La Sierra Gorda Travel Guide

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The Sierra Gorda Biosphere reserve encompasses almost a million acres of incredibly diverse habitats on and around the Sierra Madre Oriental in central-southern Mexico. The reserve takes in the transition region of three separate bio-regions and covers a range of altitudes resulting in the astonishing diversity of the eco-systems that can be found here. It is the largest protected area in Mexico.

The eco-systems represented here include arid, cactus covered semi-deserts, lush and moist old growth montane forests complete with orchids and bromeliads, pine and oak forests with clear cool streams and waterfalls and even tropical lowland forests with ancient Cycads, and resident Jaguars. Visitors to the reserve will marvel at the beautiful sweeping visas visible from the roads.

One of the more interesting and encouraging facts about the reserve is that most of it is privately owned and there are around 100,000 people living within it’s boundaries. It is with their active consent and participation that the reserve is maintained and the forests can continue to be conserved. Many of the locals are now involved in running eco-tourism operations and the population also have adopted an overall conservation ethos and commitment to sustainable living.

As if the incredible natural gifts of the region were not enough, the hills and valleys of La Sierra Gorda are also the site of five World Heritage Franciscan missions built in the mid 18th century during the conversion of middle-Mexico to christianity. The buildings are a combination of the combined creativity of the local indians and their Spanish missionaries and have retained much of their character since those times.

This is one of the most popular tourist routes in Mexico, and the protection now in place should ensure it can be discovered and enjoyed by generations to come.

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