Aire Libre’s second great adventure, chronologically named AL-02: Sierra Norte de Oaxaca, took place in the heart of the Sierra Norte (North Sierra) in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. The Sierra is also home to the Pueblos Mancomunados (Commonwealth of Villages), which is a circuit of 8 small towns that live within a shared communal system and also in close political and economic proximity. We passed through 6 of these communities.
On the first day, we departed Benito Juárez heading towards our first destination: La Nevería. We ran on a wide path with a general downward slope and after 12 kilometers or so we were entering the town limits.
We then moved in the direction of the third pueblo, called Latuvi and situated on top of a group of hills blessed with a privileged location right in the middle of the great valley surrounded by the Sierra Norte mountains. The trails we followed between La Nevería and Latuvi were amongst the most beautiful and fascinating we experienced during our whole journey. The variety of sights is hard to believe and is due naturally to the constant altitude change.
From Latuvi we were to depart for San Miguel Amatlán. The trail took us through the Canyon of the Phantom Trees (Cañón de los Árboles Fantasmas), a place that truly does justice to its mystic name. At 18 kilometers and including some steep uphill sections, this was the longest and toughest leg of the day.
Upon arrival at San Miguel Amatlán, we stopped there to spend the night in one of the eco-tourism centers operated by Sierra Norte Expediciones.
We suspected that the second day would be the most difficult, being that it would practically a whole day of running uphill until we reached the highest point of all of our journey. We climbed around 1,300 meters (4,265 ft) as we ran another wide path of around 30 kilometers, all the way to San Isidro Llano Grande, which stands on top of the mountain at roughly 3,000 meters (9,840 ft) above sea level. The forest community greeted us with more rain, fog and cold wind.
On the third day, we started towards our next goal: Cuajimoloyas, which is the most populous Pueblo Mancomunado, with around 800 inhabitants.
We set out once again into the trails, which luckily now took us on a downhill slope, and we then reached a well-known trail known was La Cucharilla. This fascinating section of the forest proved to the most enjoyable single track of our adventure.
After exiting the trailhead, we continued through sunflower fields up the foothills of another nearby mountain, until we again reached the town of Latuvi. We had our last break there, along with our last AL-02 meal.
Our last 15 kilometers would be especially challenging, as we would be closing the adventure with another 600-700 meter ascent (1900-2300 ft) that separated us from the well-known view point where we departed from in Benito Juárez. The same hanging bridge which marked our starting point awaited us for the grand finale of this epic journey.
The Pueblos Mancomunados represented an avalanche of emotions and sensorial stimuli. The people of these communities opened their hearts and their homes to us, genuinely offering the warmest of hospitality. The views around them made our hearts sing and moved our souls with their combination of raw beauty with absolute simplicity. We profoundly and strongly recommend that you visit this circuit the next time you’re in the mood for a holiday mixing Nature with some physical activity.
Check out the trip video to get a better look at the adventure. Click here!