Nestled between the coastal mountains and the Pacific coast is a tropical forest with clear rivers and an impressive array of exotic plants and animals.
Finca El Mamey, in the foothills between Salina Cruz and Huatulco, is one of the old coffee plantations. Coffee has been grown here since 1935 when a German immigrant arrived and began its cultivation in the steep jungly forest. His descendants – the Matterns – still live here and tend the coffee plants. Fortunately, they have also remodeled and opened the sprawling plantation house to visitors. Be advised that the rustic charm of this old place includes shared bathrooms and cold water showers!
Your visit will help preserve this piece of history. At the confluence of two rivers, there’s tons of interesting plants and animals (including the fantastic blue Morpho butterfly and flocks of parakeets). Enjoy the warm hospitality of the Mattern family, take advantage of the many swimming holes along the river and even pick coffee if you visit between November and March!
We drive out of Oaxaca and over the Sierra Sur on the Pan-American Highway, stopping to eat in Jalapa de Marques where you’ll get your first blast of hot, humid tropical air. The last 1.5 hours winds up from the coastal highway on an adventurous dirt road, through the village of Santa Maria Xadani and on to the Finca El Mamey. When we arrive at the coffee plantation we’ll enjoy a big dinner of German/Mexican cuisine in the fantastic old dining room, surrounded by family photographs dating back to the early days of the plantation.
Unwind at the coffee plantation!!! Go for an easy hike with us through the jungle, see the old coffee-processing machinery, visit one of the waterfalls and go swimming! Or just lay back in a hammock with a good book and enjoy the diverse sounds of the tropical forest! Matilde – the Mattern family matriarch – can always use company in the kitchen making tortillas, drinking coffee and chatting.
Today we drive to the neighbor community of Llano Grande. This community used to be the only place where all the coffee plantation owners gathered to fly out to Oaxaca. The small landing place was closed in the 80’s. Today, Llano Grande runs an ecotouristic community cooperative and a butterfly farm was built. We then hike to the river and take a dip in the astonishing crystalline blue waterfalls. After visiting the butterfly farm, we’ll have lunch at the coffee plantation Finca La Gloria then drive back to Finca El Mamey.
At night, if you’re lucky, you’ll hear some of the ghost stories and legends of the surrounding area, its villages and forests – all the more believable for the isolation and jungle noises.
After a delicious big breakfast, we say goodbye to this lovely hidden paradise.
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