Hiking/Countryside Exploration between Mexico DF and Oaxaca
Replies: 33 - Last Post: Jun 22, 2013 4:22 AM Last Post By: chris0daniel
Aug 30, 2012 2:20 PM
15yes of course I meant altitude...thanks. mclarjh. for noting that!
.In Cuajimoloyas where I have spent the night several times it is around 10,000 feet, it was quite cold at night, but perfect temp during the day.
I have been there in November, February, and March, I am sure it is warmer in the summer, but altitude is still a factor for lower temperatures at night. I have always wanted to go to the mushroom festival which is in Sept, I think, but never managed to be there at that time.
Concerning the warning we got above San Felipe de Agua if one takes the bus up as far as it will go (get off at the turnaround) and walk a bit further up, there is a small snack bar where there are some guards(forest rangers?) across from the dirt road/trail. We were told that it was not a good idea to go there because of some recent robberies. I have hike there in previous years with no warnings, and it is a beautiful area up there so this made me sad. Again, one never knows if what one is told is true, but a local Mexican B&B owner confirmed the warnings, so I would be inclined to pass on this walk for now.-
I may try the San Andres Huayapam walk that Mclarjh, mentioned when I return to Oaxaca in Oct., sounds like a nice walk.
Aug 30, 2012 3:17 PM
16Have you ever heard about Maria Sabina? yes, the mithical shaman that was visited by the Beatles and JFK. She lived in a small town named Huautla de Jiménez. The views from there, the landscape and the environment is breathtaking. It's located in the midway between Oaxaca and Tehuacan Puebla. You would have to go to Teotitlan de Flores Magon and from there, take a bus or a shuttle to Huautla. It's located in the mountains, with very lush vegetation and lots of waterfalls. The plus is that after Maria Sabina died, it's completely unspoiled and off the beaten track.
Aug 30, 2012 6:41 PM
17I visited Huautla in January, 2009 for two nights. It's a large town, famed for its psychedelic mushroom tourism and enormous caverns.
The area between Huautla and the Tuxtepec lowlands (Jalapa de Diaz etc.) is extremely attractive and remote. (See the "Oaxaca Handbook") I'd like to return and trek through those mountains at leisure sometime.
It's also possible to walk out along various roads leading from the town of Huautla itself, going through countryside that appeared to me to be, at least on the cloudy, rainy day when I passed through, to be attractive but not 'breathtaking'.
In 2009 two buses ran daily, in each direction, between Huautla and Mexico City's TAPO station. It was a cheap trip (240 pesos??) lasting eight hours. Everyone had a seat. There was no bathroom on board but two stops/rest breaks occurred along the way, first in Teotitlan de Flores Magon and later near Tehuacan.
Vans travel back and forth frequently between Huautla and Oaxaca, via Teotitlan de Flores Magon. Reportedly that trip takes about four hours to complete.
Davemp--Given the time constraints that you'll face, detouring all the way to Huautla might not make sense during this trip. My sense is that places accessed from Huautla deserve a lot of time, spent by patient sojourners. Ethnobotonist Kathleen Harrison provides interesting perspective about the area:
Aug 30, 2012 6:58 PM
18I was in Huautla several years ago, came from Veracruz state and returned via van to Oaxaca. A little over 4 hours is about right from Huautla to Oaxaca. I found the town fascinating, and Maria Sabina's influence was on display in the murals in the town hall. I think that the area could lend itself to hiking, but as the previous poster says one would need time to make contacts and gather information about trails, and possibly a guide as there does not appear to be any sort of infrastructure for eco tourism as in the Pueblos Mancomunados in Oaxaca's sierra norte.
Sabina murals Huautla
Aug 31, 2012 4:32 AM
19Back in the '90s, we took a bus from Oaxaca city's 2nd class terminal to Huautla. It was an amazing, if long trip, especially when the bus left the long valleys and climbed on twisting roads into la Sierra Mazateca. Our trip was lengthened due to a passing truck breaking of our bus' mirror that caused about a 2 hour delay until another bus could be sent to carry us on.
On arrival in Huautla near sunset, we found a decent hotel, whose name eludes me now, but it was some date of May. Not the 5th de Mayo, though. Our room on the third or 4th floor was reached by steep stairs. The room looked decent, until we found that the bed had no mattress, just springs and a cover. We'd been through this before, in SCdlC.
In the bathroom, everything worked well but the window. When I tried to slide it open to ventilate the baño, it nearly fell out of my grasp to the street 3 stories below.
I don't remember (for once!) where or what we ate for breakfast. Huevos, frijoles y tortillas, sin duda. There are small restaurants, especially around the plaza area.
Our objective was to hike to the village of San Águstin, to see the mighty sótano of which we'd read so much.
