Nat’s Travels – Local People and Unspoilt Wilderness
Oaxaca, it is a beautiful city and the food is so good! The land of the seven moles and some of the best chocolate drinks I have ever had! However, it was not just the big city and the food that put Oaxaca on my list. In the mountains that surround Oaxaca City indigenous traditions are still strong.
I took a two day break from the city and headed into the Sierra Mixteca, the mountains to the north of Oaxaca City. I went with Tierraventura, an eco-tour company. Founded in 1999 this company aims to take people to the lesser-known areas surrounding Oaxaca. They only go to small villages and use the amenities on offer there.
The Start Of The Adventure
After getting picked up in Oaxaca City nice and early we drove into the mountains. There was only six in the group, a nice small group size! The tour guides for the group were Claudia and Yves, who fell in love with Mexico and founded the company.
To get to Santiago Apoala, where we would be staying for the night, we were dropped off by the road and would hike to the village. During this hike we were rewarded with beautiful views of the river, canyon and the surrounding mountains. Being inside the canyon really makes you realise just how small you are! There were several river crossings too, which made the hike very fun. More than one person ended up in the river at some point, but luckily it was not to deep!
Santiago Apoala is located in a dramatic valley, it is small and rustic, in the heart of the Mixtec region. It is the belief of the Mixtec people that this valley was the birthplace of humanity.
The village sits at the head of the canyon, with the river running through it. Past the village the river drops off the edge, creating dramatic waterfalls. The villagers grow a variety of food, in the fields can be seen corn, wheat and beans which are surrounded by pomegranates, banana, oranges and figs.
The small community really work together to make ecotourism a thing here. There are cabanas, an eco lodge (which includes a restaurant) a restaurant and not much else. Walking around the village really doesn’t take long, but everyone is friendly and says ‘Hola’ to you. Even the dogs will start following the new stranger in town!
It seems like tourism is the main trade here, or at least they are trying to make it so. It is a real taste of the rural life surrounding Oaxaca.
A Waterfall Walk
The second day of the trip began with another hike. This one was to the nearby waterfalls.
It wasn’t a very long walk, but it was down a fairly big hill! The path started just past the village, we went down through fields and had amazing views. Claudia and Yves were great guides, pointing out everything and anything of interest. Claudia especially is interested in the traditional medicine, which she was very happy to tell us all about.
We reached our final destination by the river. Here the river forms a few pools that can be swum in. It was such a beautiful and peaceful spot; we had the place completely to ourselves. Although the water was freezing, it was worth having a quick dip!
What I Loved
I really did enjoy this trip with Tierraventura, it made a nice change to get out and hike in Mexico. I’d mostly been visiting cities and ruins on this trip so to get into the nature was great.
Santiago Apoala was a great little village and I really loved how Tierraventure “spread the love”. We went to both restaurants equally and were introduced to several of the villagers. It was a spectacular place to stay and one that I don’t think I would have gotten to on my own.