This post is part of a weekly feature called Discovery of the Week. By discovery, I mean a place, a custom or dish that is not widely known. See, I love to read travel magazines, websites and books. Very often, I find beautiful and interesting gems that not a lot of people seem to know about. That is why I thought about introducing this feature because I am sure it will expose a lot of astonishing places. Additionally, I enjoy learning about the many amazing places in the world. I believe my readers also enjoy this activity.
Discovery of the Week: Nevado de Toluca
Where it is located: Near the city of Toluca (capital of the state of Mexico state), 50 miles west of Mexico City.
What it is: A stratovolcano (conical volcano built up by many layers of lava) which some sources claim as the 4th highest peak in Mexico.
The Nahuatl name of the mountain, which is still often used, is Xinantecatl. The term can be translated as “The Naked Lord” or “Lord of the Corn Stalks.”
Even though the volcano dominates the panorama of the area, many people are interested in ascending to its crater since two turquoise colored, lakes exist on the floor of the basin. The beauty of the two gleaming body of waters (Laguna del Sol and Laguna de la Luna) against the barren land surrounding them has inspired some to call the summit of the Nevado one of the top natural landscapes in Mexico.
From the southeast, Nevado de Toluca looks flat-topped, like shoulders without a head. A Nahuatl legend explains this fact by involving Xinantecatl (an Aztec warrior from which the mountain supposedly takes its name) with Popocatepetl (another Aztec warrior and Mexico’s second tallest volcano) and Itzaccihuatl (an Aztec princess and Mexico’s third tallest volcano).
According to the legend (which is recounted in numerous ways), Xinantecatl was interested in Itza, Popo’s wife. In anger, both warriors started to throw rocks at each other. Finally, Popo threw a large chunk of ice and ended up decapitating Xinantectl. That is why the mountain looks flat, like a headless man.
The volcano and the area surrounding it have been declared national park. Visitors come to visit to participate in activities such as hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding as well as skiing (in winter). There are picnic and camping areas too. Even though this land is protected, it suffers from many threats due to the increasing population of the city of Toluca and its metropolitan area.
The park can be visited as a day trip from Toluca and Mexico City (guided excursion depart daily). Plan accordingly since many visitors come to see the only crater in Mexico that can be reached by automobile (a dirt path ends very close to the crater).
Did you know about the Nevado de Toluca?