Last updateFri, 22 Jul 2016 8am

Guanajuato’s otherworldly Parangueo Crater

Valle de Santiago is a small town in the state of Guanajuato, located 200 kilometers east of Guadalajara. “Valle de la Luna” might be a better name for it, because it is surrounded by at least a dozen very impressive volcanic craters.

I’ve just returned from visiting the most extraordinary of them and I’m pleased to have found yet another natural wonder inside The Magic Circle around Guadalajara.

It all started a month ago, when I got a telephone call asking me if I was “that Belgian speleologist.”

“Belgian I’m not, but I like to explore caves,” I told the caller, Juan Antonio Alvarado, who lives in Guanajuato. He went on to inform me about the unexplored caves in the craters around Valle de Santiago and I decided to go take a look.

I easily found three interested adventurers and one Saturday morning we got onto the toll road to Guanajuato only to find the highway blocked in both directions by burning buses. 

“Ho hum, maybe another narco blockade,” we wondered while waiting for firefighters to arrive. Despite the delay, we reached Valle de Santiago in less than four hours and let Google Maps lead us toward La Hoya del Rincón de Parangueo.  This tactic worked only up to a certain point, after which we simply shouted, “el cráter?” through the window until we found ourselves in front of a tunnel – man-made to be sure – where two young boys offered to illuminate us with a) a bright flashlight and b) their historical knowledge of the place. As we plunged into the darkness, the smaller guide began: “Había una vez un Gachupín ...” 

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