Ecotourism in San Sebastian Bernal, Queretaro
There are several sites where you can practice ecotourism in Mexico, and Peña de Bernal (Crag of Bernal) is not just one among many. It is made up of a peculiar kind of rock or crag after which it’s named and that makes it unique and special.
The Magical Town of San Sebastian Bernal
This whim of nature that is so emblematic of this region is found after driving through the town of Tequisquiapan, in the state of Querétaro, and it has been declared the third biggest monolith in the world!
If it pleases you, you have the alternative of planning a one-day trip to visit the town of San Sebastian, although we advice you to plan a longer vacation so you can visit the neighboring towns. Nevertheless, the Peña is the main attraction, and we recommend climbing it in the morning with the sunlight as your natural source of light, and preferably before noon so that you avoid feeling a bit suffocated by the heat. This way you will have enough hours to climb at your own pace and relax at the overlook for a while, enjoying the landscape, and taking pictures or preparing for a second and more complicated ascent for which you will need rock climbing equipment.
How to Get to Bernal
To get started, you can drive to the first lookout. There you will find several craftsmen who sell handmade souvenirs elaborated with a rustic loom. They include tapestries, cushions, blankets and jackets. However, rather than recommending buying anything at this point, we suggest doing so until you return from the crag. This way your hands will be able to move freely during the ascent in case you need them for support.
Afterward you will follow a trail that will enable you to hike upwards with certain ease. But bear in mind that you will need to be in shape if you want to reach the second scenic overlook that will offer you a 180º view of the town and where you’ll find a place to catch your breath. Once there, you will have to decide whether you dare climb to a higher site and continue for an extra 45 meters (148 feet). Nevertheless, for that last part, as we said before, you will need special equipment since you’ll have to climb a vertical rock wall.
The Best Typical Food of San Sebastian Bernal
For your descent, you can walk back along the same trail as you did before and then pamper yourself after your climbing feat by buying some folk art. Later, for a great ending to that day, don’t miss visiting the town’s restaurants for a feast of gorditas de guisados –corn dough patties cooked with lard and filled with different ingredients– flavored with red hot pepper. Try all the available fillings including papa con chorizo –potato with spicy pork meat– and cecina enchilada –salted meat with red chili. In addition, don't forget to try the traditional alcoholic beverage of Bernal: curado de pulque –fermented agave juice combined with fruit juice, particularly tuna roja (red prickly pear).
Travel Tips to Visit the Bernal Crag
It is advisable to wear comfortable shoes, a cap or a hat and to take your camera with you. The landscapes you’ll find there are unique so you’ll want to treasure the images as a memory of your trip.
After your visit, observe the crag from below. Apart from enabling you to appreciate its imposing presence, this will fill you will pride after seeing the height you climbed in your ascent.
Visit Peña de Bernal on weekends. Those days at night they illuminate the crag with artificial lights that offer an unforgettable spectacle.