I went to the second class bus station the day before to book my ticket to Cuajimuloyas. The Faden Bus Company is to the left when you enter and has a notice of the destinations above the window. It was 60 pesos and I got to pick my seat. The bus leaves at 7am.
On the day of my visit we were all loaded into the minivan and the journey took less than two hours.
To return, buses leave from the place it drops you at around 6pm and at 7am and 8am if you stay over. (Don’t necessarily count on the buses being on time.)
I went to the tourist office (which isn’t where it’s marked on maps.me, ask for directions) and sorted a place to sleep for 200 pesos. This was in the hotel across the street. It’s possible to stay in a more traditional cabaña for more than 200. The hotel had everything I needed. Hot shower, plenty of blankets and a comfy bed.
This was a bit confusing. There are some routes that you don’t need a guide for but most of them you do. My bus friends and I weren’t sure how difficult the route finding would be, so started off to the next village of Benito Juarez on our own, but had to stick to the quiet but dusty road. From Benito Juarez we made it to the view tower and bridge with a little help from maps.me, and back to the village in a rather unorthodox manner... so in order to return to Cuajimuloyas via the scenic forest route, we hired a guide in the tourist office in Benito Juarez. We paid 300 pesos between us for the guide. I highly recommend spending a bit more time deciding on which trek you want to do and get a guide from the beginning. The trail would have been impossible without one, you’re supporting the local economy and you learn so much more!
I wanted to see a slice of real life. Seeing donkeys in the fields and farmers cutting oats, meeting Manuel and eating in a comedor in Cuajimuloyas where the family were busy around me was lovely. Traditional farming and family life have been the life of the Zapotec people for hundreds and hundreds of years and it’s great that they can now turn their way of life into an ecotourism initiative. Everyone was friendly and helpful, with the pace of life allowing time to sit and watch and chat.
I stayed just one night and got the early bus back, but I wish I could’ve stayed longer. If I were going again I’d take the bus to Cuajimuloyas (now I can say the word) engage a guide to walk to another village to sleep. Then perhaps continue to another town the next day. There are shared taxis from all the villages and the tourist office was open beyond 8pm, so transport back to the city is guaranteed from wherever you end up and you’ll be able to find a place to sleep even if you arrive later in the day. I left most of my stuff at the lovely Hostal Pochon so could easily walk with my stuff between villages. Take warm layers though, as soon as the sun starts to set, the air gets chilly - temperatures reach 2 degrees C at night.
Let me know if you have any questions, if you go, how you do it and what you see. There are 9 villages to explore and the fresh mountain air will have you refreshed for your return to the city.