Veracruz has some of the richest cultural, historical, and natural significance to the Republic of Mexico. For starters, its beaches were the entry point of the famed conquistador Hernan Cortez, who conquered the Aztec empire. Veracruz is also home to vanilla, which comes from the seeds of an orchid found in its lush lowland coastal rainforests. Veracruz’s highlands produce some of the best-tasting coffee beans in the world. They also contain Mexico’s highest mountain peak, known as el Pico de Orizaba. Let’s spend at least a day in Orizaba, a magical town in Veracruz.
The peak of Orizaba towers over a town or pueblo with the same name. Orizaba is an official Pueblo Magico and one of the most beautiful natural, cultural, and architectural destinations in Veracruz - and that says a lot when you consider the beauty and charm of the capital city of Xalapa and the mountain town of Xico, but I shall save those destinations for different articles. You should plan on staying a few days to experience all the different attractions Orizaba offers, but I will talk about my personal favorites for you to make a day of it.
The sky tram in Orizaba costs 50 Mexican pesos and is the best way to see the city and the panorama of magnificent mountains, including the snowcapped Pico de Orizaba. If you happen to be afraid of heights, you might want to think twice about the ride as the trams will swing back and forth with the wind as you make your way across the sky to El Cerro del Borrego.
You can always rent a car or get a collective to the eco-park, which was also the battleground of the battle of Cerro del Borrego and is thus a historic landmark as well. The entrance to the eco-park is free and has plenty of small hikes to amazing lookout points of both the pueblo below and the peak of Orizaba. If the sky tram was not enough of a thrill, there is also a zipline through the forest for an additional 100 Mexican pesos.
Nature enthusiasts and fitness lovers alike will enjoy el Paseo de los 500 Escalones, a challenging 500-step climb up a mountain in the Rio Blanco Canyon National Park. The climb is worth it for the incredible views of the giant Elephant Waterfalls (Cascada del Elefante), a 19-meter-tall cascade in the shape of an elephant trunk that falls between two huge rocks in the shape of elephant tusks.
The steps are wide and paved, so it is not a treacherous climb. Plus, you will be so enthralled by the lush jungles and the soothing sound of the approaching waterfall that the climb will fly by.
After spending the day trekking up canyons and glimpsing spectacular views of the highlands and the town of Orizaba, you can head back into town for a dip in Orizaba’s cold and refreshing fresh-water lagoon. There is an aquatic park built for kids, but you can bypass that and stick to the large deep lagoon that has a diving board and a nicely paved brick deck with roofed picnic tables and restroom facilities. The laguna is free for everyone so it may fill up with families, which is why it is best to visit on a weekday.
There are so many other attractions in Orizaba that are more culturally and historically oriented, but for the sake of a day trip, you can just fit in a hike, a tram ride, and a relaxing natural springs dip to reward those sore muscles. The natural beauty of the town and the surrounding highlands is breathtaking and worth exploring, along with Orizaba’s cobblestone streets, colorful historic colonial buildings, and spectacular regional food. Stay tuned for more on the magical town of Orizaba and Veracruz’s cultural and culinary bounty.
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