Destination Tamaulipas, Mexico: five places to visit near the Mision Block
Rich biodiversity, a colorful history and breathtaking landscapes can be found in the fascinating region of Tamaulipas. A select tour of the places to visit off the beaten track, guided by one of our employees.
The famed Rio Bravo separating Mexico from the United States is also a natural landmark defining the beautiful border region of Tamaulipas, in the northeast of the country. Rich in natural resources, the area surrounding the Mision block is blessed with great biodiversity, plenty of historical locations with stories to tell, and attractive towns with an easygoing lifestyle. An invitation to get to know the region!
1- El Cielo Biosphere Reserve: paradise on Earth
Located in the southeast region of Tamaulipas, lying in the Sierra Madre Oriental mountain range, is El Cielo, a biosphere reserve declared a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1987. Some 460 km from Reynosa, the reserve covers 144,530 hectares and has four different ecosystems in pristine state, populated by an abundance of different species of birds and animals, many of them endemic. The reserve is home to 255 species of resident birds and 175 migratory ones as well as reptiles, amphibians, bats and many other wild animals. It’s also on the Monarch butterfly route traversing the northern hemisphere from Canada to Michoacán. Its undulating mountain slopes offer climes to suit all tastes, giving the feeling of walking through all the seasons of the year as you climb up into the hills. Lovers of nature and adventure sports enthusiasts are welcome all year around to visit this paradisiacal area, especially patrons of ecotourism and camping where there are only basic services. And there are many options to challenge keen hikers, mountain bikers and those who enjoy whitewater kayaking or rappelling down from mountain crags.
2- Vicente Guerrero Dam: history with a sporting spirit
In the municipality of Padilla, 270 kilometers from Reynosa, is the General Vicente Guerrero CIN Dam (also known as Las Adjuntas). It’s not only the sixth-largest water reservoir in Mexico, with a capacity of nearly 4 billion cubic meters of water, but also hosts one of the best-known fishing tournaments in the northeast of the country. Set in stunning landscapes, the deep waters offer anglers a great opportunity to cast their lines for mojarra, catfish and black bass, and the area itself is home to most of the hunting and fishing activity in the central area of the state. The dam was built in 1971 to collect and control the water from the Corona, Purificación and Pilón rivers, and beneath its surface lie the remains of old Padilla, the town where Emperor Agustín de Iturbide was shot in 1824. Today, only the ruins of the church and its steeple can be seen rising out of the waters.
Nearly 500 kilometers from Reynosa lies "Tampico Hermoso", one of the most beautiful beach resorts on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, named by the locals in honor of a song by famed ‘50s singer-songwriter Antonio Aguilar. Tampico is a historical port of considerable importance, as it was apparently from here that the Huastecos—the indigenous peoples still living in Tamaulipas today—repelled the conquistador Hernán Cortés and his armies of Spaniards in the early 1500s. Over the centuries, it became one of the main sea ports on the major trading routes, due to its strategic geographical location. In Tampico, the catchy sounds of Huapango folk rhythms permeate the streets, the party vibe a permanent invitation. It’s also said that UFOs overfly its shores, either because bathers have seen lights in the skies near the breakwaters, and also because whenever a hurricane approaches Tampico, it deviates or breaks up just before making landfall.
4- Regional flavors: tradition and the hipster spirit
While coastal Tampico cuisine is marked by an abundance of sea food, featuring delicious local crab dishes in different presentations: in butter, devilled, with a cream sauce or simply grilled. In Reynosa, the offer is broad and modern, featuring locally-grown produce. There are some excellent places to visit for a bite to eat or some good coffee: Cultiva.Rex, a small place combining specialty coffee with vegan cuisine, with minimalist décor, where you can order vegan suadero tacos or nixtamalized tortilla chips with pasilla chili sauce accompanied with chorizo, red onion, cilantro, avocado and sour cream on a bed of beans. At Moots Caffe, one of the more traditional restaurants, the pure Mexican coffee is a must, accompanied by their famous cheesecake or even a traditional corn cake. Also on the list is the Bravo craft brewery, while the surf n’ turf grill at La Llorona is an experience not to be missed.
5- Reynosa Cultural Park: yoga and open-air theater
The culture center is a large modern space inaugurated in 2010, located in the lands on the shores of La Escondida lagoon, an area open to the entire community living on both sides of the border, from Reynosa and from Texas, USA. This is a beautiful park, home to local flora and fauna, with closed and open-air spaces, playgrounds for children, a jogging track, shady green areas for picnics, as well as a theater and exhibition halls hosting workshops, concerts, plays and conferences.
The article was written with collaboration from Fernando Marín, Community Relations supervisor, at the Misión Block.