What brought me to Zacatlan were the waterfalls, and to the waterfalls I went. There were three on my list: The San Pedro, a small waterfall just south of town, the Quetzalapan, further south of town, and the Tuliman waterfall, which actually turned out to be the bottom part of Quetzalapan. Of the three, the most impressive by far is Tuliman. The park which contains it actually has all kinds of things to do and see (like hiking, camping, zip lines etc.) and one could easily spend the whole day here. Quetzalapan has its own entrance (and entrance fee) and although nice, I would have skipped it if I didn't see it before continuing to Tuliman.
Leaving Hotel San Perdro in the morning (sans baggage).
Zacatlan on the edge of the gorge.
Bridge to San Pedro waterfall.
Daily bike shot.
The little falls.
After seeing San Pedro, we took a random road that wound its way into the gorge and up the other side to a small town. The town of San Miguel Tenango is lovely and dirt roads continued further down the gorge in several directions, but we turned around to go see the other waterfalls before completely committing to the gorge.
One of several roads into the gorge.
The river runs through it.
Up the other side.
You can see the road leading away from Zacatlan.
The ride from Quetzalapan to Tuliman involved descending into the gorge along a very steep dirt road, around many hairpin bends. It was fun and we were greeted by a nice Mexican man about ¾ of the way down who showed us the trail to the waterfall. It wasn't a long hike, but very pretty. After the waterfall, he also showed us the cabanas where people stay if they prefer lodging outside of town. It wasn't that much more expensive than the hotels in town, and had a wonderful, tranquil ambiance.
Quetzalapan (accessible only from the top).
View into the gorge.
Trail to Tuliman.
Tuliman (at least three levels).
You get a free mist shower with your entry fee.
After the waterfall trail, the road continued its descent to the bottom of the gorge with camping and hiking at the confluence of two rivers. It was very pretty and I would have enjoyed camping there, but I already paid for another nigh at the hotel, so was committed to returning to town. Randy and I hiked around for a while, crossing the rivers over boulders and exploring upstream for a bit. I would have liked to spend more time there, but we still had a dirt road that wound it's way through the gorge to explore.
Some wildlife (don't think it's venomous).
Gorge view riding out.
After the waterfall, we took a dirt road south and made our way around to the town of Chignahuapan. There we stopped at a small restaurant owned by a fellow bike aficionado who just sold his 800GS to get a Harley (he's a member of the Puebla BMW Club he said). We ate a great lunch and headed back north to Zacatlan.
From there we took a road to the east that ran out of town, down into the gorge and then wound it's way to the north. To date, this was perhaps one of the most challenging roads I have ridden. I'm sure it's nothing compared to the descent into Copper Canyon, but it sure felt like how it was described to me. The road was smooth and hard in the straight sections, but littered with loose gravel and baby-head rocks in the corners. It was very steep and very sinuous! And very fun! I only almost dropped the bike once, so it couldn't have been too bad. I took almost no pictures as the riding was intense and I was concentrating.
The cool bridge (photo by Randy):
We made our way to the bottom, crossed the river (via a very cool bridge) and slowly, over many double-backs climbed up the other side. I think this road would have been a perfect candidate for airing down the tires, but I neglected to do so. Still, no harm done so it was all good. The road continued around the other side of the gorge and eventually brought us to a small town (Ahuacatlan) where pavement began once again. There appear to be endless dirt roads to explore here, leading to some of the most beautiful views I have seen to date. I highly recommend this area to anyone visiting central Mexico.
Coming out of the gorge.
Another incredibly curvy (but this time paved) road brought us back to Zacatlan as it was getting dark. The roads here are so curvy that the GPS can't keep up with them. As I review my tracks, there are points all over the place, forward, back, to the side; I'm trying to fix some of them, but if anyone ever sees these tracks, take note that it's just too much curves for a GPS to handle. That should tell you something about the level of fun they are. This makes the coast road seem almost like a straight line in comparison (scraping baggage and all)!