Oaxaca, Mexico. Part III (3/3)

Lagunas de Chacahua National Park

We tried to get away for a day to Lagunas de Chacahua National Park. American nature lovers beware (!) – a Mexican National Park does not equal an American National Park. In fact, it’s as far away from it as you can imagine. 

First of all, the park, like the rest of Oaxacan roadsides and forests, is full of plastic trash. The lack of public toilets along the roads makes the roadside stinky and full of paper napkins. There is also no indication of a National Park anywhere while you’re driving, so signs or information boards. But it’s free! (At least the entrance is). 

In order to reach the actual park, you would have to drive in a bumpy dirt road for about an hour until you reach the main National Park village - Chacahua. The atmosphere here indicates that people are used to (and sick of) tourists, so the locals will try to make as much as they can off of your visit. You will have to bargain your way through everything and pay approximately x2 for lodging, food and other things you might want. And also – nobody has change so bring a bunch of different notes and coins to avoid “I’ll give you your change tomorrow” scams. 

If you want to access the Nature from Chacahua, be prepared to pay for a tour or a private guide service. It’s virtually impossible to explore the lagunas on your own if you don’t have your own gear. A couple of kayaks available in the village get rented fast for incredible $200 pesos per hour per kayak. Enjoy! 

The other side of Chacahua (across the river) has an excellent wave, so the hassle might be worth it if you’re into surfing. The shoreline is indeed beautiful. 

PS: After we left Chacahua we’ve found out that the local residents don’t like their stray dogs as much, so in order to deal with them they prefer to put a bunch of pups in their boats and drown them in their lagoons. This atrocity sealed my decision to never come back there again. 

Cloud forest

The cloud forest you pass on the way to Puerto Escondido from Oaxaca is stunning but accessibility can be hard. For the most part you have to hire a guide or take a tour as public trails are either unmarked or inexistent and those that are good often pass through private property. 

It’s easy to stop and enjoy the clouds passing by in one of the roadside comedores. 

There is a Cloud Forest in Sierra Norte North of Oaxaca but we didn’t visit it. From the research we’ve done it seems like there are some cool places there but the access is not very easy and as soon as you get off the main road, it’s gravel or dirt with sometimes big ditches. 

Rancho Sagrado

On our way back to Oaxaca we stopped at an impressive coffee ranch called Rancho Sagrado ran by the spiritual family of Soledad and her daughter Raquel with her husband Julio. They were super sweet and offered an educational tour around their coffee and cocoa farm, walking us through every step of coffee and cacao making process. 

Their stories and farming efforts were closely tied to their Zapotec traditions. They have a traditional Temazcal steam room experience in their property as well. 

And so our trip ended and we headed back to the hectic little airport where we ran around in circles around the departure hall having to ask every gate agent where the boarding was happening due to the lack of information and signs. The whole boarding process happened unannounced within just 7 minutes! 

Mexico can be pretty chaotic but the key to enjoy it is to embrace its flow and see where it takes you.

GO BACK: Oaxaca, Mexico. Part I or Part II. 

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