The Pueblos Mancomunados (Commonwealth of Villages) are eight remote Zapotec villages in the thickly forested highlands north of the Valle de Tlacolula. For centuries, in a unique form of cooperation, the villages have pooled the natural resources of their 290-sq-km territory, which include extensive pine and oak forests, sharing the profits from forestry and other enterprises.
Today seven of the villages also cooperate in an excellent ecotourism program that offers plain but comfortable lodgings and walking, along more than 100km of scenic tracks and trails. Elevations range from 2200m to over 3200m, and the landscapes, with their canyons, caves, crags, waterfalls and panoramic lookouts, are spectacular. The villages themselves are mostly simple but picturesque places, and have unique relics of local history or culture to show off.
Your night's accommodation is in the warm and welcoming community-owned lodge, which offers bunk beds and shared bathrooms. By staying here you are contributing directly to responsible travel in the community and ensuring the preservation of the surrounding forest.
The trip might have been the absolute best of our lifetime (thus far). We particularly want to commend our guide Peter in the Guilin area-he was so incredibly attentive, energetic, enthusiastic-and absolutely dedicated to ensuring that our meals were 100% vegetarian.