We took a colectivo van up as far as the hosptal, where we beagan our walk. Once up on the higher areas of the "Huautla Plateau", we progressed along jeep trails and dirt roads, at times skirting enormous doline depressions the size of valleys. There was adequate directional signage, and whenever we had doubts, we'd asked someone. We found the people friendly but reserved, unlike the tales of extreme hostility that Canadian cavers reported encountering back in the late '60s.
We got to San Águstin after several hours of walking, where we checked in with local jefe. He asked me to make a voluntary contribution to their community development fund. He seemed content with $20 pesos. He even typed up a form and I think gave me a receipt.
Then a young kid came and was going to lead me down the slope of the doline to the sótano entrance. I requested an adult guide, and one of the men in the jefe's office came forward.
We went to the very brink of the vertical shaft by way of a short natural tunnel in the wall of the sótano.
After admiring this scene for several minutes, we scrambled back through the cornfield in the doline. The guide indicated he wanted more money. I thought that was fair, and I gave him either $20 or $50 pesos. Everybody was happy.
We walked beyond San Águstin, to a road seen in the distance across a valley. It was a short distance, iirc and we were able to board an open bed truck with benches alongside. As we rode back to Huautla, a sudden rain hit, but it was just fun for us.
That night, after a pretty good supper of tacos al pastor, we slept well on our bedsprings in the ? de Mayo Hotel.
Next morning, after breakfast, we boarded a bus back to Oaxaca city.
Edited by: Anonimo
Aug 31, 2012 7:28 AM
20Good story, Anonimo. You didn't stay at the same hotel as me, which was remarkable for the large windows on three sides of the room overlooking the valley.
Your mention of the guide reminds me of my recent trip to San Bartolome Quialana, walking distance from Tlacolula de Matamoros, just east of Oaxaca city. During my brief visit to this town I received three unsolicited offers to guide me up the foothills to the nearest peak in the Sierra Sur. When I asked one what he would charge, he said nothing, although I'm sure he reasonably expected a donation in return for what would be a six-hour hike!
Before I forget, I want to offer some info about getting to Desierto de los Leones National Park on the outskirts of Mexico City, a great place to get away and do some hiking. Either take a bus ruta 117 from Barranca del Muerto subway stop, or a 43 from Viveros. Neither bus will mention Desierto de los Leones among their destinations, so confirm with the driver to make sure (but I traveled on the 117 (5 MXN), and saw several of the 43 buses). Get off at the terminal (end of the route) in Santa Rosa Xochiac, and just walk a couple of km uphill to reach the park. A local I talked to said it was safe, for what that's worth.
Sep 12, 2012 4:25 AM
21Hola! one more traveller here suggesting Pueblos Mancomunados...offf the beaten path...off the charts...possibly busy around the holidays...but not other times...work with the staff at expediciones sierra del norte in Oaxaca city to plan hikes and accom...many short hikes to interesting places are possible...Happy Trails!!!!
Sep 30, 2012 11:03 AM
22Thanks again to everyone who replied to this discussion. I wanted to report back about what we ended up doing!
I ended up contacting Sierra Norte about doing a trip to Pueblos Mancomunados, but was told that in order to do this, we needed to go to their office and pay/organize everything (or else do a bank transfer, which seemed too complicated). So we ended up going straight from Mexico City to Oaxaca, spent a night there, and then went to the Sierra Norte office on our first day to organize the trip.
On the day of our trip, we left our hostel at 6 AM, walked to the bus station, and caught a bus at 7 to head up to the mountains. I was worried it would be rainy, since it rained the day before, but by the time we made it up to the mountains, it was sunny and beautiful. We took a bus that dropped us off 4 km from Benito Juarez...and then walked the rest of the way there. Our hike took us first up to the Mirador, which had a fire tower and some great views, then continued all the way to La Neveria. Our hike took us about 4 hours, though we were walking pretty fast and are pretty strong hikers. The elevation was a bit rough for me, so resting in the afternoon was great....we explored La Neveria a bit, but mostly relaxed. The cabins in La Neveria were really nice (in fact, probably the nicest places we stayed the whole trip) - we were the only ones there, so we had our choice of cabins. Food was pretty good, though nothing very special (and all vegetarian, even though we had said non-veg was fine). At night it was cold - we built a fire in the cabin's fireplace, which was great, and appreciated the wool blankets.
The next day we hiked from La Neveria out to La Cumbre, which was about 16 km if I recall correctly. Some uphill parts, but at least 2/3 was slight downhill or flat. The hike went through lots of forest, which was different from the first day when there was more farmland. A really nice hike...at the Cumbre, which was on the main road connection Oaxaca and Ixtlan, we caught a ride back to Oaxaca (allegedly buses would have passed by eventually, but we ended up hitchhiking.)
