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VIRTUAL TOUR

From the Visitor's Center at the entrance of the Botanical Garden, an extensive network of paths lead to various points of ecological, scenic and historical interest.

NOTE: It is obligatory that children be accompanied by adults.

Regional Plants Trail. MAP
Along this primary trail are various trees, shrubs and cacti native to our semiarid region, most of them growing naturally in El Charco. This pathway likewise offers an exceptional view of Las Colonias reservoir, the wetlands and islands, as well as the northern reserve of the Botanical Garden.  At the end of this trail is the access gate to Landeta Park.

vereda de plantas regionales  

 

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Conservatory of Mexican Plants. mapa MAPA
- open daily from 9 am to 5 pm.
A spacious pavilion designed by architect Enrique Pliego, showcasing a significant sample of El Charco's botanical collection in both interior and exterior areas. Most of the specimens, in particular the cacti and other succulents, of which Mexico has a great diversity, were collected over the years from different regions of the country. The Conservatory also contains aquatic plants and fish native to our region. A direct solar-powered system pumps the water that circulates through the pools.

conservatorio  

 

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Agave garden mapa MAPA
This open-air space next the Conservatory is dedicated to the botanical family Agavaceae, plants commonly known as maguey. More than 60 species of Mexican agaves are represented. Their many uses (food, drink, fibers, medical remedies) are as varied as their forms and sizes, from the enormous Century plants and tall yuccas, to the most delicate small specimens.

agaves  

 

 

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Plaza of the Garambullo mapa MAPA
A few steps from the Conservatory, this small plaza offers an interesting view of the Las Colonias reservoir to the west and the northern reserve of the Botanical Garden.

agaves  

 

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Southern shore of the Reservoir mapa MAPA
An easy path follows the edge of the reservoir, which is a wildlife sanctuary. During the fall and winter months, visitors can observe populations of resident and migratory birds in the trees and bushes that grow along the shore. These birds find shelter, food and nesting conditions among the reeds and other vegetation on the banks of the reservoir and the islands that were created for that reason.

agaves  

 

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The Reservoir Dam mapa MAPA
Built at the beginning of the 20th century, this solid structure of cantera and stone retains water that overflows into the arroyo and canyon of El Charco during the rainy season. It also provides a panoramic view of the canyon to the west and the wetlands and reservoir to the east.

agaves  

 

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The Iron Pipe mapa MAPA
This very long aqueduct was built a few years after the dam, to conduct water over a distance of one kilometer from the reservoir to the La Aurora textile factory, where it was used to generate electricity. The aqueduct ceased to function in the mid-20th century due to the drying up of the springs that fed the reservoir and the accumulation of silt.

agaves  

 

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The Mill mapa MAPA
A small stone building in ruins, from Colonial times, which was a water mill used to grind grain or perhaps to treat wool, powered by a year-round stream that existed at that time. The base of the axle of the rotating wheel is still visible and, above, part of the stone aqueduct where the water flowed over that wheel. It is an important part of the historical site.

agaves  

 

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Trails above the Canyon mapa MAPA
There are two scenic trails on the southern side of the canyon, one high and the other low, from which the majestic stone formations of the natural monument can be viewed. Cacti and other plants cling to the cliff walls and outcroppings, and from the bottom of the ravine emerge groves of trees. An interesting variety of native ferns and other plants grow on the sides of the trails. One can also observe canyon birds and sometimes mammals and reptiles. From certain points on the paths, it is possible to see below the legendary pool that gave its name to the site: El Charco del Ingenio.

agaves  

 

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Scenic overlooks to the West mapa MAPA
The canyon paths continue into a wooded area with panoramic vistas to the west. The high cliff walls of the canyon gradually open out to reveal, among rocky outcrops covered with lichen, a broad vista that includes the Obraje reservoir, the city of San Miguel spreading out from the foot of the hillside, the great Laja River Valley and the Guanajuato mountain range on the distant horizon. This view is particularly beautiful during sunset.

agaves  

 

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Zone of Rescued Plants mapa MAPA
Returning from the upper reaches of El Charco, the main path passes through an area dedicated to specimens and groups of cactus and other succulent plants that have been rescued and replanted by the Botanical Garden in salvage operations: from the construction sites of hydroelectric reservoirs, highways and real-estate developments that destroyed the natural habitats of important populations of plants. Some of these specimens are very old and large, and today form part of the botanical collection of the Garden.

agaves  

 

 

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Plaza of the Four Winds mapa MAPA
This is the primary ceremonial and scenic gathering place of the Botanical Garden, designed by architect Enrique Pliego. From here one can see the three distinct habitats of the conservation area: the dry scrubland, the canyon and the wetlands. Parts of Parque Landeta are also visible. And on the horizon, in all directions, are the silhouettes of the surrounding mountain ranges: La Margara, Los Picachos and Santa Rosa.
The Plaza, built with inlaid colored stones, is a ceremonial space inspired by the 16th century Chichimeca-Toltec codex. Four outer circles indicate the four cardinal directions and the corresponding figures evoke the four natural resources (earth, water, flora and fauna) in traditional pre-Columbian colors. The central circle represents the sun at the moment that it is covered by the moon … in honor of the solar eclipse of 1991, the date upon which the Botanical Garden was founded and the Holy Cross of El Charco del Ingenio dedicated. This plaza is the gathering place for indigenous communities of San Miguel during the annual festival of the Holy Cross that is celebrated every July.

agaves  

 

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Multi-use Dome mapa MAPA
This facility, located next to the Plaza of the Four Winds, has recently been renovated to serve as an auditorium and multi-purpose room with excellent acoustics and a seating capacity of 80 persons. It has a kitchen, bathroom and storeroom as well as running water and electricity. The Dome is well equipped for meetings, talks, workshops, projections, ceremonies, temporary exhibitions and other activities, and of course, the annual vigil of the Festival of the Holy Cross of El Charco del Ingenio.

agaves  

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The Northern Zone. mapa MAPA
The majority of the Botanical Garden's territory is located on the far side of the canyon and reservoir, and is primarily dedicated to the conservation of native flora and fauna. The northern zone trails are accessed by crossing the reservoir dam.

agaves  

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On these trails, one can appreciate the process of (passive) restoration of the vegetation, simply accomplished by the protection of the area for more than 15 years. To the west, a vast area of dry scrubland and grasses extends to the borders of the nature reserve, with panoramic views from the edge of the canyon.

agaves  

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To the east lie the ruins of the 18th century Hacienda Las Colonias, abandoned for more than 50 years. Some of the original stone floors and a barrel vault ceiling remain. Every month, during the full moon, traditional ritual steam-baths (temascal) are held in the round sweat-lodge, recently built for that purpose, as a regular monthly activity of the Botanical Garden. The hacienda ruins can also be reached via the northern shore of the reservoir, an exceptionally good area for bird-watching, especially during the fall and winter months.

hacienda  

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El Charco Gift Shop and Cafeteria . mapa MAPA
Upon your return to the Visitor's Center, don't miss these two places.
The Gift Shop is in itself one of the site's attractions. An ongoing source of income for the nonprofit organization, it is also an information center staffed by friendly and knowledgeable employees at the service of guests of the Botanical Garden.

- Open every day from 8 am to 6 pm.
- Sale of diverse articles related to the environmental motifs of the garden: organic and health-related products, clothing, regional handcrafts, books and other publications, posters and artworks.
- Sale of cacti and other plants produced in the nursery of the Botanical Garden.
- Aligned with the worldwide "fair trade" movement.
- Purchase of annual memberships.

El Charco Cafeteria, with a succulent variety of juices, coffee and nutritious snacks, is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm.

hacienda  

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