Travels in Mexico, 2019: Part 1

It’s a tough time for everyone, especially for those involved in the travel industry. And not only those working in it, but anyone with plans to travel or even a desire to travel.

I don’t need to remind you why. We’re constantly reminded why, in different ways for everyone.

Me—with some extra time on my hands, brought on by a two-week quarantine, I’ve finished some old stories about Mexico. But it would seem strange to post them now. How could I do that, but not mention the state of the world today?

Besides, I don’t really have anything to contribute about the state of the world today. Sure, I have my own story, and the time will come for me to share that. But for now, I want to look back on some of the great trips I enjoyed in Mexico in 2019.

And not only Mexico. My wife and I traveled to Cuba last summer, an amazing and eye-opening adventure. Also we took two short trips to the U.S., one to San Francisco and the other to Michigan. One of these days I’ll get around to writing about those, or at least post some photos.

We’ll get through this, and we’ll travel again. There are countless fascinating destinations in Mexico, not to mention the world. Even in my ninth year living in Mexico, 2019, I found new and wonderful places to explore, some of them only an hour or two from my house.

These were some of my favorites:

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Zihuatanejo Bay

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Humpback whale in front of Morros de Potosi, near Zihuatanejo

Zihuatanejo is a beach town on the Pacific Coast, between Acapulco to the southeast and Puerto Vallarta farther northwest. It’s a good alternative to those two more famous beach destinations: cheaper, less developed, and undeniably beautiful, with several beaches and good snorkeling and fishing all along a secluded bay.

I went to scuba dive, among other places at one of the best dive sites in the Mexican Pacific: Los Morros de Potosi, a series of white guano-covered islands surrounded by underwater wildlife. As you can see in the photo above, we saw a humpback whale on our way to go diving.

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The end of the underground portion of the Chonta River, near Grutas de Cacahuamilpa National Park

Grutas de Cacahuamilpa

Grutas de Cacahuamilpa

A few hours south of Mexico City is a national park I’ve passed on many bicycle rides over the winding highways between Toluca (where I lived) and Taxco to the south: Grutas de Cacahuamilpa.

Before I visited the actual cave, in 2018 I hiked and swam down an underground river that exits the mountain nearby. This was an incredible experience of something like eight hours, spent inside a long twisting cave that was mostly the size of a highway tunnel, but with a freezing cold river at the bottom instead of asphalt.

I assumed the Cacahuamilpa Cave would be similar, but when I finally visited in 2019, I was blown away by its size. Chambers that could fit skyscrapers were connected by smaller passages, making for a several hour walk from the entrance and back.

Look closely at the second photo above, and you can see the lit footpath far below the roof of the cave.

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Popocatépetl erupting

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Popocatépetl covered in snow

Iztaccíhuatl Volcano

Two volcanos tower over Mexico City: Iztaccíhuatl and Popocatépetl, often shortened to Izta and Popo. Popo (in the photos above) is active and off-limits, while Izta is dormant, and a long, high-altitude, yet non-technical hike leads to the peak.

My wife and I went hiking in Itza-Popo National Park twice in 2019. The first time we hiked the saddle between the two mountains. I wrote about it here.

A few months later we went straight to Izta and hiked high to its rocky crown.  Although we didn’t make it to the highest peak, the Chest, we made it to the high alpine area, summiting the First Knee (5,034 meters, 16,515 feet).

Iztaccíhuatl means “white woman,” and its peaks are named after parts of her body. The photo below shows Itza from the trailhead. The First Knee is a tiny bump slightly to the right of the highest point you can see in the picture:

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Iztaccíhuatl, the third highest mountain/volcano in Mexico

Well, that’s it for now. Thank you for reading. Please leave a comment if you want tips about visiting these places, or if you’ve visited already. You can fly or take a bus to Zihuatanejo, but you’ll need a car for Cacahuamilpa or Itza-Popo National Park.

Soon I’ll add a second part about more destinations in Mexico, such as other hiking spots and some places in the Mayan Riviera. Also, check out two I already wrote, about a butterfly sanctuary and a bike ride to Valle de Bravo.

Stay safe out there!

El Rosario Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary, Michoacan, Mexico

El Rosario Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary, Michoacan, Mexico

About Ted Campbell

U.S./Canadian writer, translator and professor in Mexico. Travel stories and practical tips on my blog No Hay Bronca: nohaybronca.wordpress.com // Twitter: @NoHayBroncaBlog // Contact: nohaybroncablog (at) gmail.com

Posted on March 31, 2020, in Mexico, Travel, Travel in Mexico and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Nice read! Your time in HK will be cool to hear about. Talk soon!

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  2. That massive cave looks amazing Ted, good write up.

  1. Pingback: Travels in Mexico, 2019: Part 2 | No Hay Bronca

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