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Curiosities Vanilla Farm (Huasteca Hidalgo)

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Do you like adventure? Lost, in the middle of tropical vegetation, in a small canyon next to the river „Río Claro“ stays hidden a farm of vanilla. The climate is hot and humid. Except for the exotic vanilla, you will also find pepper trees, mango, papaya, chilly, bananas, nopal (a cactus that is ok to eat) cocos and occasional coffee-tree among the surrounding bushes. The owners of the little farm (A German archeologist Tilman and his wife Lucy) will give you a warm welcome and happily show you around. There is possibility of accommodation in a simple house constructed here for this reason.

The journey itself is an adventure. You have to get to a small Mexican village Acuimantla from which you take the track. The easier way is around the river (which is only possible in the dry months, from November to June). You will walk for about 1,5 hour and will have to cross the river 6 times.
When the river is too high you have to take a more difficult (but perhaps more interesting) path through the green hills. It includes some dense tropic jungle, crossing few small waterfalls and passing through green open fields with palm trees and terrific views to the mountains covered in white clouds. Pretty but hard. Count with 3 sweaty hours.

PS: Nothing for „sissies“. There is no electricity, the life on the farm is much like the one in a poor Mexican village. Black scorpion (which is only mildly dangerous) and many moskitoes will be your instant roommates.
What here: Watch birds (every morning the black and white parrots called „papanes“ come down to eat papaya from the trees nearby), butterflies and other small creatures.

Help (and learn) how to cultivate the exotic vanilla and other plants.

Swim in the clear small ponds „pozas“, that create during the dry season along the river.

On the way here or from here you can visit the surrealistic buildings of „Xilitla“ hidden in the jungle and created by an eccentric English artist Sir Edward James.

Where to stay:
The farm counts with one simple building (3 separate rooms) and a “palapa” (shared kitchen and dining area). You can choose from a real bed with a mosquito curtain (highly recommended) or a hammock. The drinking water is brought by tube here from a nearby waterfall, there is an ecological dry toilet and candels (do not count with electricity, you are literally in the jungle).
Price: 150 pesos (camping up to 4 persons) or 500 pesos (for person/day including accommodation, food and a tour of the vanilla fields)
More information on:
How to get here: If you have your own car (or can get a ride with the owner) it is better. The journey from Mexico City takes about 6 hours. You go north towards Pachuca, then take the 105 road towards Tampico. You will find more detailed information on the farms' website. Once you get to a small pictoresque village Acuimantla a local guide will take you to the farm. Arrange this with the owners. Should you need to, their small horse Porfírio could help you to carry your bags.

If you decide to go by bus, buy a ticket with Estrella Blanca to Huejutla (Mexico City, Terminal Norte). You need to ask the driver to leave you 50 km before getting to Huejutla, in a small village called Tlanchinol. The bus ticket costs about 170 pesos. From Tlanchinol take a cab (250 pesos) that will take you all the way to Acuimantla. You can squeeze up to four people into the cab for the same price.