Words by Rachel
Five weeks into our trip and it’s time to get into nature. Sure, we’ve been at the beach and enjoyed some time in the jungle in San Pancho, but we haven’t really gotten amongst it and gone off the more worn tourist trail. A few places in the interior pique our interest, however we are wary of going anywhere reported as dangerous. That makes the Copper Canyon off limits and probably the Mariposa Reserve in Michoacán. Flicking through the Lonely Planet I spy a breakout box promoting the Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra Gorda, the most ecosystem-diverse protected area in Mexico, and dotted with centuries old Franciscan Missions. Perfect.
The Sierra Gorda is a 3836sq km region in northern Queretaro which also extends into the neighbouring states of Guanajuato, Hidalgo and San Luis Potosi. To get there from our current location in Guanuajato we’ll first travel an hour on the bus to San Miguel de Allende (and spend a couple of nights) before another couple of hours bus travel to Queretaro. Thankfully the buses in Mexico are luxurious, so that’s not a problem. After an overnight stay in Queretaro we’ll catch a 3 1/2 hour bus trip to Pinal de Amoles, the entry point to the Sierra Gorda.
We debated whether or not to hire a car and visit the region independently, but after some research and a few emails back and forth with Sierra Gorda Nature Tours, a not-for-profit ecotourism business located in Jalpan in the heart of the Sierra Gorda, we decide to book a 4 day/3 night nature tour. We all agree that as part of the experience we would also make this a ‘no devices’ tour – no phones, no ipods, no ipads, no laptops, no movies. And as it is off season, and being a party of four, one of the joys is that we will be on our own private tour with a local guide.
After a very windy bus trip around and up the mountains, we arrive in Pinal de Amoles, which is around 2,500m above sea level. Amalia is a little worse for wear, suffering from severe motion sickness. The travel sickness tablets appear to have done nothing! The air is a bit thinner up here, however we feel fairly acclimatised given the past 2 weeks have been spent at similar altitudes. It is a clear somewhat chilly day, but the air is fresh and we are ready for our adventure.
(This is a long post so I’ve broken it into pages… please click on page 2 below to read on)