20 Apr Dos Amates: A Village in Los Tuxtlas Veracruz
Nestled between the San Martin and Santa Marta volcanoes, Dos amates is the only town located on this beautiful stretch of the bioreserve. Known for having a cooler climate than Catemaco, and being essentially bug free (which was delightful), Dos Amates is a simple farming community beginning to take an interest in ecotourism to maintain itself. Waterfalls, hiking trails, beautiful views, abundant bird and plant life are just a few of the things that the tiny town of Dos Amates has to offer.
The village’s name, Dos Amates, refers to two enormous ficus trees that marked the entrance when it was founded in 1928. Hiking trails with gorgeous views of Cerro Buenavista lead off into the mountains. Further along on the trails, the view changes to include Sontecompapan Lagoon and even the Gulf of Mexico. The town itself has only a few hilly streets, streams criss-cross through it, ultimately finding their way to the larger Dos Amates creek.
How did we find our way to Dos Amates, you ask.
After a few snafus in our original plan (Nanciyaga, an ecotourism gem, was completely full (fortunately for them) and our runner up … well, we’ve deemed them unfit to mention). It was Christmas and we hadn’t made reservations because that’s how we roll, but also because the region didn’t seem to have an online presence (one of the primary reasons we decided to visit and see for ourselves). If you’ve read our article on the region, Los Tuxtlas, you already know that this area of Mexico impressed and delighted us, making it a surprising favorite to which we continue to return. We didn’t really want to stay in Catemaco, despite it being a place we definitely wanted to explore, because we wanted to stay in eco-lodgings or tent camp. Ultimately, we stumbled upon a tour guide named Pedro. We struck up a conversation and he told us that he offers camping on his land in Dos Amates.
We LIVE for these kinds of encounters, meeting local people, following their recommendations, and going with the flow of what’s happening – not clinging too hard to a preset idea or plan. It always seems to render the best experiences.
Our first impression of Pedro was great. He was kind, knowledgeable, cared for the environment and had a great sense of humor. We laughed a lot as he shared quirky things with us about the culture and nature of the area. He took us to his home and we met his family, who were all welcoming. Their yard had exquisite tropical plants, a wide open grassy space for tents and access to a picnic table, an outhouse, and a shared, outdoor Mayan fogón (Sean is obsessed with these kitchens and aspires to have one of his own one day). The most amazing part for me (especially for this area of the world) was to be immersed in the gorgeous vegetation with NO BUGS!! I was ecstatic.
Staying there was a unique opportunity to get to know Pedro’s family and to learn more about their culture. Pedro took us on a few tours in Catemaco that we loved, including Barra de Sontecompapan, a tour that begins in some of the last conserved mangroves of the gulf coast, passes through the river delta into the gulf and visits a beautiful sand bar that bifurcates the two (more on that and the incredible offering of Los Tuxtlas and Catemaco in their respective blogs).
We also did our own exploring around Dos Amates, hiking the trails to a waterfall through streams and jungle corridors, all with expansive views of the land below.
About 20 minutes from Catemaco, we chose to stay in Dos Amates because it was close enough to explore Catemaco while also having access to other waterfalls, hikes and, our holy grail, camping. It’s worth noting that we were traveling overland in our vehicle so that gave us the flexibility to stay a little bit outside of town. If you’re not, there are lots of options in Catemaco, as well as shuttles to larger eco-villas like Nanciyaga.