The ancient interpretation of the word “Mascota” is the “place of deer and snakes.” Thankfully the only snake we saw was a dead one, lying in the middle of the road! Mascota is not a touristic town. Its population is just over 13,000 and the economy is based on agriculture. The town is set in a picturesque valley amidst lush emerald green ranch lands. Adobe houses are common to this area and the colourful red tiled roofs shrouded by clouds and fog provide for many wonderful photo opportunities. There is not much to do here except enjoy being away in this very real Mexican town set in a gorgeous rural area. I sighted many beautiful horses that resembled Arabians and cattle everywhere I went. Much to my surprise the sidewalks in town sported several orange trees and the surrounding pine forest included oak and apple trees.
Recommended “things to do” include hiking the local trails and enjoying the picnic areas at the lakes, lagoons and mountains that surround Mascota. Popular sites include the Corrinchis Dam and the Juanacatlan Lagoon. A visit to the Pre-Columbian Art Museum is also recommended to those who have an interest in the culture of this area and viewing artifacts from this period.
Activities commonly enjoyed by locals and tourists include hiking, strolling, horseback riding, kayaking or boat tours; rappelling, rock climbing and mountaineering. Personally I can recommend the very scenic but somewhat daunting two hour drive to the Sierra Lago Resort & Spa. The lake is beautiful and the water refreshing, even in the summertime. The grounds at the resort are gorgeous and lunch at the restaurant makes for a very special afternoon. Be sure to walk the grounds and view the horses, pheasants, turkeys and other assorted creatures enjoying a leisurely stroll on the lawns. The Sierra Lago Resort is an ideal place for those who find themselves in need of some quiet time to rejuvenate themselves and if you are not up to the drive it can be easily reached by helicopter from Vallarta, as it has its own landing area.
In Mascota, we stayed at the Meson de San Jose, a lovely hotel just a couple of short blocks from the town plaza. There are several budget friendly accommodation choices available here but the quality varies widely so if you choose a budget accommodation it is best to check out the room personally before reserving. The nicer hotels have charming inner courtyards, heavy wooden doors, red tiled roofs and decorative ceilings. Our accommodation at the Meson de San Jose was very pleasant and we enjoyed sitting out on the patio most evenings listening to the Viennese waltz playing from yet another wedding celebration at the church in the town plaza. The key to our hotel room weighed a lot and I recall reading somewhere that it is not uncommon for the door keys in Mascota to weigh up to a pound!
We especially enjoyed coffee, hot chocolate and fresh baked items served at an outdoor coffee shop called Café Napoles, especially notable are the peach muffins made with the local jam. For traditional Mexican fare try dining at La Casa mi Abuelita, more for the friendly service and charm than the dining.
Mascota is simply beautiful… mountains, pine trees, green ranches, clouds wrapped around mountain tops and red tiled roofs. You’ll find no seven day per week commercialism here. No Starbucks, McD, or fancy restaurants and designer stores, and that suited us just fine.
What to bring home as a souvenir from Mascota? The locally made jam, lemon and peach flavored cookies, peach muffins, and locally grown coffee. It’s truly quaint, and a place where the townsfolk gather in the plaza daily, to catch up and men in cowboy hats are seen having their shoes shone!
Getting There by Car
Begin your journey by driving south along highway 200. Drive until you spot the Home Depot on the left-hand side and a sign that states Palmas Las Juntas/Universidad/Ixtapa, a few minutes north of the Puerto Vallarta airport. Stay on this road following the “Las Palmas” signs and continue driving along this road until you approach Las Palmas where the road splits. Turn right at the sign pointing to Mascota, not left to Las Palmas.
Shortly thereafter you will drive over the El Progreso bridge and pass by the road leading to the Hacienda San Sebastián del Oeste, but you are not there yet. Continue driving and you will pass through a town called La Estancia where you will see a sign for the town of San Sebastián. Keep driving and stay to your left (the road splits) and follow this road until you reach the town.
From San Sebastián to Mascota the road is well marked and those with time and an adventurous spirit could when leaving Mascota, take a circle route to return. This route will take one through various other interesting towns including Talpa, Ameca, Guadalajara and Tequila (a must visit area for any serious Mexican adventurer) and progressing to the city of Compostela and then south once again to Jaltemba Bay and points south. For me, that will be another adventure, for another time.
Also read: San Sebastián del Oeste and Mascota: Part 1
About the Author: Christina Stobbs is a writer and photographer who lives in Los Ayala year round with her husband Robert. As a photographer, she feels fortunate to live in an area so rich in flora and fauna, and abundant in natural beauty. She enjoys landscape and wildlife photography, and has a fondness for pelicans. Most recently, she starting selling her photos with stock companies Dreamstime and Big Stock Photos. As a writer, she states that living in Mexico is perfect because each and every day is full of surprises. To view more of Christina’s work, click here.
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