The City Green: Exploring the Urban Eco-Reserve of Xochimilco

$135 USD/person

  • Fee includes everything consumed on the walk and all transportation
  • Group Size: 4-10
  • Start/End: 8:30am-3:30pm
  • Duration: about 7 hours
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Mexico City may be a sprawling metropolis of 21 million, but on its edge is an oasis of green unlike any other in the world. Known as Xochimilco, it is the last part of the city that preserves an ancient system of canals and farms first built by the Aztecs when the area was on the edge of a long-gone lake.

On this weekend walk, we’ll explore the UNESCO heritage site to learn more about its culture and food and meet the people who maintain its one-of-a-kind agricultural system, called chinampas, referring the island plots of farmland between the canals.

Our day-long tour starts at Xochimilco’s colorful market, where we try different pre-Columbian dishes such as tlacoyos (oval-shaped corn-meal patties filled with fava beans, cheese, refried beans, spinach, potatoes and more) handmade by local women who set up shop every morning at one of the aisles; banana leaf-wrapped tamales – the best of the city – made by Don Lupe and his wife, an older couple native to the area; and chileatole, an ancient drink made with corn, herbs and peppers. As we explore the market we’ll learn about the different kinds of produce that are grown locally – often organically – on the chinampas.

A few blocks away from the market we’ll also visit a pulquería, which serves a slightly fermented drink made from agave sap and flavored with different natural ingredients. In business since the 1970’s, the pulqueria is run by a family who have been in the pulque trade for more than 100 years.

At the end of the tour, we’ll ride our own trajinera – a festively-decorated flat-bottom boat used by locals to traverse the canals – through part of the ecological reserve that is particularly rich in flora and fauna. As the boat glides through the canals that connect the chinampas, we’ll learn about the thousand-years-old local agricultural method that’s still used to feed nearby Mexico City today.