We had a different guide on each day of hiking, and they were both kind of the "strong and silent" types....they didn't say much unless we asked questions, although on the first day our guide told us a lot about the local mushrooms (we saw about 8 types). I probably would have preferred guides who told us a bit more though.
The trails were marked, especially from Benito Juarez to La Neveria — we probably could have done this pretty easily without a guide, and wouldn't have missed out on too much. The hike on the second day had a lot more unmarked turns though, so having the guide was pretty crucial here, just to learn the way.
Two days later, we spent a day of our time in Oaxaca exploring Monte Alban and Teotitlan de Juarez. We started in Monte Alban in the morning by taking one of the tourist vans that bring you there....we only stayed 1 hour (though we probably could have spent 2), but then took the van back to Oaxaca, where we picked up a colectivo to bring us to Teotitlan de Juarez. Teotitlan, on a Friday before the holiday weekend, was very quiet. We had lunch, walked around, and walked up to the reservoir. It was pretty there, and our guidebook said you can potentially swim in the water, but we decided against this as we were the only ones there.
Overall, we definitely did feel like we were off the main tourist trail in the Pueblos, and we were glad we didn't have a ton more bus time given the short time we were in Mexico. But on the other hand, I don't think either of us felt the Pueblos or Teotitlan were particularly interesting or extra-desirable destinations in and of themselves....if I were to return to Oaxaca, I'd probably try to make it to the coast as well....it would have meant more traveling, but if we had been able to leave from the coast, it might have been worthwhile.
Thanks again to everyone who provided advice here. It was very helpful! Let me know if anyone has questions about things I've left out here...
Sep 30, 2012 11:53 AM
Sep 30, 2012 1:18 PM
24Thanks. Would you please tell me the rate for the cabanas in Neveria (don't suppose you know the "single person" rate)?
Where is "Teotitlan de Juarez"? I know Oaxaca pretty well, but don't know this place.
And where is "La Cumbre." Google maps doesn't identify it for me. Yes, frequent shared vans, taxis, and buses mean you shouldn't have to wait more than twenty minutes for a ride along the Oaxaca-Ixtlan highway.
Sep 30, 2012 1:25 PM
25Oops, I meant Teotitlan del Valle! Not Juarez. Sorry about that! Am I able to edit my post to correct that?
Not sure about individual rates for the cabins in La Neveria, since we bought a package from Sierra Norte. Our total was around $33 USD per day, per person, which included guided walk, lodging, and food.
"La Cumbre" was basically the point where the road from Oaxaca to Ixtlan reaches its first summit, and it's west of La Neveria (though the forest). There are two little restaurants there, and a tourism office....if you're driving from Oaxaca toward the north, you go up, up, up and then finally at the top you're at La Cumbre....but there's nothing of note there besides it being the top of the hill.
Sep 30, 2012 1:35 PM
26You can only edit your own post as long as noone has added another post afterwards, then it's too late!
I can see on Googlemaps the little lake you mentioned up above Teotitlan del Valle. There is another small lake between the town and the highway that I've noticed before while hiking by. For your info: another nearby town in the valle with hiking possibilities, San Andres Huayapam, has a couple of lakes beside it that look good for swimming with surrounding cabanas and restaurants, again first hand observation.
The price sounds very affordable.
I passed by "la cumbre" a couple of times this summer (but once I was sitting on the floor of the bus as all the seats were full, so my view was hampered).
Oct 1, 2012 7:28 AM
27I found the place you're referring to using GoogleMaps streetview. The highway sign reads "La Cumbre Ixtepeji," "Ixtepeji" being a name given to several villages in this area. It is located on highway 175, intersecting an unpaved road that goes southeastward towards Neveria; about 20 km, as the caracara flies, northeast of Oaxaca city; at an elevation of approx 2700m. There are several cabanas, restaurants, etc, and bus stops; I remember passing by. A great place to begin or end a hike, it looks like.
Jun 18, 2013 10:47 AM
Jun 18, 2013 12:58 PM
29Anyone have any recent lodging recommendations/experiences in Ixtlan....
I was about to reply describing my last stay in Ixtlan de Juarez, but after checking the map I realize you probably meant to write Ixcatlan.
When I visited Huautla de Jimenez a few years ago I stayed in a hotel right in front of the church and main square where the kids played soccer. It had nice furnishings and large windows on three sides of the room overlooking the valley, good value at approx 180 MXN for a single. There are at least a couple of other hotels in town.
Mexico CityBook now
(3 star Hotel)
From US$124.28 per night
Mexico CityBook now
(4 star Hotel)
From US$250.00 per night
Mexico CityBook now
(0 star Hotel)
From US$8.00 per night