Perched on a ridge overlooking the Oaxaca valleys (18km north of Teotitlán) and surrounded by pine trees, the little village of Benito Juárez is known for its spectacular sunsets – in clear weather you can see all the way to Mexico’s highest mountain, Pico de Orizaba (5636m), from the mirador. The village makes a good base for exploration of the Pueblos Mancomunados, and there’s a river where you can fish for trout. One of the most enchanting hikes is along the 15km high-altitude footpath between the isolated villages of Latuvi and San Miguel Amatlán, which passes though mystical cloud forest and is believed to be part of a larger pre-Columbian route that connected the Zapotec cities in the Valles Centrales with the Gulf of Mexico – you can still see the remains of an old road along the trail (tours usually take two days to hike this route).
If you prefer to travel independently, the small but extremely helpful tourist information office (t 951/545-9994) in Benito Juárez, next to the town square, has excellent maps which show the varying demands of each trek, and rents out reliable mountain bikes (M$100/3hr), but only with a Spanish-speaking guide (M$120/day, plus M$50 access fee). Next door, the simple and friendly restaurant serves cheap breakfasts, comidas and hot drinks, and sells sandwiches and water.