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Introduction

Colima is a small state in western Mexico, on the Pacific coast. Away from the sea are mountains, a desert and a volcano. Colima is bordered by Jalisco and Michoacán, which are both popular destinations. Little Colima, however, is well worth a visit, boasting great beaches, friendly locals and one of Mexico's oldest cities.

The city of Colima was the capital of the Coliman Kingdom, an old civilisation from pre-colonial times. Now, it is the state's largest city - as well as its capital.

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Geography

The state is in an offshoot of the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range and geographically consists of four mountain systems. The most important of these is the Cerro Grande and its related peaks of Jurípicho-Juluapan, Los Juanillos, La Astilla, El Ocote, El Peón, El Barrigón, San Diego, and La Media Luna. The second consists of mountain chains parallel to the coast between the Marabasco and Armería Rivers, which include El Espinazo del Diablo, El Escorpión, El Tigre, El Aguacate, El Centinela, El Tora and La Vaca. The third is located between the Armería and Salado Rivers and include the Alcomún y Partida, San Miguel y Comala and San Gabriel/Callejones peaks. The last is between the Salado and Naranjo or Coahuayana Rivers and contains small mountain chains such as the Piscila, Volcancillos, La Palmera, El Camichín and Copales. Three quarters of the state is covered by mountains and hills.

At the very north of the state, the border is marked by two volcanoes. The Colima Volcano, also called the Volcán de Fuego, is active and the Nevado de Colima is not. The Nevado de Colima is taller at 4,264 metresand gives its name to the national park that surrounds it. The Colima Volcano is 3825 metres and has a pyramidal peak, in contrast to the other, which has been leveled somewhat. The last major eruptions of the Colima Volcano occurred in 1998 and 1999.

The main rivers of the state are the Cihuatlán (also called the Chacala, Marabasco, or Paticajo, which forms the state’s border with Jalisco on the west; the Armería, which descends from the Sierra de Cacoma and crosses the state north-south into the Pacific, and the Coahuayana River. The Salado is another important river, which flows entirely within Colima before emptying into the Coahuayana. Many of the state’s streams and arroyos empty into the Salado.

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Municipalities and Towns

The state of Colima is divided into 10 municipalities (municipios), each headed by a municipal president (mayor). Municipalities are named after the city that serves as municipal seat. These municipalities could be best compared to counties in the United States, in that they have their own government, police, and services. They also hold their own culture which culminates to create the state's culture. Each has its own songs, dances, and traditional foods.

The municipalities are:

  • Colima
  • Armería
  • Comala
  • Coquimatlán
  • Cuauhtémoc
  • Ixtlahuacán
  • Manzanillo
  • Minatitlán
  • Tecomán
  • Villa de Álvarez

The main cities in Colima are Colima, Manzanillo and Tecomán.

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Sights and Activities

There are many activities to do in Colima, including camping, bike riding, jogging, walking, watching crafts, visiting ruins, tasting authentic Mexican food and going to local fairs and markets.

  • Capacha is an archaeological site located about 6 kilometers northeast of the Colima Municipality. This site is the heart of the ancient Mesoamerican Capacha Culture. The Capacha Culture peoples were located between the Jalisco Sierra Madre Occidental and the Colima Valley. Several sites in the region have relations with Capacha, such as the Embocadero II site (800 BCE) in the Mascota Valley, which has a background with the shaft tomb tradition. There is also evidence of green stone articles, Jadeite cylindrical beads and possibly Amazonite, as well as Turquoise fragments.
  • El Opeño is an archaeological site located in the municipality of Jacona, in the Michoacán state, México. It is home to a prehispanic site, mainly known from the ceramic material found in the funerary complexes of the site, which have been dated to the late preclassical mesoamerican period. The importance of this site in mesoamerican archaeology is due to its antiquity and the ample diffusion of its style, contemporary to other native culture developments such as the Capacha culture and earlier of the Chupícuaro. El Opeño tombs are the oldest in Mesoamerica. Have been dated to around 1600 BCE, hence they predate de Olmec culture development, with main centers in the Gulf of Mexico coast and flourished some centuries later.
  • El Chanal is an archaeological site located at El Chanal town, 4 kilometres north of the Colima City. Based on its extension, over 50 hectares, it is probable that it was the largest settlement of the Colima state; it developed on both banks of the “Río Verde” or Río Colima. This archeological zone is maintained by the people of El Chanal. The area may have been inhabited by native groups around 1300 BC, achieving its maximum splendor between 1100 and 1400 CE. There is a Nahuatl connection shown by archaeological materials representing deities such as Tláloc and Ehécatl.

