Visiting El Tule in Oaxaca, Mexico

6 Nov

Grounds around El Tule in Oaxaca Mexico

Grounds surrounding El Arbol del Tule

I spent two weeks in Oaxaca, Mexico this summer and, while it’s only been three months since I was there, I’m already excited to visit again. When I came back from Mexico I wrote about my food experiences, but I also traveled throughout the state and enjoyed much more of what Oaxaca has to offer beyond food. One day we traveled by bus to five different locations: El Tule, a mezcal refinery, learned about natural dyes and textile weaving, Mitla, and Hierve el Agua. Every sight was unique, beautiful, and extremely informative, so I’ll write about each visit separately.

El Arbol del Tule (The Tree of Tule) is a huge and very old cypress tree with a circumference of over 100 feet. The actual footage is debated because, as you can see from the pictures below, the trunk has many intricacies that make it difficult to measure, but it’s roughly 120 feet around. What about the Giant Sequoia trees in California, you might ask? I know, I thought those were the largest too, but turns out they are the largest in total volume (Sequoias are very tall), while El Tule is the largest in circumference. The size of the tree impressed me, but what I find to be even more fascinating is its age: this living tree is between 1,500  and 2,000 years old!

Child giving tour of El Tule to visitors and showing shapes in the tree

Arriving at El Tule, we paid the entrance fee for a few pesos and were assigned to our guide – a boy wearing an official t-shirt and carrying a small mirror. Using the mirror, the kids point out images in the tree’s trunk, such as animals and people. We saw around 30 images in the tree.

Child using mirror to highlight shapes in El Tule

See the sun reflecting from girl’s mirror onto the tree?

Section of El Tule tree

This is a small portion of the tree – it’s huge!

Entire giant El Tule tree from across the lawn

The whole tree.

Surrounding the tree is the community of Santa Maria del Tule, along with items for tourists to purchase such as souvenirs, food, mezcal, and sweets. This was our first stop on a day-long tour, so we moved on after viewing the tree and taking a few pictures in the beautiful area surrounding it (see top image), but it would be great to spend some time in the town as well.

El Tule, Santa Maria del Tule, Oaxaca, Mexico (a short drive from the city of Oaxaca)


4 Responses to “Visiting El Tule in Oaxaca, Mexico”

  1. Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic November 11, 2012 at 2:28 pm #

    I’d love to go to Mexico someday, too. And see these trees! I also wanna see the sequoias in the west coast 🙂

    • Liz November 14, 2012 at 1:39 pm #

      It was an amazing trip! I’ve never seen sequoias either – that whole region of the country looks like a wonderful place to visit. Some day!

  2. The Squishy Monster November 6, 2012 at 8:48 pm #

    What a cool trip! My visit to Mexico was nothing like this–looks like I missed out.

    • Liz November 16, 2012 at 1:15 pm #

      Thanks for your comment! I honestly think most people visit Mexico and get the resort experience – which is enjoyable in its own way (I’ve done the Playa Del Carmen resort thing myself!) – but yes, visiting places like El Tule is my favorite way to really get a more well-rounded view.

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