At the recent Sustainable & Social Tourism Summit held in Cancun, I had the opportunity to meet Mariana Courtney from Walking Mexico. Mariana and her Walking Mexico collaborators explore places in Mexico that are off the beaten path. After traveling through several countries, the team realized that what they were looking for was right outside their door and created Walking Mexico as a platform to share travel information with other travelers and introduce them to parts of the country that they would never see in travel ads.
¨Our message is Mexico is a great country. It´s not only the beach. It´s not only the border. It´s all of this,¨ referring to the incredibly diverse country where we live. Mariana recalled that when they started the project, there were places that even the team at Walking Mexico didn’t know existed. She explained that even though they are Mexican, they´d never been to most of the places that now fill their website. ¨It´s amazing,¨ she explains, ¨Each time we go out and explore, more things come up. Forests, waterfalls, mountains, volcanoes, and this is the message we want to give.¨
The website www.walkingmexico.com is jam-packed with places to visit, away from the tourist-packed beaches and the hustle and bustle of the big cities. Walking Mexico is geared towards eco and adventure tourism and the members of the team that run the site are the ones out there, exploring, creating the content, and making alliances with local tour guides.
While they mainly promote to a younger, media savvy audience, they have travelers of all ages following them from 44 countries.
During our conversation, I asked Mariana about some of the places she has visited that surprised her. ¨I didn’t know there are more waterfalls than you could ever find in this country! Where there is a forest, where there is a hill, it seems like there is a waterfall!¨ She told me stories about places, like a spot in Puebla where there is a pair of craters not far from a highway that you wouldn’t even realize were there. The stunning location, called Alchichica, has white rock, turquoise water, and a little house with someone living in it, but other than that there is nothing there.
We could have talked for hours about the places she has visited, but she had to get back to the conference. Before she left, I asked her what she says to people who ask her if traveling in Mexico is dangerous. She thought for a moment and replied, ¨It is true that some places are dangerous. For example, I don´t go to the mountains of Guerrero. I would never travel there. Educate yourself about what areas are safe to travel to and places to avoid. Part of our objectives when we are traveling is to take a photo from the location we are in, showing two women traveling alone, to help people understand that this is OK and it is possible. Educate yourself.¨ Great advice.