Oaxaca’s Greener Than Green
Laura Beltrán Villamizar |
About the author

13 November 2014
nature Views

Green tourism is gaining ground in Mexico. The National Agreement for Tourism focuses on sustainable tourism and encourages environmental protection projects. In 2011, more than 7.4 million visitors travelled to 174 protected natural areas, exceeding the expected total of 6 million, according to the Mexican english newspaper, The News.

In the Sierra Norte mountain range – separating the Central Valleys of northern Oaxaca in Mexico – a community of eight remote villages called the Pueblos Mancomunados are working together to develop sustainable farming and tourist guides. These Pueblos hold the history, culture and customs of the ancient Zapotec tribes and are home of Mexico’s most beautiful well-forested highlands and most astonishing nature. The Pueblos have developed a project of eco-tourism, officially organized by Expediciones Sierra Norte where tourists are given the chance to discover, cooperate with the locals and travel along trails and paths that connect the villages. The eco-touristic project of this community provides not only a glimpse into these villages and their people, but a reminder of how we belong to nature and not the other way around.

Laura Beltrán Villamizar is Photography Editor at Revolve. She grew up in Colombia and  lived in Argentina and The Netherlands before moving to Brussels. To view more of her work please visit her portfolio. For this feature on Oaxaca, she spent a week with the Zapotecs in Mexico in August 2012. To submit a photo essay idea for the VIEWS section or samples of your photography for other features, please contact Laura directly by email: laura@revolve-magazine.com or by phone: +32 (0)484 645 519

  • The journey starts at Benito Juarez where Zapotec guides lead long hikes.

  • Throughout each hike and in between each village, several medicinal plants can be found. There are also paths mainly devoted to the exploration of local flora and fauna.

  • Due to lack of resources but with the help of national environmentalists and experts, the Zapotecos have been able to build ‘mini-tunnels’ that serve as green houses and are used to grow potatoes, corn, and watercress among other regional crops.

  • Most grow their own gardens of corn, apples, pears and peaches. This has made them independent of any other source of food. If they do need anything else, such as milk or meat, they trade with other communities.

  • Inside of a ‘mini-tunnel’ where gladiolus, roses, calla lilies and poinsettias are grown.

  • Adelina shows how flowers have to be cut and arranged to be turned into bouquets and sold in the town of Oaxaca during market days.

  • Learning about the local life from how to light a fire, how to recycle water, to discovering the ingredients of the best home made hot chocolate.

  • Local guides explain how they were able to fight the privatization of their lands and how they learned how to re-use and recycle wood of their own forests.

  • Division of the trash and recycling of organic and non-organic food has become a natural way of life for the Zapotecs. Water bottles are placed apart and taken to Oaxaca once a week. Organic compost is used for growing plants or as food for animals. National and international experts on the topic have taught and introduced these measures, making the community an extraordinary sustainable society.

  • The altitude difference in each village offers a range of breathtaking landscapes.

  • High altitudes provide not only chilly mornings and evenings but also astonishing views with myriad greens.