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Frida, Fiestas & Frijoles

Tours
Frida, Fiestas & Frijoles
DATES

25 Oct 2020 - 09 Nov 2020


RATES

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*Rates are per person based on Land Only Single or Twin/Double Rooms
*'Willing to Share' may be available. Please enquire.
*Prices are subject to change until paid in full.
*This tour departs with a min of 8 guests & max of 10 guests.
*Daily activities will be subject to factors such as weather and other events beyond control.
*International Flights are not included in the Land Only cost. 
PLEASE ASK US FOR A QUOTE.


Frida, Fiestas & Frijoles Frida, Fiestas & Frijoles Frida, Fiestas & Frijoles Frida, Fiestas & Frijoles Frida, Fiestas & Frijoles
Frida, Fiestas & Frijoles

FRIDA, FIESTAS & FRIJOLES

 

Mexico is captivating, cultural, sophisticated and enthralling. It is overflowing with history, breath taking countryside, colonial cities, UNESCO sites, festivals & customs and intriguing cuisine.

This fabulous tour begins in bustling Mexico City where we soak up the Historic Centre, Museums, artists quarters and discover the imposing Teotihuacan archaeological site. We spend time in Casa Azul – Frida Kahlo’s eclectic house and studio. We visit Puebla, the city of 365 Churches – one for every day of the year! Driving along the Sierra Madre we arrive in gorgeous Oaxaca to explore street art, discover outlying markets, eat regional gourmet delights and visit a mescal distillery. We also spend a morning with a non-profit organization that works to empower women to better support themselves and their families. We then land in Merida, the gorgeous capital of the Yucatan, an area laden with Mayan history, and of course, Chichen Itza.

Along the way we visit artisanal workshops and meet local artisans to learn first-hand about their magnificent artworks and handicrafts. In Oaxaca, the weavers, black ceramic artists, and wood whittlers create pieces that are not found anywhere else in the country. In Puebla, the artists that craft Talavera pottery blend classic colonial patterns with more modern artistic expressions for table settings and custom pieces that are recognized worldwide. In the Yucatan, Mayan traditions of embroidered cloth, indigenous jewellery and basket weaving are still being taught through inter-generational apprenticeship. 

Traditional Mexican cuisine is so great that UNESCO added it to its Intangible Cultural Heritage List in 2010 and we will taste some of the best and most beloved foods in Mexico.

And then there is The Day of the Dead - one of Mexico’s most magical holidays. It’s a time when family and friends come together to remember their dead loved ones through food, music, prayer and colourful altars.

So join me, and our team of exceptionally knowledgeable guides, for this amazing opportunity to immerse yourself in the glorious wonders of Mexico.

Tour Overview
Duration
16 Days - OCTOBER 2020
Start Point
Mexico City
Finish Point
Merida
Tour Style
Hosted Tour
Accommodation
Boutique Hotels
Meals
As per itinerary
Transport
Private Transfers, Private Van, Domestic Flight
Max Group Size
Min 8, Max 10 Guests
Tour Inclusions
  • 4 nights Zocolo Central Hotel, Mexico City
  • 2 nights Casa Reyna, Puebla
  • 5 nights Hotel Azul, Oaxaca
  • 4 nights Hotel Casa Lucia, Merida
  • Daily Breakfast
  • Arrival Dinner in Mexico City
  • Farewell Dinner in Merida at Hacienda Xcanatun
  • Street Food Tour in Oaxaca
  • Lunch at Azul Historico in Mexico City
  • Lunch with a Local Family in the Tlacolula Valley
  • Lunch with an En Via family
  • Lunch at Hacienda Ochil
  • Other lunches as stated on the itienerary
  • City tour of Mexico City - Museums, Cathedrals & Zocolos
  • Coyoacan & Casa Azul - Frida Kahlo's house
  • Xochimilico Floating Gardens
  • Teotihuacan
  • Basilica de Guadelupe
  • The Great Pyramid of Cholula
  • Puebla - the City of 365 Churches
  • City Tour of Puebla
  • Day of the Dead Celebrations in Oaxaca
  • Artists Route, Oaxaca
  • Local villages & markets
  • Fundacion En Via Community Tour 
  • Mitla & Mezcal Tasting
  • Oaxaca Street Food Tour
  • Uxmal site & Hacienda lunch
  • Merida's Markets & Boutiques Tour
  • Chichén Itzá - the most magnificent of all Mayan cities
  • Entrance fees to all Museums as per itinerary
  • Sightseeing as per itinerary
  • Hosted by Jemma Wilson
  • English Speaking Guide(s) on all excursions
  • Arrival and Departure Transfers*
  • Private Transportation 
  • Bottled water during transfers
  • All excursions as per itinerary
Tour Highlights
  • Vibrant Mexico City
  • The incredible Aztec city of Teotihuacan
  • Market Tours
  • Xochimilco - floating gardens
  • La Casa Azul, Frida Kahlo's house in Coyoacan
  • UNESCO Heritage Oaxaca City
  • Mescal Distillery visit
  • Merida, the 'Paris of the New World'
  • Chichen Itza - the most celebrated archaeological site
  • Swimming in a cenote
  • Yucatec food & famed local restaurants
  • Private luncheons / picnics
  • Tequila & Mezcal Tasting

Tour Itinerary

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Day 1 - Arrive Mexico City - 25 October
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Arrival to Mexico City. Bienvenido a México!
Built on the site of Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec empire, Mexico City is vast, chaotic and vibrant; a sprawling megalopolis of more than 20 million people and a multitude of attractions.

