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izquierdadelcentro

Dec 31, 2009, 10:24 PM

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Road Trip From Mazamitla to Patzcuaro

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Feliz Ano a todos,

This year marks the fourth straight I'm headed to Mexico for a 10 day winter retreat away from the gran manzana where I reside. Since I live in a great big city, I enjoy traveling through the quieter, more rural spots when I'm away. I love Mexico, and have had some great times wandering through the backroads and enjoying the culture and countryside of different regions. I'm a budget traveler in the truest sense, but I do splurge for one item--a vehicle---so I'm free to wander wherever.

My girlfriend and I are flying into Guadelajara, will rent a car and head into the mountains. I'm thinking we'll go to Mazamitla for a couple days and then head into Michoacan afterwards. I've been to Michoacan before, to Uruapan and Paracho and the coast. For me, it's got it all---beautiful landscapes, amazing food, warm people, interesting mix of culture, etc. This time, I'm hoping to see more of the backroads and to visit the Patzcuaro region. Or maybe Morelia.

My question(s) to the community: What's the best route to travel heading out from Zamora, keeping in mind that the journey is as important as the destination? Any of the villages you suggest seeing? Am I being foolish/unsafe wandering around this part of Michoacan? Dishes I must try? Great food tourism? Great hikes? Cultural protocol with the Purapecha? Any other tips?

Keep in mind that I don't know anything, so even obvious info is helpful. (E.G, are the roads paved?) I'm used to just figuring this stuff out as I go, but this time I thought I'd try to arrange things with some foresight.

Thank you all, and a warm hello to 2010



esperanza

Jan 1, 2010, 9:23 AM

Post #2 of 17 (16369 views)

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Re: [izquierdadelcentro] Road Trip From Mazamitla to Patzcuaro

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From Mazamitla, you follow the roadsigns for Sahuayo and then for Jiquilpan. From Jiquilpan, follow the signs for Zamora. From Zamora, follow the libre (free road) to Pátzcuaro.

I live in Morelia and write about life in Michoacán and other parts of México; a link to my blog is below this paragraph. Please send me a PM if you have questions about your stay here.

http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com









Peter


Jan 1, 2010, 3:19 PM

Post #3 of 17 (16342 views)

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Re: [izquierdadelcentro] Road Trip From Mazamitla to Patzcuaro

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From Zamora head south on old hwy 15, the libre. It's a bit over 2 hours on mountain highway into Morelia, you have a couple options around Quiroga for turning off to head into Pátzcuaro, the back side of the lake through Erongaricuaro or through Tzintzuntzan which would take about 10 minutes less time perhaps and is the road more travelled.

Both roads are good with sites to see and you will probably end up driving both if you stay around Pátzcuaro for any time. There will be almost no traffic if you go through Eronga, has fantastic view of the lake and its islands and passes through villages you may later want to explore more closely for their specialty crafts. Not far from Erongaricuaro toward Pátzcuaro is the restaurant/hotel Campestre Alemán which I recommend for lunch or dinner (hrs. 12:30 - 7pm, 7days) for its food and ambience. The hotel looks nice but you would do better to stay in Pátzcuaro closer to more attractions. The road takes you into Pátzcuaro around the embarcaderos so there is virtually no chance of getting lost or turned around. You turn off hwy 15 a few kms. before Quiroga and it is fairly easy to miss the turnoff. No matter, continue on to Quiroga then take the turnoff to Tzintzuntzan.

Quiroga has become the main marketplace for the area crafts and is well-known for its carnitas. Almost anything you find to buy in Pátzcuaro you will find cheaper in Quiroga, or at least the asking price will be more reasonable. The main street is very busy weekend afternoons so is wise to pick other days or hours to visit there, but heading into Tzintzuntzan the highway just as easily bypasses the main street, though do visit the shops in Quiroga at some point in your stay.

There is plenty to do in Pátzcuaro for a few days, but after that there are numerous towns nearby that are well worth visiting, too numerous to list at once.

