.

Just after six we found the perfect camp spot off the track to the right. It was mostly clear, level and welcoming. We marked the spot and headed back to the convoy. It took a further 45 minutes to reach the camp from where we found the trucks, so in almost seven hours we had made 1.7 miles of progress an average of a quarter mile an hour. For the 10 mile track that would be a 40 hour traverse!

James cooked a magnificent meal under the canopy as we, quite quickly, destroyed our remaining alcohol supply while contemplating the coming day; we were already a full day behind schedule on the trip as a whole, the prospect of completing Cap Six would put us a week behind! But at least it wasn’t raining.

The heavens opened a little after midnight and changed everything. Comfortable and dry in my hammock, I knew that we would have to turn back in the morning. The quagmire would be waiting for us.

Morning greeted us with a continuous flow of rain. The track had become a stream. Nick pulled the first Defender out onto it, and promptly lost all traction. The winch cable came out, and for the next four-and-a-half hours we pulled each truck along a winch line at a time our quarter mile an hour from the previous day seemed a long forgotten speed record: the first 0.7 miles out of camp took 4.5 hours, the uphill now distinctly against us. Once the top of the raise was reached, and after a brief stop for tea, the downhill section took about ten minutes, and we popped out of the jungle.

We all vowed to go back and complete the road. It’s a challenge that just cannot be forgotten. Four Wheeler has one thing right, Camp Six is a tough road. What they don’t have right is its location; for some reason their waypoint is Belize City, far from the road. No Limits now offers a full week expedition to conquer Camp 6. It's not for the faint of heart, but you can come with us if you are up for the challenge. No Limit Expeditions.

For a flavor of the experience, see the videos below from Michael. The fist two show how the 'road' changes when it encounters an ant hill.

Driving out on the long downhill section we had the assistance of gravity, but the jungle was still a challenge. Keep in mind this is on the section we had 'cleared' the day before.