Sunday, May 21, 2017

Nevado de Toluca

Hiking near Mexico City? Count us in! Our journey to Nevado de Toluca was hands down the most memorable part of our trip. The scenery felt other worldly with breathtaking views of dormant volcanoes and crater lakes.

Getting There
Despite extensive research, we knew that our trip to Nevado de Toluca would be a play it by ear kind of situation. We planned for the early morning bus from Mexico City to Toluca. However, we didn't plan on the metro being closed at 5am, forcing us to take a sketchy Mexican cab to the bus terminal. Fortunately, we had no problems with the taxi and made it to the Fletcha Roja station at the Observatorio metro stop. We headed off on a bus to Toluca and hoped to find our way from there.
Despite the early hour, the employees at the Toluca station politely pointed us to the correct company for a bus to Nevado de Toluca. We had to wait 20 minutes before the bus took off, but we were happy to avoid paying a taxi to go onward as we'd heard many other people had to do. We told the driver our destination and he stopped halfway up a mountain and told us to get off. Another young couple got off at the same spot and the four of us looked clueless as we stepped out into the middle of nowhere. Fortunately for us, the couple was Mexican and arranged a deal with a local to go up the mountain. The boy spoke some English and told me that it would be 100 pesos per person for the trip. I replied, "Great, for a taxi?" and he laughed and responded, "For a truck." So we traveled for 45 minutes up a gravel road in the back of a pickup truck. 
The experience was very authentic, though slightly cold with the mountain air whipping through the gaps of the wooden boards. We passed several groups of hikers on our way up, determined to hike the entire way. Our decision to hitchhike up felt even better as we approached the top with few people up as early as we were. We began the climb up and noticed the effects of the altitude, though very mild for us. We felt a little out of shape with the thin air, but still managed to reach the first viewpoint within 15 minutes. 
The View from the Top
After taking in the initial view, we hiked down the the smaller of the two lakes on the left. Hiking down was fairly easy, and a lot of people stopped at this lake then turned around. We even saw a family having a picnic by the water. We continued on up the volcano to view both lakes from higher up. 
Even though this route was relatively short in distance, we found it somewhat challenging. The climb was tough with a steep incline up to 15,000 ft. We went slow and saw few others venture as far as we did. However, the view was well worth the trek. We chose to walk down to eat lunch due to the wind chill at the peak. This was a very wise decision because we ended up with lunch and a show!
Unexpected Show
We were lucky to be trekking on a holiday weekend as we stumbled across a group reenacting indigenous music and dance. They wore beautiful costumes of feathers and beads, although I don't know how they didn't freeze to death. The dancing and music drew a large crowd, and we felt so lucky to have planned our trip for that day. I have never seen such an amazing performance in such a difficult location. 
Getting Back
Once again, we were very lucky on our journey back down. We spend some time looking for a taxi or a car going back down the mountain, but most were coming up when we were trying to go down. The Mexican couple we traveled up with emerged, looking to go back as well. They spoke to the employees monitoring the parking lot and arranged for a ride to the bus stop. We tagged along, so thankful for our timing once again. We waited for only 10 minutes before a bus showed up headed back to Mexico City. We didn't even have to transfer buses at the Toluca bus station, saving us time and confusion. 

No comments:

Post a Comment