Guerrero is a state on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. Almost all of Guerrero's tourism is concentrated among the municipalities of Acapulco, Zihuatanejo and Taxco, which the state promotes as the “Triángulo del Sol” (Triangle of the Sun). Acapulco is by far the most important of the three.
- 1 Chilpancingo — state capital, near the Grutas de Cacahuamilpa National Park, which is famous for its caves
- 2 Acapulco — the state's largest city, known for its beaches
- 3 Barra de Potosí — a very small fishing village sitting in a mangrove lagoon
- 4 Cuajinicuilapa — the home of Afro-Mexican culture, with a museum
- 5 Iguala — the birthplace of the Mexican flag has a flag museum and a giant flag pole
- 6 Ixtapa — a planned city with many resort hotels
- 7 Troncones — an undeveloped beach town known for its surfing
- 8 Taxco — a beautiful, hilly town that is a center for silver mining and smithing
- 9 Zihuatanejo — one of the most-visited areas in Mexico, it is popular with sports fishermen
- 1 Grutas de Cacahuamilpa National Park - This national park near Taxco is an enormous show cave, and one of the largest in the world. Although more than 90 big rooms (salas) have been explored, only about 20 are open to visitors on tours.
The state is mountainous and rugged with flat areas limited to small mesas and the Pacific coastline. Tourism is the single most important economic factor of the state and Acapulco's tourism is important to the nation's economy as a whole.
Guerrero is home to a number of indigenous communities, including the Nahuas, Mixtecs, Tlapanecs, Amuzgos, and formerly Cuitlatecs. It is also home to communities of Afro-Mexicans in the Costa Chica region.
Two major airports serve Guerrero:
Due to safety concerns, the best way for foreign travelers to get around is by plane, flying to safer areas, such as Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, or take a bus from Mexico City to the silver mining town of Taxco or the state capital of Chilpancingo.
If you decide to rent a car and drive, you are safest staying on the major federal highways through the state, MEX-95 through Taxco, Chilpancingo, and Acapulco, or MEX-200 (the Pacific Coast Highway) from Lazaro Cardenas, through Ixtapa and Zihuatenjo, Acapulco, and Cuajinicuilapa to the Oaxaca border. Exploring the backroads to lesser known towns may be risky as these towns are sometimes dominated by drug cartels.
Several bus lines provide service throughout Guerrero. ETN is the most luxurious line serving cities along MEX-95 between Acapulco and Mexico City. Estrella de Oro serves coastal cities such as Zihuatenejo.
Acapulco is one of Mexico's oldest and most well-known beach resorts, which came into prominence by the 1950s as a getaway for Hollywood stars and millionaires. Acapulco is still famous for its nightlife and still attracts many vacationers, although most are now from Mexico itself. Zihuatanejo has been paired with the modern tourist resort of Ixtapa, 5 km away. However, Zihuatanejo keeps its traditional town feel. Taxco was one of the primary mining areas during the colonial period. It has narrow winding streets with no sidewalks, due to being built in a narrow ridge on the side of a mountain. The town was declared a national monument by Mexico in 1990, with numerous historical buildings dating from the 17th to 19th centuries.
Most of Guerrero's pre-Hispanic history is known through archeology. The state has 1,705 registered archeological sites, with seven open to the public. These include La Organera-Xochipala, Palma Sola, Teopantecuanitlán and Cuetlajuchitlán.
La Organera-Xochipala is the best known of Guerrero's archeological sites because of its monumental architecture. The site has seven states of development with six patios, and thirty two structures. The site covers 1,600 m² and is located in the community of Xochilapa in the municipality of Eduardo Neri or Zumpango del Río, which is a mountainous and semi-arid region of the state. It was occupied from 650 CE to 1000 CE The tombs are the most notable constructions here and feature a number of Mayan “false arches.”
