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The Red Dunes of Pacula: Like being on Mars, but in Mexico

A magical place near Mexico City to visit and feel like you are on another planet.

In the state of Hidalgo, in Mexico, about three hours from the city of Pachuca, there is a place that feels like another planet. It is the Red Dunes of Pacula, a magical destination; that is as close as many of us will ever get to walking on Mars. The red terracotta that covers its grounds, along with the rocks and winding roads, is the most attractive thing about this place.

Pacula, whose name means “Place of many turns,” is located north of Hidalgo, bordering the state of Queretaro, and is a popular destination for photographers and cyclists. It is part of the Sierra Madre Oriental, and its soil is made up of sedimentary rocks such as limestone and shale limestone, but what gives the dunes their crimson hue is iron, as well as laterite and other minerals that abound in the area.

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To reach the area of the Red Lands, as it is also known, you have to walk through some rock formations in the middle of the forest. There the greenery transforms into bright red.

It should be noted that the terrain is unstable, so if you venture to visit the Red Dunes of Pacula you should wear appropriate footwear and walk carefully. As it is free to access, it is recommended that you go to a group or the company of a tour guide.

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Story originally published in Spanish in Cultura Colectiva

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