Multi-day hiking in Mexico?

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Multi-day hiking in Mexico?

Postby Drew » Mon 23 Jan, 2023 10:32 am

Bit of a long shot posting this here, but you never know...

My partner and I are hoping to go to Mexico this year (looking like October/November). Overseas travel for us almost always involves some hiking, and usually multi-day, independent hikes. I know that this isn't something that Mexico is known for, but I'm a bit surprised at how little my internet searches are bringing up. Copper Canyon and the Pueblos Mancomunicados in Oaxaca are the only two multi-day hikes that come up (with the latter being a village to village walk).

Is long-distance wilderness hiking just not a thing there at all? It would seem a little strange given the seemingly abundant beautiful landscapes and the long history of Mexico as a destination for international visitors. I know there are security issues that might have stymied the formation of long-distance walks, but the same can be said of many countries in the world where such walks are common.

Cheers.
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Re: Multi-day hiking in Mexico?

Postby sandym » Mon 23 Jan, 2023 3:30 pm

I've been on a rock climbing trip. Great people, great country but holy the drug wars are a bit confronting. I do know a bloke who goes down from Canada every year for kayaking and general travel, but, when we were there climbing, there was a big shootout in the local village and 6 or 7 bystanders shot. Just didn't feel quite the same walking down to buy a BBQ chook on market day after that.

Good luck, the only one I know of is Copper Canyon.
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Re: Multi-day hiking in Mexico?

Postby Gadgetgeek » Wed 25 Jan, 2023 8:27 pm

A big part of it is history and the US making it hard for the main group of walking clientele to easily go and walk. It's also not a huge part of the normal tourist culture. There are some really good cultural sites to visit, but they are not really connected. Mexico is a big place, and so the vast majority of the tourist trade still sits along the day-trip distance of the US border. The big resorts are a flight away (Mayan Riviera) and are amazing, and there is a lot of culture down there, but the terrain is brutal to walk in, really fast-growing forest that would need constant trail clearing, more so than even tropical QLD. From what I gathered from our tour guides, the maintained roads that were really important fell into invisibility very quickly after being abandoned. We are talking areas that appear totally unbroken which had huge cities less than 200 years ago. And when I mean dense, I've seen lantana, that's my threshold. Unless you find someone with very specific local knowledge, it's unlikely you will find much in the normal tourist channels for independent hikes. I'm not saying you shouldn't try, but also keep in mind that the terrain is just as varied in Mexico as it is here, the desert is exactly that, the jungle is dense, and the mountains are brutal. It's not like a lot of Canada or the US where trails have had time to form, or Europe where everything is mapped to within a millimeter. Go, enjoy, find locals. Also worth knowing that most locals probably don't want to post their cool trails because that just adds to the number of cops, troops and cartel members wandering in their areas, as well as the fact that most of them don't have a lot of internet access. It does mean you will have to be a judge of people and decide for yourself, but I was only there for a honeymoon week and never left the "controlled" areas, and even then it was clear to me why someone wouldn't want to let everyone else know they had a path from one place to another.
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Re: Multi-day hiking in Mexico?

Postby Drew » Thu 26 Jan, 2023 9:42 am

Thanks to you both for the replies. Seems like a lot of different factors involved, leading to an absence of long-distance hiking culture. I guess another thing is that the absence of really big mountains means that Mexico hasn't had the same history of climbing expeditions opening up routes, as has happened in South America.

I've travelled a lot in South America and my Spanish is good enough that I can probably figure things out once I'm there and potentially discover some options, but to be honest I'm less adventurous/more risk averse than I once was! And while I've travelled in dodgy places, the cartel violence is a whole other cup of tea!

I'm getting closer to conceding that the hiking gear might stay at home on this trip (which makes travelling around a lot easier!) and that we'll be instead spending more time doing day hikes, surfing, snorkelling, bird-watching etc ( as well as visiting cultural sites which we'd do regardless).
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Re: Multi-day hiking in Mexico?