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Events and Festivals

Most of the fiestas of the state of Colima are related to the anniversaries of the foundation of municipalities, the celebration of local Roman Catholic patron saints or exhibitions of the most popular produce of the particular region. The majority are observed at the local level and, given that the greater part of the municipalities have few inhabitants, the festivals can be a bit austere.

The main event is the state fair, which runs from October 29 to November 10. Another popular event is the festival of Charro Taurinas in February, featuring bull fights. Fiestas de la Guadalupana is a colourful, local religious holiday that runs for the nine days leading up to December 12.

Day of the Dead

Although the Day of the Dead is also celebrated in many Latin American countries except Mexico (and also in parts of Europe, Asia and Africa), the Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de los Muertos) is most intensily celebrated in Mexciowhere where it is equal to a National Holiday. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. The celebration takes place on November 1st and 2nd, in connection with the Catholic holidays of All Saints' Day (November 1) and All Souls' Day (November 2). Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed and visiting graves with these as gifts. Although it is about the Dead, it is also a celebration where eating and partying both are common as well.

Other Events and Festivals

  • Grito de la Independencia - September 15th is Mexican Independence Day! A massive celebration involving plenty of singing, dancing and fireworks takes place in the Zócalo. Everyone here awaits an appearance from Mexico's president who rings a bell from a central balcony of the Palacio Nacional overlooking the Zócalo. The president then shouts out the Grito de Dolores, or the Cry of Dolores which was Father Hidalgo's famous call to arms against Spanish rule in 1810.
  • Dia de la Candelaria. Candlemas is held February 2nd and commemorates Jesus being introduced into the temple 40 days after his birth. This nationwide celebration sees many different ways of celebrating and many towns in Colima State hold processions, bullfights and dances. Of course, plenty of delicious, traditional foods are served during Dia de la Candelaria as well.
  • Carnaval is held in late February or early March throughout Colima State and all of Mexico. This big party is meant to celebrate the 40 day penance of Lent. Carnaval always takes place during the week or so prior to Ash Wednesday, 46 days before Easter Sunday. Mexicans celebrate this holiday with fireworks, food, dancing, parades, dancing and drinking.
  • Semana Santa, or Holy Week, is a huge celebration which starts on Palm Sunday. This is a very popular time for Mexicans to take a short break; as a result, it seems most of the country is on the move, with buses and hotels often booked out. As for the celebration of Semana Santa, expect colorful processions and many masses at churches everywhere.
  • Día de Nuestra Seňora de Guadalupe, or Day of our Lady of Guadalupe, is held December 12th. There is a week-long build up to this religious celebration in honour of the Virgin who appeared to the indigenous Juan Diego in the year 1531. Since then, the Lady of Guadalupe has been Mexico's religious patron and her veneration is very significant. It is traditional for young boys to be dressed as a Juan Diego and for young girls to be dressed in indigenous garb and brought to a special mass, held at many churches throughout the country.
  • New Year's Eve. Mexicans celebrate New Year's Eve or locally known as Año Nuevo, by downing a grape with each of the twelve chimes of the bell during the midnight countdown, while making a wish with each one. Mexican families decorate homes and parties, during New Year's, with colors such as red, to encourage an overall improvement of lifestyle and love, yellow to encourage blessings of improved employment conditions, green to improve financial circumstances and white to improved health. Mexican sweet bread is baked with a coin or charm hidden in the dough. When the bread is served, the recipient whose slice contains the coin or charm is believed to be blessed with good luck in the new year. One can expect a lot of firecrackers, fireworks and sparklers being fired. At midnight there is a lot of noise and everyone shouts: "Feliz año nuevo!" People embrace, make noise, set off firecrackers, and sing Auld Lang Syne.
  • Cinco de Mayo is an annual celebration held on May 5. The date is observed to commemorate the Mexican Army's victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza. The victory of the smaller Mexican force against a larger French force was a boost to morale for the Mexicans. A year after the battle, a larger French force defeated Zaragoza at the Second Battle of Puebla, and Mexico City soon fell to the invaders.

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Weather

The predominant climate is hot and relatively moist, with the coast particularly moist. One exception is the Tecomán municipality where the climate is dry and very hot. The mildest climates are in the municipalities of Comala and Cuauhtémoc. On the coast, the average temperature varies from between 24 °C and 26º C and in the near, at the highest elevations, the temperatures averages between 20 °C and 22 °C.The rainy season is between August and November.

