Comprising the northeast third of Querétaro state in Mexico, the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve covers 383,567 ha of a rugged arm of the Sierra Madre Occidental. The Sierra Gorda is home to five Franciscan missions declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Visit official site www.sierragorda.net
The reserve begins in the dry Mexican altiplano before rising to 3,100 meters along the high ridges of Pinal de Amoles, where vistas across deep valleys allow you to see many of the 14 vegetative types that make it the most eco-diverse reserve in Mexico. The reserve encompasses extensive tracts of well-conserved wilderness including old growth cloud forests covered in bromeliads and orchids, high elevation pine-oak forests with plunging waterfalls and crystal clear blue rivers, semi-deserts where a great diversity of cactus and wild oregano bloom, and lowland tropical forests where Jaguars, ancient Cycads and Trogons make their home. There are also numerous sótanos, vertical caves up to 600 m deep, where flocks of macaws and swallows find refuge and can be seen circling at dawn.
Unlike most protected areas, the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve is 70% privately owned, 27% ejido, 3% federal property. Nearly 100,000 people live within the reserve, mostly scattered in small mountain villages, and the conservation of these rare intact forests relies on their willing participation. Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda, the local NGO which co-manages the reserve with the federal government, plays a critical role by organizing and engaging local communities in sustainable livelihoods including beekeeping, embroidery, and ceramics, as well as genuine community-owned and operated ecotourism projects that include cabins, camping areas, local cuisine and guides.
For more information about visiting contact Sierra Gorda Ecotours, www.sierragorda.net.
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