Axolotls and Chinampas in Xochimilco: Nature & Conservation Experience

Cruise the waterways on a colorful trajinera, discovering the ancient Aztec city of Tenochtitlan


Hours: 6


On this private Xochimilco tour, join an expert guide and local conservationist to explore the area’s emerald green canals on a colorful trajinera, the region’s famous and vibrant wooden boats.

Along the way, visit the last remaing floating gardens known as “chinampas,” which once covered the ancient Aztec city of Tenochtitlan, on which Mexico City now sits. Later in the day, enjoy a traditional lunch created by local cooks using ingredients grown on the local chinampas.

Also, enjoy excellent bird watching opportunities and learn all about the resident axolotl salamanders, endangered amphibians with unique regeneration abilities.

Journey Mexico donates 10% of the profit for this experience to REDES (Restauración Ecológica Y Desarrollo), a non-profit association that works on conservation programs to protect the area’s eco-system and save the endangered axolotl.



Bird watching – With an expert naturalist guide taking the lead, look out for the bird life that lives in Xochimilco

Axolotls – Support efforts to save the axolotl from extinction and learn all about this intriguing endemic species.

Chinampas visit – Visit the chinampas of Xochimilco and learn about the history of these garden islands and the on-going preservation efforts

Traditional lunch – Enjoy a traditional lunch experience with produce grown on the chinampas

Estimated Timetable for this Xochimilco private tour:

  • 6.30am: Pick-up from your hotel and transfer to Puente de Urrutia pier in Xochimilco.
  • 7am: Board your trajinera and set off on your journey. As you navigate the waterways, learning about Xochimilco and its rich history, enjoy some bird watching.
  • 9am: Explore and learn about Xochimilco’s chinampas and the on-going axolotl conservation efforts. Enjoy a delicious traditional lunch made with local ingredients.
  • 12pm: Travel back to the pier and disembark.
  • 12.30pm: Enjoy a private transfer back to your hotel.


Axolotls Conservation & Chinampas Preservation Project

Journey Mexico is working with REDES (Restauración Ecológica Y Desarrollo), a local non-profit association dedicated to improving and restoring the relationship between society and nature by promoting and executing programs and projects of conservation and ecological restoration. In collaboration with REDES, Journey Mexico has developed a travel experience that will not only support conservation efforts but also educate consumers and trade network about the chinampas (Mesoamerican floating gardens),  and the critically endangered axolotls.


About the Axolotl

The axolotl (pronounced ACK-suh-LAH-tuhl) salamander has the rare trait of retaining its larval features throughout its adult life. Found exclusively in the channel complex of Xochimilco, within the limits of Mexico City, axolotls differ from most other salamanders in that they live permanently under water.

This salamander once made its home in the interconnected lakes that filled the basin of Tenochtitlan, where Mexico City now stands. Yet, due to centuries of development and pollution, scientists warn that they could entirely disappear by 2020. The Mexican government has taken action, establishing the Ejidos de Xochimilco Protected Natural Area to try to safeguard what is left of the axolotls’ diminished habitat. This experience is a great way to support the effort of helping the axolotl survive!


About the Chinampas

To further hold off urban sprawl and expand the animals’ habitats, scientists are also working with local people to revitalize the ancient tradition of farming in the wetland on plots of land that are essentially floating islands. The organic technique used to construct these island creates a prime habitat for the salamanders, while also helping to filter water for the city. These man-made islands, called chinampas, are built from aquatic vegetation and logs interwoven with mud from the lake bottom. The farmers today still use ancient cultivation techniques pioneered hundreds of years ago in the pre-Colonial era.

In addition, there is strong support from the top chef’s in Mexico City to save the floating farm tradition with the Chinampa Preservation Program. These chefs, from some of Mexico’s best restaurants, buy and use produce grown at the chinampas, incorporating these fresh, locally-grown ingredients into their dishes as a way to support the area.