One of the “must do” activities when visiting Guadalajara is to take a side trip to the town of Tequila and get a glimpse at how tequila, Mexico’s national beverage, is produced.
To have the designation of “tequila”, a mezcal must be produced from blue agave grown in the dry highlands of Jalisco and a few surrounding states and distilled in this same area.
Tequila is located 37 miles west from Guadalajara. There you can find many distilleries, including the world famous brands Cuervo http://www.mundocuervo.com/english/ and Sauza, that offer tours showing how tequila is made, learning their process and of course, the expected tastings of tequila.
If you want to have a unique experience, you can also take the TEQUILA EXPRESS http://www.tequilaexpress.com.mx/home, an hour and a half train ride that takes you to the town of Amatitan, where you find the Herradura distillery. This tour visits historic haciendas, and explains the process of making tequila, however, is more about having a wonderful time aboard a train, accompanied by Mariachis and tequila sampling, while creating your own experience.
Traveling south, beyond Lake Chapala, the road leads to Mazamitla, a two hour drive from Guadalajara.
Its name comes from the Nahuatl and means “place where arrows to hunt deer are made.” Here you can stay at Hostal El Ciervo Rojo a 100 year old house preserved in perfect condition. The hotel is really quiet and cozy and has only five rooms.
The town has become an idyllic tourist retreat surrounded by immense green forests ideal for camping holidays and horseback-riding. Its church it reflects various eclectic styles including influences from the Orient while a clock has been built into the church’s principal spiral. Painted all white, much like rest of the town’s buildings, one can understand why people compare Mazamitla to Austria and Switzerland especially when taking into consideration the surrounding lush, alpine, scenery.
Tapalpa, is another option for a one day trip near Guadalajara. Just an hour and a half drive will take you to this town which 6000 feet above sea level. It is no wonder that Tapalpa has been the host of Mexico’s Open Paragliding Championships.
Culture consumes the Jalisco mountain town of Tapalpa for its annual Festival de la Luna, a three-day feast of theater, art, movies, literature and music festival from October 29-31.
The name, Tapalpa, comes from the náhuatl word, ‘Tlapalpan’, meaning the land of colors. The locals used the polychromatic mineral earth in the pigmentation of cloth.
Three restored churches stand in the heart of Tapalpa. This beautiful town is a haven for artists. There is also a unique school called “Centro de Integración” dedicated to nurturing the artistic, creative and academic potential of special-needs children. The inexpensive crafts they create are for sale at the school. www.mexicoartshow.com/talalpa.html/
Four miles from town, you will find the Valley of the Enigmas, where the colossal “Piedrotas” sit, an odd outcropping of round volcanic rocks. Six miles outside of town, in a village called ‘La Barranca De Refugio, El Salto de Nogal plunges 300 feet. Near the waterfall, crumble the ruins of ‘Taberna’. Here the mezcal, “Barranda’ was produced until the middle half of the last century. The millstones were destroyed after fifteen days of continuous flooding in 1917. A guide is recommended for visiting the waterfall.
Tapalpa offers attractive lodgings available around the central plaza and colonial churches and in the surrounding countryside, like Hotel Posada La Hacienda, www.posadalahacienda.com
Tequila, Mazamitla, and Tapalpa are included in Mexico’s Magic Towns list. A Program initiated by the Mexican government to promote tourism and to help preserve towns that have known to safeguard the cultural, historical and architectural richness that surrounds them.
So, what are you waiting for? Come visit Guadalajara and all its magical surroundings it.
- Mariachi and Tequila Museum http://www.museodeltequilayelmariachi.com
- Historic Haciendas and Colonial Homes of Jalisco
Live Mexican history by visiting and staying at a historic hacienda or colonial home http://haciendasycasonas.com/eindex.html