“I’m interested in visiting Guava Beach in the Primavera Forest,” wrote Albert Schmaedick from Chapala. “Are there any good campgrounds nearby?”
That question was one I, too, wanted to investigate. Guava Beach is a sandy clearing surrounded by guava trees on the west bank of El Rio Salado (the Salty River), the name given by locals to Rio Caliente once it cools down a bit. Next to the clearing there’s a natural cold spring, making Guava Beach “the perfect campground, with hot and cold running water.”
“But how safe is it to camp there?” asked Albert. It’s a question everyone seems to be asking these days.
To find the answer, Albert and I teamed up with outdoorsman Jorge “Quercus” Robles in a quest to find the closest “safe” camping area to Guava Beach. We decided to approach the river from Highway 70 which passes through Ameca. A mere four kilometers from the paved road we came to Balneario Rio Salado, where friendly caretaker Antonio Meza welcomed us with open arms. “You want a safe camping site?” he said. “Aquí está! We have a big grassy area right here next to the Salty River where you can pitch your tent. And, of course, we have toilets and hot showers too, plus a guard and a locked gate.
The caretaker told us their beautiful recreational area is open every day of the year and assured me it is both peaceful and practically deserted on weekdays. The cost for camping here is only 70 pesos for adults, 35 for children and there’s no charge at all for petting their tame boar, Chancho, who will gladly gobble up your leftover tortillas.
From the balneario, we drove south alongside the Salty River. This is a favorite place for weekend picnickers, with lots of shade trees and hundreds of good places to enjoy the Jacuzzi effect of the warm, mineralized water bubbling through the rocks. For good reason my nieces call it “the Rock-n-Roll River.”