Travel Tuesday: Visit Valle de Bravo, Mexico

Valle de Bravo (or simply “Valle”, as it’s lovingly referred to) is only 85 kilometers from Toluca and 145 from Mexico City. Its cool weather makes it a delight to walk around: you’ll find shade among white stucco houses decked out in sienna wainscoting, with wrought iron balconies, elegant porches and tile roofs. This designated Magic Town has everything the demanding tourist could hope for, with hotels, restaurants and golf courses that offer relaxation and allow you to really make the most of your stay.

Life here is, in every sense, built around the lake. Its calm waters are ideal for boating, sailing, water-skiing, kayaking… you name it. For a peerless panoramic view of the town, try walking up either Monte Alto or Divisadero mountains; for an easier and faster ride, group boat rides are available at the town’s dock.

In town, you’ll surely want to pay a call on the main square to take in the exquisite harmony of the surrounding buildings. Outstanding among them is the San Francisco de Asis Parish Church, named after the town’s patron saint. This 16th-century structure boasts a unique belfry and a wood-carved Saint Francis of Assisi dating from the 17th century. The bandstand in the middle of the square’s gardens has lovely wooden columns, and beckons you to rest a while on one of the square’s many benches while enjoying a traditional ice cream.

640px-DeColiseoValleBravoThe colorful Handcrafts Market is just a few blocks away in a typical provincial building. Here you’ll find a variety of handmade products from around the region and all over Mexico. For more intrepid souls, Valle de Bravo affords many opportunities to experience the unforgettable thrill of extreme sports. Atop La Cruz Hill or Monte Alto, you can take a leap into the void either by paragliding or on delta wing for a 40-minute, adrenaline-pumping swoop over the big lake.

Another way to get close to nature is horseback riding or gently walking through the flower-scented forest around Avandaro, an even smaller town just 2 kms from Valle. The Velo de Novia Falls are among the most popular and easiest to reach, and invite you to walk alongside cascading waters and soothe your soul. Exuberant natural beauty and quaint cottages are the main attractions of this town, but it became famous in the early 1970s when the town hosted the very first rock concert in Mexico, in the style of Woodstock.

Regional cuisine is known for using local ingredients such as rainbow trout, turkey in mole sauce, pit-cooked mutton, shredded beef, artichokes and steamed beef or pork head. Local fruit gets turned into scrumptious sherbets, preserves and liqueurs. Given the vast array of typical Mexican food available here, going to a fast-food stand would really be a sin. At the other end of the spectrum, and for those who enjoy a spot of luxury, the up-market resorts out of town boast some world-class restaurants.

Local artisans, many of them ethnic Otomi, Mazahua and Mazatlinca people, excel in handcrafts like pottery, high-fired ceramics and weaving. Don’t miss their masterfully worked pieces in wrought iron. Including lamps, chandeliers and many more. Basketry is another long-established local artisan tradition, and you’ll see evidence of high-quality craftsmanship all over town. Valle is made for walking, so wear comfortable shoes and a hat for the sun. Evenings are often chilly, so don’t forget your sweater!

Estado de Mexico, Valle de Bravo - Photo by SECTUR Estado de MexicoThe view is breathtaking from the town. But there’s no denying that Valle de Bravo, with its immense lake, green mountains and steep streets, is better admired from high up. There are several sites offering a privileged view of the town, and a wide variety of activities that will really set your adrenaline pumping. In the hills surrounding Valle, expect to enjoy hiking, mountain climbing, mountain biking, rappelling, paragliding, flying a delta wing, and other adventure sports. The golden rules here are quite simple: wear comfortable shoes, warm clothing and bring a cap or hat as temperatures can get chilly at night.

Monte Alto is a protected natural area just west of the town. Affectionately named “the kite hill” by locals, it offers one of the best views of the valley. Though the panoramic view alone is worth the trek, Monte Alto offers an assortment of other activities to enjoy while you’re up there: picnicking, relaxing under the shade of a tree, kite flying, camping under the stars and sleeping in a rustic cabin are just a handful of your options.

Monte Alto is also known as the take-off spot for paragliding and ultra light aircraft, on top of being an ideal setting for adventure sports such as mountain biking, hiking and horseback riding. If you’re looking for a bit of excitement, whatever you do, don’t miss out on a paragliding flight: your journey will take you towards La Peña before winding around the lake to land on its banks. Prices range from 1,400 to 2,000 pesos (100 to 130 USD).

An absolute favorite spot for mountain climbing is La Peña. Located just 20 minutes away from Valle, you’ll need to allow an additional 30 minutes to reach the top. Surrounded by rocky hills, La Peña offers an endless number of trails ideal for hiking and exploration. It’s a particularly nice spot for beginners, who, if nervous, can hire the services of a guide. The summit of La Peña offers unsurpassed views of the valley: on a clear day, you’ll see the lake and the stunning spectacle of the sunset.

Not far from Valle de Bravo, don’t miss the unique spectacle of the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuaries; the nearest sanctuary, Piedra Herrada, is just 20 minutes away. If you want to forget about telephones and internet, the Bosencheve Nature Park – just 40 minutes from Valle – provides facilities for camping, wildlife watching and trout fishing.

src – Mexico Tourism Secretary

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