Thursday, April 3, 2014

RIVIERA NAYARIT, MEXICO TRAVEL - Featuring three day trips starting from Rincon de Guayabitos and Los Ayala, Mexico


It's fantastic to be able to enjoy the sparkling waters and soft sands of small Mexican coastal towns for long periods of time.  However, when visiting Riviera Nayarit we find time to visit the interior towns and other nearby attractions.

This year's three day trips are outlined below.  We hope that you're motivated to take one or more of the trips if in the area.  If you do not have a vehicle, tour operators will be happy to assist or hire a taxi.  Enjoy reading about our wonderful fun filled adventures.

#1     Day Trip to El Cora Cascades

At the base of the falls

Our first glimpse of El Cora Cascades


                                                                                             Article and photos by:
                                                                                                             John and Doreen Berg


When first arriving in Riviera Nayarit contentment is achieved by enjoying the warm sun’s rays and splashing in the sparkling Jaltemba Bay waters.  As the Zac Brown Band sings “I got my toes in the water, a_ _ in the sand.  Not a worry…life is good.” After two or three months of sun and surf it’s time to venture further afield to investigate the many nearby beautiful vistas and remarkable sites.

Our first day trip was planned nine months ago in June 2013 after reading Rob’s Ramblings reported in Jaltemba Bay Life.  A copy was made to become our road map to drive north toward San Blas to discover El Cora Cascades.  Without fail, Rob’s explicit driving directions successfully directed us to the dry weather road leading to the waterfalls. 

Too rough to drive further but able to park off the road
After parking the Xterra we continued on the eroded roadway for a short ten minute hike to the trail head.  We climbed a short pathway to a rocky viewing platform which offered us the first glimpses of El Cora Cascades with massive water flow plunging into the large lower pool.  Upon descending to the pool one could hear the thunder and feel the rush of the river flowing over the upper lip to plummet into the lower pool.  After our hike in the hot mid-afternoon sun a dip into the cool waters was a welcome relief.  A poolside lunch was consumed and a final cooling dip taken before our climb to the top to return to Los Ayala.

After the hike Doreen and Al are
 ready for a cool  swim
El Cora Cascades is a lovely spot tucked away but near enough and worth the effort to discover and enjoy the raw power and spectacular beauty of the cascading waters providing an impressive sight.

Driving Directions:

Search the “Jaltemba Bay Life” archives for “Rob’s Ramblings, Hike to El Cora Cascades, June 26, 2013” and use his article as your map.  We’ll add a shorter set of directions that should take you to the falls.

Round trip from Rincon de Guayabitos to El Cora Cascades and back is 298 km (185 miles).

Drive north to Las Varas and take the highway towards San Blas and after Platanitos look for a Pemex station on the right.  It is located at the intersection of Highway 76.  Here turn right toward Tepic.  When you reach the 37 km marker you’ll be at the entrance to Tecuitata.  Turn right and drive 10 km to El Cora.  Continue into El Cora turning right at the Zocalo and after one block turn left.  Now drive out of town passing a graveyard.  Note the newly constructed sidewalk and the finely crushed gravel smoothing out the cobble stone road.  A green sign “Cascades” points left.  Continue a short distance reaching a dry weather road.  The scenic road passes numerous jack fruit orchards.  Watch for an obvious parking pull out.  Park and walk the steeper eroded roadway passing an old palapa to the trail which goes uphill at first to a viewing spot where the corner posts of a palapa are still standing.  From here the trail consists of numerous cement steps dropping steeply to the pool- about a 15 minute descent.  At the bottom enjoy the view and cool waters.
Viewing area before hiking to pool

New sidewalk and smooth road surface, why?

The "Shark" boat has been on
'Playa Plantanetos for years







El Cora's main street
#2      Compostela – The Overlooked City
The majestic 16 Century Cathedral
Article and Photos by
                  John and Doreen Berg
As our departure date approaches the question presents itself.   Where will the next day trip take us?  Like a thunderbolt the answer flashes from the road atlas page.  There centered in bold print is the destination – Compostela, a colonial city.  We’ve driven past the Nayarit city on our way to the Mexican interior, but never paused to visit.  Thus the present adventure was grasped.
Leaving Los Ayala early insured breakfast in Las Varas enjoying “Divorced Eggs” and “French Bread” at Angelita’s ever popular restaurant.  As mentioned in an earlier article the trip is not solely about the destination but about the journey along the way.  Conversations flowed uninterrupted until reaching Mesillas, stopping at Café Nayarit for a coffee and a brief visit with friends, Elizabeth and Mario.  Over the 
A visit with our two friends at Café Nayarit,Mesillas


seasons we’ve visited the family’s coffee plantation to film petroglyphs on a rock wall.  After saying our goodbyes we drove across the highway to visit another good friend, Felipe Rodriguez, an elderly stone carver.  As always, our visit is heartfelt and of course we purchased a small figurine while friends, Ted and Jan, scooped up stone carvings for family gifts.  Visiting Felipe’s workshop is an intrepid stop to gain a glimpse of a Mexican culture that is seldom experienced in coastal tourist towns. 
Felipe a Mesillas icon

A must stop for any adventurous inquisitive individual.  If his shop door is open the welcome mat is out.

