Image credit: Christopher William Adach
Journey across epic plateaus, climb crumbling temples and venture up volcanoes in an epic quest in search of the secrets of an ancient civilisation. It all happens beyond Mexico City…
The balmy climes of Morelos’ capital make for perfect perambulating conditions, which is just as well when there’s so much here to simply stroll around and study at your own leisure. From the well-manicured jardins to the magnificent haciendas, there’s no doubt that it is one of the more upmarket regions in the country, but the gentrification has served to highlight rather than hide many of the more traditional features.
The food scene here is something really worth getting your teeth into and you’ll find top-notch local dishes around every corner; consider a visit to calle de los tacos (The Street of Tacos) compulsory. After a spot of lunch, you’ll likely be in the mood for more cultural pursuits and the ‘City of Eternal Spring’ has an abundance of nearby archaeological sites (such as Tepoztlan, Xochicalco) to tickle those particular taste-buds.
1 hour 15 minutes
Nestled neatly in a semi-enclosed valley, this marvellous market town has longstanding associations with the realms of sorcery, largely in part to the legend of shape-shifting goddess Malinalxóchil who was once thought to have lived here. Though you’re unlikely to find much in the way of magical deities wandering about these days, there’s always a chance the area could cast a bit of a spell on you.
With a clutch of colonially-built commodities at its core and stunning natural surroundings showcasing all the region has to offer in terms of flora and fauna, Malinalco might be a favourite with those seeking a calmer retreat from the bigger cities. Of course, if you are a bit of a history hunter, you can always make your way to the splendid sounding House of Eagles – an extraordinary vestige of the Aztec world carved into the side of a mountain.
1 hour 55 minutes
Mineral del Monte
Known to many as ‘Little Cornwall’, this fascinating town in the capital’s satellite state of Hidalgo has a remarkable history behind it. During Mexico’s industrial revolution in the 1800’s, Cornish miners were brought over in their droves in a bid to show the locals ‘how it was done’ – but where they had been used to finding tin back home, they now found themselves in the midst of a silver and gold rush (with the added prosperity that came with it).
Evidence of the Cornish community’s presence in the area can still be glimpsed in the steep streets and confined squares that sit nestled amongst the more traditional colonial buildings – themselves a result of the Spanish occupation in the 16th Century – though it will likely still come as a shock to visitors when they come across a pasty shop while looking for a lunch spot. But aside from this most ground-breaking of snacks, the miners brought over one other thing that set in motion an even bigger cultural movement that was soon embraced by the entire nation: Football.
1 hour 30 minutes
Located in the midst of the Mexican Altiplano and not to be confused with (or outdone by) the popular hot sauce of the same title, Cholula continues to make a name for itself on account of an ever-growing list of attractions.
Though the city centre, with its diverse mix of trading outlets and eateries, is growing increasingly modern, there is little chance the community will ever forget its Mesoamerican roots; partly due to a deeply ingrained respect for the past, but perhaps more so on account of its proximity to the largest and most awe-inspiring Aztec pyramid in the world. As if this sight in itself was not enough, a brisk climb up the steps of the almighty Tlachihualtepetl will grant you spectacular panoramic views over the area’s national park and the tremendous twin volcanoes of Popocatépetl and Ixtaccíhuatl.
1 hour 40 minutes
Valle De Bravo
The drive towards this magnificent municipality is equally as rewarding as the endpoint itself, as you wind your way around the edges of misty mountain ranges, through densely thicketed woodland and down towards the gentle shores of Lake Avándaro. You may find the setting here shares more than a passing resemblance to that of the Great Italian Lakes, particularly when you first spy the town’s red terracotta rooftops.
Aside from the familiar array of waterside activities, there’s plenty to hold the attention of more adventurous vacationers including the 56,000 hectare Piedra Herrada monarch butterfly sanctuary and hiking excursions into the hills, where you may get a chance to meet the enigmatic Mazahuas. Come at the right time of year and you may even find yourself in the midst of Festival de las Almas (The Festival of Souls).