Your journey begins with a warm welcome at the airport. You will be met by our driver outside of customs (international flights) and transferred to our gorgeous hotel where you can get settled in. 

Rest and relax after a long flight. 

This evening we will meet at the Balcon bar for a cocktail, and a Welcome Dinner. This is a great chance for the group to get to know each other and chat about ourupcoming adventure. 

An early night for most after a long-haul flight.

Overnight Zocolo Central Hotel. (Welcome Dinner)

Day 2 - Mexico City - 26 October
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Today we will explore magnificent Mexico City.

One of the best ways to get to know a city is by walking through its historic neighbourhoods. This morning after breakfast we take a walk through the vibrant community of Roma to learn about the history, architecture and its uniqueness in one of the largest cities in the world. We then visit a local market to learn about Mexico´s vast and rich cuisine, an UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage, by way of its regional and season chilies, produce, seeds, flowers and spices.

We then visit the Zocalo, flanked by Mexico’s most important and buildings including: The National Palace, The Metropolitan Cathedral, the Temple Mayor Aztec Archaeological Site, the Palace of Fine Arts (Bellas Artes), and more depending on time annnd interest. The great square, called the Zocalo, evokes the place of homage and was the heart and ceremonial nucleus of Mexico-Tenochtitlan.

We will stop at Azul Historico for a fabulous lunch.

We then continue to the world-renowned National Anthropology Museum where our expert guide will explain the myriad of exhibits, giving special attention on the Aztec and Maya rooms.

Late afternoon we return to our hotel for relaxation. Your evening is free. 

Overnight Zocolo Central Hotel. (B / L)

Day 3 - San Angel, Frida, Coyoacan, Xochimilco - 27 October
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This morning we start with a visit to the fringes of the city and its most prestigious artist quarter. Coyoacan is a picturesque neighbourhood with Spanish-era mansions, cobblestone streets and plazas. This neighbourhood still has its own identity, with narrow streets, plazas, cafés and a lively arty atmosphere. Sixty-four of the buildings on the main street are catalogued by Mexico’s INAH (National Institute of Anthropology and History) for their historic value.

Here we will visit La Casa Azul, the house where Frida Kahlo was born and where she spent her later years up until her death in 1954. As you make your way through the house her presence can be felt through her art and artefacts which played a prominent part in her life, including her wheelchair which sits at the foot of her paint-strewn easel. The house is a treasure trove, not only of her paintings, but also of innumerable artefacts associated with her and her husband, famous muralist Diego Rivera.

While in Coyoacan, we may (*time permitting) also visit the MUAC or the home of Leon Trotsky. Thanks to Frida Kahlo’s husband, Diego Rivera, this Bolshevik revolutionary was granted political asylum in Mexico City. 

After this, our guide will lead us on a journey for the senses to discover the Mercado Coyoacán where we can sit down to savour the flavours at this authentic Mexican market.

We then head to Xochimilco, roughly a 30-minute drive from Coyoacán. Xochimilco, ‘Place of the Flowers’, is famous for its canals. These canals made up part of vast man-made waterways surrounding the ancient city of Tenochtitlan. The Aztecs built fertile riverbeds called chinampas, using wattle, mud and river sediment, on which they were able to grow many of their staple crops. We will experience the canals on a colourful boat called a trajinera and discover that the chinampas are still in use today but for growing flowers rather than food crops. Our driver moves the boat along by pulling a pole through the water and we can relax under the shade of the boat's roof as we gaze at other vibrantly painted vessels carrying passengers and goods and even enjoy some local entertainment as local mariachis. Xochimilco forms part of a cultural World Heritage site but on a national level it is also a protected natural area. 

*Time permitting we will also have a chance to visit the Museum of Dolores Olmedo, a 16th century building with a collection of fine works by Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, as well as hundreds of pre-Hispanic figurines and sculptures. (Entrance Own Account)

Early evening, we return to our hotel. Free to relax.

For those that still have the stamina, we can visit a local Mexican cantina, sip on mezcal and tequila & take in a mariachi performance at Plaza Garibaldi..

Overnight Zocolo Central Hotel. (B / L – Market Food)

Day 4 - Teotihuacan - Mexico City - 28 October
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Few cities in the world have been considered worthy of being inhabited by Gods. Teotihuacan is such a city. Teotihuacan dates from the time of Christ and was once one of the largest cities in the world. It is hugely influential in the historic narrative of modern Mexico and, and although it had already been abandoned by the time of the Aztecs, even this great empire held it in awe. Soak up the history as you stroll along the Avenue of the Dead, leading to the Pyramid of the Sun, and take the opportunity to climb its ancient steps for a panorama of the ruins and the surrounding countryside. 

Lunch will be in the traditional Monte Christo restaurant en-route back to Mexico City. 

