On the Road from Lake Chapala to Morelia, Mexico

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Following our stay in Tequila, Mexico we continued making a beeline for Mexico City where we scheduled for three weeks house sitting in Mexico, in the big city! We had two more night before we needed to get there.

We left Don Alejandro’s house in Tequila that afternoon and made the short drive to Lake Chapala just south of Guadalajara.

Guadalajara is a major bustling city which meant and even though we skirted around the outside edge of town, we still got held up by the heavy traffic where we crawled to halt. I’d hate to see what it is like during rush hour.

Lake Chapala

After finally escaping the city we quickly wound our way down to Lake Chapala, the largest lake in all of Mexico.

Lake Chapala roca azul-2

It is also a very popular place among the expat community that calls Mexico home.

We got a little lost looking for the Roca Azul Campground and ended up driving onto the north shore of the lake.

Filling up for gas in a neighboring town we were accosted by a strange little boy who come right up to the window of the truck and was rambling all sorts of things. I kept my guard up, thinking he might try and steal something through the window.

He later moved over to Andrea’s side and started rubbing her arm and calling her “bonita” (beautiful). Quite odd.

The gas station attendant turned us around and sent us in the opposite direction for the campground.

The Roca Azul Campground is a massive complex on the shores of Lake Chapala. There are numerous RVs and trailers that are parked there permanently for the expat community that calls this area home at least part of the year.

Lake Chapala roca azul-3

The place also had at least two pools, and access to a boardwalk near the lake—though there was no direct access to the lake in this part as it is mostly a marsh or lagoon.

For a change of pace, we actually decided to sleep in the tent tonight instead of the truck since we had a large campsite and a grassy field.

The next day we drove around the south of the lake, continuing east, and heading in the direction of Morelia not too far outside of Mexico City.

We were taking the free roads once again.

Danger Zone

The area around Guadalajara is known to be a little bit “hot” in terms of cartel activity and danger… The area south of the road between Chapala and Morelia is part of the Tierra Caliente, which features a lot of violence between the cartel and autodefensas.

It was in this area south of Morelia where the travel blogger Harry Devert was last seen alive.

Harry was riding his motorcycle solo from New York to Brazil for the World Cup. He spent a number of days at the famous monarch butterfly sanctuary near Morelia (wish we were there at the right time of the year for that!) before making a change of planes to visit the beach from the film Shawshank Redemption near Zihuatenejo.

He received a military escort for part of the journey and was last heard from in the middle of the route to the coast. His motorcycle and his body was found six months later near the coast of Zihuatenejo, no one quite sure exactly what happened.

Parts of Michoacan are definitely not to be taken lightly… Of course, what happened to Harry is one (very) bad story, but thousands and thousands of foreigners pass through Mexico every year without incident. Be aware of no-go areas, talk to locals, and use common sense.

As a side note, we recently watched the amazing documentary Cartel Land, a film absolutely worth checking out about the situation in Michoacan and up in the border region.

If you are traveling through potentially “hot” areas—it would probably be best to use the toll roads.

Passing through to the north we had no problems. Though Andrea swears we got some funny looks from some rough looking characters.

Lake Chapala roca azul-1

Morelia, Mexico

We made it to Morelia just before nightfall and stumbled upon a cheap hotel on the outskirts of the city. Good enough for us.

One thing I remember reading from LifeRemotely.com was that you should definitely bring an electrical outlet adapter two connect a three-prong connection to a two-prong outlet… My computer and my extension cord (another must have!) are both three-prong, but this was the first place we’d run into with only two-prongs.

And of course I didn’t have the adapter. I was in desperate need of internet in those days as I finalized work with my editor on my book Big Travel, Small Budget, and my computer had no charge, and I couldn’t connect my computer. How frustrating!

I even tried to break the third prong off my extension cord—without success.

Please don’t forget to bring that adapter and a small extension cord when you come to Mexico.

We were all set to drive into Mexico City the next day—one of the largest and most congested cities in the world. Fun!

Traveling to Morelia on your next trip? Book the perfect room on Booking.com today!

Metropolitan Cathedral beside the Zocalo in Mexico City.

Mexico Travel Tips

Important tips and resources for planning an amazing trip to Mexico, based on my extensive experience traveling across the entire country.


  1. Book a cheap flight to Mexico with Momondo, or better yet, start travel hacking so you can fly for free.
  2. Plan a rough itinerary and how long you will spend in each destination. Pick up Lonely Planet Mexico to help with this.
  3. Work every day to teach yourself Spanish, you want to know as much as possible before you arrive.
  4. Book your cheap accommodation in advance, at least for the first destinations -- For hostels use: Booking, for cheap hotels use: Hotels.com, for apartments use: Airbnb.
  5. Reserve your on the ground tours and activities through Get Your Guide.
  6. Purchase travel insurance for Mexico with World Nomads to protect yourself from illness, injury, and theft while in Mexico.
  7. Check out my comprehensive guide about traveling to Mexico with information on cities, things to do, places to see, and more.
  8. Learn more money saving tricks with my top budget travel tips if you want to get more bang for your buck.
  9. Put together your Mexico packing list.
  10. Enjoy this incredible country!


I hope this helped you plan your travels in Mexico! I know it can be a struggle to find accurate and on the ground information when traveling to a new place like Mexico, which is why I started writing so extensively about it!

If you have any questions about Mexico, budget travel, or anything else shoot me an email at ryan@desktodirtbag.com.

(I love getting questions! That is how I get ideas for my blog posts and what to write about!)

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Head Writer and Adventurer at Desk to Dirtbag
Ryan is an author, adventurer, perpetual wanderer, and self-proclaimed dirtbag (but that might not mean what you think). Originally from Seattle, he headed to Washington D.C. where he spent five years working for Congress before heeding the call of the wild. He set out truck camping to road trip across the American West, and then across all of Central America and South America. When he isn't on the move, you can find him living as an expat in Colombia. He is also the author of the best selling book: Big Travel, Small Budget that will help you travel more for less. Follow the adventures on social media or read more.

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