©Justin Foulkes/Lonely Planet

Pueblos Mancomunados

The Pueblos Mancomunados (Commonwealth of Villages) is eight remote villages (Amatlán, Benito Juárez, Cuajimoloyas, La Nevería, Lachatao, Latuvi, Llano Grande and Yavesía) protected under the umbrella of a unique and foresighted ecotourism project. Communally they offer great wilderness escapes and an up-close communion with Zapotec village life. More than 100km of high-country trails run between the villages and to local beauty spots and places of interest, and you can easily enjoy several days exploring them. Elevations in these hills range from 2200m to over 3200m, and the landscapes, with canyons, caves, waterfalls and panoramic lookouts, are spectacular.

For centuries these villages have pooled the natural resources of their 290-sq-km territory, sharing profits from forestry and other enterprises. In recent years they have also turned to ecotourism to stave off economic difficulties. Currently 120 local people work in a tourist industry that attracts 17,000 annual visitors. Ninety percent of the money goes directly back into the communities.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Pueblos Mancomunados.