We return to Mexico City and visit the Basilica de Guadalupe, Latin America's most revered religious shrine, where the Virgin of Guadalupe is said to have appeared before an Indian named Juan Diego in 1531, and an image of her was miraculously emblazoned on his cloak. We should have time to explore the New Basilica de Guadalupe (the Old Basilica, built in 1700, is slowly sinking) and to see Juan Diego's cloak. 

We return to the hotel, and our evening is free.

Overnight Zocolo Central Hotel. (B / L)

Day 5 - To Puebla via Cholula - 29 October
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Our guide will meet us this morning after breakfast in the lobby and we will drive to the city of Cholula, roughly a 3 hour drive from Mexico City, through the Paso de Cortes.

Paso de Cortés is a mountain pass about 3600 meters above sea level in central Mexico. The pass acquired its name from the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés, who crossed it in 1519 when seeking the conquest of the Aztec capital.

We stop to enjoy a regional lunch (to own account) at the likes of Cuidad Sagrada where you can try fresh blue corn quesadillas stuffed with chicken tinga or squash blossoms, and a warm cup of atole or coffee. 

Cholula is considered by some the oldest inhabited city in the Americas. The town is home to the Great Pyramid of Cholula, the largest in the world today – even bigger than the Great Pyramids of Egypt.

After a visit to the Pyramid, we visit the Santa Caterina factory and shop, one of the official government license holders to sell magnificent talavera wares. Their range is huge, from dishes to candleholders to jewellery and even decorative eggs a la Faberge.

We continue our drive to Puebla (approx. another 35 minutes).

*Please be aware that weather conditions in the Paso de Cortes may interfere with mountain and volcano views.

After we settle into our hotel, those that wish can join me for dinner at  El Mural de los Poblanos, a Puebla institution, or can enjoy dinner in the hotel restaurant. 

Overnight: Casa Reyna (B)

Day 6 - Puebla - 30 October
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This morning after breakfast we meet our guide for a full day tour of Puebla that is all about Architecture, Arts and Food!

The morning starts with a visit to Acocota, the local market, where we will be introduced to fabulous merchants and be taught about local ingredients, spices and seasonings.

We will stroll down the streets of Puebla exploring favourite traditional spots to grab a bite. The first stop on this quest is a small local place for tamales and café. We’ll eat like a true local, tasting molotes, pelonas and semitas, some of the most traditional poblano delicacies, and then we’ll savour tacos at the Tacos Arabes stand.

Puebla is known for its Baroque architecture, which made it a logical home for the International Museum of the Baroque, which opened in 2016. The museum looks more like the Guggenheim Bilbao on the outside with minimalist sweeps of white and silver. We will see the Biblioteca Palafoxiana, a 17th-century book collection and reading room that is widely considered the first public library in Mexico.

Puebla has over 365 churches! While we could easily be driven crazy trying to see them all, we will focusing on a few of the most celebrated. The central Church of Santo Domingo, which is most notable for its over-the-top Baroque-style Capilla del Rosario, which drips with so much gold you'll wonder how it doesn't come crashing down to the floor. We then stop into the Templo de San Francisco, a bright-yellow structure that pays homage to local hero Blessed Sebastian of Aparicio (who happens to be a step away from sainthood), and Puebla Cathedral, with its stunning black limestone front and stunning gold organ, which is the second-tallest church in the country.

Talavera pottery is one of Puebla's proudest exports. The mud is baked, glazed, and hand-painted, most traditionally in blue and white patterns. It's so strongly associated with Puebla that even the local Starbucks has Talavera-style decor. So for those that did not get enough talavera in Cholula, we visit Uriarte, the shop that is home base to the country's largest Talavara producer - there will be more options here, from tableware and vases to individual tiles and custom requests.

We finish with a stroll down Calle de los Dulces, a three-block street lined with sweet shops, and a stop at La Gran Fama Dulceria. Taste handmade confections and be sure to try the camotes, Puebla’s signature candy made from sweet potato.

After this epic day, our driver will take us back to our hotel to enjoy an evening at leisure.

Overnight: Casa Reyna (B / L)

Day 7 - Oaxaca - Day of the Dead - 31 October
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This morning after a leisurely breakfast we transfer to Oaxaca (pronounced ‘wa-ha-ca’) by road - with necessary stops along the way. The transfer is about 4 hours (no stops). Lunch will be taken en-route (to own account).

Oaxaca is renowned for its cuisine and vibrant art scene. It's also an excellent place to browse for traditional Mexican handicrafts, as descendants of the Zapotec and Mixtec Indians sell an array of bright woven blankets and shawls here.

The population in this area is still dominated by people of Zapotec and Mixtec descent, and the town has many examples of well-preserved Spanish colonial architecture.

On arrival at Oaxaca we check into our hotel. After checking in, we explore the historic centre – yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site – on foot with our guide and soak up the unique flavours of Oaxaca.

Rich in history and culture, Oaxaca is a fascinating city where ancient civilizations, colonial architecture and traditions are still very much alive. Founded in 1529 as New Spain city, this land was already inhabited by Zapotec civilizations. We visit the Cathedral, the magnificent Santo Domingo church and Gold museum. 