Perhaps the best budget hotel in Pátzcuaro would be the Valmen located a block off the Plaza Chica. The only problem for you is that there is no parking except on the street. With parking and located in the northwest corner of the Plaza Grande is Hotel Posada San Rafael, fairly nice and at a bargain price and where I have stayed before. There are hotels in all price ranges and some others besides those I mentioned that are recommended by others. Best thing, arrive early and spend part of your first day walking around the plazas looking at the different hotels, inquiring about the prices, and find one you think suits you best - it's a good way to get your bearings and see some sights in the process.


chinagringo


Jan 1, 2010, 4:48 PM

Post #4 of 17 (16329 views)

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Re: [izquierdadelcentro] Road Trip From Mazamitla to Patzcuaro

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Ironically, we did somewhat similar trip last August and really did a great deal of exploring around Michoacan. As Peter indicated, one option is the Hwy 15 option and should you decide on that route, we would recommend Tzintzuntzan as a town to check out on the way into Patzcuaro. A wonderful open air Christmas mall on your right as you got through town. An amazing assortment of straw decorations at incredibly reasonable prices! Link to a slide show of fotos taken in Tzintzuntzan:
http://www.flickr.com/...57608332172270/show/

One helpful web site for travel in Michoacan is from their tourist bureau:
http://www.michoacan-travel.com/
In navigating your way around the site, you can find maps of each region and descriptors for many of the towns and villages.

On our trip, we tried a number of routes including those mentioned by Peter. One option is to follow Hwy 15 to Camecuaro and take the turnoff to San Jose de Gracia, which is known for their "pineapple pottery". Cannot remember the exact mileage but would guess it is under 15 miles and well worth the trip. If you are not familiar with the "pineapple pottery", he is a link to a slide show of fotos we took: http://www.flickr.com/...57622516499738/show/

We also took Hwy 15 to Carapan and then headed south on Hwy 37 towards Paracho and other interesting towns.

Our personal favorite for a hotel in Patzcuaro is Hotel Meson de San Antonio: http://mesondesanantonio.com/ We have stayed there a total of 10 nights over three trips to Patzcuaro and really enjoy the hotel. The room prices on the hotel web site may be somewhat flexible and I would recommend a email direct inquiry to the owner Alfredo for the dates you might be interested in. Unlike many establishments in Mexico, he does respond to emails quite promptly and also feel free to use my name as a reference. Room 15 is our personal favorite. Slide show of the hotel and grounds: http://www.flickr.com/...57622514906376/show/
Regards,
Neil
Albuquerque, NM



(This post was edited by chinagringo on Jan 1, 2010, 6:34 PM)


esperanza

Jan 1, 2010, 5:33 PM

Post #5 of 17 (16322 views)

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Re: [chinagringo] Road Trip From Mazamitla to Patzcuaro

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Neil, I edited your post to create live links. Unfortunately, not all of them are working. You might want to try to figure out what the problems are and edit your own post within the parameters of my additions. When you open the post to edit it, you'll see what the additions are.

http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com









izquierdadelcentro

Jan 2, 2010, 12:33 AM

Post #6 of 17 (16291 views)

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Re: [izquierdadelcentro] Road Trip From Mazamitla to Patzcuaro

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Hi all,

Thank you so much for your assistance!

Neil, your photographs are wonderful. Peter & Esperanza, thank you both for the helpful info--especially r.e budget hotels with parking. Often tough to find! Still not sure what the final destinations will be, might stay in Eronga and travel into Patzcuaro during the day. Like I said before, when you've got 10 million neighbors you tend to wanna travel to the smaller places when you're out!

It sounds like old route 15 is the way to go here and that this road is both reasonably well traveled while affording a glimpse into Purapecha pueblo life. I hate to toss out what I'm sure is a belabored question, but with regard to safety---this route is ok? I keep up on the news, and have traveled through Michoacan before. I live in New York City, so I am quite familiar with the prospect of indiscriminate public violence (aka terrorism) and as well, defending the good name of your hometown against those who think it is far more dangerous & chaotic than it actually is. So, having said all of that--two gringos in a rented car, Mazamitla to Patcuaro, we're ok right? What is the feeling these days in Patzcuaro and Morelia? Are there any tourists coming to town? I have to admit this is a tough call for me. Part of me is leaning towards staying in Jalisco, where there doesn't seem to be as many incidents. At the same time, I love Michoacan and have been wanting to return and see more. I'm planning this trip for myself and my girlfriend. Personally, I am not the "risk averse" type but I am responsible for both her and I and want to be sure we will not be willingly in the wrong place at the wrong time or putting ourselves at risk for kidnapping, etc, etc. I went through in 2006 and felt fine, but it seems like things have heated up since then.

