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Mexico’s history goes back thousands of years, and the many archaeological sites across the country bear witness to the ancient natives’ lives and cultures. In the mountains of Riviera Nayarit, some of the ancient ruins in Mexico have been uncovered while some still lay shrouded in jungle vines. These Riviera Nayarit attractions reveal the complexity and spirituality of those who lived there long ago. Visits to these sites aren’t simply just fun vacation activities; they’re a chance to step back in time and learn more about our history, making them one of the best tourist attractions for history buffs and nature lovers on Mexico vacations.


While some indigenous people remain in Riviera Nayarit, many of them died during the Spanish conquest of Mexico and others have moved elsewhere. One of the tribes who left their mark on the land was the Tecoxquines who had been fishing and farming the land for centuries. When the Spanish arrived in the 1500s, many of the Tecoxquines were forced into slavery while others died of smallpox. Sadly, their tribe has been wiped out, but their memory lives on through the ancient ruins in Mexico they left behind. Taking the time to learn more about their culture on your Mexico vacations is one of the most enriching vacation activities that will leave you in awe of the country’s rich history.

Just up the river from the sleepy seaside town of Chacala, the jungle is filled with stone engravings, also known as petroglyphs, from thousands of years ago. Many of these engravings are still buried beneath the flora and fauna. These archaeological sites have come to be known as the Altavista Petroglyphs. Scholars have attributed various meanings to the different carvings, many of which refer to gods and religious ceremonies. Visiting the Altavista Petroglyphs is one of the most culturally rich things to do in Riviera Nayarit. As you hike along the river, several signs tell you about the ruins, the Tecoxquines, and their symbols. When you reach the end, you’ll find one of the most rewarding Riviera Nayarit attractions: a natural pool with clear water to cool off in.


To see these ancient ruins in Mexico, the easiest way for most tourists is with Mexitreks, a family-owned tour company. However, if you have a car, a visit to these archaeological sites is easy. Between kilometer 81 and 82 on Highway 200, you’ll find the exit marked for Altavista. The road into the jungle is rough, and it’s not advisable to take a small, low-riding car up it. A short way from the exit is a convenience store where you can load up on drinks and snacks to take with you on the hike. In a mile, you’ll turn left at the fork in the road which leads to the tiny town of Altavista. For a small fee, you can park your car here and begin the hike up the river for one of the most popular vacation activities in the area. While it will take a while to get here from Nuevo Vallarta, this is one of the top things to do in Riviera Nayarit that will make your Mexico vacations truly unique and memorable.

The best tourist attractions in the world give you the opportunity to learn about other countries and ancient cultures. If you’re looking for new things to do in Riviera Nayarit, perhaps one of the most unique tourist attractions is really the oldest. When you witness the beauty and history of the Altavista Petroglyphs, you’ll understand why these are one of the most important Riviera Nayarit attractions.

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