The Malpais

The Malpais, or “bad lands” is an area covered with volcanic rock near the Bosque.  While nearby, the malpais is very different, providing a fun field trip for those interested in hiking around the area and enjoying a different ecology and somewhat surreal landscape.

The malpais is protected by a spirit named Maringa, who protects the area and she will cause those who wish to harm it to lose their way.

walking into the malpais

Today Brian traveled with a local guide and a couple of our visitors to explore a bit of the malpais.  The guide, from a local pueblo, takes us to a rock, called piedra campana, that sounds like metal when you knock on it, as well as many caves that we climbed inside.  There is also a spot with hundreds of carved stones related to the giant people said to inhabit the area before the arrival of the Purépecha people.  One of the names of this place is huaraches, for the carved designs in the stone representing the footprint of these giants.

There are two volcanic peaks to climb.

La Peña is a peak which the Purépecha kings ritually climbed every year.  The Purépecha mythology tells of three moros who dance on the textured stones at the peak.

The area called Coyotera is one of many which has caves to explore.  It is equipped with a zip line to cross over a small canyon.

Allison in the cave

On previous trips to the malpais, we have discovered an amazing amount of orchids, bromiliades, epiphytic cactus, and eucalyptus trees.  A guide or GPS is necessary to avoid becoming lost in the complicated trails that weave through the area.  There are many spiky plants to watch out for, some which cause irritation.  Watch out for poison ivy!  The terrain is a bit rocky (perfect for ankle twisting), so it’s important to wear good walking shoes, and the climate is a bit hotter and less shaded than the Bosque, so sun protection is a must.


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