The toll road from Ixtapaluca to Puebla (150-D) costs 130 pesos. The cuoata, which is in great shape, passes through beautiful pine-covered mountains. We saw a couple of camping areas that looked nice, but wanted to press on a little further.
We’d just spent several days in Mexico City and didn’t feel like another big city, so we bypassed Puebla in search of something more tranquilo. We were in luck. Highway 190 from Puebla to Izucar de Matamoros passes through verdant fields of cane and alfalfa. Balnearios and quaint towns abound, all overshadowed by the smoking volcano Popacatepetl.
We particularly liked the colonial town of Atlixco, which boasts several unusual churches and an abandoned monastery. The verdant square features an over-the-top tiled gazebo and beautiful park benches decorated with local scenes. I ate the best tacos al pastor yet (for this trip) at taqueria “El Sabroso y los Molcajetes” (great band name).
The nearby town of Metapec is also worth a look. (Located off the main highway, west of Atlixco.) Buildings of black volcanic rock with peaked, tiled roofs line the streets. A camping recreation area is located at the northwest corner of town. A fence circles green lawns, eucalyptus trees, sheltered picnic tables, and a pretty little lake. Adults can camp for 100 pesos each (55 for children). Tent rentals are also available. We didn’t stay, but get back to us if you decide to check it out.
The first balneario we stopped at, “Las Fajanas,” is located just south of Atlixco. The place looked really nice—landscaped grounds, sparkling pools, water slides etc., but at 130 pesos per person to camp, it was a little fancy for us. We drove further south to Balneario “Los Cactus”, about five or six miles south of Atlixco. A short but rough road leads to well-tended grounds with three cold but large pools and rudimentary bathroom facilities. The price of 50 pesos per person was more our style, and we decided to stay the next day. We were somewhat dismayed to learn that the fee doesn’t cover 24 hours—We payed 50 pesos each for a stay from six to nine, another 50 pesos for the next day, and yet another 50 pesos each for the following night. That said, a one night stay is still cheaper than your average RV park. No hook-ups, electricity, or showers, but water can be hauled from the spigot that flows into the pools. Tables topped with palapa roofs are a nice touch, and the place is quiet and feels safe at night. Other than the family who owns the land, no one else was there, a nice change of pace from the bustle of The Big Enchilada.