Lake Xochimilco

Going to Mexico City, you definitely need to visit this beautiful wonder of nature. Lake Xochimilco is an ancient lake in southern Mexico City. Wild gardens, an abundance of animals, birds, and plants will attract the close attention of everyone who decides to go here on a journey.

Sunrise on the canals of Xochimilco lake
Sunrise on the lake Xochimilco

The Xochimilco characteristics

  • Maximum depth of channels is 5 feet
  • Length is 2 miles
  • Average width is 208 feet
  • Square with channels is 42007 acres

History of the lake

Sunset on lake Xochimilco
Lake Xochimilco sunset. Photo by @tm_notes

Lake Xochimilco has actually been a part of 5 historically significant lakes for a long time. This was an indisputable fact from ancient times to the ice age. After the global melting of glaciers, the climate in Mexico has also changed. Heat has become an obstacle to filling the lakes with new waters from melting snow.

As a result, the water level in the lake system began to decline sharply. Already in the 14th century, the Aztec tribes who settled on the shore of the lake began building new dams. So it was created Lake Xochimilco.

Today the system of 5 lakes has disappeared, and now we can see only Lake Xochimilco with a large system of water channels.

Mexico Valley water system 1519
Valley of Mexico water system and lake Xochimilco in it as it was in 1519

Wild nature on Lake Xochimilco

The world of animals and plants here is so diverse that it is difficult to list all species, and not to forget one of them. On the lake can be found, as well as widespread plant species, and endemic species. For example, water lily is sometimes a problem for the cleanliness of Lake Xochimilco. The plant grows on an incredibly large scale.

An important rare plant is the “achiote”. It grows in the small depths of the lake and its canals.

Among the animals, many aquatic inhabitants live on the lake.

Here is species you can see here:

  • Freshwater crayfish
  • Frog Moctezuma
  • Amphibian
Mexican amphibian axolotl
Mexican amphibian – Axolotl is in critical danger of extinction and could be found only in lake Xochimilco today. Photo by @axolotitlan

An interesting fact: during the reign of the Aztecs, the amphibian acocil was an effective medicine, food and at the same time an object during ceremonies and celebrations.

In addition, Lake Xochimilco is home to nearly half of all migratory birds of Mexico. Among the birds are:

  • Pelicans
  • Storks
  • Falcons
  • Buzzards
White pelicans on the water of lake xochimilco
White pelicans. Photo by @plantasxochimilco

Parks and reserves

Lake Xochimilco is an ideal place for sports recreation and active pastime. Right on the coast, there are two sports centers Pista Olimpica de Remo y Canotaje Virgilio Uribe and Spain Club Xochimilco. They have all the conditions for cycling, rollerblading, and kayaking. Bad weather is not a hindrance if you are going to spend a weekend here with your family. The complex on the territory of the park has a pool, billiards, as well as cozy cafes for hearty lunches and dinners.

Tourists who want to get as close as possible to untouched nature should definitely pay attention to Forest Nativitas State Nature Reserve (Bosque De Nativitas), which is 1 mile from the south of the Xochimilco. Here you will find yourself in the real jungle and admire the wildlife!

Lake Xochimilco
Bosque De Nativitas near lake Xochimilco. Photo by @iitzii

How to spend time on the lake

As you remember, Lake Xochimilco is a lake with a large system of water channels. That is why Lake Xochimilco is a great place for boating. Here it is very popular especially among locals who love boat trips on weekends. The rent a boat for an hour on the lake you need 25 US dollars.

Xochimilco Ecological Park and Plant Market is the nature reserve of Mexico. It includes a Botanical Garden, bird sanctuary, Chochilta garden, and tourist recreation area.

Lake Xochimilco
Flower market in Xochimilco – Mercado de plantas. Photo by @alemontanomm

The Xochimilco is one of the areas in which there are unusual beautiful gardens. Here you can buy souvenirs, plants for home or cottage and feed the birds.

Horrific landscapes of the island of dolls  

The Island of the dolls is one of the most attractive and at the same time frightening places, located in the canals of the lake.

The island is full of broken and old dolls that hang from trees. It looks both mysterious and terrifying at the same time. Of course, curious tourists madly want to get here and find themselves in the atmosphere of a frightening island.

Terrific island of dolls in Xochimilco
Xochimilco, Island of the Dolls – Isla de las Muñecas. Photo by @tm_notes

The story of the dolls appearance is connected with 1950 year. A young woman drowned in the waters of Lake Xochimilco, and the owner of the island, Julián Santana, believed that the dolls would chase away the spirit of the dead woman. Since then, a huge number of dolls of different styles fill this island and attract tourists.

Locals and foreigners love boating to see these horrific landscapes. A boat trip costs about 42 US dollars. If you are smart, you can bargain and pay only 32 US dollars.

Boats Xochimilco aerial photo
A lot of boats are waiting for tourists in Xochimilco

Beautiful cities around

Of course, this is Mexico City – the great capital of the highland country with more than 100 places of interest.

Start with the main city square, Plaza de la Constitucion. Its other name is Zócalo. By right, this area is considered the largest and most beautiful in all of Mexico. Exactly at 6 pm, there is a solemn ceremony of raising the national flag. Do not lose the chance to see this amazing sight!

Just across the square, you will find Cathedral Metropolitana. This magnificent Baroque cathedral dates back to the 16th century. Entrance to the cathedral is free. And next to the cathedral in the evenings you can see the energetic dances of Mexicans disguised as Indians. It is worth seeing for everyone.

You can get from Mexico City’s airport to the central square by almost any public transport. In order not to catch traffic jams and get to quickly use the subway. This is the blue line (№2), you need to go to the station Zocalo.

Good conditions for life

To stay in the lake for several days, you can rent a room in one of the sports centers on its shore or in a hotel on the coast. There are a lot of them.

If the atmosphere of the lake is to your liking, if you are not confused by the neighborhood with the ambiguous place of the island of dolls, and you would like to stay here to live, then why not? This is a beautiful ecologically clean area with developed infrastructure.

Most of the residential real estate is apartment buildings of 4-5 floors. For example, an apartment with 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and a garage in this house will cost $ 215,000 US dollars. This is a democratic price at which you will get comfortable housing.

Apartmets for sale in Mexico City Xochimilco
A good quality life in Xochimilco for only 215 000 US dollars

The best way to get to Lake Xochimilco

From Mexico

Lake Xochimilco is just 45 minutes south of the center of Mexico City. The capital has a very good transport network, so you can take a bus, subway or take a taxi. One convenient route: take Bus Ruta 9 from Metro Jamaica to Xochimilco Centro.

For the tourists from other countries

Foreign tourists make up the majority of travelers on the lake. To get to the Xochimilco, you must first fly to Mexico City Airport from your country. From the airport to the city center, the distance is about 4 miles. You should go to the town square by bus.

If you want to go to Lake Xochimilco not from the central part of the city, in any case, your task is just to get to any metro station, take the blue line and get to the Metro Jamaica station and change onto the Ruta 9 bus.

We hope this information was useful for you and will make your trip to Lake Xochimilco enjoyable!

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