Just a short 67 miles (108 kilometers) from Mexico’s capital and largest metropolis – Mexico City – sits the country’s fourth largest city known as the “Ciudad de los Angeles”, or City of Angels. Home to elegant colonial buildings, delicious local cuisine, and a colorful history and vibrant Mexican culture, the city of Puebla, Mexico is one of the nation’s most popular tourist destinations. While it’s common for folks to make a day trip to Puebla when visiting nearby destinations, the city itself is worth an entire vacation of its own.
Some of you may be thinking, “but how will I know what to do in Puebla”? Well, think no more, for there are a million and one things to do in this remarkable central city. With strong religious roots, visitors can explore the more than 365 churches that call the city home, or even take a trip to the famous Biblioteca Palafoxiana – the first public library in Latin America dating back to the 17th century. It won’t take long to realize that Puebla is the place to be to learn a great deal about the complex history of Mexico.
Or, perhaps you’d prefer to do a little shopping at the local boutiques that sell traditional Talavera pottery, which is known throughout the nation as a true work of art. All of this activity will surely leave you feeling hungry, which is the perfect reason to grab a bite to eat at one of the city’s many savory restaurants. After all, you can’t visit Puebla without trying the Mole Poblano (spicy chocolate sauce made with chile poblanos) or the local Tacos Arabes (meet and cheese wrapped in pita bread instead of tortillas, inspired by Lebanese immigrants to the area).
However, it is what surrounds the city of Puebla that calls the attention of a different kind of traveler – nature lovers.
Those who love nature and its many lively inhabitants are sure to love the city of Puebla. In close proximity to incredible natural wonders and nature parks, visitors have the opportunity to embark on unforgettable nature excursions, where they are sure to catch a glimpse of some of the region’s most spectacular wildlife.
Those who look for a bit of a challenge while taking in the breathtaking landscape will love the numerous tours that leave directly from the city of Puebla and head to the nearby twin volcanoes, Iztaccihuatl and Popocatepetl. Known as the Iztaccihuatl and Popocatepetl National Park, this remarkable site is home to Mexico’s third tallest mountain – which stands more than 16,400 feet (5,000 meters) above sea level – and a flourishing wildlife. As you trek the parks many trails, prepare yourself to see vibrant stands of pine forests and two very special faces – that of the local “Zacatuche” (Alpine Rabbit) and Gato Montés (Mexican bobcat). Perhaps you want to study this native inhabitants from a good distance – especially the one with claws!
Another region found about 2 hours southeast of the city of Puebla is the stunningly beautiful Tehuacan-Cuicatlan Biosphere Reserve. Located in a complex system of mountain ranges and valleys that generate a robust biodiversity and numerous ecosystems, this vibrant region has played an important role in the development of agriculture through Mesoamerica for centuries. Nature and wildlife enthusiasts are sure to be blown away by its impressive landscapes and lively inhabitants.
As visitor’s hike through the park’s nearly 1,235,000 acres (500,000 hectares) of protected land, they will witness the mesmerizing beauty of its unprecedented 2,865 species of columnar cacti (the largest concentration in the world), deciduous forest, pine forest, pine-oak forest, and cloud forest along with at least 18 species of fish, 27 amphibian species, 85 reptile species, and a whopping 338 bird species. Talk about diversity!
Visitors will want to keep their eyes peeled for a few of the region’s most frequently seen residents – the Violet-Crowned Mexican Hummingbird and the Mexican Spinytail Iguana. These are two of the region’s most popular inhabitants, and ones that can be enjoyed up close or from afar. If you are able to get up close and personal with any of the 14 species of regional hummingbirds, be sure to enjoy every second – for as soon as they arrive, they are gone.
These aren’t the only critters that call this animated desert valley home, of course. Visitors can also expect to see any number of the region’s 34 species of bats, as long as local hares, rabbits, squirrels, racoons, wild boars, deer, and on occasion, even wild coyotes and mountain lions – oh my! The best part – you won’t have to plan this all on your own – there are number Puebla excursions that provide you with roundtrip, transportation, hiking routes, and food along the way.
Basically, what I am trying to say is that Puebla, while being one of the most vibrant and culturally rich cities in the entire Republic of Mexico, is also nearby some of the country’s most spectacular natural environments and wildlife. It is truly the ideal location for city goers, nature enthusiasts, and animal lovers alike. What more could you ask for?