Continuing to follow the twisting turning highway through the Sierra Madre Mountain range our next brief stop is a green two-story roadside shrine where small candles were being lit by people who probably lost loved ones or pray for safety along this stretch of highway.  Reaching Compostela’s center we locate a nearby parking spot.  A short walk returns us to the historic picture perfect zócalo with the 16th century Cathedral, complete with its loud clanging bell announcing the hour.  Something to recall if planning to stay overnight in a nearby hotel!  In the center the majestic bandstand holds the spotlight. In front of the Cathedral a small fountain provides a drink for the pigeons while the flowering shrubs complete the picturesque setting.  In the southern corner of the square the compact Compostela Archeology and History Museum
An excellent display of preclassical
 ceramic figures(2000BC to 200 AD)
 presents inherited evidence from the region’s past. Diagonally across from the museum is located a popular restaurant thus cementing the plaza’s tourist importance.
Most might consider the Cathedral and its ornate interior the community’s main attraction.  For us the major impact was the spotless streets, the pedestrian walkways and the helpfulness and friendliness of the local people.  One such example occurred when after purchasing watermelons we managed to splatter one on the sidewalk.  For the clean-up a plastic bag was required.  The vendor didn’t have one, but seeing our plight a merchant rushed across the street with a large store bag.  Compostela turned into a hidden gem and it’s only a brief drive from Rincón de Guayabitos.

First things first, a chance to shop


The intrepid tourists. 
Or so we think


Driving Directions

From the Rincón de Guayabitos Pemex the round trip is approximately 134 km (84 miles).  Direct driving time one way is 45 to 60 minutes.  During holiday periods the highway can be congested.
Drive Highway 200 towards Tepic.  Nearing Compostela continue towards Tepic turn right onto Calzado Gral Flores Munoz, the first road past the Pemex station # 2380.  We never did spot the street name!  Passing a stadium you’ll come to a white coloured roundabout, blend to the right onto Miguel Hidalgo.  Follow this street directly to the square.  Locate a parking spot nearby.  Visit the square’s attractions, wander the city’s streets, possibly shopping and maybe rent a Mexican bike rickshaw complete with driver for an escorted city tour.  Enjoy your Compostela visit.  
Compostela's picturesque bandstand

#3     El Molote Hot Springs
Article and Photos by
                                                                                        John and Doreen Berg

A relaxing pleasant afternoon soak

As our Mexican holiday season slowly draws to a close the desire to be on the road again beckons.  Our destination was to visit the source of El Molote hot springs.  A rustic spot to enjoy an amazing soak in a natural setting without the hustle and bustle of commercial enterprises.  The hot springs are located in a picturesque fertile valley where huge cabbages and other garden crops flourish.  On this day, contrasting cultivation methods were at work with a team of horses pulling a cultivator and a motorized rototiller breaking sod in the same field!  Since our journey is as important as the destination, time was taken to photograph such events along the way.    

Following the road through the stream
The narrow gravel road meanders through the valley crisscrossing a shallow stream toward the hot springs source.  Reaching an open barren area a slight sulfur odour and faint steam vapour floats above the boiling bubbling hot waters.  The source is a somewhat barren rocky area with the steaming water gurgling from the earth’s crust.  Employing long handled barbecue tongs, eggs were placed in the hot bubbly water.  Voilá, in fifteen to twenty minutes we had hard boiled eggs ready for the lunch salad!  In addition prawns or other foods might further enhance the cooking adventure.  After briefly exploring the area and dipping our toes in the nearby cool flowing stream we returned a short distance to a warm shallow pool.  Shade trees overhang the natural tranquil pool. The comfortable water’s temperature is an opportunity to soak away all tensions and stress allowing them to flow downstream.  Do the waters contain healing powers as well?

Our tailgate lunch
Soon our stomach rumbles pulled us from the warm soak to a tailgate party of two.  Others enjoyed lunch immersed in the pool while some ate creek side.  In the back of the Xterra and without chairs, Doreen and I stood enjoying the scrumptious outdoor lunch and the area’s quiet remoteness. 
After a return to the pool for a brief soak we packed up and bid farewell to the warm stream waters. A fantastic day drew to a close as we departed for our bumpy return drive to the highway and home to Los Ayala.
A horse team pulling a tiller.  A rare sighting today

19th and 20th century implements
 working in the same field


Driving Directions
Head north on Highway 200 towards Tepic.  Stopping in Las Varas at Angelita’s Restaurant for breakfast is always enjoyable.  Continue driving watching for a green road sign listing three towns – “Molote 6, El Salitre 7, Palos Maria 10.”  The distance from the turnoff to the Molote hot springs is 8.29km.
Turn left off Highway 200 following the gravel road to a junction. At 2.5km take the right branch which appears less travelled.  Continue bumping past ranches and fields traversing through a wider stream bed with a low rock dam to your right.  This is a favourite swimming spot for Mexican families to spend the day.  Continue on, passing through the small town of Molote.  Drive through the town and take a right turn as you exit.  An open field should be on your left and a basketball court on the right.   Soon after, when crossing a creek, watch for a turn to the left. The turn is approximately 7.5km from the highway.  Going to the right or straight ahead will take you to Mesillas.  The left turn road is rough gravel constituting a slow drive.  A car with reasonable clearance should have little difficulty, although a 4 x 4 is best. 

Fun to cook food in the hot water

Huge cabbages ready for market
Very quickly you’ll pass cultivated fields growing huge cabbages and other garden crops.  Continue on following the road crisscrossing the flowing stream.  When traversing the stream select a rocky route avoiding soft sandy areas. Watch for a shallow pool area on your right.  Later, return to this spot for your soak.  Coming to a barren open area look for the hot spring’s faint mists on the left and a stream on the right.  Well done, you’ve arrived!  Driving time from the highway will be 45 to 60 minutes. Use extreme caution if attempting to place food in the hot spring waters.  Once you explored this area return the short distance to the warm soaking pool to enjoy a relaxing immersion.


Fantastic, we made it to the source
Turn off Highway 200 at signs