Latitude 26.99, Longitude -102.06

I love camping in the desert. When I started this activity and participated in my first expedition with the Astronomical Society of Guadalajara to Real de Catorce, back in 1998 or so, I wondered what things/activities could you do in the desert? Years later I answered myself: tell me what you can't. It is an incredible experience.

That is why in 2008 but now in the role of organizer and responsible for an expedition when I was at SAG, I decided to choose Cuatro Cienegas, Coahuila. The town is in the heart of the province, in the desert.

Cuatro Cienegas is a magical place with history not only because it is the birthplace of Venustiano Carranza, one of the leaders of the Mexican revolution, but also because it has a variety of natural attractions: it is a protected area of fauna and flora because it has pools of water which house stromatolites, which are complex communities of microorganisms that divide into layers and produce calcium carbonates, so they harden until they look like stone. These microorganisms date back some 3.8 billion years.

Similarly we can find the gypsum dunes: it is a completely whitish area of calcium sulphate where someone can easily get lost. The curious thing is that this "gypsum" does not absorb the heat of the sun so the sand does not burn.

To relax there are also options: you can go swimming in the Mezquites River or visit one or another local vineyard.



Location
As I mentioned earlier, Cuatro Cienegas is located in the exact center of the state of Coahuila so it doesn't matter where you come from it will take a few hours to get there. It is possible to arrive through Saltillo or Torréon. On the 2008 expedition it took us 12 hours to get there by bus from Guadalajara.

Note: I don't indicate a precise point of observation as there are not many complications here. Everything is desert and the town is so tiny that just a few kilometers away is enough to set up camp.

 

Stargazing
Although the sky was good I don't know why I expected much more quality. Perhaps after seeing the darkness in skies like those of Real de Catorce in San Luis Potosi and Sierra de Organos, Zacatecas, one becomes more and more demanding (even so, the desert landscape in this place is amazing). This sky that included some light cloudiness allowed us to observe many objects that cannot be seen near a big city, and if I remember correctly, Polaris could be easily distinguished with the naked eye.

Links
Cuatro Ciénegas, official website
Cuatro Ciénegas,
México desconocido

Conanp Cuatro Ciénegas

 

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