This page was last updated: February 6, 2020
A 40-meter statue of José María Morelos, a great hero of Mexico's independence, started in 1933, is found on the island's highest point. For about 6 pesos, one can climb to the top of the statue by way of a staircase that spirals up the inside. Along the interior walls, the life of Morelos is depicted in murals painted by Ramon Alba de la Canal and other great Mexican muralists. Although the steep stairway can become congested and distract one's attention, it is a good Mexican history lesson. At the top, one can peer through peepholes in the giant raised fist of Morelos, giving a spectacular view of the island, lake and surroundings
Some of the people of Janitzio and the towns surrounding Lake Patzcuaro are of indigenous descent and are known as Purepecha or Tarascan. Available in Janitzio are regional handicrafts. Handmade textiles and artwork are available.
Its main festivity is "El Día de los Muertos" or Day of the Dead. As part of this festivity, candlelit boat processions make their way to the island and then to Janitzio's Church and graveyard, remaining there for the night in a graveside vigil.
Mild, spring-like temperatures prevail most of the year in the Central Highlands of central Mexico. The highlands have a climate that is described as a “mild, dry climate.” The area around Janitzio rarely sees temperatures that go above 80 degrees — even in summer. Daytime temperatures remain fairly consistent year round, however, it can become quite cold at night November through March. The rainy season runs May through October, with July and August generally being the wettest months. Quick moving thunderstorms can be expected over the summer months, June to September. The rest of the year remains quite dry.
Isla de Janitzio is the main island of Lake Patzcuaro in the state of Michoacán, Mexico. The town of Janitzio, which means "where it rains", is located atop the hill. Janitzio can only be reached by boats which run regularly back and forth from about 7:30 am to 6 pm, accessible from Pátzcuaro's pier (embarcadero). These boats can be hired to take you around other parts of the lake. The town is famous for the butterfly fishermen who are skilled at lowering their butterfly-shaped nets to catch the local famous cuisine "pescado blanco".
Día de Muertos en Janitzio
Fotografía: Nacho López, ca. 1950
One of the helpers will help you take off your harness, and then you have to walk down to the dock. Watch out! Your legs may be a little jittery from the trip. There are a lot of stairs and no hand rails. If you have to rest up a little at the top, take your time.
Keep on the path. Shortly after we started walking down, there was a stairway down to the right. You don’t want to go there; those are private homes, but it ALMOST looks like it could be a pathway down.
After we started down the path, one of the helpers caught up to us with our harnesses that needed to go back to Janitzio and we followed her down to the dock. We immediately were ushered onto one of the larger boats for the return trip to Janitzio. We disembarked at a small dock and had to walk (to the left) to the main dock. When we observed this activity from a restaurant at the top of Janitzio, we saw several passengers going down the tirolesa, but didn’t observe boats returning immediately from Tecuena. I.e., you may have to wait a while at the dock."
¡Buen viaje! Andrew
Andrew Carhartt an American resident in Patzcuaro, shared his experience:
"The new 1.2-kilometer zip line (tirolesa) connecting the two islands of Janitzio and Tecuena on Lake Patzcuaro is fun and worth the effort, if you are up to the hikes up (Janitzio) and down (Tecuena). $250 pesos per person covers the tirolesa and the return boat ride to Janitzio.
Here’s how it works:
Before you schedule the trip, go to the Internet and figure out the general wind direction. If it’s from the south, that’s good; if it’s coming from the north, not so good – but not horrible.
If it’s from the north – even if it’s a light wind – it will probably prevent you from reaching the terminus without assistance, and you will have to be “rescued” by a guy from the other end. He will come down from the terminus with a rope to haul you to the terminus. You will hang over the water for 5-10 minutes waiting for the rescuer to haul you to the terminus.
There are two ways to get to the statue of Morelos – the arduous, countless stairs, or the gentle incline of the cobblestone road. You want to take the latter. Find the church – ask the vendors or follow the signs – and walk around it to the left, through the cemetery, and exit on the far side. When you exit the cemetery, you will see a stairway to your right, up, up, up; maybe 40-50 stairs. From there, it’s a nice cobblestone road all the way up to Morelos. Almost at the top, you will see the platform for the tirolesa to the left; you can’t miss it. Hopefully, there will be 3-4 guys there waiting for their next customer.
Zip line from Janitzio
Chances are you will be told to put on a glove – right or left – in case you stall near the end and have to put your hand up to stop from going backward from whence you came (i.e., in case you have a north wind). So unfortunately, photo ops are probably out of the question for the 90-second trip, with a bulky gardening glove on one hand.
They will harness you up, and you will climb up a sturdy but steep metal ladder to the top. You will be instructed to position your feet on a metal bar from which you will push yourself off into the abyss. We weren’t given the option of looking forward, and were obliged to make the trip looking backward, which we found odd and somewhat disconcerting. Perhaps the guys can be convinced to change the contraption so you can look forward, which means they would have to push you off. Since we were “newbies,” we didn’t know any better, and did as we were told.
Once on terra firme at the other end, you can sit and relax while you watch your buddy arrive. Be ready with your camera!
*We appreciate our friend Andrew Carhartt for writing this post for the Hotel Mansión Iturbe blog. We also recommend you to check the cost of the ride on the Zip Line, it may change without notice. The cost shown in this article is the one that was valid on the day that the visit took place, so it can change at any time.