Palma Sola is a site on the south side of El Veladero in Acapulco. This site does not have any structure but rather it is important for 18 rocks with petrogylphs with images of humans, plants and animals. There are also figures which look to be calendar like and geographic in function.
Teopantecuanitlan is the most important Olmec era site in Guerrero. It is estimated to have been inhabited from between 1000 and 500 BCE. It is in the Valley of Copalillo where the Amacuzas and Mezcala (Balsas) Rivers converge. Cuetlajuchitlan was discovered accidentally during the construction of the Cuernavaca, Acapulco highway. To preserve the site, the Los Querendes Tunnel was built underneath it. It is calculated to extend 35 hectares (86 acres) but only 2 hectares (4.9 acres) have been explored. It was principally occupied between 200 BCE and 200 CE. It is identified as being with the Mezcala culture. The site stands out as an early example of a planned city which extends from the intersection two main roads.
Pueblo Viejo is located on the side of the El Tamarindo mountain just west of the city of Iguala. This site has an extension of 900,000 m² and is divided in two parts due to a ravine that runs through it. The exact number of structures here is not known because the site has not been fully explored. The site of Ixcateopan is located in the municipality of the same name. The explored site was a civic-religious center with a palace and an altar to Quetzalcoatl. Los Tepoltzis, outside the community of Tixtla, consists of a number of small sites including a ceremonial center 30 meters long, 3 meters high with stairways and a plaza. Huamuxtitlán is in the municipality of the same name. While the site is covers significant territory only one pyramid has been uncovered. Most of the rest of the site consists of living quarters. Near this site are smaller sites along the Tlapaneco River.
The state has a number of sites suitable for ecotourism, including mountains, caves, wild areas for the observation of flora and fauna, camping and areas that offer extreme sports. Many of the extreme sports are offered in the Acapulco area including high-speed water jets, kayaking, canoeing, river rafting, rock climbing, spelunking, paintball, mountain climbing, parasailing and more. Activities in other parts of the state include rafting on the Papagayo River, kayaking and canoeing in Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo, rock-climbing in Chilpancingo and Taxco, mountain climbing in Ixcateopan, rappelling in Zihuatanejo, and bungee jumping and parasailing in Iguala.
There are a number of caves to explore such as Grutas Dos Arroyos in Dos Arroyos, various small caves in Pueblo Bravo and some in Acapulco. The best known caves in the state are in the Grutas de Cacahuamilpa National Park. This park is home to the Grutas de Cacahuamilpa Caverns and the Grutas de Carlos Pacheco. The first is a live cave with many rock formations still in progress. This has infrastructure for tourists and guided tours. The second set of caves is a dry cave with less infrastructure and tours only by appointment.
Guerrero is well-known for its quality metalwork, especially jewelry. The best known work produced in the state is made with silver, centered in the town of Taxco. Each year this town holds the annual National Silver Fair (Feria Nacional de la Plata). Gold is worked in locations such as Iguala, Ciudad Altamirano, Coyuca de Catalán, Arcelia and Ometepec. Steel machetes and other items are produced in Ayutla, Tixtla, Chilapa, Tecpan deGaleana and Ometepec. Gold leaf is done in Tlacotepec, Tlalchipa and Cuetzala del Progreso. Costume jewelry is made in Acatlán, and Chilapa, producing buttons of various colors, pieces made of brass coated in nickel, glass and metal wire to produce items such as necklaces, bracelets, and more. Other jewelry is made by twisting and weaving fine strands of silver or gold wire. Silver is mostly done in Taxco, with gold pieces in Ciudad Altamirano.
Wooden items are locally painted and coated with a high-gloss lacquer (laca). The best pieces of this type are made of a distinctively aromatic wood called lináloe (from Bursera aloexylon). But due to lináloe's relative scarcity, cheaper ones are made from pine and treated to smell like lináloe. The making of lacquered items is centered in the municipality of Olinalá, but also in Temalcalcingo, Ocotepec and Acapetlahuaya. Items made include small boxes, chests, trays, masks, frames, jewelry boxes.
