Last updateFri, 27 Mar 2015 10pm

Making friends with animals at Jalisco’s Isla Grande Animal Reserve

Chatting with some environmentalists, we heard about an animal reserve called Isla Grande, located in the last place you’d expect to find a park: right in the middle of the salt flats of Sayula. “They´ve created a sort of little Africa out there,” said our informants, “and you can pet the animals.”

We have some friends whose children dearly love animals, so we invited them along and one Sunday morning headed for the town closest to Isla Grande: Atoyac, located 70 kilometers south of Guadalajara along toll road 54 to Colima.

We left Guadalajara at 9 a.m., aiming to reach the reserve around 10 a.m. when it opens. This worked out fine and along the way we paid only one toll of 129 pesos. Exactly where to go after leaving the expressway was not very clear on the park’s website (islagrande.com.mx) but I figured we would just drive into Atoyac and find our way using “Mexnet,” which, of course, you access by simply sticking your head out the window of your car and asking directions.

No need. The Atoyac exit from the cuota road led us directly to a big glorieta (roundabout) next to which there was a huge arch framing the road to Isla Grande. Beyond the sign, there was a dirt road suitable for all vehicles, in what I would call “good” condition, but what others might describe as “tolerable,” heading right off into the middle of what looked like a huge, flat desert.

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