Exploring the mountains of Eastern Mexico
An uneventful border crossing at Laredo and then we were on our way southwards through the flat sage-bush plains of Nuevo Leon until, eventually, ranges of impressive mountains started to raise their heads over the horizon. Nestled at their feet is the bustling city of Monterey. We joined the bustle of peak hour traffic and eventually emerged on the southern side of town as the evening sun lit the spectacular ridges above the city. After a bit of confusion we found the spectacular winding road that took us steadily upwards into Parque Nacional Cumbres de Monterey. As the sun set we pulled into the little mountain village of La Cienega de Gonzales where we found a place with cabins where we were able to set up a base for the next couple of days of hiking and just relaxing into Mexico.
From there, we continued southwards following an impressive range of Mountains that extends from just south of the US border in Nuevo Leon down through Tamaulipas. Much of it is protected but virtually all is forested. Our next foray was into Reserva de la Biósphera El Cielo. We spent a night in the small town of Gómez Farías and the following morning, as I was exploring the edge of town a man harvesting nopales (edible cactus) in a field saw me watching birds and told me about a guy who lived higher in the mountains who new all of the birds and could make them come to him by whistling and squeaking. So we packed the truck and made our way up to Alta Cima where the first person we spoke to was a cousin of the guy we were looking for – which may not be surprising as it was a very small village! So the next couple of days were spent wondering around the forests with Estéban, an extraordinary bird guide who managed to find most of the species that I was looking for including the super-cute Tamaulipas Pigmy Owl. We parked the truck in his garden and ate with the family and in return for their incredible hospitality, we left them the surplus solar panel that we had from Texas. If you ever want to bird in this area I seriously recommend you go to Alta Cima and ask for Estéban the bird guy.
He also told us where we could find Military Macaws – in the main street of a little town called Jaumave, and sure enough, there they were, although apart from the birds the town had no other attractions.
Our next destination, Puente de Dios was stunning – a beautiful campsite to ourselves on the the river with a delicious swimming hole, and a nice little hike to some impressive falls where you could swim into caves under the Bridge of God by holding onto ropes and pulling yourself up against the current.