Wondering what are the highlights, hidden local spots, and what to do in Valle de Bravo? I followed my guide and it led me to beautiful scenery, great panoramic views, and delicious local restaurants!
This year, the magazine México Desconocido, published their 54 Pueblos Magicos 2012 Edition – the bible that highlights the “magical” experiences these towns have to offer. With inspiration in my hand and only 11 marked off the list, my next venture became Valle de Bravo.
Located in the State of Mexico, Valle de Bravo is about 100 miles from Mexico City. Deciding not to take the scenic route, Eddy and I sped through the highway tolls and made it to Valle de Bravo in just over an hour. As we arrived through the ‘Welcome’ arches, a full rainbow and peeking sun greeted us soon after an abrupt rainfall. Feeling like we just entered a live fairy-tale, the ‘magic’ of this place was definitely showing it’s colors!
Valle de Bravo or simply “Valle” situates on a small plateau on the edge of Lake Avandaro. The lake, aka Presa Valle de Bravo, is the man-made product of accidental flooding (oops!). Perfect for boating, kayaking, sailing, fishing, and all other water sports, the lake is what catapulted Valle to the tourist destination it is today. Touristic boat rides offer a view from every vantage point and are available from the main dock. Magnificent scenery of mountains and woodlands hug the shoreline in addition to the impressive mansions and country clubs that adorn the area. In case you didn’t know, Valle serves as a weekend getaway for Mexico City’s elite.
After passing through town, we settled in our hotel at Mision Refugio del Salto, which is slightly south of Valle in Avandaro. I loved this hotel for its setting because it is built near El Molino waterfall and I love the sound of crashing water! Another plus is that the location is secluded yet still centrally near places of interest. The hotel itself is beautiful (& clean!) and is pretty much its own attraction. Who would have thought? The pure natural surroundings and an assortment of superb spa treatments provide a complete holistic experience. Eddy and I decided to splurge at the spa, so we did a mud bath, a traditional temazcal ceremony, and couples massages. This was the first time I ever entered a temazcal and it was crazy awesome—upon entering the ‘hut’ you instantly could feel the positive energy of the spiritual guide. I have to say that this spa was really one of the best I’ve ever seen. All the installments were immaculate, and they even had a hot tub perched off a ledge overlooking the waterfall– talk about relaxing!!
The next day as the fog lifted and the sun shined brightly, we then set out to discover the charms that make up the traditional town of Valle. The enchanting zocalo is the ideal place to begin a touristic route because it is within walking distance to all the sites of interests: museums, cultural centers, markets, the boardwalk along the lake, and El Pino, a 700 year old tree. As with most traditional towns in Mexico, the main square is always close to its main church, in this case, Parroquia San Francisco de Asís . However there is one other church nearby, Templo de Santa Maria Ahuacatlán, that definitely caught my attention. In this church, locals and pilgrims venerate a miraculous black Christ statue believed by many as the survivor of a fire, which transformed it into its dark color.
This small town was an incredible blend of past and present. The locals, many of ethnic OtomI, Mazahua, and Mazatlinca descent, offer their handicrafts and regional cuisine mixed among Mexico’s privileged weekend visitors who visit the fine galleries and world-class restaurants. Valle de Bravo is one of the few popular Mexican towns that did not completely succumb to glamorous innovation and continues to preserve its heritage roots and originality.
Though Valle de Bravo marks as number 12 of my Magic Town list, I know it will warrant another visit very soon. Summers are meant for weekends at the shores, which is exactly what Valle provides, but my curiosity will entice me to return in the winter as well. With pleasant temperatures year round, it is home to migrating Monarch butterflies that make their way to Mexico from the US and Canada. Like me, the butterflies know this is the magical place to rest and return whenever time permits.
A version of this post was originally featured on www.mexicotoday.org