Oaxacan Day of the Dead celebrations take place over several days. The main events take place from October 31st to November 2nd. Different villages have different customs around the celebration and may observe Day of the Dead on different dates.

This evening we will visit the village of Xoxocotlan, commonly called Xoxo (pronounced "ho-ho"), a good place to visit tonight. There are two cemeteries here, the Panteon Viejo (old cemetery) and the Panteon Nuevo (new cemetery). Many people visit this Xoxo for Día de Muertos, both tourists and locals – and although in some respects it may seem like a carnival atmosphere, you will still find quiet spaces where family members remember their loved ones. Different villages celebrate on different nights, and some cemeteries are only open during the day, but are still worth a visit to see how the graves are decorated.

A highlight of Day of the Dead in Oaxaca is a visit to the cemeteries. One of the main cemeteries to visit is the Panteon General (the Oaxaca General Cemetery), also known as the Panteon San Miguel. Here we see candles lighting up the niches, and some Day of the Dead altars. There are stands selling treats and carnival rides set up outside the cemetery. So on our way back to our hotel this evening, we will make a quick stop here also. 

Overnight Hotel Azul (B)

Day 8 - Oaxaca - Day of the Dead - 01 November
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After breakfast we head off to the Tlacolula Valley to visit one of Mesoamerica’s oldest markets – the Tlacolula Market - and the temple of Tlacochahuaya. The little village has a population of just over 2,000 and its citizens remain loyal to the language inherited from the ancient Zapotec settlers of the region. The village square, as in most Mexican towns, is the focal point of religious, administrative and social activities and this one is dominated by the 16th century Church of San Jeronimo. 

Lunch is a real treat today: a rustic local lunch with a family.

We will continue with the excursion to the Zapotec village of Teotitlan del Valle, a traditional weaving town which is known particularly for its’ colourful, hand-woven rugs, naturally-dyed textiles, as well as elaborately decorated hand-made candles made of beeswax, shiny metallic paper and paper flowers. Many families in the village are dedicated to weaving rugs and other woollen garments. We will spend some time visiting a family home/studio to see the process of how they are made. Many still use the traditional techniques of carding and spinning their own wool, then dying it with natural colours and finally weaving on solid-wood looms. You will also get a better understanding from artisans about their initiatives to revive cochineal in Oaxaca as a primary source for red dye.

We arrive back at the hotel early evening.

Another Day of the Dead tradition in Oaxaca is the Comparsas. A comparsa is a carnival-like procession of people in costumes, with music and dancing. These take place in many different barrios (neighbourhoods) of Oaxaca and also in villages. Often these are informally organized, so it's difficult to know when you'll see them. Some of the most popular comparsas take place in Etla, a village about 30 minutes from Oaxaca, so we are going to jump in the van and take a trip to Etla to watch the carnival.  

Overnight Hotel Azul (B / L)

Day 9 - Mitla & Mezcal - Oaxaca - 02 November
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This full-day experience will take us on a journey into Mesoamerica at the ceremonial site of Mitla and an exploration of the art of Mezcal production.

We will journey to the archaeological site of Mitla (45 mins, 40 km). The site is famous for its intricate mosaic work that is found in no other Mesoamerican center. The mosaics, made from finely cut and polished stone, were fitted together without mortar and set against deep-red stucco, which remains vibrant in much of the site today. We will be led on an exploration of the site by our guide and have the chance to enter the tombs found there. Your time at Mitla will also include a visit to the 16th Century church built on a pre-Hispanic platform that now functions as an atrium. It is one of the clearest expressions of Mesoamerican and Catholic syncretism found in the region and is home to fragments of original codices (Mesoamerican writings).

Having explored Mitla, we enjoy lunch at a local restaurant nearby before continuing our journey through the valley of Oaxaca to the “Mezcalerias” in the towns of San Dionisio Ocotopec, San Baltazar Chichicapam and Santa Catarina. These distilleries produce quality mezcal using varied distillation methods. You will be visiting the producers in each town and learn how donkey-power is still used in the fermentation process and learn about the differences between distillation still using the traditional copper and the pre-Columbian clay.

After our mezcal tasting experience, our guide will drive us back to our hotel. Rest of the evening at leisure.

Overnight Hotel Azul (B / L)

Day 10 - Oaxaca - 03 November
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This morning after breakfast, we make our way to the fascinating Oaxaca Textile Museum (Museo Textil de Oaxaca). We will have time to wander the museum on our own - and make sure to check out the highly recommended gift shop!

This afternoon we hit the streets to explore our favorite craft and textile stores in Oaxaca City such as Miku Meko, Lanii Gifts, Marchanta, Aripo, Los Baúles de Juana Cata, La Jicara, Voces de Copal and more.

We will also try and check out 2 local markets - Mercado Benito Juárez + Mercado de Artesanías.

We continue with our guide for an evening Oaxaca Delicacies Tour. We will discover special places outside the tourist area that locals prefer and enjoy outstanding Mezcales, and then one of Oaxaca’s most famous night delicacies’: a grilled Tlayuda. The evening begins at a great local “hole in the wall” Mezcaleria, where we will taste anywhere between 4-8 different varieties of excellent mezcales - to experience the authentic flavour of the endemic agaves of this region: this is the land of Mezcal after all! Then we will go to a popular, clean and delicious local favourite night eatery and enjoy a great grilled Oaxacan Tlayuda with choice of toppings. We can end our evening at Expendio Tradicion Mezcaleria for a last tipple.

