By Chris Wiersma
Call of the Oaxacan Mountains
I decided to take a couple days to venture off the beaten path in Oaxaca and take a road trip through the Sierra Madre del Sur mountains of southern Mexico. My month long business trip to Vivo Resorts in Puerto Escondido was coming to a close. But, before heading back home to Canada I needed to head the call of the mountains, which had been calling to me through the window of my condo for the last month.
The extent of my planning for this trip was asking Alma, our Vivo Resorts Guest Services Manager, to have a reliable rental vehicle delivered to the resort by a local agency. As simple as that, I slid behind the wheel of a new Jetta and my adventure off the beaten path in Oaxaca began.
And let me say this as simply and as directly as I can: it… was… extraordinary.
This is quite an admission because I have taken some truly remarkable road trips, including two weeks in Europe on my own motorcycle, and thousands of miles (on the same motorcycle) in the Rocky Mountains and along the Western Seaboard of North America.
I headed into the Sierra Madre del Sur mountains, catching the well-maintained highway between Huatulco and Oaxaca City (a city with 750,000 people – and very, very, very worth visiting). I have never driven a road like this. It was breathtaking.
I did not set out on this adventure with the intent of writing a blog but the experience quickly became one I am keen to recommend to anyone who finds themselves in this area along the Emerald Coast of Oaxaca in southern Mexico.
The photos are all mine, taken from my iPhone along the way (being very safe as I did so!).
Just Follow the Winding Road…
The road to Oaxaca hugs the mountains for three hours as you steadily climb from sea level up to 7,200 feet. Along the way, the temperature drifts down from the mid-80s to mid-50s. You’ll drive through brilliant sunshine, clusters of clouds that hug the mountain tops, be perched over stunning jungle vistas, and then under a thick canopy of interlocking trees overhead. And then you’ll experience all of it again. And then again. As the air steadily gets cooler and more refreshing.
About every 20 minutes, you’ll wind through a mountain village circling the top of a hill, or through houses and shops that hug the side of the road. Everyone is smiling ear to ear. Everyone is willing to help. They won’t speak English, but you won’t need to speak Spanish either (I don’t). A mixture of hand gestures with a bit of Google’s Translator app will get you everything you need, and both of you will have fun figuring it out.
Just so you’re prepared, the roadside shops aren’t painted and polished like they are in areas purpose-built for tourism. That’s fantastic though because it means their contents – be it food or souvenirs – will be authentic (rather than mass-produced to make them look authentic). So I nibbled on “fresh from the forest” chocolate along with my standard bottle or two of mineral water.
Finding a Place to Stay
For accommodations, while off the beaten path in Oaxaca, I rented an immaculately clean private cabin at Hotel cabañas La Puesta del Sol for $30 per night. At around 8 pm each night, hotel staff will come in and light a fire in the fireplace as you sit on a private porch enjoying unobstructed views of the neighboring valley while finishing off your book.
My three days off the beaten path in Oaxaca have become a singular, benchmark travel experience that sits in a category all by itself. It also serves as a powerful reminder that every once in a while – perhaps as often as we can – we should follow the impulse to get out and see something new while we wander a bit off the beaten path.
Yes, you want to be informed about an area before you decide to take a step or two along a path less traveled. And yes, there are areas that don’t lend themselves to this kind of exploration. But, in places like Puerto Escondido Oaxaca Mexico, and the route I took between Puerto Escondido and San Jose Del Pacifica, you are welcomed by amazing views, well-tended roads, and friendly people, which makes for an extraordinary experience.
To learn more about Puerto Escondido in Oaxaca, or about Vivo Resorts, please call them at 1-888-236-2876 (toll-free from the USA or Canada).