Thanks again, and my apologies for hitting you all up with the "is it scary" type of questions you all must be tired of fielding.

Esperanza--I will most certainly ask you about dining and market experiences after I read through your (excellent) blog some more!


Peter


Jan 2, 2010, 6:40 AM

Post #7 of 17 (16279 views)

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Re: [izquierdadelcentro] Road Trip From Mazamitla to Patzcuaro

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I would say it is safe enough. I live and travel in the area including backwoods "hotspots"and never encountered problems, but the news media says it does happen. The chance of encountering danger is very remote.

About halfway out of Zamora toward your destination is the fairly good-sized town of Zacapu which is the center of the Purhépecha nowadays. You may find something of interest there but I don't know it well and hear it is otherwise unremarkable.

Erongaricuaro has a small but adequate hotel at the head of its zocalo. I don't recall the rates but remember they were reasonable.


tashby


Jan 2, 2010, 11:10 AM

Post #8 of 17 (16258 views)

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Re: [izquierdadelcentro] Road Trip From Mazamitla to Patzcuaro

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I've only driven the libre between Zamora and Morelia, and it's BEAUTIFUL. If it lines up with your trip, definitely stop at Lago Camecuaro which is maybe 20 minutes past Zamora. It's just off the libre, maybe 5 minutes by devoted road. (It's crazy busy on Sundays....tons of people. Best to see its natural beauty during a weekday. But fun on Sundays, too.) It's a very small lake, so you can do a simple walk around it in about an hour. If you do a Google image search, you'll see why it's worth doing...

I also definitely recommend, once you approach Lake Patzcuaro, taking the road that goes along the north side of the lake. The turnoff appears well before you get to Quiroga. It's a lovely road and will take you right into Eronga, or onto Patzcuaro if that's where you're headed. They were repaving it earlier in the year.

Zacapu doesn't look like anything from the libre, but we didn't go into the town so maybe there's something there. Lots of towns in Mexico look their worst from the highway, so who knows.

I had to wrestle down the same safety issue this past summer. We live in Jalisco and I told a friend who was coming in from the US to go to Patzcuaro and I'd meet her there. Her trip was a week after a major flare-up/attack, so I informed her about things and left the decision up to her. I felt responsible for her, but anyway, we went and had a fine time.

For a budget place in Patzcuaro, I like Posada de Los Angeles a LOT. Just a block off Plaza Chica, lovely owners, quiet, nice/basic rooms, beautiful shared courtyard/garden area. Stayed there twice in the last few years, and I've looked at all the budget places. No parking, but there's a secure lot a couple blocks away. 40 pesos, I think, for 8pm to 8am.

Have a great trip!

P.S. Great screen name, by the way. It made me laugh. Welcome to MexConnect.


(This post was edited by tashby on Jan 2, 2010, 11:14 AM)


izquierdadelcentro

Jan 2, 2010, 3:19 PM

Post #9 of 17 (16230 views)

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Re: [izquierdadelcentro] Road Trip From Mazamitla to Patzcuaro

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Peter, thank you again for the great tips.

Tashby, sounds like you had a nice time making the drive. Lake Camecuaro looks gorgeous, I'm definitely going to stop there!

How long do you all suppose the trip from Mazamitla to Patzuaro would take, assuming I head over the north side of Lake Patzcuaro? (4-5 hours?) It's hard to tell looking at a map that doesn't have topography. I'm wondering if maybe I should cut the trip into two days, so there's time to stop and make side trips along the way. How's the lodging by Camecuaro? Or perhaps a better midway point? Unless it's a superautopista I won't drive at night in Mexico. (All those road side crosses are there for a reason, right?!)

~Warm regards to one & all~


esperanza

Jan 2, 2010, 4:00 PM

Post #10 of 17 (16222 views)

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Re: [izquierdadelcentro] Road Trip From Mazamitla to Patzcuaro

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There's a great hotel, Casa del Lago, at the Lago de Camécuaro. http://www.hotelcasadellago.com.mx/english/index.html. It would be a wonderful overnight on your trip.

Don't bother with staying in Zacapu; there's really nothing there for a tourist unless you know in advance that a Purhépecha celebration is in the offing.