Overnight Hotel Azul (B / Mezcal Tastings + Street Food)

Day 11 - Oaxaca - 04 November
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This morning we will start our community tour with Fudanción En Vía. Fudanción En Vía supports local women and families through the power of microfinancing. We will be taken into two communities approximately 25-40 minutes outside of Oaxaca to meet women who are ready for their next En Vía microloan. These inspiring group of hard-working, optimistic, and problem-solving women created their own successes through their skills and tenacity, and with the assistance of En Vía who offers education, training and microfinancing to female entrepreneurs. Each of the women we visit will present her project – whether it is weaving rugs or raising chickens, selling flowers or making tortillas – and explain what she has done with past loans, and what she plans to do with subsequent loans. We will hear about the projects, learn about their community, and have a chance to ask any questions we may have about how it all works.

We will experience a much more personal view of local life than an ordinary ‘tour’ permits and we will also gain a better understanding of the challenges faced - and often overcome - by many in an economically challenged state.

Then we get to have a delicious lunch at an En Vía borrower’s business or home, which will provide us with an authentic taste of Oaxacan cuisine.

We return to Oaxaca.

Overnight Hotel Azul (B / L)

Day 12 - Merida - 05 November
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You have the morning free for any final sightseeing, shopping or eating!. 

Today we farewell Oaxaca and fly to Merida, the vibrant capital of the Mexican state of Yucatán. Merida has a rich Mayan and colonial heritage and is characterized by colonial architecture, a tropical climate and frequent cultural happenings. It is sometimes called the "White City," because of its buildings made of white stone and the city's cleanliness.

We arrive at the airport, are transferred to our lovely hotel, check in and rest / relax. Have a swim in the lovely pool or take a well deserved nap.

Your evening is free. But we can meet for our first Yucatec dinner in on of favourite local eateries. (to own account). 

Overnight Hotel Casa Lucia (B)

Day 13 - Uxmal - Merida - 06 November
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Today we have a day trip from Merida to Uxmal. Uxmal is the most important site of the Puuc region and was at its peak between 600 and 1000 A.D. Its name means "Three harvests" or "Three times built." The legend of the city's founding involves a dwarf who outwitted the king, became the new ruler and magically constructed the buildings of Uxmal. The Pyramid of the Dwarf (also known as the Pyramid of the Magician) dominates the site.

We will have a lovely lunch at photogenic Hacienda Ochil. Ochil is a charming hacienda that houses a museum, a restaurant, a gift shop, and artisan workshops. The property includes a small henequén field, railway and drying area. San Pedro Ochil hacienda first started as a cattle ranch. The first records of this hacienda go back to the 17th century and in the 19th century the estate turned to henequén production. There is a gorgeous garden to wander while you wait for lunch (the margaritas are to die for!).

On our way back to Merida, we will (time permitting) stop at the village of Muna to see the local handicrafts ie liquor, bees and honey (which is famous from Uxmal), the rain sticks, jewellery and carvings.

We return to the hotel - our evening is free. 

Overnight Hotel Casa Lucia (B / L)

Day 14 - Merida - 07 November
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Today we'll enjoy a Guided visit to a couple of the best of Merida's markets, the heart of the city. Mercado Lucas De Galvéz is an iconic market that offers stall after stall dedicated to local handicrafts, clothing and food products. It is Merida's main market and covers 156,000 square feet and has over 2000 vendors that sell fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, seasonings, pots, baskets, animals, shoes, clothes...the list goes on and on. Roughly 100,000 visitors flock to the colourful stalls on a daily basis. Among the largest and busiest markets in the city, El Mercado Lucas De Galvéz is also a popular and cheap place to eat. One of the highlights is found downstairs, where you’ll find a range of coctelerías serving delicious seafood cocktails – a favourite local hangover cure!

Mercado Municipal No 2 Santos Degollado, a centrally located market, is a great place to hunt for quirky souvenirs. The covered market is divided between handicraft stalls and food stalls selling regional food.

Tacos for lunch at Parque de Santiago - at either La Lupita (which offers some of the best tacos in the city, if not the state) or one of the other amazing taco eateries.

Then, we will hit the neighbouring shops full of linen clothes, handbags made of sisal fiber, Guayaberas, Huipiles, woodwork, hammocks, a tiles factory and of course, a chocolate boutique to die for. We can visit: Artesanaria, Sureste Craft Boutique, Concept House Casa T’Hō, 100% Mexico, Pineda Covalin, Coqui Coqui for Yucatec perfumes, Kukul Boutique

It will be a shopping extravaganza! 

We return to the hotel - our evening is free. 

Overnight Hotel Casa Lucia (B / L)

Day 15 - Chichen Itza - Merida - 08 November
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Today will be a highlight of our journey; exploring the archaeological site of Chichen Itza, possibly the most famous Maya site in Mexico. The UNESCO site is located 120km east of Merida and has been the centre of pilgrimage for the ancient Maya civilization for over 1,000 years. One of the New Seven Wonders of the World, Chichen Itza was originally built by the Maya, later conquered by Itzás, and Toltecs, and ultimately defeated by princes of Mayapán.

