The town of Chapala is located on the shores of Mexico’s largest freshwater lake, Lake Chapala. This lake is 53 miles long and 17 miles wide. Walking to the shoreline one will see a type of weed (water hyacinth) that has proved to be a voracious pest in recent years. This weed is multiplying rapidly and clogging waterways of the lake. Unfortunately this weed has gained a foothold due to the dropping water levels of the lake, because of the increased populations on its shores and in nearby towns.
The town of Chapala is located about 30 minutes from Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla International Airport. From the airport its a fairly easy drive to the lake – take Highway 44, then Highway 23 heading south until it reaches Avenida Francisco Ignacio Madero, the primary road into the town of Chapala. Follow this road due south towards the lake eventually arriving at the lake and the Mirador Lago de Chapala. This pier is an ideal place for first time visitors to stop, stretch their legs and capture some photographs. Numerous vendors sell a variety of products next to the pier including a particular type of fish (white fish) caught in Lake Chapala.
Lake Chapala is home to the largest community of United States and Canadian expats outside of their home countries.
Several other communities nearby to Chapala are worth visiting including Ajijic and Jocotepec (both home to large numbers of expats). Jocotepec, on the western shores of the lake, was founded in 1529.
Isla de Mezcala (or Mezcala Island) is located in the middle of Lake Chapala. Tour boats leave each day for the island from the tiny town of Mezcala or from Chapala (the island can easily be seen from Mezcala). The remains of a fort on the island and old Spanish prison called El Presidio are left over from the Mexican War of Independence.
Recommended Restaurants in Ajijic
The best steak you have ever tasted is at “Bruno’s” restaurant. Also a delight is Jack’s “El Oso Dorado”. Not only is Jack a colorful character, but his food is excellent and is cooked by the well known great chef, Concha Taggert. This restaurant is off the beaten path, on the cutoff highway to Guadalajara, and should not be missed.
~ Kathy (a resident for 20+ years)
Editors note: El Oso Dorado is now permanently closed.