For anyone who has enjoyed some of my stories about hiking in Mexico’s Sierra Norte, here are the facts so you could do it yourselves some time.
1.Where to get information about hiking in the Sierra Norte?
Visit Expediciones Sierra Norte at Expediciones Sierra Norte. This is the English version of the website.
2. Do I have to hike for seven days?
There are shorter versions of this hiking trip available. Expediciones Sierra Norte advertises a 4-day hike but describe it as “extreme hiking.” Don’t be put off, simply ask them for a shorter trip that is not extreme and they will organize it for you.
3. Do I have to speak Spanish?
There are people in the Expediciones Sierra Norte office who speak English and if you write to them by email they can reply in English. It may take a bit more time, but it can be done.
Also, a guide accompanies you on these trips. There are English-speaking guides available at an extra charge.
4. What does it cost?
The 7-day trip that we took included 7 days of hiking, all of our meals (which were great and plentiful), all of our accommodations in fabulous cabins with crisp, white linens and hot water, as well as a guide each day. The cost per person was 4,554 Mexican pesos per person. In March 2016, the exchange rate is about 13 pesos per Canadian dollar so the cost per person is only $350. Incredible!
For a fee, we could also have had our luggage delivered for us. So you do NOT have to carry a backpack.
5. What else is there to do?
In addition to hiking, each village has other activities. They are all described on the website. While they cost a bit more, the number and different things you can do is amazing. There are zip lines, swinging bridges, demonstrations for making traditional drinks and foods and you can spend time with someone who knows about herbal medicine or with a farmer. You can stay with a Mexican family, learn about Zapateca culture and have a massage. We also tried the temescal, which is like an herb sauna. Check out the website.
6. What if I don’t like hiking?
You can also travel by mountain bicycle or on horseback. They truly have thought of everything.
7. How tough is the hiking in the Sierra Norte?
If you start your hike from Llano Grande, as we did, or from Cuajimoloyas, you will likely notice the altitude. These towns are at over 3,000m. You might consider arriving a day early to acclimatize or at least spending a few days in Oaxaca, which is at around 1500m. We just went extra slowly.
8. How could the trip have been improved for us?
On the 7-day trip we did, we moved to a new town each day. We would have liked to have spent a full day and two nights in at least one town so that we had more of a chance to explore. We would have extended to 8 days or given up one day of hiking to do this.
9. What did we like best about the trip?
While the hiking was spectacular, with each day’s hike better than the previous day’s. We couldn’t believe it. But it was the people we met who made it special. Before going on the trip, if I’d been told we would have a different guide each day, I would have been disappointed. But having a new guide every day turned out to be key to our enjoyment. We learned more because every guide knew something different. Also, they knew their area especially well and were so knowledgeable about every tree and bird. The people made it for us.
10. Where is the office of Expediciones Sierra Norte?
The office is located at M.Bravo, No. 210-A,
Plaza San Cristobal, Col. Centro, Oaxaca, Mexico
The email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
The office is tucked away inside a building, but there is a sign on the outside of the building. It is about a block from Oaxaca’s main cathedral. The women in the front office do not speak much English, but the project manager does speak English.
11. How do I get there?
There are direct flights from Canada to Mexico City and/or Huatulco. From these centres you can fly or take a bus to Oaxaca. Expediciones Sierra Norte will help you arrange transportation from Oaxaca to the Sierra Norte mountains.