We will explore the magnificent ruins including El Castillo - the Pyramid of Kukulcan – the famous pyramid which dominates the site of Chichen Itza and actually sits on another, much older, temple. We will see the Great Ball Court, the largest and most impressive in Mesoamerica, the Temple of Warriors and the Sacred Cenote, a natural well used for human sacrifice. 

From Chichen Itza we'll return to Merida where our afternoon is free.

This evening we will don our finest and have a lovely farewell dinner at Hacienda Xcanatun, once a sisal hacienda. The Hacienda’s restaurant, Casa de Piedra, serves a menu featuring a variety of regional flavours. We can toast to a fabulous tour with our tequila or mezcale!

Overnight Hotel Casa Lucia (B / Picnic Lunch / Farewell Dinner)

Day 16 - Departure - 09 November
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Today is departure. You are transferred to the airport for your ongoing flight.

Adios y gracias!

About this tour

Mayan Ruins:  Housing some of the most finely restored ruins in world, the Yucatán Peninsula contains ruins still covered in dense jungle, waiting to reveal new hidden mysteries. Those unearthed offer a glimpse into the ancient Maya world as you walk in the footsteps of civilizations past.

Haciendas: The haciendas were the landed estates of Mexico. Each one was a rural, autonomous social unit with its own history and myths. Haciendas usually concentrated on one particular agricultural product, depending on the region: mescal in Zacatecas, sugar in Morelos, sisal in Yucatan, pulque (the alcoholic beverage produced from the agave plant which, when further distilled, becomes mescal) in hidalgo, and cattle in Querétaro. Around the haciendas, and administered by them, were smaller ranches which supplied grain and other seasonal crops. By the eighteenth century a typical hacienda was an elaborate institution. In addition to the main house and its guest quarters there were stables, a general store, a chapel, a school, equipment stores, servants' quarters, granaries, corrals and a forge. Clothing was produced at the hacienda from cloth woven on the premises. Haciendas today are often still owned by descendants of the older hacendados. Others have been bought since the Revolution by Mexicans from the city wishing to have a place in the country, and some have become hotels.

Gran Hotel de la Ciudad Mexico: Gran Hotel Ciudad de México pays homage to an era when travel was glamourous and service was impeccable. Originally constructed in 1899, it was home to one of the first department stores in Mexico City, designed in the lavish Art Nouveau style then popular in fashionable Paris. To this day, the interior of the Gran Hotel Ciudad de México has been lovingly maintained, from the grand stairway to the caged elevators and incredible stained glass ceiling. Located on the famed Zócalo Plaza, Gran Hotel Ciudad de México is the ideal location to explore the rich cultural and historical historic center of Mexico City. With stunning architecture, beautifully appointed rooms and all the services and amenities expected from a luxury hotel, Gran Hotel Ciudad de México is the ideal location for enjoying all that Mexico City has to offer.

La Purificada, Puebla: Located in the historic center of Puebla, La Purificadora is the new incarnation of a late 19th-century factory long used to purify water. The tradition of purity is still the guiding leitmotif at this minimalist yet modern and edgy hotel. The retention of many of the building's original elements, including crumbling walls and stone aqueducts, lends La Purificadora an air of authenticity, while modern juxtapositions like a glass-walled swimming pool and sleek purple lounge chairs create a clean, sophisticated ambience. The resulting mix of new and old is truly stunning. Most of the hotel's 26 guest rooms offer spectacular views of the hotel gardens and the city center beyond, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Practicalities

Money Matters:  Tipping is expected in most parts of Mexico. Service workers typically earn a low wage and rely on tips to earn a decent living. Add 10-15% to restaurant bills (if service charge is not already included), and leave a few dollars or pesos for housekeepers, porters, bartenders and guides. Major credit cards are widely accepted in tourist shopping areas, but are less commonly accepted by smaller vendors, in remote towns and rural areas.  ATMs are common in larger cities and tourist centres. ATMs are less common in rural areas and smaller towns, so you're advised to prepare for this by having enough cash before travelling out of the city. Whilst travelling in Mexico, the US dollar is the only widely accepted currency and the easiest to exchange into local currency. 

Visas:  British, other EU, Australian, New Zealand, Canadian and US passport holders travelling to Mexico do not require a visa for stays up to 180 day, but do need a Blue Tourist Card which can be obtained on completion of an immigration form available at border crossings or on board flights to Mexico. To obtain a Blue Tourist Card you will need a valid passport (which must be valid for a minimum of 6 months after your return date), return / onward ticket and proof of financial means (international credit cards or debit cards for instance). Keep your Tourist Card safe because it has to be presented and stamped on leaving. Departure Tax: There is a departure tax of approximately USD$65 pp which is payable on departure from Mexico. This tax depends on which airline you are travelling with and your onward destination. Make sure you have the money just in case if you are unsure whether you need to pay it.

