Majestically poised 7000 feet high in the Sierra Madre Mountains, nestled amongst mature oaks and mighty pines, this breathtaking Lake Zirahuen showcases its crystalline water colors which range from a deep blue to a jade green; reflecting the surrounding ancient forests of pine, oak, cedar and fruit trees. Wild thistle grows alongside the road and luscious blackberries are cultivated in the region. On the shore lies the village of Zirahuen, known for its rustic wooden casitas called ‘trojes’, traditional structures which for centuries have been used for casitas, grain storage and small businesses.
Being at an altitude of 7000 feet with a moderately cool climate, Zirahuen is ablaze with colorful flowers most of the year including pink and red geraniums, explosive bougainvilleas, white calla lilies, delicate begonias, a variety of roses, wild flowers and petunias that all thrive in this climate. The shoreline is dotted with simple docks for fishing boats, mom and pop restaurants, rustic cabins for rent, and small shops. One of the most memorable visuals is a long wooden pier that stretches out into the lake waters. The pier is covered, and the geometric pattern of the wooden posts and railings artistically highlight the sunlight shimmering on this pure body of water. Along the pier lies a series of small shops and cafes, surrounded by a profusion of blossoms, offering such authentic fare as charales (tiny, whole, crisp-fried white fish) fresh caught lake trout, sopes (hand-made tortillas stacked with fillings such as black beans, locally made cheeses, chorizo and chicken) and sopa de hongos (mushroom soup). Notably, this village of fishermen and farmers has a fierce passion for music.
The bands of Zirahuen are famous thought the country for banda music. According to historian Eduardo Ruiz, Purepecha Emperor Siguangua ordered a rest house built near the lake, where according to the legend, the Princess of Zirahuen was transformed into moonlight by the sacred hummingbird who stole her soul. Yet another version of the legend has it that no woman has ever drowned in this lake, but the Princess continues to pull men down into its reaches. The lake’s contrasts, from deep blue to jade, hint at another yet to be debunked fantasy: that the lake’s deep inlets lead to the Pacific Ocean. No one has proved that they don’t.
Where to Stay
- Meson Maracuyá – Simple cabins with a beautiful view of the lake.
- Zirahuen Forest – Cabins that can sleep from 2-12 persons. Activities like zip line, hiking, horseback riding and restaurant on-site. Low-season rates start at $50 per night.
Close to Zirahuen
- Uruapan 40 km
- Morelia 70 km
- Santa Clara del Cobre 10km
- Patzcuaro 20km