Photo: Toy Trucks
The Zapotec community of Santa Catarina Ixtepeji (elevation: 2,360 meters) is one of the country’s destinations lying ‘off the beaten path.’
Ixtepeji is one of the pioneers in rural tourism in Oaxaca’s Sierra Juárez. Verdant pine-oak cloud forests dominate the landscape.
Community tourism is fairly new — having started in 1998. A visitor’s center on Highway 175 has been constructed at La Cumbre. The town of Santa Catarina Ixtepeji lies downhill, and is the gateway to a 885-hectare reserve.
The following are just a few of the choice hikes recommended by local guides.
A path winds through a pine-oak forest from La Cumbre to El Punto. The forest is studded with blackberry gardens. The main attraction, however, is the waterfall — the 20-meter Palo Hueco cascada which gives this hike its name.
From Rancho Cáscara, the hike begins by descending a narrow path through oyamel, pine and oak forests. The outlook Peña Piedra Prieta (2,840 meter) provides a great view of the Sierra.
There are two options to visit this scenic lookout (mirador). If you are in good physical health, begin your hike from El Campamento. If you’re feeling less industrious, get a ride to Las Canoas to begin the ascent. Pelao Chiquito (elevation 3,185 meters) has a scenic vista of the oyamel and pine-oak forests.
In the town of Santa Catarina Ixtepeji you will see the Santa Catarina church built in the sixteenth century. Nearby is Las Animas with lush plots of blackberries and a rural artesan community which make traditional wooden mortars.
Fiesta: November 25 (Patron Saint)