Tlalpan is a green, leafy suburb that is south of Mexico City. The region is made up by several small towns; Chicalcoyotl, San Pedro Martir, San Andres Totoltepec, Xicalco and San Miguel Ajusco. Over time they have merged together as the rise in population and lack of space has forced the borders of the city to expand.
Although Tlalpan is technically within the urbanised area it has clung onto its provincial charm. It is the largest borough in Mexico City, with at least 80 percent of its acres conserved as forest and other ecologically sensitive areas. The borough is of great importance to Mexico City with the majority of drinking water provided by underground wells located around it.
With such plentiful and beautiful countryside, the region provides excellent walking, hiking and cycling opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. Tlalpan is also home to the Ajusco volcanic mountains and contains the country's highest peaks. On a clear day the mountains provide stunning views across the Valley of Mexico and into the city itself with skyscrapers and all. Other activities include horse riding, motocross sports and rock climbing for those who fancy an adrenalin rush. The mountain range is also one of the few areas around Mexico City that experiences cold temperatures and even snow.
The borough features many illegal settlements whereby poor residents build houses and structures on land that is protected against urban expansion. As a result a fair amount of isolated settlements are commonplace but Tlalpan centre is a thriving, yet peaceful community. It is one of the rare spots throughout the city where you can escape the vast crowds and traffic and walk along the streets without getting swarmed by other tourists. The historical down town is a great place to visit. The cobbled streets surrounding the Plaza de la Constitucion or main square are littered with cafes and restaurants for you to enjoy and watch the locals go about their business. As you would expect there are several markets throughout the week, including the last 'Porfirian' style that remains in the city.
The most popular recreational park across the entire city is located here too. Six Flags Mexico is the largest theme park in Latin America that provides a range of activities and adrenaline pumping rides for the whole family, some of which have height restrictions.
There is a real sense of community throughout Tlalpan with a public pool facility that is available to children and youths, hoping to promote and provide them with alternative recreational and sporting opportunities than they can find on the streets. A group of sponsored graffiti artists have been hired to paint on public areas such as underneath and around bridges. The goal is to divert the artists away from defacing property and hopefully lead them to pursue formal training once they have honed their skills. Look out for the artwork on the main intersections throughout Tlalpan.
If you're looking for nature, to get off the beaten path, or something a little bit different to other experiences in Mexico City Tlalpan is for you.
Image credit - Flickr: sierragoddess