However: don't drive past Zamora without PM'ing me first. There are two things in town that bear visiting.

http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com









tashby


Jan 2, 2010, 4:59 PM

Post #11 of 17 (16209 views)

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Re: [izquierdadelcentro] Road Trip From Mazamitla to Patzcuaro

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Quote
How long do you all suppose the trip from Mazamitla to Patzuaro would take, assuming I head over the north side of Lake Patzcuaro? (4-5 hours?) It's hard to tell looking at a map that doesn't have topography.


I don't know. I've been to Mazamitla, but I'm completely unfamiliar with the drive between it and Zamora. I'm wild-guessing that it's at least 5 hours to Patzcuaro??? Really, though, that's a wild guess. Hopefully someone can be more accurate.


chinagringo


Jan 2, 2010, 5:53 PM

Post #12 of 17 (16202 views)

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Re: [izquierdadelcentro] Road Trip From Mazamitla to Patzcuaro

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Prior to our August trip, we became somewhat concerned about various incidents In Michoacan that happened in June or July. I spent a good deal of time researching the situation and how it might affect us. I finally concluded that both Kathy and myself would be semi-assured of safe travels if we followed out normal habits. We did run into a Federale checkpoint our first day in Michoacan between Uruapan and Patzcuaro but they were apparently interested in trucks and passenger cars were being waved through. On our third day traveling out of Patzcuaro, we traveled the back roads through San Francisco Pichataro to Paracho and then on to Cocuho, Patamban, San Jose Gracia, Quiroga and then back to Patzcuaro - a trip of about 200 or so miles. When we got back to Meson de San Antonio, I fired up the laptop to find out that the U.S. Embassy had issued a travel warning for not only Michoacan but Chihuahua that day telling Americans to stay off the back roads. Were we just lucky? Who knows but we never experienced anything that gave us cause for worry! On the following Saturday, we made a trip around the Lake. The only thing that we noticed different was that there was a heavy Police presence in Tzintzuntzan, probably because of all the people visiting on the weekend.

We left Patzcuaro on a Monday and went through two large Federale checkpoints (one on the south side and one on the northern edge) of Morela when heading for San Miguel de Allende. Were not at all interested in us and we proceeded on our way.

In the five days and five nights we spent in the Patzcuaro area, we certainly never felt anything threatening!
Regards,
Neil
Albuquerque, NM



izquierdadelcentro

Jan 2, 2010, 9:57 PM

Post #13 of 17 (16173 views)

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Re: [izquierdadelcentro] Road Trip From Mazamitla to Patzcuaro

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Thank you all for your kind input. I think we're going to give it a go and head into Michoacan.

Neil, sounds like you had a nice trip! The dynamic @ the checkpoints is pretty much how I remembered it as well.

Can't wait to head down there!


chinagringo


Jan 3, 2010, 9:02 AM

Post #14 of 17 (16152 views)

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Re: [izquierdadelcentro] Road Trip From Mazamitla to Patzcuaro

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Have a great and safe trip! So far in our somewhat limited travels through various States of Mexico, we like and enjoy Michoacan the most!
Regards,
Neil
Albuquerque, NM



wearechange

Jan 8, 2010, 6:34 PM

Post #15 of 17 (16074 views)

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Re: [chinagringo] Road Trip From Mazamitla to Patzcuaro

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Try a lesser known route. Zamora-Jacona-Tinguindin (delicious sweet bread)-Tocumbo(ice cream capital of the world)-Santa Inés (beautiful nicely kept ghost town)-Cotija (famous Cotija cheese)-Quitupan-Valle de Juarez,Jal.-Mazamitla.
The road gets a little crappy from Quitupan to Valle de Juarez.


izquierdadelcentro

Jan 10, 2010, 8:41 AM

Post #16 of 17 (16037 views)

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Re: [izquierdadelcentro] Road Trip From Mazamitla to Patzcuaro

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Wow, this looks like a great route as well. Cotija cheese can be found in corner markets all over Brooklyn, Queens & The Bronx. Would be pretty cool to try the real deal!


chinagringo


Feb 15, 2010, 6:36 PM

Post #17 of 17 (15749 views)

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Re: [izquierdadelcentro] Road Trip From Mazamitla to Patzcuaro

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Have you made the trip and did it go as expected?
Regards,
Neil
Albuquerque, NM

 
 
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