Apr 5, 2004, 1:09 PM
Post #2 of 14
Re: [hummer] South to North through Eastern Mexico
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My wife and I did pretty much exactly this trip in 2002. I have pasted some notes I contributed to other forums. The first is my comment about Tequisquiapan and a response:
(OP) My wife’s favorite small city in Mexico is Tequisquiapan, Queretaro, a charming place about equidistant from Mexico City and Guanajuato. Bougainvilleas cascade over the sidewalks, and its greenery and cypress-lined small river make it an oasis in the surrounding arid plateau. Since it caters to vacationers from Mexico City, it has some upscale shopping with stuff from around the country, but also has local crafts. We stayed at the Posada Tequisquiapan as I recall – 2 years ago it was about 300 pesos for two. Our rooms had wonderful domed brick ceilings (I hope it’s not in the earthquake zone) and the gardens were beautiful. There are a couple of similar small hotels along the same street, plus a pricey all-inclusive down by the river. It is a quiet and relaxing town, although I suppose it could become more bustling on weekends.
(Response)I just ask a friend about Tequisuipan and received two thumbs up, actually the highest praise I've ever heard from this person. She says it is beautiful, much like San Miguel de Allende but quieter, and much less expensive. Very safe but recommends you go during the week to avoid the crowds.
Re. Highway 120 to Highway 85:
Although we were headed towards Tamazunchale, S.L.P., we chose this route since it passed by several Fray Junipero Serra missions (the guy who later did Capistrano and other California missions) and, according to the Sanborn's Insurance regional guide, a very scenic route. Sanborn's was correct about the scenery - it is a breathtaking but thrilling drive that crosses arid scrub before gaining altitude and crossing the Sierra Madre Oriental mountains. As we approached the crest of the mountains, the habitat transformed from scrub to lush green valleys to mountain forests. The crest is at a little town called La Canada - clouds swirled through but it was humid oak forest, not cloud forest. A microwave tower road went on up the mountain, but we did not have time to bird it. For birding, this area merits additional investigation.
At Jalpan, we turned left on highway 69 towards Conca' where there is another Serra mission. This road briefly enters the recently designated (1997) Queretaro Sierra Gorda Biosphere. We stayed at the ex-hacienda just south of Conca' - it is now a wonderful hotel amid beautiful grounds and flowing springs. The posted price was 660 pesos for a double but we got the discount rate of 550 pesos. Trails lead short distances into tropical woodland and agricultural areas. Birds seen included Altimira Oriole, Scrub and Yellow-throated Euphonias, Tropical Parula, Gray Hawk, White-tailed Kite, Wilson's, Black-and-White, and Townsend's Warblers, Greater Pewee, Hooded Oriole, House/brown-throated Wren, Black-crested Titmouse, and Summer and Yellow-winged Tanagers. Check out Mike Delesantro's excellent post on this and nearby locations at www.geocities.com/RainForest/2240/Queretar.htm or go to Google and search for Conca birds.
I also recommend highly the James sculpture garden at Xilitla, both because of the garden itself and the birding – it is an island of tropical forest. Emerald Toucanets can be seen here. Check out www.junglegossip.com for more information, including the El Castillo B&B.
Presumably, you will go on to Highway 85 and head north. Taninul is a palatial resort on highway 70 about 10 miles east of Cd. Valles. There are ruins nearby at Tamuin but I have never seen them.
The two best birding areas on the way back are at El Naranjo (west on Highway 80) – check out west of town and the El Salto Falls area. The other, of course, is Gomez Farias. If you are serious about birding, get Steve Howell’s “Bird-finding Guide to Mexico.” The Bocatoma II restaurant (watch for the sign at at the base of the escarpment leading up to Gomez) is tiny and famous for its langostinos, fish, gorgeous setting, and great birds. Open Wed-Sun.
PM me if you need trip reports, etc.