Postby Gadgetgeek » Thu 26 Jan, 2023 7:56 pm

You'll still find some good places if you are able to communicate and get just a little outside of the normal tourist spots. Depending on where you are planning on going, you might be able to find a connection to one or more of the tour companies by looking at what demographics are typically traveling to that place at that time from the US. A lot of the companies are pretty small, so it wouldn't shock me if they only really needed to find 50 clients a week, and could do that from one or two major US cities. One of the tours we went on collected about 30 people from five resorts, and from their setup, it looked like they only did one group a day. A buddy and his wife did another that was capped at ten people a day, so that company contracted to only two resorts and one travel agency. It's possible that a couple of other providers used the same area, but it was a cave paddle, so it's unlikely that it was more than one other group in the same day. We also went to a more "central" tourist area with parking for 20-30 busses and a pretty big set of services, but it was private property where they have hosted red bull cliff diving comps. The whole range is there. A lot of travelers never really leave the resort, and our tour contact seemed surprised at how many days we wanted to book tours on. I mean, even if your Spanish is passible, I'd bet that the tour guides would easily be able to give you some better advice on where to go. We hit the major sites and a couple just on the fringe of the major tourist traps sites (the Coba ruins at Tulum are pretty cool, as is Chichen Itza, even though both are very well developed at this point) and we found everyone really easy to talk to. I'm sure you'll enjoy it, and someone there will point you at something really cool to see.
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Re: Multi-day hiking in Mexico?

Postby Osik » Sat 11 Nov, 2023 9:56 pm

Sorry for the very belated bump but interested how you went Drew?
I just got back from a few weeks in Mexico, climbed Malinche & Pico de Orizaba, alas the natural disasters/weather didn't cooperate for Iztaccihuatl. I had originally also hoped to do a couple of overnighters but ended up deciding to save lugging extra gear & just do some individual mountains.
My sisters spent a little bit of time in the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve, I think with some local knowledge you could probably link a few days together. Be interested to hear if you figured out any other options
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Re: Multi-day hiking in Mexico?

Postby inwaver » Wed 28 Feb, 2024 10:03 pm

Osik wrote:Sorry for the very belated bump but interested how you went Drew?
I just got back from a few weeks in Mexico, climbed Malinche & Pico de Orizaba, alas the natural disasters/weather didn't cooperate for Iztaccihuatl. I had originally also hoped to do a couple of overnighters but ended up deciding to save lugging extra gear & just do some individual mountains.
My sisters spent a little bit of time in the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve, I think with some local knowledge you could probably link a few days together. Be interested to hear if you figured out any other options

I was in Mexico in 2022. Apart from my typical time at the beach and Mayan ruins, I have tried volcanic skiing for the first time and went on a hike in Volcan Paricutin. It was a kind of new experience for me. All thanks to the guy I got from https://gowithguide.com/mexico/guides He kind of arranged for skiing and hiking, which wasn't on my itinerary initially.
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Re: Multi-day hiking in Mexico?

Postby Drew » Thu 29 Feb, 2024 7:05 am

A very belated reply to your post Osik:

I pretty much gave up on the idea of hiking after my initial research revealed so few obvious options. I wasn't particularly keen on devising my own intrepid adventure in Mexico, being a little concerned about safety.

We had a nice trip in the end, but I found that there was very little scope for even short walks - there just doesn't seem to really be a culture of hiking in Mexico. There is however a frustrating culture of needing a guide to do just about anything (eg, go on a short hike from a small village, go snorkelling etc).

We did pass through Sierra Gorda on a road trip - amazing landscapes, changing from desert on one side to moist pine and oak forest when you cross the pass. I must admit though, that after returning home and seeing a screensaver slideshow of a previous trip to Peru come onto the TV, I was like, "wow, Peru was f##king amazing, I wanna go back there to hike in the mountains!" While there were lots of good bits, Mexico underwhelmed me a little (food not as good as I'd heard, expensive, horribly overdeveloped places on the Yucatan, privatised beaches).
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