Mexico, Peña de Bernal, The Biggest Monolith on Earth
January 1, 1970
by Claudia Guerrero Oxlahun
One of the Best Beauty Spots around Mexico City
When you live in a huge place like Mexico City, you have to learn how to survive without going crazy with millions of people around you coming and going each day on the street. Of course the city has its own magic and there are great things here, but as living beings we need to reestablish our natural connection with earth, sky and fresh air regularly. That´s why getting out of the city sometimes, keeps your spirit up and your mind healthy. Thank God there are some amazing natural beauty spots around. And yes, Peña de Bernal is one of the best ones!
Monolith? What is that?
The word monolith means a single massive rock, and for many years it has been confusing to define which is the tallest in the world since there was not official geological information that could define this. Some of the most famous (I´m sure you have heard at least one of them) are The Rock of Gibraltar in south Spain, El Capitan at Yosemite and Sugarloaf Mountain at Rio de Janeiro. Between these famous guys, Peña de Bernal was considered the third or fourth tallest. It was in 2013, that a group of geologists led the first accurate measurement and the findings changed the positions!
Peña de Bernal with 433 meters is the tallest freestanding rock in the world and is around 8.7 million years old. Amazing isn´t it?
Special Energetic Atmosphere
This town is known to have a big percentage of long-lived people. They say the rock emits a special energy that keeps them healthy and happy, and I can assure you can feel that. Each time I have been there, I have received this inner peace and soft happiness inside of me. There is something hypnotic about it, somehow you can´t stop watching the rock. It is so easy to meditate over there. Just take your time, no rush, enjoy each spot and take a break when your body asks for it. I have spent hours climbing it, having a snack, even taking little naps! Let the sunset arrive with the purple, pink, and orange lights. Watch the birds coming back to the nests in circles on top of you meanwhile the soft breeze wafts your face. This natural show will fulfill your expectations if you are patient enough.
Chichidho, your best option to enjoy the peak in all its glory
The last time I went, I was amazed at this new place I found! I absolutely recommend you to stay there. It´s a hidden treasure waiting for special guests that appreciate and respect nature. “Chichidho” (waterspring) is an ecological project behind the peak, where the natural reserve stands. There are no hotels or houses around, only cactus, trees, rocks and animals. Chichidho is owned by Fernando and his son with the same name. They have built a great sanctuary for nature lovers, where you can wake up and admire nature in all its glory. You can camp in a tent, sleep in one bed in the communal bedroom or get one of the beautiful private cabins with terrace or kitchen.I already loved Peña de Bernal, but after sleeping in one of the cabins and spending one day walking through the paths peacefully, I was grateful for finding this secret place to stay. It is great for people who are looking for peace and calm. My advice is to go during the week and you will have a special discount and also will avoid the crowd on weekends. You can ask Fernando to include the meals in your stay if you prefer, and for a reasonable price a nice lady at the kitchen will delight you with great healthy food, hand made tortillas and fresh fruit water.
Mexican folklore at the town
If you are the kind of person who enjoys Mexican atmosphere, and shops and music and people, stay at the town. This is also a great experience. There are many options to stay with different prices: hostels, posadas, and luxurious hotels. You can have a Negra Modelo beer (my favorite!) or the famous Corona in one of the bars or have dinner in some terrace. After having a rest and with a full belly, go back to the peak slope and assist for free to the famous night light music show at weekends. Mexican instrumental music gives life to dancing water fountains colored by beautiful lights. Remember to take your jacket with you, arrive early to pick a good place in the floor, and enjoy the show like a little kid!
Where is this Rock?
Located only 3 hours away from Mexico City, and 60 km away from Queretaro City, Peña de Bernal is a must to do trip in your schedule. On the highway and all around the area you will find signs heading to Peña de Bernal, Pueblo Mágico (“Magic Town” is a category given to the 111 nicest towns around Mexico for their historic and cultural heritage. Remember this for your future trips all over the country, 99% it will be a special place if its called Pueblo Mágico).
How do I get there?
From Mexico City take a bus from Terminal de Autobuses del Norte (North Bus Terminal) to Tequisquiapan, or San Juan del Río or Ezequiel Montes (this last route has less buses). Then when you arrive to any of these towns take another local bus to Peña de Bernal. You will probably take around 3 hours and a half for the whole trip. My advice is: take the bus that goes to Tequisquiapan and spend the morning or the afternoon over there. “Tequis” is another peaceful, town with great sunsets, nice restaurants, shops and a great coffee place called La Charamusca where you can have one piece of the cakes they offer (ask for the Tres Leches de Cajeta or the Carrot with Cream one if you love sugar bombs like me!).
If you rent a car, or you have a nice friend in Mexico City that will lend you one, take the highway 57 to Queretaro, then before arriving to San Juan del Río take the highway 120 to Tequisquiapan (believe me, stop there and have a look) and at Ezequiel Montes take the federal highway 4 to Peña de Bernal.
Great typical Mexican food will be waiting for you: enchiladas, mole con pollo, chiles rellenos, huaraches, tamales, etc. There are many options around the town from expensive nice restaurants to the cheap smallest stands. But! Take it easy with the food if you want to have an easy walk to the peak! Even though it doesn´t look very high, arriving to the top gets more difficult since at some point the path disappears and you actually have to climb the rock if you want to make it. If you are determined to get to the very top, where the birds have their nests, get professional equipment and a good guide. It can be dangerous if you don´t have previous experience and try to do it by yourself.
Some of you would love to be there when the town festivity is celebrated. It is called La Santa Cruz ( Holy Cross), and there are traditional dances, music, walks to the peak, and religious events from May the 1st to the 5th. The other date is March 21st at the Spring Equinox, where lots of people (mostly Mexico citizens like me!) go this day looking for special energy to recharge their bodies. It will be less peaceful of course so have in mind these dates when you go!
In summary, it is absolutely worth the effort to make an excursion of 2 days, (even 1 day) if you arrive to Mexico City.
Peña de Bernal will blow your mind with its amazing view and great vibe.
And, you will be proud to have visited the tallest rock in the world! Enjoy!
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August 23, 2019
Thank you for putting this on my bucket list!