The other day I spent the morning up at El Charco del Ingenio, the botanic gardens, just on the outskirts of San Miguel de Allende. What a colorful outing I had.
El Charco extends over some 250 acres of nature reserve just a few minutes from the center of town. Twenty years ago this land was purchased by a non-profit group to protect it from developers. It was considered a sacred place by the Chichimeca Indians, the first settlers of the area. There are panoramic lookouts, nature trails and picnic areas. It is paradise for bird watchers.
The gardens have an extensive collection of Mexican plants along with over 1,000 species of cacti and succulents.
The green house is home to many of the different cacti.
The Organ Pipe Cacti make a spectacular wall!
The tunas (fruit) are ripe for the picking on the Prickly Pear Cactus.
At the entrance of El Charco del Ingenio, there is a cute little gift shop along with cacti for sale and an outdoor snack bar. It is open daily from sunrise to sunset and admission is only a mere 40 pesos. I like to take a cab up there and then walk home, hitting the market on the way back. If you are tight on time and have already had your exercise walking the trails, the gal in the gift shop will call you a taxi. Either way you do it, it makes for a great morning.