7 Great Adventures In Mexico You Didn’t Know About
Here is an excerpt from an article detailing 7 accessible and thrilling adventures in Mexico that most people don’t know about. They include:
ROCK CLIMBING: EL POTRERO CHICO
DEEP-SEA FISHING: CABO SAN LUCAS
MOUNTAIN BIKING: COPPER CANYON
SNORKELING WITH WHALE SHARKS: ISLA HOLBOX
BIRD WATCHING: CHIAPAS
HIKING: THE SIERRA NORTE
You can see the full story at: nytimes.com
BEYOND the sunbathers, cervezas and spring break debauchery so conspicuously on display in Cancún andCozumel, Mexico offers a lesser-known adventure experience — the kind that is found deep in the jungle or near small fishing villages and offshore reefs.
The same country that possesses one of the world’s most polluted capital cities also ranks as one of the richest in species diversity. Twenty-two biosphere reserves and nearly 50 national parks offer hiking and wildlife-watching opportunities; mountain chains and interior canyons are chockfull ofbiking trails; fertile warm-water upwellings attract pods of whales and glittering fish.
Adventurous tourists — particularly those focused on a specific outdoor sport or activity — have much to discover along the coast and on the country’s ruggedly varied interior terrain.
Almost by definition, some of these unexplored gems are in remote areas, so travelers will need to be vigilant about safety. That’s where knowledgeable outfitters are key — they can take you to little-touristed places where you’ll feel comfortable exploring the backcountry forests and secluded beaches that you might not visit alone. Regions like Chiapas and Oaxaca, while still extricating their reputations from recent political unrest, have become more stable. Before you book, consult the United States State Department (www.travel.state.gov) for travel advisories.
Surfers have been crossing the border to ride waves along Mexico’s Pacific coast for decades, and this small coastal fishing village 30 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta has lately achieved the perfect mix of lively beachfront bars, surf camps and terra-cotta architectural charm — all, most importantly, with easy access to numerous breaks ideal for beginners and for intermediates looking to sharpen their technique. Advanced riders might head south to the body-wrecking barrels at Puerto Escondido, but the rest of us mere mortals will be content to spend a week or two skimming the waves there.
An easy right break on Sayulita’s bay, just off a curving white-sand stretch of town beach, is where longboarders spend most of their time; if those waves get too big, beginners can always move down the beach and find smaller ones. A faster left break caters to speedy shortboarders. In 2006, the Access Trips adventure travel company started a small-group surf itinerary to Sayulita and its surrounding breaks, joining the pioneering Las Olas Surf Safaris (www.surflasolas.com), which runs surf camps for women, and several others. The special flavor of the village, says Alain Chuard, co-owner of Access Trips, comes from its friendly and eclectic population (local fishermen, hippies, expatriates) and the town’s careful control over development (there are no big hotels or big chain stores here, whereas Wal-Mart has landed in Puerto Vallarta).
Most everything in Sayulita is within walking distance, from the beach to the grocery stores and cafes in the village center to the surrounding jungle. The village might not be a secret anymore, but it’s far from being overrun by tourists. Beaches are rarely crowded, a one-bedroom villa at Villa Amor, the luxury hotel in town, starts at $90 a night, and foreign travelers tend to be in their 20s and 30s.
Access Trips’ seven-day surf safaris are led by a local surfer, Javier Chavez, and a core team of instructors. The student-to-teacher ratio is capped at an intimate 4 to 1, and all trip leaders are locals. Days are spent surfing the bay and visiting other secluded surf spots north and south of Sayulita that are accessible only by boat. In the winter, humpback whales cruising by the bay are a bonus. Surfers stay in newly built bungalows with ocean views just up the hill from town, and morning yoga sessions in a private studio help ease the muscle pain left by consecutive pop-ups on the surfboard. Lunch might be grilled shrimp on the beach, and there are plenty of other outdoor activities, including guided jungle treks, mountain biking and trips to hot springs.
Access Trips, (650) 492-4778); www.accesstrips.com; seven-day surf adventures from $1,885, including lodging, instruction, all breakfasts, a lunch and two dinners, yoga and transportation, including airport transfers; November through May.
About an hour northwest of Monterrey, a craggy limestone outcrop named El Potrero Chico has been quietly attracting rock climbers from around the world. What makes the area unusual is the sheer variety of the 600-plus bolted routes — in which permanent artificial anchors are embedded in the rock — all within easy access of a campground and lodge at the base of the rock.
The icing on the cake? You won’t have to share. The crowd typically tops out at 50 or 60 people, mostly a mix of Americans and Canadians and some Europeans; on many days, you’ll probably encounter just a handful of other climbers.
Since the climbing scene in Mexico has yet to take off, most of the climbs have been developed by Americans in the last decade, and routes are usually christened with quirky Spanish or English names (Estrellita, Treasure of Sierra Madre, Yankee Clipper). The bolting of routes directly into the rock makes the rugged terrain more accessible to a wider spectrum of climbers; an average Joe can easily try a beginner climb next to an awesome Jane working on a longer, more complicated route. Limestone uplift makes for a combination of crags, spires and ridges. The terrain and loose rock conditions are the kind of thing you’d find in the backcountry (think the Wind River range in Wyoming), but here, it’s all fixed-bolt sport climbing instead of traditional climbing, in which climbers place their own gear to protect against falls.
Long, moderate sport routes make El Potrero Chico a friendly place for climbers to work on their skills. Posada El Potrero Chico is a family-run campsite and lodge owned by a local resident named Luís Lozano. It serves the sporting crowd with Wi-Fi, new casitas and a small gear shop.
El Potrero Chico is just west of the small town of Hidalgo, where the living is simple, with street markets and hearty food typical of northern Mexico — nopalitos, carne asada, gorditas. To encourage climbing and environmental efforts in the community, the climbing school runs cleanup days in which local children help with the maintenance of routes by collecting trash.
“It’s a quiet and safe town with all of the services,” said Mr. Lozano, who grew up in Hidalgo. “People return year after year, and some of the climbers have already moved here.”
Posada El Potrero Chico, (52-1) 81-8362-6672;www.elpotrerochico.com.mx; weeklong guided climbing trips from $1,511 a person, including guide, equipment, airport shuttle and lodging in a casita with private bath; November through March.
Source: http: nytimes.com
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