Just beyond Banderas Bay and the city of Puerto Vallarta, the Sierra Madre Mountains create an epic backdrop to one of Mexico’s premier destinations. Within the valleys and canyons of this mountain range, a lush rainforest serves as home to an incredible variety of plant and animal life. Though human residents are few within the Sierra Madre’s rainforest, tourists visit this enchanting natural environment everyday for a number of unique activities. On any given day in the rainforest, you can visit a strange colonial boomtown high in the mountains, swing from the treetops on a canopy tour and go for a simple hike through some truly incredible scenery. If you want to experience the rainforest while in Mexico, look no further than the Sierra Madre Mountains in Puerto Vallarta’s backyard.
In recent years, canopy tours have become a favorite adventure for tourists in Puerto Vallarta. Originally developed in the rainforests of Costa Rica, canopy tours allow thrill-seeking travelers to ride pulley lines between platforms high in the trees. During the tours, helpful guides are on hand to help even the most timid participants make the most of the scenic experience. As you glide from tree to tree, the guides will also point out unique plant life and offer plenty of information about the rainforest’s extensive ecosystem. Though the activity might seem dangerous, each tour is supported by an incredible array of safety equipment and open to children six and older. Ask your concierge for tour recommendations as some tour companies will pick up outside the best resorts and discounts are often available to guests.
If you want to go deeper into the rainforest and see the remains of a once-prosperous mining town, take the 15 minute flight to San Sebastian. Though seeing the town of San Sebastian can be an eye-opening experience, the journey can be just as captivating. The short tour flights fly low over the mountains and the rainforest canopy, passing picturesque waterfalls and canyons. When you reach the remote village of 500 situated at over 4,300 feet, it might be hard to spot San Sebastian’s prosperous past. Yet, remnants of the 18th century silver boom that drew over 30,000 people to the area are hiding throughout the countryside. Today, the current residents embrace tourists and love to share stories with curious travelers. One of the most interesting characters is Pachita, a 92-year old woman who has spent her entire life in San Sebastian and works at the town’s quaint candy story. Most tours to San Sebastian also include a fresh-cooked meal at one of the town’s colonial haciendas.
If you want to experience the natural beauty of the rainforest at the ground level, there are a number of hiking and biking tours available in Puerto Vallarta. Most tour companies offer different excursions to suit all ages and skill levels. The most popular hiking tours generally last 2-3 hours and wind through incredible vegetation, while the advanced tours incorporate all the best sites of the rainforest and can last all day. Along the way, tour guides will point out interesting species and assist tourists in bird and animal watching. Mountain biking tours offer similar opportunities, yet some tours also allow guests to ride from the cobblestone streets of Puerto Vallarta directly into the mountains.
While most of the tours mentioned here will provide transportation from your resort and food throughout the day, there are a number of items you should bring along for a day in the rainforest. For your comfort, you should pack both sunscreen and insect repellent and apply each throughout the day. If you plan on taking a dip in any of the rainforest’s waterfalls or lagoons, you might want to pack a swimsuit and towel. To make the most of the scenery, you should also bring along binoculars and a camera to preserve the memories.
If you are looking for some unique outdoor activities for your trip to Mexico and Puerto Vallarta, look no further than mountains above the city. As the rainforest and all of its activities lie just a few miles from the luxurious resorts of Puerto Vallarta, this special destination is able to provide the best of both worlds unlike anywhere else.