We left Oaxaca for Pueblos Mancomunados early in the morning (the driver picked us up at 6am if I recall correctly). Contrary to my expectations it took a while to get there, what I was missing was that we had to go all the way up to 3000 meters to reach this place! I had never ben at such height in my life and I could really feel the lack of oxygen in the air!

By the way, the Pueblos Mancomunados (Commonwealth of Villages) are eight remote villages (Amatlán, Benito Juárez, Cuajimoloyas, La Nevería, Lachatao, Latuvi, Llano Grande and Yavesía) with ecotourism programs that offer great wilderness escapes and an up-close communion with Zapotec village life. Elevations in these hills range from 2200m to over 3200m (!!), and the landscapes, with canyons, caves, waterfalls and panoramic lookouts, are just spectacular.

For centuries, these villages have pooled the natural resources of their territory, sharing profits from forestry and other enterprises. In recent years they have also turned to ecotourism to stave off economic difficulties and population decline. All of them offer a friendly welcome, comfortable, good-value cabañas (mostly with hot-water bathrooms and fireplaces), comedores serving good local meals (with vegetarian options available) from 8am to 8pm, guides, and horses and mountain bikes for rent.

Six of the villages cooperate in an excellent combined ecotourism program, Expediciones Sierra Norte, which has a helpful office in Oaxaca city where you can get information and reserve any services you want including transportation.

Local guides, knowledgeable about the ecology, folklore and history of these sierras, are available for excursions. You don’t need one for some routes, but not all trails are well signposted so a guide is recommended for them. English-speaking guides cost a little extra and should be requested one day ahead (as must horses).

While there we went to a loooong guided hike around the mountain, it was not an easy hike as the lack of oxygen made me fatigued very early and the path itself was not so easy, for example sometimes you had to climb over cliffs! I’m so not used to that! overall it was a pretty awesome walk though, the view from the top of the mountain was breath-taking!

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After this long hike and some rest we climbed another mountain (!!) to reach the starting point of a zip-line. To be honest this mountain was not that high but being so tired it felt like climbing mount Everest! I had to stop 2 or 3 times to catch my breath before reaching the top! But in the end all these efforts were rewarded the moment I zip-lined off the mountain, I mean, wow! My first ever zip-line experience and it was a long one too! From the top of a mountain over the villages and into another village, awesome!

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