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Getting There

There are airports in Colima and Manzanillo. There are bus services and good roads to and from Guadalajara in neighbouring Jalisco, but there is no train service.

By Plane

Miguel de la Madrid Airport (CLQ) in Colima and Playa de Oro International Airport (ZLO) in Manzanillo are the two main airports. There are direct flights to Colima from Mexico's main states like Monterrey, Mexico City and Tijuana.

By Car

From Guadalajara, it’s about 2 hours on the main road. It costs $180 pesos, to use the road, and about $200 worth of gas.The secondary road is ok, but there are many big buses and it will take an extra hour, so it will take 3 or 4 hours to get to Colima.

By Bus

Buses of all classes enter into Colima from neighboring states and beyond. First and second class buses serve the routes from further afield, while simpler buses move about the state on lesser roads serving the smaller villages and ejidos.

For an overview of schedules and connections, check thebusschedule.com. Also check out rome2rio.com.

The bus from Guadalajara takes about 3 hours. One recommended bus service is ETN, which offers comfortable seats for $220 pesos. The buses have TV. Two cheaper options are La Lineal Plus and Primer Plus, which cost around $180 pesos. There are even cheaper services (around $100 pesos) which stop in many little towns.

By Boat

There are a few cruise ships that come to Manzanillo.

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Getting Around

By Car

The state has 1,424.5 km of roadway with 686.9 km paved with asphalt and the rest stone or dirt road. The main highway out of the state connects the city of Colima and Guadalajara. The second most important connects Manzanillo with Guadalajara. This roadway has broken Mexican records in the dimensions of its bridges. There are 191.5 km of railway with fifteen active stations.[

By Bus

Every city and town in Colima has bus service from points within the state and beyond. First and second class buses traverse every major road and almost all secondary roads. Local bus service (often aboard old school buses) pick up the slack and serve even the smallest village. Buses are frequent and reservations are not needed; just show up at the bus station and purchase your onward ticket or, especially in smaller villages, simply flag the bus down en route. The holidays of Christmas and especially Easter see much of Mexico on the move - consider planning your bus travel ahead of time during these holidays.

For an overview of schedules and connections, check thebusschedule.com. Also check out rome2rio.com.

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Eat

  • Tacos are by far the most prevalent food in Mexico and come in many varieties and regional variances. Here, tacos are more often served on corn tortillas instead of wheat. Flour tortillas are the norm in the northern states of Mexico. Beef is also the meat of choice for tacos here,
  • Mollete is an open faced sandwich consisting of a bolillo roll smothered in refried beans and melted cheese.
  • Carnitas are slow braised meats usually bought by weight. These often come with tortillas to wrap the meat in. Any meats cooked in this fashion are always tender and very rich in flavor.
  • Cabuche is the flower from the biznaga cactus. this edible flower is a delicacy in San Luis Potosi state. There are many dishes this flower can go into and many ways to prepare it on it's own.
  • Chiles en Nogada - this dish is meant to represent the Mexican flag's 3 colors; red, white and green. The red portion of this dish is a garnish of pomegranate seeds, the white from a cream sauce and the green from poblano chili pepper.
  • Huitlacoche is a fungus that grows on organic corn ears due to the lack of anti fungal chemicals introduced to the crop. When cooked and added to certain dishes huitlacoche is very earthy in flavor.
  • Pozole - Choose either red or green pozole. This corn and chile based soup is very tasty and is served at many comedors and loncherias in marketplaces throughout Mexico.
  • Rosti-Pollo - Roast chicken is a hugely popular meal in Mexico and represents an astounding value for travelers on a budget. Order a whole, or half chicken. Each order comes with french fries, unlimited tortillas and salsa.
  • Birria Stew - Birria is typically goat meat but many establishments prepare it with beef. The broth is a tomato and chili based one although it is not too spicy. Fresh diced onions and cilantro always accompany birria stew as a garnish. Of course, unlimited corn tortillas are served with each bowl.

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Drink

Beer

Mass produced Mexican beers tend to be a bit less sweet than their American counterparts. All in all, Mexican beers are quite good and go very well with Mexican food. Microbrews are starting to pop up in big cities and certain varieties are distributed further afield. Many bars catering to a hip clientele will feature imported beers from throughout the world

Montejo, Leon, Victoria, Superior, Carta Blanca and Estrella are national brands that can be difficult to find at times depending on where you are in Mexico. Lately, both Tecate and Indio brands have become the most widely distributed beers next to Corona. Many of the beers mentioned are brewed by Mexico's brewery powerhouses - Modelo and Cuauhtemoc.

