The Transnistria parliament building with a statue of Lenin out front. In the city of Tiraspol, Transnistria. Photo taken December 9, 2016.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Tiraspol, Transnistria...the country that doesn't exist.

Where are they going next? Northern Moldova. Arrive December 11th.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Great views from the highest freestanding piece of rock in the world!

Peña de Bernal (The Bernal Rock) is officially the highest monolith in the world. This freestanding piece of rock rises 433 meters (1,421 ft) above the town of Bernal in state of Queretaro about 60 kms (36 miles) west of the city of Queretaro.

So yesterday morning, we took the local bus from the hotel where the motorhome is parked to the main bus terminal. It cost 8 pesos ($0.66 CAD) each for the local bus ride. Then, 44 pesos ($3.60 CAD) each to cover the long distance bus to Bernal.

It was about an hour on the bus to Bernal. The town itself is part of Mexico's "Pueblo Magico" tourism program that promotes specific towns due to historical or other significance. And it is indeed a pretty little town in the shadow of that huge piece of rock!

The monolith, as seen from the town of Bernal.

Little plaza in town.

Glad we didn't go on a Saturday or Sunday. I bet it's quite a lot busier on weekends.

One of the prettiest little churches we've seen!

What a pretty little church. The Templo St. Sebastien was built between 1700 and 1725. We got sidetracked and totally forgot to go inside!

It was already close to noon hour, so we walked up to the parking lot area at the beginning of the trail. This is a popular trail, but it wasn't very busy yesterday. You can get to the parking lot easily by car, but  it wouldn't be suitable for an RV. 

Click on the photo to make it full screen. Some of the translation is kind of funny!

Uphill, every step of the way.

RV's cannot make it to the upper parking lot, but there is a huge parking area beside the bull ring. See where the buses are parked? GPS 20.742459, -99.939256. We asked though, and you can't stay in that lot overnight. They lock the gates. 

Kevin, at one of the viewpoints along the way.

Eventually, the trail sort of ends and you are on your own scrambling on rocks. The sign essentially says that it's dangerous beyond this point and to be careful of the smooth rocks. But, we carried on!

Ruth, enjoying the view.

Kevin, overlooking the town of Bernal.

Ruth, taking a break.

Yep, there are some steep sections!

We made it to the top! Well, at least we made it as high as you can go without needing rock climbing equipment. I took a video of the view for you all...


Ruth. "How do we get back down?"

It was a little steep in sections and the rock was slippery. I was a little concerned that Ruth would have a difficult time getting back down, but fortunately it didn't turn out to be a big issue. Just have to take your time and plan where you're putting your feet!

Back at the bottom, we had a late lunch...just a gordita each, but they were huge and we were stuffed. A pretty filling lunch for 20 pesos ($1.64 CAD) each! Then, we wandered around town a bit more.

A fancy hotel.

And a castle.

And free tequila! But the shop was closed. Maybe it went out of business...

Then we went and stood by the highway and waited for our bus back to Queretaro. And we waited. And waited. We must have just missed one. Finally, after about an hour it came...with another one right behind it!

Made it back to Queretaro at rush hour, and took the local bus back to Sherman. Got home at 6:15pm. A bit of a long day, but it was really good and with perfect weather. 

We've had that big piece of rock on our "things to see in Mexico" list for a long time...glad to finally get that crossed off!

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23 comments:

  1. Another grea hiking and wonderful views!

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    1. It was a wonderful hike! We haven't been doing enough hiking lately so it was nice to get out there and up there.

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  2. Love the pictures of the rock and the town. Glad the weather was good.
    See ya soon.
    S and P

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    1. It's a really pretty town and at least when we were there it was quite quiet but we are sure that it gets good and busy on the weekends. The weather was perfect! :-)

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  3. Perhaps you have traveled to Tequisquiapan, if not, it is worth a visit. We based there for several weeks.

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    1. We traveled through Tequisquiapan on our way down but at that time didn't have time to stop and visit. We won't be making it back there this year but perhaps the next time we are down. There is a lot that we want to see in that area and in the Sierra Gordas.

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  4. Great photos and video! I so envy your ability to walk and climb as you do! Continued safe travels, Robin

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    1. Thank you Robin and Steve. We love hiking, it is generally free and great exercise plus it is a good way to see things that you can't see in a car. The key is to start off slowly on hikes and gradually work your way up to longer and higher hikes.

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  5. So glad the weather cleared up for that hike - the views are fabulous on that nice sunny day you had.

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    1. It was an absolutely beautiful day, really couldn't have ask for better. The views were amazing.

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  6. Oh my gosh - your day was amazing!!! Gives me chills looking down from that rock!!! Way to go & you're keeping in shape.

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    1. It was a fantastic day!:-)

      There were times when I was a bit nervous but making it to the end was worth it for the view. Surprisingly enough, I think I was a little out of shape, as I needed quite a few breathers on the way up. We have done lots of walking lately but not a lot of up hill hiking, I think the last time was somewhere in Colombia back in early December.

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  7. Loved the photo of Ruth taking a break.

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    1. Oh, and the pretty little church. Those colors against the cobalt blue sky! Quintessential Mexico.

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    2. Thank you Dinah, it was a perfect day for pictures and yes, that one of the little church and the blue sky is so nice. I really love the way the colours stand out in it.

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  8. Wow! An ambitious hike! What a place for a zipline...

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    1. We needed some serious exercise and this sure gave it to us. If you take you time it really isn't a difficult hike until you past the actual end of the trail, then it gets more tricky. A zipline there would be fun but I would totally take away from the beauty of the rock itself. Much better to keep it natural! :-)

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  9. Made me... with high blood pressure... laugh. Can't raise me, huh? Well, darn! Personally, I'd think more about those smooth rocks and my bad knees than whether I'd taken my Toprol that day ;-)

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    1. If you take your time, you would have no problem reaching the official end of the trail and you would get some beautiful views of the town just not the other side of the rock and you wouldn't have any smooth rocks to worry about. The official trail goes up about half way or maybe a tiny bit more. The unofficial trail will take you up about 3/4 of the way up after that you need rock climbing gear to actually reach the top. 3/4 of the way up though you get a great view but not a total 360 degree view.

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  10. Replies
    1. It really is a pretty little town and yes, great views from up top!

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  11. That looks great! Actually very similar looking to Lion's Head in Cape Town which I just climbed yesterday!
    I visit my mom once a year in San Miguel and I'd love to come here and climb this...I'm putting it on my list.
    Great post, love things on hiking.
    Frank (bbqboy)

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    1. We have also hiked Lion's Head in Cape Town and enjoyed the beautiful view from there as well. Unfortunately with this one you can only get about 3/4 of the way to the top unless you have rock climbing gear. The town of Bernal is a really pretty town. Highly recommend a visit here.

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