“El Bosque de Chapultepec” (Chapultepec Woods) is a large city park in the heart of Mexico City covering 678 hectares divided in sections; this zone represents almost half of the green areas within the metropolitan area; it is the most visited park both by locals and tourists from all over the world.
The first section of the old Chapultepec Woods, on Avenida Paseo de la Reforma, includes the old Lake, the Botanical Garden, the Chapultepec Zoo and the Lake House; as well as some of the main museums and points of interest in Mexico City; The National Museum of History, in the Chapultepec Castle; the Museum of Modern Art and; the Museum of Contemporary Art Rufino Tamayo.
The entrance is on Avenida Paseo de la Reforma, next to the National Auditorium. Auditorium subway station, line 7. Hours: Tues-Sun 9:00-16:30 – Closed on Mondays. Services offered: boat and life vest rental. Tel: 50-12-22-96.
In the second section of the Chapultepec Woods you will find the Large and Small lakes, La Feria Chapultepec Mágico (an amusement park), the Tech Museum MUTEC and the Museum of Natural History.
Large ahuehuete (Taxodium mucronatum) trees predominate within the first section of the Chapultepec Woods park. This area of the old Chapultepec Woods is surrounded by a green fence known as the “Chapultepec Railings”.
Frequently displays paintings, literature, movies, theater and even ballet at the islet, of the Lake of the of old Chapultepec woods, showing Tchaikovsky “The Swan Lake” ballet that annually takes place here.
The Old Chapultepec’s Woods Lake
Chapultepec Lake extends on an area of 4 squirt km, within the old Chapultepec Woods. Chapultepec Lake is in the first section, downhill from the Chapultepec Castle; many families visit this is a recreation and relaxation site surrounded by trees and lakes with ducks swimming in them.
Chapultepec Lake is one of the most visited places in Mexico City and represents a meeting place and entertainment area that has prevailed over generations.
Visitors can sail on rowboats or pedal boats for 2-4 people, and personal or double kayaks in the Chapultepec Lakes. These lakes are pleasant stops in your visit to the park. You must bring an ID to rent the boats and swimming is not permitted.
“Lions’ Gate” (La Puerta de Los Leones)
One of the entrances to the park, the “Lions’ Gate”, on Paseo de la Reforma, close to Avenida Chapultepec, right in front of what was meant to be the “Bicentennial Arch” to commemorate the bicentennial celebration of Mexico’s independence from Spain in 2010 – instead, a tower with no arch was built there. This tower is called “Estela de Luz” (Pillar of Light) and was inaugurated in 2012.
Chapultepec’s Botanical Garden
Near the Chapultepec Lake is Chapultepec’s Botanical Garden. This is a small garden showing the diversity within Mexico’s local flora and includes ornamental, medicinal and food plants from different weathers and of different kinds: cacti, agave, succulents and some of Mexico’s most characteristic plants. There is an arboretum mainly dedicated to trees and woody plants, and several kinds of pastures, flowers and wetland plants.
There is a greenhouse in the middle of the Botanical Garden dedicated to orchids; it has around 200 orchid species, mainly from the Mexican highlands. Some of the orchids displayed here are endemic species like “Laelia Gouldiana”, an endangered pink orchid. This garden has mainly epiphytic wild plants: plants that grow harmlessly upon other plants for physical support without negatively affecting them (as do parasitic plants).
There are stained glass windows in the greenhouse containing Chapultepec’s collection of orchids, bromeliads and tropical plants; these have an artistic and historical value.
“La Casa del Lago” (House of The Lake)
There is a lake house in this park, called the “House of The Lake” or “La Casa del Lago”, which was built on the late XIX and early XX centuries in the shore of Chapultepec Lake. This house accommodates the Extension Center of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) founded in 1959 by Juan José Arreola, to give culture and strengthen the education of college students and the audience. The House of The Lake has hosted the Mexican artistic vanguard of the past 50 years.
Nowadays The House of The Lake promotes visual arts by hosting artists of all ages and providing them with supplies and spaces to develop their ideas and projects. This place also promotes theatrical arts, with a new generation of directors and actors, dancing, with a wide array of choreographic styles in unconventional spaces, as well as emerging and alternative music, with several bands and artists dedicated to rock, jazz, tango and flamenco, among others. It also now promotes poetry by hosting “Poesía en voz alta” (Laud voice Poetry).
Chapultepec Zoo is a must when visiting old Chapultepec Woods. The zoo built up in 1923 and opened to the public in 1924. Its construction influenced by pre-Hispanic traditions from Mexica king Montezuma; showing native Mexican species as well as animals from around the globe; becoming the most visited zoo in Mexico with over 5.5 million visitors per year.
There are over 1930 animals in the zoo from 250 different species; including a snake-root with several kinds of reptiles and amphibians, and a butterfly house. This is Mexico’s second largest zoo, next to the Guadalajara Zoo.
In September 1975, the zoo received as a present two giant pandas from the People’s Republic of China; 8 giant pandas have been born in Chapultepec since. This was the first case of captive breeding of the species in an institution outside of China.
The animal collection sorted to feat in four bioclimatic zones, according to their natural habitat: cold/humid (temperate forests and coastlines), cold/dry (meadow), warm/humid (tropical rainforest) and warm/dry (dry-lands and savannas).
Some of the most important native species in the Chapultepec Zoo are the volcano rabbit (also known as teporingo or zacatuche), Mexican wolf, howling monkey, ocelot, jaguar, river otter, thick-billed parrot, ocellated turkey, axolotl and the red-kneed tarantula.
The Chapultepec Zoo is one of the most popular recreational sites in Mexico and hosts over 5.5 million visitors per year. In fact, this is one of the most visited zoos around the globe because of its diversity of native and exotic species. The zoo’s logo is the per-Hispanic representation of a jaguar.
Chapultepec Park’s second section.
“Large Lake” known as “Lago Mayor” is in the Chapultepec Woods’ second section; surrounded by a track, where people can walk or ride bikes. There are the famous restaurants “El Lago” and “Bistró Chapultec”. A bit further away, but within this section, you’ll find the “Small Lake” or “Lago Menor” with its well-known “Café del Bosque” – these are emblematic places of Chapultepec Woods.
La Feria Chapultepec Mágico
There is an amusement park within the second section of Chapultepec Woods called “La Feria Chapultepec Mágico”, built up in 1964; is one of the most successful and safe amusement parks in Latin America; with over 3 million visitors per year it is also the most visited one.
The most popular ride within this amusement park is the roller-coaster; but other popular rides are the Infinitum or Triple Loop roller-coaster (which is 35 meters high and comprises three 360° vertical loops), the Horror Mansion, the Red Baron, the Happy Castle, the whiplash, bumper cars, the Monorail, the Flying Chairs, the Crazy Mouse, the Condor, Power Tower and many other rides for every taste.
Since 2001, the old Chapultepec Woods Park appears in the list of nominees to be declared a world heritage site in Mexico.