Most people think of Mexico as a beach destination or one full of Mayan culture. But in the state of Nuevo Leon, adventure activities are attracting people from around the world. Although the capital city, Monterrey is large, industrial and has about four-fifths of the entire population of the state, this means that the vast majority of the state is sparsely populated and superb for trekking, getting away from it all and experiencing three different climates in one state.
Found in the Sierra Madre mountains in the northeastern part of the country, the area is ideal for a variety of mountain sports and extreme activities such as canyoneering, rock climbing, and mountain biking. But you could just as easily spend a less frenetic holiday by enjoying the bird watching and camping. Or go to the north of the state and it becomes almost desert-like.
Starting with the energetic activities first, there are a number of canyons that can provide potholing, swimming, and descents that can lead you into caves, lush tropical areas and waterfalls, the like of which you won´t find on standard tourist routes. Such is the variety here that the canyons are frequently used in international competitions. There are eight to be found in the state and all are rated by the American Canyoneering Association so you can decide in advance what level of difficulty you would like to experience. It is estimated that it will take between three and ten hours to complete each one depending on your ability.
The canyons are in national parks and each has facilities for camping or staying in cabins.
As for birdwatchers, there are over 400 species to be found. (one person I spoke to had seen over 100 in just a few hours of his first day!) Try the Cumbres and La Eastanzuela National Parks as well as the Chipinque Nature reserve to see the greatest range of birds. paths are clearly marked to help guide you.
Clearly Nuevo Leon is about as far removed from British perceptions of Mexico and Cancun as it is possible to get.
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