One of the traditions in Mexico is to add lime to beer, adding a pleasant acidity. Another popular way to drink beer in Mexico is to mix it with lime, tomato juice, spices and assorted chili-based sauces. This drink is known as a Michelada and is very popular in hotter climates throughout Mexico and actually makes for a very refreshing concoction.

Tequila

Tequila is the signature firewater of Mexico and nearly all of it hails from the state of Jalisco. Here, small agave plantations and larger haciendas churn out a staggering number of brands. Of those brands, there 5 varieties of tequila:

  • Oro, or gold is possibly the poorest quality of the lot. That gold color this variety is known for is artificial and this tequila really burns the throat. It is best used in cocktails and margaritas.
  • Plata is also known as Blanco and represents the next lowest quality of the 5 varieties but tastes better than the Oro variety. This is unaged and the flavor is much less complex, making it suitable as a mixer rather than a shot for sipping.
  • Resapado means rested and this variety is aged for up to 9 months. Flavor profiles become more complex and respado makes for a good introductory sipping variety. Expect a clean, sharp taste with a subtle peppery finish.
  • Aňejo. This aged variety, conditioned in oak barrels for up to 1 year, is very smooth and sweet. Many people enjoy this variety as an aperitif, or even an after dinner drink. Certain brands of aňejo represent a very good value, especially considering the amount of nuanced flavors created by each distilleries' aging techniques.
  • Extra Aňejo, or vintage, is a relatively new variety. This is aged for 3 years, often using other types of barrels aside from the traditional oak ones. This is best sipped neat. Extra Aňejo has boosted the craft tequila market in Mexico.

Mezcal

  • Mezcal can sometimes be as high as 60% alcohol, so enjoy this drink with caution! Mezcal is made from 1 of around 20 different species of agave, some of which can take decades to mature. Only once will a mature agave sprout the flower whose sap is fermented to make this potent potion. Some varieties include:
  • Minero is distilled in clay pots and is a very high quality variety. Subtly smoky in flavor and very smooth.
  • Arroqueňo tends to be a subtly sweet-tasting Mezcal. Many find this to be the most pleasant variety. The flavor begins a bit bitter but quickly finishes sweet and warm.
  • Joven means young, and this variety is simply unaged and therefore a little bit rough.
  • Tobalá is named for an actual variety of agave plant, grown in mountainous regions.

Pulque

Pulque has been enjoyed since well before the Spanish conquest of Mexico but has enjoyed a resurgence in the last decade, especially among the hip crowd. Pulque is simply the fermented sap of the maguey plant. The end result is a very thick, cloudy drink with a slightly acidic taste. This viscous liquid is often given artificial fruit flavoring to improve it's overall uninspiring taste, however many pulque drinkers are purists when it comes to quaffing this strange alcoholic beverage. In Mexico, pulquerias - bars exclusively serving pulque - offer a real authentic drinking experience and many feature roving musicians ready to play a tune for the merry patrons. Pulque has an alcoholic content between 4% and 6%.