Weather:  In general temperatures in Central America follow the same pattern as the Northern Hemisphere; cooler in the winter (December-January) and warmer in the summer months (June-August), although the hottest time of year is just before the rains come, between March and May, when it can be very hot and humid. Mexico is a year-round destination with the rainy season between May and September bringing the highest amount of precipitation with the rest of the year quite dry. During this season the coastal and low-lying regions are hot and humid. The centre and north of the country enjoys a more temperate climate and can be quite cool during the months of November to February.

The facts

Not Included:

  • International Airfares - PLEASE ASK US FOR A QUOTE
  • Travel Insurance - PLEASE ASK US FOR A QUOTE
  • Meals & drinks not stated in the itinerary
  • Optional Activities
  • Visas
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Pre & Post Tour Accommodation
  • Pre & Post Tour Extensions
  • Tips
Travel advice / FCO

We constantly monitor the advice posted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. In particular we will always advise clients of any travel warnings.

At the time of writing the FCO does not advise against travel to any of the places visited on this tour. Please feel free to contact us should you have any specific concerns.

You should be aware that any travel warnings or advisories may affect the validity of your travel insurance. Therefore, at the time of booking your tour it is essential you check any restrictions on cover with your insurance provider.

DATES

25 Oct 2020 - 09 Nov 2020


RATES

Hover over rates for other currencies.


 


*Rates are per person based on Land Only Single or Twin/Double Rooms
*'Willing to Share' may be available. Please enquire.
*Prices are subject to change until paid in full.
*This tour departs with a min of 8 guests & max of 10 guests.
*Daily activities will be subject to factors such as weather and other events beyond control.
*International Flights are not included in the Land Only cost. 
PLEASE ASK US FOR A QUOTE.


Tour Itinerary
Day 1 - Arrive Mexico City - 25 October

Arrival to Mexico City. Bienvenido a México!
Built on the site of Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec empire, Mexico City is vast, chaotic and vibrant; a sprawling megalopolis of more than 20 million people and a multitude of attractions.

Your journey begins with a warm welcome at the airport. You will be met by our driver outside of customs (international flights) and transferred to our gorgeous hotel where you can get settled in. 

Rest and relax after a long flight. 

This evening we will meet at the Balcon bar for a cocktail, and a Welcome Dinner. This is a great chance for the group to get to know each other and chat about ourupcoming adventure. 

An early night for most after a long-haul flight.

Overnight Zocolo Central Hotel. (Welcome Dinner)

Day 2 - Mexico City - 26 October

Today we will explore magnificent Mexico City.

One of the best ways to get to know a city is by walking through its historic neighbourhoods. This morning after breakfast we take a walk through the vibrant community of Roma to learn about the history, architecture and its uniqueness in one of the largest cities in the world. We then visit a local market to learn about Mexico´s vast and rich cuisine, an UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage, by way of its regional and season chilies, produce, seeds, flowers and spices.

We then visit the Zocalo, flanked by Mexico’s most important and buildings including: The National Palace, The Metropolitan Cathedral, the Temple Mayor Aztec Archaeological Site, the Palace of Fine Arts (Bellas Artes), and more depending on time annnd interest. The great square, called the Zocalo, evokes the place of homage and was the heart and ceremonial nucleus of Mexico-Tenochtitlan.

We will stop at Azul Historico for a fabulous lunch.

We then continue to the world-renowned National Anthropology Museum where our expert guide will explain the myriad of exhibits, giving special attention on the Aztec and Maya rooms.

Late afternoon we return to our hotel for relaxation. Your evening is free. 

Overnight Zocolo Central Hotel. (B / L)

Day 3 - San Angel, Frida, Coyoacan, Xochimilco - 27 October

This morning we start with a visit to the fringes of the city and its most prestigious artist quarter. Coyoacan is a picturesque neighbourhood with Spanish-era mansions, cobblestone streets and plazas. This neighbourhood still has its own identity, with narrow streets, plazas, cafés and a lively arty atmosphere. Sixty-four of the buildings on the main street are catalogued by Mexico’s INAH (National Institute of Anthropology and History) for their historic value.

Here we will visit La Casa Azul, the house where Frida Kahlo was born and where she spent her later years up until her death in 1954. As you make your way through the house her presence can be felt through her art and artefacts which played a prominent part in her life, including her wheelchair which sits at the foot of her paint-strewn easel. The house is a treasure trove, not only of her paintings, but also of innumerable artefacts associated with her and her husband, famous muralist Diego Rivera.

While in Coyoacan, we may (*time permitting) also visit the MUAC or the home of Leon Trotsky. Thanks to Frida Kahlo’s husband, Diego Rivera, this Bolshevik revolutionary was granted political asylum in Mexico City. 

After this, our guide will lead us on a journey for the senses to discover the Mercado Coyoacán where we can sit down to savour the flavours at this authentic Mexican market.

We then head to Xochimilco, roughly a 30-minute drive from Coyoacán. Xochimilco, ‘Place of the Flowers’, is famous for its canals. These canals made up part of vast man-made waterways surrounding the ancient city of Tenochtitlan. The Aztecs built fertile riverbeds called chinampas, using wattle, mud and river sediment, on which they were able to grow many of their staple crops. We will experience the canals on a colourful boat called a trajinera and discover that the chinampas are still in use today but for growing flowers rather than food crops. Our driver moves the boat along by pulling a pole through the water and we can relax under the shade of the boat's roof as we gaze at other vibrantly painted vessels carrying passengers and goods and even enjoy some local entertainment as local mariachis. Xochimilco forms part of a cultural World Heritage site but on a national level it is also a protected natural area. 

