El Charco del Ingenio

See hundreds of species of cacti as you explore the wetlands, canyon and dry scrubland of this botanical garden dedicated to Mexican plants.

Tall columns of cacti, spiny succulents and creeping plants are just a few of the highlights at El Charco del Ingenio. The natural attraction encompasses a large botanical garden, a canyon and a forest reserve. Stroll across the grounds to see hundreds of species of cacti and other Mexican plants.

Explore the nature preserve via the network of scenic pathways that extend from the Visitor’s Center. Take either of the two trails on the southern side of the canyon to view magnificent stone formations and plants that hug cliff walls.

See indigenous trees, shrubs and cacti on the regional plant trails. These lead to the Garambullo Plaza, a viewing point. While still on the regional trails, walk over to the Conservatory of Mexican Plants, a large pavilion with indoor and outdoor spaces. Inside are cacti and other succulents from all over the country as well as aquatic plants and fish. Come back outside to explore the Agave Garden, which holds more than 60 species of agave, and the Nopal Garden, dedicated to a type of cacti called opuntia.

Continue your wanderings on the wetland trails. In the fall and winter, this part of the botanical garden supports populations of migratory birds. Take younger visitors to the Children’s Garden, which features interactive exhibits and themed areas, such as the Scent and Touch Labyrinth.

During your exploration of El Charco del Ingenio, stop by its historical sites. Among these are an early 20th-century reservoir dam and the abandoned ruins of an old hacienda.

The botanical garden is located just outside of San Miguel de Allende, about a 15-minute walk from the upper part of the city. If you don’t want to walk, take a taxi or drive. Parking is free. Alternatively, use the free shuttle service from the city on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. For details, visit the garden's official website. There is no public transportation to the attraction. El Charco Del Ingenio is open daily and has an admission charge.

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