Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Hiking in Mexico - a photoblog

In order to ease back in to regular blogging (and because my new school year hasn't quite started), I've decided to do a photoblog based on my recent hiking trip in Mexico. 

My wife Lisa and myself first visited Mexico City where we caught up with our friend Natalia, who lives there, and were lucky enough to catch an open-air performance of some Mexican folklore ballet at Chapultepec Castle.

Mexican folklore ballet

We also enjoyed spending a few hours being punted around the floating gardens of Xochimilco, sampling quesadillas and pulque, and listening to the many mariachi bands hopping from boat to boat.

After a few days exploring Mexico City we travelled to Oaxaca City, the jumping off point for our trek in the Sierra Norte de Oaxaca. Whilst in Oaxaca we were able to take in a visit to the historical ruins of Monte Alban. 

The pre-Hispanic Zapotec pyramid complex at Monte Alban

The next day we set off on our four-day hiking trip through the beautiful Sierra Norte. This was organised by a local ecotourism initiative, Expediciones Sierra Norte, consisting of a community collaboration between villages of the local indigenous Zapotec people. 

The first day was an easy 11km loop from the eco-lodge at the tiny but picturesque village of Llano Grande, aimed at acclimatising us to the altitude (about 3000m). Around the lodge itself we were excited to see hummingbirds feeding on the many flowering plants. In the evening dinner included home-made tlayudas, cooked in the traditional way over a wood fire. 

Natalia and Lisa in matching headgear!

Lisa and me taking care not to step too close to the edge!

Next came the toughest day - a 22km trek across varied, and sometimes challenging, terrain. The estimated time for this section of the hike was five hours - we took eight! Along the way we spotted flowering cacti, orchids, and a snake!

Fortunately, the views, and the food, were worth the effort when we arrived at our second eco-lodge of the trip, at San Miguel Amatlan (although we had noticed some vultures circling above us!)

San Miguel Amatlan

Lisa was very happy to find a hammock waiting at the end of Day 2

Day 3 began with a steep climb out of San Miguel Amatlan, but the reward was a magical hike along the ancient Camino Real trail, including long stretches surrounded by trees festooned first with air plants, then later bromeliads. 

Juan, our guide for the 3rd leg of the hike

We arrived at Latuvi, 16km and another very steep climb later, where we spent our final night. Again, we were treated to excellent home cooked food, and another eco-lodge with fantastic views out over the valley. 

However, by now our legs were really starting to complain, and we decided that rather than do the final stretch, which looked extremely challenging if the contour map of the route was anything to go by, we would return to Oaxaca for a final day of relaxation and restaurants. 

Oaxaca by night