White water rafting, rappeling into canyons, ripping across desert dunes in ATVs, mountain biking, kayaking across pristine lakes, hiking behind waterfalls…in Mexico?
When most people think of the country just south of the USA, they picture beaches, snorkeling, whale watching, and maybe surfing. Sure, you can do all those things and lots more around the popular resort areas on the coasts, but there’s a lot of Mexico beyond the tourist places that get almost no foreign visitors—but should.
I’m at the Adventure Travel Mexico conference right now in Veracruz, a state on the Gulf of Mexico. There’s a dizzying amount of information on adventure tours here, from climbing a snowy volcanic peak with crampons to tubing and horseback riding. Most of what you can do in the western USA you can do here, but at half the price or less. And you’ve got jungles here as well, with lush tropical areas that don’t really exist up north.
A few days ago I rafted on the upper part of the Rio Antigua in Veracruz with Rio Salvaje tour company. I wasn’t really expecting all that much and I was feeling smug since I’ve been on some legendary whitewater rivers before in Nepal, Costa Rica, Peru, and other spot. But we were riding constant level 3 and 4 rapids, with very flew flat spots, and when we hit a class 5 section our boat went vertical. Three of the five of us in the boat went flying in different directions. We got pulled back in fine though, so good clean fun. And yes, the equipment was top-notch and there was a safety kayaker behind us if we’d needed him.
Veracruz is an adventure travel hotspot here, but it’s certainly not the only one. Almost every state has something fun to do in the outdoors and I’ve learned about a lot of options in my new home state of Guanajuato, plus San Luis Potosi, Jalisco, Sinaloa, Baja California Sur, Queretaro, Oaxaca, Chiapas, and even the Riviera Maya of Quintana Roo. Even I had no idea there were this many raging rivers and big lakes in the middle of nowhere.
So if you’re looking for an adventure destination and have some frequent flier miles to burn, look at heading into the interior of Mexico instead of some domestic destination. You might have to bring a Spanish app or phrasebook, but you’ll spend less on the ground and it’ll feel more adventurous. (The beers will be a good deal when you’re done too. )
I plan to have many outdoor adventures in the next two years, so stay tuned…