Exploring Sierra Norte Tour companies: The Oaxaca-based Tierraventura company offers day and overnight hikes in Sierra Norte, plus other ecotourism expeditions in the southern...
Exploring Sierra Norte
Tour companies: The Oaxaca-based Tierraventura company offers day and overnight hikes in Sierra Norte, plus other ecotourism expeditions in the southern Mexican states of Oaxaca and
Chiapas. www.tierraventura.com or phone 011-52-951-5011363.
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Other tour companies in Oaxaca, such as Zapotec Tours, also can book hiking trips; see www.oaxacainfo.com/zt.htm
Some U.S travel companies are beginning to offer excursions to the Pueblos Mancomunados villages, including Journeys International which has an overnight hike as part of a tour next fall. www.journeys-intl.com or 800-255-8735.
The tourism arm of the eight Pueblos Mancomunados villages is called Expediciones Sierra Norte. It organizes some excursions and works with ecotour companies. Spanish-language Web site: www.sierranorte.org.mx
Going solo: Hikers, bikers and birdwatchers also can explore independently in the Pueblos Mancomunados, although a trail permit is needed and non-Spanish speakers will find arrangements complicated. Buses go to some of the villages from the city of Oaxaca, but service is infrequent.
The mountain town of Ixtlan in the Sierra Norte, although not formally part of the Pueblos Mancomunados, is more easily reached by bus; has some accommodations; an 18th-century church; offers eco-tours; and has a detailed Web site (in Spanish and English): www.oaxacamex.info/ixtlan/
When to go: For Sierra Norte hikes, November to March is generally the best season. However, hikes can be done year-round although September can be rainy and May can be hot.
The travel memoir “Oaxaca Journal” by neurologist, author and amateur botanist Oliver Sacks (National Geographic, $20) is a learned and lively chronicle of his journey to the area, including around Ixtlan in the Sierra Norte.
The World Wildlife Fund works on forestry, ecotourism and other projects in the Sierra Norte. See www.panda.org (search for Mexico).