Hiking the Archeological Petroglyphs near Puerto Vallarta

The ancient trails of the Huichol Indians are definitely a sight to see. Just 2 hours North of Puerto Vallarta, or 1 hour North of local surf spot Sayulita, lay an epic local hiking spot called ‘La Pila del Rey’ or “The Kings Fountain”.

Panorama of the Fountain

A beautiful local hiking spot through the jungles of Nayarit leads one through a complex series of ancient stone carvings. Maintained by local caretakers, the epic beauty of this ancestral worship space has been gently kept alive.

Jungle surroundings

Plenty of recent care has occurred to the archeological site by the locals. The windy road is passable even in a small car (our economy rental car did just fine), and a new parking lot has been created just outside the entrance of the site itself. So there is no longer any need to hike down the road. The cost to enter the site is 50 pesos per person, and most of the costs go towards maintaining the park.

Getting to the Archeological Site

Driving north on highway 200 from either Puerto Vallarta or Sayulita, you will pass through the towns of Rincón de Guayabitos and La Peñita. 10 minutes farther north and you will see a sign for Alta Vista on the right, take your exit here. If using GPS, input Alta Vista as your destination, yet refer to my instructions after you take this exit.

Large map from turnoff at highway 200

After exiting highway 200 (the first star marked on the map) you will continue down the windy road towards Alta Vista. After a few minutes of beautiful farmland and Ceiba tree lined fences, you will take your first left when you reach a “Y” in the road (I have marked the turn with the second star on the map). From here you will continue down the windy farm road for about 15 minutes, passing the end of any marked road on google maps. The road is bumpy and slow-moving, yet full of breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains of Nayarit.

Zoomed in map from left turn off of Alta Vista Rd to the parking lot

It is likely you will be stopped by Juan Carlos in a mini van, the main caretaker of the site. He will charge the entrance fee to the park (50 pesos) and can answer any questions you may have, although he speaks mainly Spanish. The parking lot is located at the entrance of the site, and is the final star on the map. On our way down we passed a local man indigenous to the area, dressed entirely in traditional Huichol clothing. He was selling his handwoven items and jewelry which was a beautiful introduction into the history and tradition of this area

Petroglyph Signs to inform hikers of historic info

The entrance of the property is marked with a barbed wire fence. There are 15 green signs (like the one above), offering some history of the petroglyphs (rock carvings) and the local people. As soon as you pass by the first few signs and begin hiking, 2 gently-faded spirals beckon you down the path to explore.

Spiral Petroglyph

I found this to be the most fascinating jungle hiking near Puerto Vallarta.

Directly through the jungle, passing gorgeous outcroppings of rock, one discovers beautifully preserved petroglyphs of spirals, intricate patterns, masks, iguanas, ancient gods, and many other symbols. There are many sacrificial sites along the way, where local Huichol Indians continue to worship and bring offerings to this site.

A fountain fit for the Gods!

Eventually you will reach the main site at the waterfall, where delicately formed volcanic rock has created columns surrounding a crystal clear river. A fountain fit for the gods indeed!! Incredibly beautiful pools of water are held by handsome rocks carved by ancient ancestors. The sightseeing was incredible here, and we spent almost 3 hours hiking around just this area. We seen only one other couple exploring the entire time, and were completely engulfed in the beauty of our surroundings. The area was completely engulfed in jungle, we meditated near the glyphs, swam in sacred waters, and made offerings of our own to the sacristy of ancient spectacles preserved so delicately within nature.

The epic natural pools of the kings fountain

I am so glad we chose to do this hike than a few of the others nearby, as the history of the site was truly fascinating. It really felt like a special place.

My partner and I in front of the glyphs at the fountain

For the best experience, bring good walking shoes (or maybe you prefer barefoot, that’s what my boyfriend did!). Bring plenty of water, and maybe a nice trail snack. Remember, PACK IN PACK OUT, bring your garbage out with you. Many of the locals bring art as offerings to the ancient site, perhaps you will feel inclined to offer as well. There are local tour guides who offer English-guided tours if you prefer more comfort. But we opted for the self adventure, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Let me know if you are planning to visit the site and share any photos or updates!!

Staying Grounded Through Travel

Travel can be an easeful experience.

As travel becomes more accessible to everyone, more and more people are jet setting around the world for an infinite variety of reasons. Whatever your reason for travel, it is easy to get swept up in the movement and feel unsettled, ungrounded, or even stressed and anxious. These are common occurrences, and it is good to incorporate balancing, calming activities on, and before, the day of travel.

In Ayurveda, a tradition Indian health science, we can look at travelling from a qualitative perspective.

Travelling has qualities of movement, airiness, spaciousness, and can be fast-paced. When we travel we have deadlines we have to reach, we have to pack our belongings, and we experience lots of newness.
In Ayurveda, these qualities of movement, air, and space; are categorized and called ‘Vata Dosha’. The wind and ether elements. This incorporates all forms of movement, breath, speech, travel, energy movement, and much more.
Each person, and all of life, contains aspects of Vata within themselves, as well as all around them. The Vata Dosha, in and of itself, is neither positive nor negative. It is necessary for life and a large part of every living experience.

The key is balance.

When things become out of balance, this is when we begin to feel too much movement or too much spaciousness. The root of all dis-ease is imbalance.
So when we begin to feel anxious, nervous, stressed, or ungrounded it is a sign that we are out of balance.

Travelling can easily throw us out of balance. We are being faced with plenty of movement, new things to excite our senses, and limitless challenges and possibilities. These are called ‘Vata aggravators’, and can very easily cause us to feel ungrounded.

The antidote is the opposite.

Finding balance and creating a smooth equilibrium will vary slightly from person to person. But there are many universal things we can do to stay grounded and assist us through changing times.
In order to balance Vata, we need warming, grounding, and nourishing remedies.

Balancing Suggestions:

Eat cooked foods that are heavy, moist, and oily with warm and soft qualities.

  • The sweet, sour, and salty tastes are balancing and grounding for our system. Supportive foods before travel are soups, broths, stews, whole grains, and good quality fats such as olive oil, avocado, and ghee.
  • Foods that are cooked and served warm will create moisture within the system and aid in grounding.
  • Incorporate warming spices or herbs to build the digestive fire, keep us warm, and help us feel full and calm.

A gentle, self-massage with sesame oil.

  • Rubbing this oil onto our skin is extremely calming, grounding, and nourishing for our nervous system.
  • Toning our tissues and warming our muscles, this allows for movement in our body to progress from erratic to smooth.

Gentle Yoga or Movement.

  • Moving our bodies in a mindful and purposeful way will allow extra erratic energy to disperse; creating warmth, and freeing us from a build-up of unwanted energy during travel.
  • This stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, allowing our minds to be at ease, our body to rest, and our system to digest.

Meditation

  • Meditation allows us to create space in the mind and between thoughts. When we increase the space between thoughts, we are capable of experiencing stillness and serenity.
  • Even just 15 minutes of meditation can have large, grounding affects.

Breath work

  • Certain breath techniques allow for a grounding, calming experience. Emphasizing the exhale (making it twice as long as the inhale), will have the best effect, and can be used anywhere at anytime.
  • Just 10 deep breaths can reset our neural system and ignite our parasympathetic nervous system.

 

Enjoying these practices before we travel, or as a daily routine, we will see the benefits and the lasting effects for our entire journey.

Through practice and paying attention to the natural world around us, we learn how to best care for our inner world, and can better support our inner sanctum – mind, body, and spirit.