Santiago Apoala, Oaxaca, Hiking, Biking, Camping
The community of Santiago Apoala is located at 6,460 feet above sea level in a fertile river valley of great natural beauty bounded by rocky cliffs and nourished by a clear flowing stream. With abundant clean water for irrigation, the friendly Mixtec speakers of the valley in the Southeastern Mixteca farm the irrigated plain and terraced hillsides where they grow wheat, oats and corn. The villagers are also weavers of straw and noted for their artistry in weaving palm fronds into baskets, hats, and decorative objects for market.
The valley of Apoala is a popular tourist destination for its cliffs, rock formations, spectacular cascades, and caves, one with a grotto that the visitors can enter with a local guide.
Tourist lodging is available in cabins built by the Government of the State of Oaxaca along the banks of the stream that comes down through a cleft in the high rock escarpments at the southern end of the valley. Campers can tent in a large flat grassy area along the stream in the shadow of the sheer cliffs.
Days can be hot and the sun brittle in the valley while the nights can be cool even in summer. The cabins are open year round; there is rarely frost in the valley.
The most important religious festival in Apoala occurs during Easter week with a parade through the streets during the mid day on Good Friday, the Friday before Easter. The Easter weekend is the busiest time for the tourist cabins at Apoala and accommodations should be booked beforehand.
Apoala is mentioned prominently in the ancient, hand-painted, Mixtec book, the Codex Vindobonensis, where pictographs show the cascade and the river that gave life to the first inhabitants of Mexico in this paradise of a valley. The Codex has been archived in the Vienna National Library since 1677, where its 52 folded pages display painted pictograms of the late classic and post classic Gods, animal, plants, flowers, and structures important to the Mixtec culture of what is now northern Oaxaca and the Tehuacan Valley.
The places that tourists visit today still bear the mystical names of the ancient times such as the Cave of the Snake, Tail of the Serpent Cascade, (Cola de Serpiente) or the Cliffs of the Nine Hummingbirds.
Hiking, Cliff Climbing, Cave Tours
Once you reach Apoala you must register with the officials at the Tourist Parador in the center of the village. You book the tourist accommodations at the parador and arrange for a guide. Town officials ask that you hire a guide and not wander the valley on your own, particularly the caves and the trail to the Cascada where the walking can be difficult.
The 12 tourist cabins are modern and clean structures with hot water and several choices of sleeping arrangements with cabins for two or larger cabins for families. Three rooms and a restaurant are available at the parador, the tourist office at the entrance to the village, where you can also rent tents and mountain bikes.
Reach Santiago Apoala:
From Oaxaca City. Head north via bus from the second class station, private transportation van Service, or private vehicle. Take the toll road, Quota, to Nochixtlan and turn right at the first Nochixtlan exit and follow the signs through town and head northeast on a dirt and gravel road for 28 miles. Total drive distance will be 75 miles and the drive time will be 2.5 hours one way.
Community Ecotourism office of Santiago Apoala.
Pino Suarez and Independencia, Santiago Apoala, Oax., 69625
Phone: (55) 51 51 91 54 Call 8 am to 8 pm
Photos and info, Apoala softseattravel