Mainland Mexico: The Coolest Hike in Guadalajara, the Ocean, and More!

Woooooof. It’s been a busy few weeks for Barley the Border Collie and the rest of El Perro Tambien!

Puerto Vallarta

After taking the ferry from Baja California to the mainland, we headed to Puerto Vallarta for the end of November. We rented an adorable little Airbnb that’s right off the Malecon, which is the giant beachfront boardwalk. The apartment was pretty loud at night and didn’t have much of a kitchen, but it worked.

We went swimming every day, which I loved! Kayla and Andrew were sure to make sure I wore my lifejacket in the surf. I love chasing waves, but I’m still learning how strong they can be when they crash down on me. I got super sandy and loved it.

Puerto Vallarta was super walkable, so Kayla and Andrew came home to hang with me every day for lunch. I loved that! The noises outside the apartment were a bit rough, though. Every time a car alarm went off, I got a bit more stressed.

Puerto Vallarta is pretty touristy, and it showed even in the off-season. We met lots of friendly tourists and some extra-friendly locals who loved giving us pointers (and trying to sell their services sometimes). There were really cool beachfront performances of drumming, dancing, and rock-stacking.

Overall, we really liked Puerto Vallarta. Fast internet, great beaches, and not too expensive. It felt safe overall, too – huge bonus!

Kayla and Andrew spent Thanksgiving day on a boat – a catamaran, to be exact. They went snorkeling, stand-up paddleboarding, and swimming while I just sat around the apartment (lame). They also got quite drunk, but only after swimming.

They had shrimp for Thanksgiving dinner, which they shared with me. I’m loving all of this seafood! YUM!

Luckily, most of the dogs in Puerto Vallarta were nice. Kayla and I did a lot of running, but otherwise Kayla and Andrew mostly just worked. Per usual.

We did find a cool hike about 30 minutes outside of Puerto Vallarta called Boca de Tomatlan. You can find this trail on the AllTrails app.  We had to use the map feature on Alltrails pretty heavily at first to ensure we got onto the right trail. It’s pretty tricky at the start when you’re weaving through the town.

But quickly, the trail dives into a coastal rainforest. Macaws squawk and fly overhead, and you cross a few little rivers.

Unfortunately, the trail cut off about 1.5 miles in thanks to a high tide. You’d have to wade into hip-deep water, then climb up some wet boulders to get back onto the trail. So we turned back. But it was gorgeous.

I was sad to leave after just a week.

Guadalajara

We drove from Puerto Vallarta to Guadalajara shortly after Thanksgiving. I slept in the car while Kayla and Andrew binge-listened to Behind the Bastards, their new favorite podcast. I know so much about Alex Jones now.

Our Airbnb in Guadalajara had a better kitchen but came with a big drawback: there was a rooftop guard dog. This bully mix spent all day barking at us. He’d even stand across the open hallway, barking at us through our closed shades.

That stressed me out! I’ve started getting pretty jumpy with noises thanks to the rooftop jerk.

Otherwise, Guadalajara was pretty OK. The city felt grungy in some ways, but very polished in others.

Kayla and Andrew found a really cool coworking space called Metta, which was dog-friendly! That means I got to go to work with them. SO COOL. The people there were so nice, and the outdoor patio was perfect for letting me hang out. This also gave me a break from that jerkish rooftop guard dog.

Andrew and Kayla also went to the aquarium for a day, which I guess was awesome – but I had to stay home.

Kayla and I also found the coolest hike in Guadalajara, hands down. Called La Barranca Oblatosthis hike is the closest thing we’ve ever seen to the Incline in Manitou Springs.

Following the driving directions in Wikiloc, we parked just a block or two away from the trailhead. Then you wind through a few smoothie stands, keeping right, and start to descend. After a few minutes of walking, the trail opens up to a vista of a huge canyon with a river running through the base.

Absolutely breathtaking. Or was that because I was sprinting up and down the trail like the off-leash madman that I am?

The trail is cobbled, leading Kayla to trip a few times in the dusk light. We did the trail three times – twice, we just wound down the canyon and then back up. We didn’t go all the way down – only about three miles.

But one time, we decided to try the real challenge.

You see, the winding trail that’s full of switchbacks is only half the fun.

There’s also a retired railway that goes literally straight up and down the canyon.

We couldn’t resist – so we climbed up it one day.

We’re both pretty seasoned climbers. I’ve done several 14,000 foot peaks with Kayla and enjoy skijoring at 10,000 feet in Breckenridge. Kayla literally goes rock climbing.

But this was intense.

At points, the cobbled railway gives way to old ties, forcing you to leap over them or step across huge gaps. I’m very proud of myself for navigating these. Other times, the trail gets so steep that you could hear my claws getting shorter as I ran upwards. If I stopped moving, I might have fallen. It was that close to vertical!

If you’ve got thumbs, La Barranca is a bit easier. Kayla was able to grip the rails from the old railroad with one hand, using her other hand to catch my harness if needed.

Honestly, this probably wouldn’t be legal in the U.S. I wouldn’t have minded a rope and climbing harness for safety. The waist leash and Ruffwear harness was good backup, but it would have really hurt if we’d fallen.

Anyway, it was fantastic. We both were exhausted when we got to the top.

If you do La Barranca in Guadalajara, bring some pesos! Those fruit smoothies on top looked pretty tempting, even to a dog like me.

We celebrated my fifth birthday by hiking La Barranca and eating lots of shrimp! Yum!

Kayla and Andrew skipped work on Friday to go visit the pyramids of Guachimontes. They’re huge, circular, and pretty cool. They didn’t hire a guide, though, so they don’t know much about them. Lesson learned – guides are worth it.

Aside from La Barranca and the Metta coworking space, none of us was sad to leave Guadalajara. The city just didn’t feel nice. It’s hard to put my paw on why.

After we left Guadalajara on 12/1, we headed to Mexico City.

Mexico City (So Far)

We’ve only been in Mexico City for four days so far. We’re staying with Kayla’s old friend Paula, who lived with the Fratt family for a month when both girls were 14. That’s 10 years ago!

There are some pretty hefty tolls on the road from Guadalajara to CDMX, but the road is nicely paved. Worth it?

Almost as soon as we entered the city, we got pulled over by the police.

After some back-and-forth with the cop, Kayla figured out that apparently, foreigners can’t drive cars on Saturday. You can pay a fee to get a circle on your license plate that allows you to drive on weekends, but if your license plate isn’t from Mexico City, you can’t drive Saturday.

The guy asked for a fee of  $2,500 pesos. HOLY COW.

Kayla did a quick little lie and said they only had $1,000 pesos (about $60) in cash. She should have gone lower, because the guy didn’t even blink. He immediately took the money and let them go.

So be warned: don’t drive in Mexico City on Saturdays if you don’t have Mexico City plates.

Andrew flew out to go to Denver for some work on Sunday (12/2), so it’s just been Kayla and Paula and me since then. Both girls are working a ton, because Kayla is heading to India for her friend Maggie’s wedding (again, wedding #2) on 12/9.

Meanwhile, Kayla and I are playing training games and going running as far from the city smog as we can.

Until next time, mis amigos.

Author: Kayla

Kayla is a biologist, writer, and web designer. She’s passionate about animal behavior, the science of habits, and anything outdoors.

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