In the Sierra Gorda of Queretaro, you can go from feeling you’re in a Canadian forest, to feeling you’re in the Arizona Desert in a matter of hours. The postcards that emerge from this gem, located in the center of Mexico, are those of a heritage rich in cultural and natural diversity, since the biosphere reserve is thought to be the most diverse ecosystem in the country.
However, even though this wild land is home to more than 500 archeological sites and five Franciscan missions that have been declared World Heritage Sites, Conecto.mx shows you another face of the Sierra, one more off the beaten path. Here are two treasures hidden among the mountains, canyons and rivers of the protected natural area.
The scenery that greets visitors as they turn the last corner of the road on their way into the community of La Trinidad is simply stunning. The limited visibility caused by the slopes of conifers and holm oaks suddenly disappears to give way to a plain where 21 Nahua families have settled. Their huts emerge from the mist that slides silently along the ground and further behind, in the background, a wall of conifers and holm oaks rise up in one of the best-preserved forestry areas in Mexico.
The forest is home to jaguars, pumas, ocelots, margays, birds endemic to the Sierra Madre Oriental mountain range such as the bearded wood partridge and even carnivorous plants of the butterwort variety, which as a whole makes the forest very important for biodiversity. “For me, coming here is like taking a trip into the past,” says Roberto Pedraza, from the Sierra Gorda Environmental Group (GESG), “it is still a continuous forest area free of deforestation, which is very unusual in this country. There are about 7 thousand hectares covered by trees bordering the other areas of communal agricultural land known locally as ejidos. It is a really large forestry area.”
The community offers accommodation in cabins and campsites as well as meals in their dining area located at the edge of the forest. Accompanied by a guide from the community, visitors can go deep into the forest to follow a variety of trails, visit caves and go bird watching on walking routes lasting two to five hours. The cabins are basic but comfy. They have hot water in the bathroom but no electricity, making it advisable to carry a lantern. Packing a good bottle of wine is another good idea, so you can enjoy it while you sit on the cabin’s porch listening to the sounds of the night, and surrounded by the special atmosphere of the place.
AYUTLA- campamento Los Sauces
If you’re escaping the cold and prefer warm weather, you could spend a night or two on the banks of the Ayutla River at Los Sauces Campsite. The campsite has two cabins, each accommodating four people, built using bio construction techniques and materials from the local area. There is also a large camping area surrounded by the rippling sounds of the river and campsite owner Casimira Loreno’s orange and mandarin trees.
Boasting views of the river and its willow-lined bank, this is a perfect spot to finish reading your book and let your imagination run wild. However, if you are more of the restless type you can take a walk upstream to the river’s source. You can chose to bring your own food, but if you don’t, the owner, known as doña “Casi”, will offer you breaded chicken fillets, chilaquiles (tortillas cooked in green tomato sauce and sprinkled with cheese), enchiladas, prawns in garlic sauce and fruit-flavored water, among other specialties.