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Lake Chapala Region

Hordes of tourists swarm out of Guadalajara each weekend, looking for a small respite from city life in surrounding villages and mountains. No small percentage of them end up in Chapala and, to a lesser extent, the other towns and villages on the north shore of Lake Chapala. Each year thousands of American tourists come here too, along with folks from Europe and Asia and the rest of the world. What draws them to this tiny spot, like the migrating Monarch butterflies are drawn to mountain valleys some 50 miles south of here?

Number one attraction is probably the lake, that shining gem of water nestled in the mountains. About 55 miles long and 15 miles wide, this shallow lake is home to a diverse collection of wildlife.

Like the butterflies, climate is probably what attracts people most to the region. We have fine sunny days, cool mountain evenings, and sparkling crisp air. Rather thin air if your accustomed to sea-level, we are at about 5,000 feet of elevation. One would think that summers would be oppressively hot this far south, but the rainy season comes in summer, and cools things off. You can find the average temperatures listed on most any website that mentions this area -- highs range from an average around 70 in winter to the low 80s in May, our hottest month. Lows are even less variable, with average of 50 in winter and 60 in summer. What the averages don't tell you is that the temperature doesn't fluctuate much around those averages. Only four or five days out of the year does it get into the low 90s. A winter high below 65 is rare. It never drops below freezing.

Rain too is most cooperative here. It only rains at night. No, really, I mean it! Well, almost always. The only all-day rains come a couple days a year when a hurricane hits the Pacific coast. Sometimes a sprinkle will break through in late afternoon or early morning, but the torrential, tropical rainfalls come only at night, and are often accompanied by tremendous thunder and lightning. The rainy season lasts from June to September, and we get almost a meter of rain in those months. Rain is scarce the rest of the year, and rarely very heavy in those off-months.

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