The colonial city of Oaxaca, which can be reached on a comfortable 5-6 hour road trip south from Mexico City, or a short 45-minute flight from the capital, is one of the most rewarding travel destinations in Mexico.
About eight miles east of the city center is the village of Santa Maria del Tule, where you’ll find what can be seen in most towns and villages in Mexico: a quaint church, a small plaza, and local markets. However, thousands of Mexican and foreign visitors flock to this village every month to witness something you cannot find elsewhere in Mexico: the living legend of El Tule, a 2,000 year-old living tree.
Getting to Santa Maria del Tule from Oaxaca City is very easy. You can either take one of the local buses which run to the village every quarter of an hour or so from the city’s local bus station, or you can take a taxi for a fare of around 60 pesos (US$3) each way. The journey time is about 20 minutes on the bus.
When you arrive in Santa Maria del Tule, you’ll probably find a crowd of people milling around the churchyard, home to El Tule—the oldest living tree in Mexico and one of the oldest trees in North America.
There is a nominal entrance fee that will relieve you of just a few pesos, a sum that also includes an entrance ticket, on the back of which you can learn about the tree’s vital statistics.
Its name in Latin is Taxiodium Mucronatum. A precise age is not given, but botanists have concluded that it’s “more than 2,000 years” in age.
The tree has a 58 meter (190 feet) circumference, a 14 meter (46 feet) diameter, stands more than 42 meters (139 feet) high, and has as estimated volume of 816 cubic meters (28,800 cubic feet).
According to the same ticket it weighs “636,107 tons”. If you’re wondering how to estimate the weight of a living tree, there are two methods, discussed here.
El Tule is quite an impressive sight, and it’s also quite humbling to stand beside (and under the shade of) a living thing that has been around since Roman times. It’s well worth the short journey from Oaxaca city to the village of Santa Maria del Tule. Weekends are particularly busy, so week-day visits are recommended to avoid the biggest crowds.
Learn more about the remarkable colonial city of Oaxaca here on Mexperience.
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