It’s been a while since I visited my last Pueblo Magico, but this one was worth the wait. Valle de Bravo is one of the most well known Pueblos Magicos anywhere in Mexico (find out what a Pueblo Magico is here). Just two hours from Mexico City, Valle de Bravo is crammed to the seams with cool stuff to do. The wilderness around Valle de Bravo is criss-crossed with hiking trails and other opportunities for adventure. Extreme sports, historic sites and even some pretty epic butterflies await visitors, not to mention the town itself. After all, Valle de Bravo boasts one of the best preserved small colonial-era towns anywhere in central Mexico.
Its well-kept zocalo is an oasis of greenery after the smog and concrete of Mexico City, while most of the town itself makes for very laid back, comfortable walking. Oh, and did I mention the place is full of rich bastards?
Valle de Bravo is the weekend getaway destination of choice for Mexico City’s aristocracy. The countryside around the town is dotted with mansions belonging to Mexico’s rich and famous, like celebrities, politicians and the like. Expect to see plenty of Lamborghinis, Porsches and other bullshit. In fact, one local I spoke to mentioned that one of the town’s biggest problems is rich kids getting drunk and driving their overpriced sports cars into each other.
“What?” I asked, jaw open.
“Who the Hell would drink-drive in a fucking Lamborghini?” I asked.
The guy shrugged and said something along the lines of: “I guess they’re rich enough to just buy new ones.”
Valle de Bravo’s biggest claim to fame is its status as the end node of the monarch butterfly’s famous trans-continental migration. Between November to March, you have a good chance of seeing monarchs swarming in their millions in the hills outside town. The best place to see them is the Piedra Herrada Sanctuary, which can be reached by cab from Valle de Bravo (expect to pay around MX$500 for the 1-2 hour round trip). Bear in mind that to see the butterflies, you will need to take a strenuous two hour uphill walk through the sanctuary. During this time, you might want to ask your cab driver to wait at the entrance, as return transport can be a bit of a challenge.
Apart from the butterflies, there are no must-see attractions around Valle de Bravo. Locals seemed to really love Lake Avandaro, which is just a 10 minute walk from the zocalo. The shoreline is packed with seafood restaurants, the most well-known of which is the floating La Balsa. Not everyone will enjoy eating while the floor beneath you wobbles with the waves, but it’s inarguably a novel experience. Just outside the restaurant, you can buy tickets for the regular leisure cruises that ply the lake. Expect to pay between MX$100-200 for an hour or so on a cruise ship with some cheesy 80s tunes and surprisingly awesome micheladas. The views are nice, too.
A few other tidbits include the free and fairly interesting Museo Arqueologico, the laid back Mercado de Artesanias and the Santuario De Santa Maria Ahuacatlan. The Cascada Velo de Novia is also kinda neat. As I mentioned earlier, none of these are mandatory, but together make for a rather mellow day of sightseeing. Of course, if “mellow” isn’t your style, then you can go jump off a cliff.
Seriously, Valle de Bravo is a great spot for paragliding. For around MX1500, you’ll be driven up a nearly mountain, strapped into a harness and thrown off a cliff. It’s a ton of fun, and worth the splurge if you can afford it.
So finally, we get to the question: is Valle de Bravo the kind of place that deserves to be called a shithole by Donald Trump? Well, let’s look at the scoreboard:
Insane amount of cool stuff to do
Beautiful, laid-back location
Well maintained colonial centre
Great variety of possible activities
Rich scumbags and their sports cars
Severe lack of public transport (either walk or get a cab pretty much anywhere)
So I guess that means Valle de Bravo is pretty shit hot, right? By the way, if you’re looking for a place to crash (your head, not your Lamborghini), then I’d highly recommend the economic and welcoming Posada Familiar Los Girasoles. The staff there were some of the nicest I’ve seen in years, and they deserve a bit of a shout out.
First published at dissentsansfrontieres.com.