The Colorful Trajineras
The incredible UNESCO World Heritage Site listed Xochimilco is a place like no other. No visit to Mexico City can be completed until you come here. Those are the original canals and lakes built by the Aztecs that connected most of the settlements on the Valley of Mexico. Nowadays it is world famous for the colourful wooden boats taking locals and tourists alike up and down. The boats are called trajineras, and they are for rent on several options depending on size and time.
Having seen it in the movies, adverts and travel catalogs everywhere, it is somewhat one of the main images we have in mind when talking about Mexico. Colours, flowers, canals and boats, an unique experience not to be missed.
There are over 170km of canals and artificial islands all over Xochimilco. Of course the boats won’t take you any farther than the main canal and others on the side, but this is more than enough to appreciate the place and get to see how people also live on the shores. Watch out for the beautiful birds too but mostly, enjoy the quietness and music from the many mariachi boats passing by.
For more information about this place visit Wikipedia and Wikitravel sites. Mexico’s currency is the Mexican Peso (MXN, MEX$ or $). Please note that any price reference is true as from when this guide was created, therefore check prices in advance as with the time they change.
How to get here
From Mexico City metro you can connect from anywhere to metro line 2 direction to Tasqueña which is the last stop of the line. Once there you need to change for the Light Rail. Simply follow the signs as you leave the metro station, the tram station is also the first and last of the route. Xochimilco is the very last stop of the line, so prepare for a long ride. Unfortunately the trains are too short and people will quickly push their way in to secure a seat. Don’t be of any compassion, behave the same way and think for yourself as everyone else does.
Once you arrive to the last stop of the line, you will see signs for boats (barcas in Spanish) o embankment (embarcaderos). Keep following them and you will arrive to the main pier where all the boats are waiting.
How to visit the site
It is imperative that you do not accept any price once you approach the piers and the boat owners balance over you offering their service. You need to negotiate and definitely reduce their quotation. Also bear in mind that you could either take a boat with more people or a boat for your self. Obviously the second option is more expensive. Then it also depends on how long you want the tour to be. Less than 1 hour, 1 hour or longer, it’s your choice.
We found on the way two girls heading for the same intention of getting a boat, so we ended up sharing between the four of us after previously negotiating the price. For your guideline, we paid 150 Mex$ per person for 2 hours. Original quotations was 300 per person.
You do not need to buy drinks before you get on the boat, along the way there are boats selling you drinks and not overpriced at all. Also along the way you will come across mariachi boats. For some money you can get them to navigate coupled to your boat and singing few song. The boat will take you to make a stop at one of the flower shops. They always have a stop so the guy pushing the boat can also rest.