Mountains and pueblos mágicos
By Sheridan Sansegundo
The next trip planned by Audubon Eco Journeys from April 19 through 22 is to the small mountainous state of Hidalgo, in eastern Mexico, where two separate mountain ranges, with pine, cedar and holm oak forests, present opportunities to get up close to nature for hiking and bird-watching.
Hidalgo mountain corridor
By Audubon Eco Journeys
The Toltecs initially settled in what is now Hidalgo at the beginning of the 7th century. They were overrun by the Chichimecas, who in turn were ousted by the Aztecs in the 12th century. Today the state has several indigenous groups who have managed to maintain a relatively strong independent cultural identity since the Conquest.These ethnic groups include the Nahua, the Otomis and the Tepehuas, each still speaking their own language.
The beautiful Hidalgo mountain corridor takes in the former mining estates of Real del Monte, Huasca de Ocampo, and Mineral del Chico, all Pueblos Magicos. Wildlife includes 31 species of serpent, as well as mammals such as skunks, spider monkeys, wild boar, anteaters and gray foxes. The area has just about the widest variety of wild birds in Mexico, including eagles, hummingbirds, falcons and wild turkeys.
The tour will spend the first night in a charming inn in Huasca de Campo. With picturesque streets and colonial architecture, this charming village high up in the mountains is surrounded by plains, mountains, rivers, lakes and waterfalls. The town was created in the mid-18th century by Pedro Romero de Terreros, a Spanish count who at one point was the richest man in the world. There will be visits to Huasca’s Saturday market, the Prismas Basálticos rock formations, its waterfalls, and the remarkable Hacienda de Santa Maria Regla, plus bird watching by the lake and along country roads.
The next day the tour will move on to Real del Monte. A short drive from Hidalgo’s capital (Pachuca), the town is perched in the Sierra de Pachuca, part of the Sierra Madre Oriental. At an altitude of 2,680 meters (8,800 feet), this is one of the highest inhabited places in Mexico, with winding streets and houses in different pastel colors. Wrought iron balconies overlook the street. Casual restaurants sell pan de pulque (a bread made with pulque, a liquor similar to undistilled tequila) and Cornish pastries with a variety of fillings. But how did traditional Cornish pastries wind up in the mountains of Central Mexico? There’ll be a chance to sample them and find out why.
Driving down a serpentine road from Real del Monte there will be a stop at the Acosta Mine Museum on the way to the final destination of Mineral del Chico, which is the Shangri-La of this mountain corridor, in the heart of El Chico National Park. Within this stunning park there are mountains covered with pine and oyamel (fir) trees and impressive rock formations. The park offers nearly 7,000 acres for hiking and bird watching. The final night will be spent at a delightful small hotel in the middle of this peaceful mountain village, enjoying regional cuisine and warm friendly people.
The cost of the trip, based on double occupancy, is US$615, with a small discount for Audubon members. Reservations, which are requested by March 22, can be made with Colleen Besman at (415) 152-3644 or firstname.lastname@example.org and more information is available at www.travelian.com.mx.