a variety of landscapes – from rugged mountains to
fertile plains and valleys to sunny beaches and coastlines
– Oaxaca (pronounced “wa-HA-ca”) can easily satisfy the
desires of most adventure and ecotourists. Located south
of Mexico City along the Pacific Ocean, Oaxaca is known
for its colonial towns, archaeological sites, handicrafts
and cultural gatherings, and bird-watching opportunities.
The state is also home to 15 indigenous groups – the largest
of which are the Zapotecs and Mixtecs – who show a strong
presence in villages and markets.
Oaxaca provides 300 miles (480 km) of coastline, very little has
been developed, offering a mostly undisturbed, unspoiled tropical
experience among sleepy little fishing villages. The best-known
of the beach destinations is Huatulco, which is
still not as developed as Acapulco to the far west. Swimming, surfing
and other water sports are of course possible, but you’ll also want
to explore the crocodile sanctuary and freshwater lagoons west of
Puerto Escondido, as well as view the different
endangered turtle species that lay their eggs along the beaches.
from the coast, you’ll encounter the state’s Central Valleys
that surround the capital city. Here you’ll find plenty of opportunities
to hike, mountain bike, ride horseback, bird watch, visit craft
shops or even participate in different cultural fiestas, ceremonies
or dances singular to the region.
One of the region’s
chief attractions is Monte Albán, which sits atop
a 1315-foot (400 m) mountain overlooking the Central Valleys. Considered
the greatest of the Zapotec cities, Monte Albán is an amazing engineering
feat, where the people leveled the whole mountain top to create
the site. The plateau contains many complete buildings, tombs, platforms
and stelae. Other notable archaeological sites in the region include
Mitla and Yagul, to the east of Monte Albán.
the Central Valleys, your next stop might be the colonial Oaxaca
City itself, whose narrow streets, historic buildings,
broad shady plazas and leisurely cafes will allow you to simply
slow down and enjoy yourself. Offering first-class museums and art
galleries, Oaxaca also provides some of the best handicrafts shopping
in Mexico, complemented by a bright cultural, restaurant and music
of Oaxaca is a region replete with small charming villages such
as Guelatao (the birthplace of Benito Juarez) and
Ixtlán, which are surrounded by the beautiful,
mountainous landscapes of the Sierra Madre de Oaxaca. This region
is among the three richest areas in faunal diversity in the country,
with more than 400 bird species, 350 butterflies, all six Mexican
wild cats (including jaguar), and nearly 4,000 plant species. You
can experience this unique region by hiking or mountain-biking along
more than 100km of scenic trails. At the end of a rewarding day,
you might wish to visit the community Cuajimoloyas and sample a
Temascal an herbal pre-Hispanic vapor bath.
You never know
what you’ll discover when you wander down Oaxaca way. To learn more
about this state and the rest of the undiscovered "Mysteries of
Mexico," attend the upcoming Expo
Aventura y Ecoturismo in Mexico City from June 3-5, 2004. International
buyers can attend the exposition at no charge. Openings also are
still available to attend the Expo and the accompanying FAM/Media
Trips; contact Fernanda Aldana (firstname.lastname@example.org)
at Tradex Exposiciones for more information.