Lake Chapala Mexico General Information:
The towns of Chapala and Ajijic (the Lakeside area) are located on the north shore of Lake Chapala in the state of Jalisco, Mexico about 45 kilometers (28 miles) south-southeast of the city of Guadalahara on highway 44 at 20°20' North, 103°10' West. Elevation is about 1,025 meters (5,000 feet) above sea level.
Ajijic's population of 10,509 (2010 census) excludes the hundreds of visitors from Guadalajara who spend weekends and vacations there. Many retired Americans and Canadians now live in Ajijic, thousands are full-time and many more come during the winter months, making this the largest ex-pat community in Mexico. As a result of these foreign residents and visitors, Ajijic has numerous art galleries and curio shops, as well as restaurants and bed and breakfast inns. The Lake Chapala Society in central Ajijic serves as a focus of expat activities for the thousands of foreign residents who live around Lake Chapala.
Chapala, along with its namesake lake, is well established as a weekend getaway destination primarily for inhabitants of the city of Guadalajara. Most of the area's expatriate population (originating primarily from the United States and Canada) reside not in the city proper but in and around Ajijic.
Among the area's cultural attractions is mariachi music, for which the state of Jalisco is particularly known. While many fine mariachi bands have been based in Chapala, the most famous groups are based in larger cities nearby.
San Antonio Tlayacapan
San Antonio Tlayacapan is a mixed residential and commercial area occupying the area along the highway between Chapala and Ajijic. This is a great area for shopping with everything from small family-owned shops to modern outdoor malls.
There are a number of fiestas and celebrations in San Antonio Tlayacapan that will give one an unforgettable glimpse into the soul of Mexico. In the nine days before Christmas there are processions every afternoon. Dressed as Mary and Joseph, parishioners lead a parade through the streets asking for posada, or shelter. June 13 is the feast day for the town's patron saint there is fireworks and people walk through the plaza enjoying the music, carnival rides, and antojitos, or traditional snacks.
On the east border of Ajijic stretching from the lake to well north of the Careterra is La Floresta - a leafy neighborhood of large trees and high quality homes. This area also features the Camino Real Hotel - a beautiful old property on the lakeshore a private yacht club and horse rentals on Calle Camino Real if you feel like a canter on the lake shore.
On the east side of La Floresta south of the highway, the Lake Chapala Municipal Auditorium is a cultural centerthat features concets, dance groups and folklorica.
At the western end of the lake, Jocotepec is home to many Mexican nationals, but not many ex-pats. Jocotopec is certainly worth a visit - its history dates back to the 14th century.
Jocotepec, once Xuxutepeque, a small fishing village at the western end of the Lake, became a permanent home for the Nahua Indians in 1361. They built a temple to their god, Iztlacateotl, and practiced human sacrifice. The village became a trading and ceremonial site for the surrounding mountain area.
In 1520, Captain Alonzo de Avalos was given this area as an encomienda (land grant). Chief Xitomatl, who then governed the area between Chapala and Jocotepec, submitted his territory to Spanish rule without a battle. In 1529, Jocotepec was formally founded, according to a title of property issued by Hernan Cortes, a copy of which can be found today in Jocotepec records.
San Juan Cosala and the Raquet Club
Between Ajijic and Jocotopec , San Juan Cosala is built on top of thermal springs called balnearios which are popular with locals and travellers from outside the area. There are private and public pools with many restaurants, bars and night spots. Crowds of people come down from Guadalahara to spend the weekend here.
On the north side of the highway, the Racquet Club covers the hillside with an assortment of homes of all sizes. this development has great views of the Lake and a large tennis complex. Deep water wells beneath the racquet club feed the thermal pools of San Juan Cosala, and some homeowners have diverted the hot water into their own swimming pools.
Lake Chapala is located at 20°20′N 103°00′W, southeast of Guadalajara, Jalisco, and is situated on the border between the states of Jalisco and Michoacán, at 1,524 metres (5000 feet) above sea level. Its approximate dimensions are 80 km (50 mi) from east to west and averages 12.5 km (7.8 miles) from north to south, and covers an approximate area of 1,100 km2 (420 sq mi).
It is a shallow lake, with a mean depth of 4.5 metres (14.9 feet) and a maximum of 10.5 (34 feet).
It is fed by the Río Lerma, Río Zula, Río Huaracha, and Río Duero rivers, and drained by the Rio Grande de Santiago. The water then flows northwest into the Pacific Ocean.
The lake also contains two small islands, Isla de los Alacranes (the larger of the two), Isla Mezcala, and a third very small island next to Isla Mezcala called La Isla Menor.