Other Drinks

  • Chamoyada is a sweet and spicy type of shaved ice, or raspado or Mango sorbet, prepared with chamoy. It is a part of Mexican cuisine, and is also common in regions of the United States with significant Mexican-American populations. The drink is usually sweetened with mangoes or apricots. It is essentially a combination of chamoy sauce, shaved ice, chili powder, and fruit chunks. In certain variations, a whole fruit popsicle, or paleta, is added to the drink and mixed with the shaved ice. The drinking straws served with chamoyadas also often have tamarind candy on the outside. Chamoyadas do not contain any dairy products. The different flavors of chamoyadas can include fruits like mango, lemon, guava, tamarind, pineapple and strawberry.
  • Champuraddo is a warm and thick chocolate-based drink, prepared with either masa de maíz (lime-treated-corn dough), masa harina (a dried version of this dough), or corn flour (simply very finely ground dried corn, especially local varieties grown for atole); piloncillo; water or milk; and occasionally containing cinnamon, anise seed, or vanilla. Ground nuts, orange zest, and egg can also be employed to thicken and enrich the drink. Atole drinks are whipped up using a wooden whisk called a molinillo (or a blender). The whisk is rolled between the palms of the hands, then moved back and forth in the mixture until it is aerated and frothy.
  • Liquados are a Latin American handmade blended beverage similar to smoothies, made with milk, fruit, and usually ice.They are also sometimes called "preparados" (meaning "prepared"). Licuados and other fresh fruit juice drinks are ubiquitous throughout Mexico. They are sold by street vendors, and in special licuado shops, restaurants, and fruterias (restaurants specializing in fresh fruit).
  • Aguas Frescas, (Spanish for "cool waters", or literally "fresh waters") are light non-alcoholic beverages made from one or more fruits, cereals, flowers, or seeds blended with sugar and water. Some of the more common flavors include tamarind, hibiscus, and horchata. Aguas frescas are sold by street vendors, but can also be found in bodegas (convenience stores), restaurants and juice bars.
  • Atole, also known as atol and atol de elote, is a traditional hot corn and masa-based beverage of Mesoamerican origin. Chocolate atole is known as champurrado or atole. It typically accompanies tamales, and is very popular during the Christmas holiday season (las Posadas).
  • Café de olla is a traditional Mexican coffee beverage. To prepare café de olla, it is essential to use a traditional earthen clay pot, as this gives a special flavor to the coffee. This type of coffee is principally consumed in cold climates and in rural areas. In Mexico, café de olla is made with ground coffee, cinnamon, and piloncillo (known as panela in other countries).
  • Jarritos is a popular brand of soft drink in Mexico, founded in 1950. Jarritos is made in fruit flavors and is less carbonated than popular soft drinks made in the United States or Canada. Many Jarritos varieties are naturally flavored. The word jarrito means "little jug" in Spanish and refers to the Mexican tradition of drinking water and other drinks in clay pottery jugs. Produced in Mexico, they are sold throughout the Americas.

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Sleep

As is typical with all of Mexico, accommodation options in Colima run from budget hotels and hostels to fancier lodges and resorts. Every city and town caters to the traveler as many people traverse the country by bus and often find themselves staying overnight along the way, especially on long-haul routes. Because of this, many hotels can be found around bus stations and in small towns those accommodation options will extend well beyond the transportation terminal. You will find an accommodation type to suit any budget in Colima.

Many hotels in Mexico (and Colima) list their prices at the front desk and haggling for a reduced rate for a stay of a few days or more is acceptable. Many hostels have become more expensive than hotels, especially for a couple traveling together. It is very common to find clean, safe, comfortable and centrally located hotels for 200 pesos. Wi Fi is almost always available at these hotels and sometimes cable television and air conditioning are included. Prices for these same types of hotels are at least double on the Baja Peninsula. It is also acceptable to ask to see a room before paying. Ask to see another room if the one shown to you doesn't suit you. Street noise is a problem in Mexico (and Colima is no exception); rooms facing the road can be very loud. Ask for an internal-facing room if possible. Hot water is often an issue in Mexico and may only be available during certain hours.

You can use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

Booking.com

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Study

There is the University of Colima, which has great facilities and many carriers.

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Health

There are 3 main hospitals, and many clinics where you can take care of any diseases.

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Safety

Colima is generally quite safe.

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet cafe's are widely available and you generally can find one in the direct vicinity. Sometimes photocopy stores or photo processing stores will double as an internet cafe with a couple of computers. Look for signs reading "Acceso a Internet" or "Cibernautica" or "Cibercafe". Charges range from approx. US$1 an hour to US$3 an hour, depending on the location.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

Phone cards can be purchased anywhere and are needed for the majority of public phones. To call any number outside your region you have to dial 01 then followed by the area code. If calling a cellphone from a normal phone start with with 044. If calling cellphone to cellphone just dial the 10-digit number. To make an international call dial 00 followed by the country code then the local number. To call to Mexico, also dial 00 (most of the times) followed by the national code 52.

Post

The Mexican postal service is operated by Correos de México. The post service in Mexico is pretty good although not very cheap. It is reliable regarding the sending of postcards, but it takes at least a week to send it to other countries (US/Canada), more so if you send it to Europe or Australia. For packages it is better to use international services like FedEx or UPS. If you are sending a package internationally with the Mexican postal service, take the package OPEN to the post office, they may want to inspect it. Seal it up at the post office. Post offices typically open from 8:00am to 6:00pm Monday to Friday, and 9:00am to 1:00pm Saturday. You will find post offices (Oficina de Correos) is almost any town or city in Mexico. To buy stamps it is best to go to the post office, although you can also get them at stamp machines, located outside the post offices, at bus stations, airports and some commercial establishments.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 19.243333
  • Longitude: -103.724722

Accommodation in Colima

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This is version 19. Last edited at 17:46 on Jul 14, 19 by road to roam. 5 articles link to this page.

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