West from Toluca, the road towards Morelia and the state of Michoacán is truly spectacular. Much of this wooded, mountainous area – as far as Zitácuaro – is given over to villas inhabited at weekends by wealthy refugees from the capital, and nowhere more so than at the small lakeside town of VALLE DE BRAVO. Set in a deep, pine-clad valley, the town sits on the eastern shore of an artificial lake, Lago Avandaro. With terracotta-tiled roofs, iron balconies affixed to many of the older buildings and a mass of whitewashed houses all huddled together, it is an immediately appealing place, something that has drawn a coterie of artistic refugees from the big city. They mostly keep to themselves, leaving the water’s edge for weekenders who descend for upmarket relaxation: boat trips, sailing, swimming, waterskiing, riding, paragliding, hiking and golf.
The zócalo, ringed with restaurants and centred on a twin-towered church, sits on a rise a fifteen-minute walk from the waterfront, where most of the action is centred, and sees spectacular sunsets. Here there’s a wharf (embarcadero) from which you can take boat rides to the parts of the lake inaccessible by road: either rent one, or join a lancha colectiva.