I met Rubén Cortés a couple of weeks ago during my stay in Cuernavaca when he filled me in on a variety cultural and adventure sports tours that his company provides in the Mexican state of Morelos. In addition, he took me on a 2 hour hike through the “Barranca de Santa Maria”, one of the many ravines in the city of Cuernavaca, where we walked beside a tiny river through a forested area to a local trout farm. It was a fascinating hike through somewhat challenging terrain that introduced me to the fauna and flora around Cuernavaca. The most interesting thing about this walk was seeing the variety of rubber pipes that local families use to tap into the river to deliver water to their homes since they live in areas without municipal water supply. We also met a local family who was doing their washing in the river, again a very interesting vignette of local life in Mexico.
Rubén, a young travel entrepreneur
Rubén runs two hotels in the Cuernavaca area and also started a tour company last year that provides local cultural tours as well as adventure travel. Rubén filled me in on the variety of cultural and adventure activities in the area surrounding Cuernavaca:
1. Please tell us a little about yourself and your background .
I am a certified excursionist & cultural guide, as well as a PADI scuba diving instructor, with recognition by SECTUR (Tourism Secretary of Mexico). I started my own company “Morelos Trails” last year, and we offer complete touristic services (adventure, culture & nature) in the states of central Mexico states, with a special emphasis on the State of Morelos.
I speak English, Italian, and of course Spanish. I studied at “La Salle University” and got a degree in International Business. I have been working as the general manager of a small hotel in downtown Cuernavaca, the “Hotel Royal” , since 1997 and as a scuba diving instructor at “Cuernavaca Gold’s Gym” and at “Las Estacas”, a natural river park.
The “Barranca de Santa Maria”
2. How did you come up with the idea to create an adventure travel company? You mentioned that a trip to British Columbia had a major influence on you in terms of your interest in nature, please tell us more.
Well, the original idea for the creation of my company came about as a result of my thesis at the university (Marketing as an alternative for exporting tourist services in the State of Morelos). I discovered that in the State of Morelos and in central Mexico we have a lot of points of interest for travellers, including national parks and biosphere reserves. The fact that there was a real absence of professional adventures companies in the area pushed me to start on the project.
And as you said, a trip to British Columbia, crossing from Seattle to Juneau with my family in a camper vehicle 18 years ago, planted the seed for my love and passion for nature and culture, which have become my main hobbies.
Statue in front of the Palacio de Cortes in Cuernavaca
3. Please tell us a little bit about Cuernavaca and the cultural and sports opportunities that this region offers.
Cuernavaca is known as the city of everlasting spring. It is blessed with one of the best climates in the world, and for centuries this feature has attracted a lot of historic characters, from Aztecs emperors to famous painters and scientists such as Diego Rivera or Alexander von Humboldt. The culture and history of Mexico is featured at Cuernavaca’s museums, mansions, churches and archeological zones.
The State of Morelos as a region offers everything you can imagine, from rafting, to excursions in temperate rainforests, pine forests, natural wall climbing in the canyons (the so-called “barrancas”), scuba diving in crystal clear rivers, and culture at the archeological zones (of which there are more than 10), and at the former monasteries dating back to the 16th century. We even have prehistoric paintings in this area.
4. You know a lot about the geological history and topographical situation of Cuernavaca. Please give us an overview.
Cuernavaca is located at the south end of a neo-volcanic zone, so the inactive volcanoes of the north absorb all the humidity and produce frequent rains which provides a source of fresh water to the city. The water descends from the volcanoes to the city in streams that produce natural canyons known as “barrancas”. These ravines vary in size and the larger ones reach 50 m of depth and 150 m in length. Cuernavaca is crossed by more than 20 “barrancas” and among other things, this unique topographical situation makes it difficult to plan the streets and services for the city.