Discover the mysteries of the ancient Aztec city of Mexico-Tenochtitlan with this early morning nature experience in the back channels of Xochimilco. This incredible area is a hidden oasis that brings life to the flora and fauna of the metropolis.
To start the day, you´ll be picked up from your hotel and driven to Xochimilco pier where you´ll board your trajinera, a traditional, colorfully painted gondola. As you navigate the waterways, enjoy some birdwatching and discover Xochimilco´s rich history with your guide.
You´ll get the amazing opportunity to explore the canals, waterways and ¨chinampas¨, or floating gardens, that once made up most of the entire city of Tenochtitlan. Understand the importance of these floating gardens, recognized as an Agricultural Heritage System, while supporting the preservation efforts. You´ll also learn about the ongoing conservation efforts to protect the intriguing, endemic Axolotl salamander. This incredible and rare amphibian, with its unique regeneration abilities, is on the verge of extinction.
This fascinating experience is led by the multidisciplinary and nature loving team behind ´chinampas en movimiento´. The project by non-profit organization REEDUCA strives to promote environmental education and rescue the ecosystem of Xochimilco. Through participating in this meaningful experience, you´ll be supporting the local community, chinampas preservation and Axolotl conservation.
While at the chinampas, you´ll be treated to a traditional lunch made with locally produced ingredients by community cooks, before traveling back to the pier to disembark. Once back on dry land, you´ll be privately driven back to your hotel.
Bird watching – With an expert naturalist guide taking the lead, look out for the birdlife 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:
- Pick-up and Location: 6am, your hotel
- Duration: 7-8 hours
- Schedules: Saturdays and Sundays *subject to availability* (For other days during the week please inquire)
- Available: Operating from March 2022.
- Included: Private transportation, bilingual naturalist guide, private trajinera boat ride, coffee and bread onboard, bird watching experience, and homemade traditional lunch.
Please Note: Experience includes 1-10 people, for larger groups please inquire for an individual quote.
*Guests may choose to make an optional donation starting from 200 usd. These proceeds are invaluable in helping to support the chinampa and axolotl project, and a donation receipt will be issued.
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.