Pottery is a very traditional craft and is practiced in many of the communities of the state, although most of the wares produced are basic and meant for local consumption. These items include cooking pots, water containers, pitchers, candle holders and some sculptured decorative items. Most of these items have been made the same way since the pre-Hispanic period. The best quality ware is considered to be made in the central valleys in municipalities such as Zacualpan, Nuitzalapa, Atzacualoya, and others. Some areas have become specialized for certain types of pieces. The San Juan neighborhood of Chilapa make figures of a ceramic which is glassy after firing. Acatlán makes ceramic toys, and Ometepec specializes in the making of very large cántaro jars, traditionally used for storage.
Clothing and textiles are mostly made by indigenous communities such as the Nahuas, Mixtecos and Amuzgos, who use weaving and embroidery patterns to distinguish themselves from one another. The most distinctive indigenous clothing item is the huipil although rebozos and other items are also made. While much is made for local consumption, indigenous clothing can be found in tourist areas and other markets as well as tablecloths, napkins and other decorative pieces. Communities with reputation for their textiles include Tlacoachistlahuaca, Xochistlahuaca, Yoloxóchilt (San Luis Acatlán) and Acatlán (Chilapa).
Another craft, practiced mostly along the central and coastal areas, is that of palm frond weaving. With these fronds items like hats, bags, fans, mats, animal figures and more are made. A particular type of hat made in this fashion in Chilapa, Zitlala, Zapotitlán Tablas and Ahuacoutzingo is called a “costeño” hat.
Most handcrafted furniture is made in Taxco and Ixcatepoan, in which an aromatic cedar is found. Other furniture producing areas are Chilpancingo, Iguala, Teloloapan and Ciudad Altamirano. In addition to furniture, items such as masks and figures are carved from wood.
One craft which is specific to the state is painting using traditional amate or bark paper as a canvas. This craft began in the 1970s in Xalitla, located between Iguala and Chilpancingo. Since that time, these paintings or drawings have become known inside and outside of Mexico. The best known works today come from the communities of Maxela, San Juan, Ahuelicán and Ahuehuepan. Most of the themes of these paintings are related to agriculture, everyday life and religion.
Leathercrafts is mostly limited to saddlemaking and other items relating to horseback riding. This is prominent in areas such as San Jerónimo, Chilpancingo, Tixtla, Quechultenango and others. Other crafts include stone sculpting and the cutting of precious and semiprecious stones, buttons and other items for clothing and costume jewelry.
Cuisine in the state is most strongly influenced by the indigenous, the Spanish and, to some extent, the French. Corn, chili pepper, beans and meat are indigenous ingredients. Indigenous preparations include the various moles (red, green, yellow and others), chalupas, totopos, atole, pozole and many other dishes. Spanish contributions include wheat, leavened bread (including “chilpancingueñas") and dairy products. French influence comes from the French occupation of the country in the 19th century as well as French monks who had been in the area of Chilapa earlier.
Regional dishes include mole de jumil (made from a particular type of native beetle) in Taxco, bean tamales in Tepecuacuilco, quail dishes in Iguala and seafood cuatete in the Costa Chica area. Pozole blanco is widely and traditionally consumed on Thursdays and Saturdays in the state.
Chilate is a flavored atole (corn-based drink) served in the afro-mexican communities of the Costa Chica region of western Guerrero. The drink is flavored with cocoa, rice, cinnamon and sugar, and is served very cold and usually over ice.
A number of areas in the state produce mezcal and wine is made in the Huitzuco area. If you're exploring some of the smaller towns in Guerrero, keep your eye open for locally produced mezcals. Although Oaxaca is the state with the most mezcal distilleries, several artesanal distillers in Guerrero produce excellent mezcals.
Guerrero is definitely not the safest state in Mexico. If travelling from Oaxaca, you'll probably notice the increased presence of the Army. The usual advice applies here.