Michoacan: Lakes, Mountains and Quilt Work of Villages
The state of Michoacan, in western Mexico, offers some of the most outstanding landscapes in the country. The vast, often rugged, countryside is a breath-taking mix of mountains, rolling hills and valleys, forests, rivers and deep lakes. Most of the state is situated at a high altitude, and the lakes in Michoacan are some of the highest lakes in the world.
Aside from its capital city, which is colonial and regal in its style and appearance, Michoacan state is made up principally of a quilt work of small towns and villages, mostly indigenous, and often dotted around one of the many lakes.
Fishing has been a principal source of food and income for the local people here over the centuries; and the state’s symbolism is often associated with fishing: look at the reverse side of a current-day $50 peso note, and you’ll see important images relating to the state of Michoacan, including a reference to fishing.
Lake Patzcuaro and its Villages
Lake Patzcuaro is probably the most well-known of all the lakes, not least because of the popularity of the town after which the lake is named.
The lake supports a handful of small islands and islets—the principal one is the island of Janitzio. Today, the island gets particularly crowded with tourists at weekends and especially on Dia de Muertos festivities. You can read about Janitzio in our guide to Patzcuaro.
The villages of Lake Patzcuaro, as they are known collectively, are made up of small hamlets inhabited by local indigenous people who have remained true to their heritage and customs. Many of the people in the villages only speak Purepecha, the dominant indigenous language of the region.
Visiting Patzcuaro today offers you a unique and wonderful opportunity to visit the villages around Lake Patzcuaro.
Each village has its own specialist art or craft and you can watch as hats, masks and other crafts are created.
The art and craft works on sale make excellent, unique and beautiful gifts or souvenirs and your purchases make a direct and significant contribution to the local economy of the region. You may, in some instances, also participate in the creation of the crafts.
A tour of the villages will give you insights into the local culture as well as a an opportunity to absorb the authentic ambiance. Many of the villages also feature old colonial churches and missions, some of which date back some 400 or more years.
Most of the artisans around Lake Patzcuaro speak Spanish and some even know a few words of English.
For the best experience, we recommend you take a guided tour of the lakeside villages. In addition to the language translation, you will enjoy the benefit of local knowledge which the guides have and be given an in-depth explanation of the villages and the local culture while you are there.
The Lakeside Villages
Connect to guides of the following lakeside villages:
Puacuaro – famous for reed-weaving in the Lake Patzcuaro region.
Jaracuaro – famous for dancing and hat-making
Tocuaro – famous for internationally-renowned traditional mask making.