*Time permitting we will also have a chance to visit the Museum of Dolores Olmedo, a 16th century building with a collection of fine works by Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, as well as hundreds of pre-Hispanic figurines and sculptures. (Entrance Own Account)

Early evening, we return to our hotel. Free to relax.

For those that still have the stamina, we can visit a local Mexican cantina, sip on mezcal and tequila & take in a mariachi performance at Plaza Garibaldi..

Overnight Zocolo Central Hotel. (B / L – Market Food)

Day 4 - Teotihuacan - Mexico City - 28 October

Few cities in the world have been considered worthy of being inhabited by Gods. Teotihuacan is such a city. Teotihuacan dates from the time of Christ and was once one of the largest cities in the world. It is hugely influential in the historic narrative of modern Mexico and, and although it had already been abandoned by the time of the Aztecs, even this great empire held it in awe. Soak up the history as you stroll along the Avenue of the Dead, leading to the Pyramid of the Sun, and take the opportunity to climb its ancient steps for a panorama of the ruins and the surrounding countryside. 

Lunch will be in the traditional Monte Christo restaurant en-route back to Mexico City. 

We return to Mexico City and visit the Basilica de Guadalupe, Latin America's most revered religious shrine, where the Virgin of Guadalupe is said to have appeared before an Indian named Juan Diego in 1531, and an image of her was miraculously emblazoned on his cloak. We should have time to explore the New Basilica de Guadalupe (the Old Basilica, built in 1700, is slowly sinking) and to see Juan Diego's cloak. 

We return to the hotel, and our evening is free.

Overnight Zocolo Central Hotel. (B / L)

Day 5 - To Puebla via Cholula - 29 October

Our guide will meet us this morning after breakfast in the lobby and we will drive to the city of Cholula, roughly a 3 hour drive from Mexico City, through the Paso de Cortes.

Paso de Cortés is a mountain pass about 3600 meters above sea level in central Mexico. The pass acquired its name from the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés, who crossed it in 1519 when seeking the conquest of the Aztec capital.

We stop to enjoy a regional lunch (to own account) at the likes of Cuidad Sagrada where you can try fresh blue corn quesadillas stuffed with chicken tinga or squash blossoms, and a warm cup of atole or coffee. 

Cholula is considered by some the oldest inhabited city in the Americas. The town is home to the Great Pyramid of Cholula, the largest in the world today – even bigger than the Great Pyramids of Egypt.

After a visit to the Pyramid, we visit the Santa Caterina factory and shop, one of the official government license holders to sell magnificent talavera wares. Their range is huge, from dishes to candleholders to jewellery and even decorative eggs a la Faberge.

We continue our drive to Puebla (approx. another 35 minutes).

*Please be aware that weather conditions in the Paso de Cortes may interfere with mountain and volcano views.

After we settle into our hotel, those that wish can join me for dinner at  El Mural de los Poblanos, a Puebla institution, or can enjoy dinner in the hotel restaurant. 

Overnight: Casa Reyna (B)

Day 6 - Puebla - 30 October

This morning after breakfast we meet our guide for a full day tour of Puebla that is all about Architecture, Arts and Food!

The morning starts with a visit to Acocota, the local market, where we will be introduced to fabulous merchants and be taught about local ingredients, spices and seasonings.

We will stroll down the streets of Puebla exploring favourite traditional spots to grab a bite. The first stop on this quest is a small local place for tamales and café. We’ll eat like a true local, tasting molotes, pelonas and semitas, some of the most traditional poblano delicacies, and then we’ll savour tacos at the Tacos Arabes stand.

Puebla is known for its Baroque architecture, which made it a logical home for the International Museum of the Baroque, which opened in 2016. The museum looks more like the Guggenheim Bilbao on the outside with minimalist sweeps of white and silver. We will see the Biblioteca Palafoxiana, a 17th-century book collection and reading room that is widely considered the first public library in Mexico.

Puebla has over 365 churches! While we could easily be driven crazy trying to see them all, we will focusing on a few of the most celebrated. The central Church of Santo Domingo, which is most notable for its over-the-top Baroque-style Capilla del Rosario, which drips with so much gold you'll wonder how it doesn't come crashing down to the floor. We then stop into the Templo de San Francisco, a bright-yellow structure that pays homage to local hero Blessed Sebastian of Aparicio (who happens to be a step away from sainthood), and Puebla Cathedral, with its stunning black limestone front and stunning gold organ, which is the second-tallest church in the country.

Talavera pottery is one of Puebla's proudest exports. The mud is baked, glazed, and hand-painted, most traditionally in blue and white patterns. It's so strongly associated with Puebla that even the local Starbucks has Talavera-style decor. So for those that did not get enough talavera in Cholula, we visit Uriarte, the shop that is home base to the country's largest Talavara producer - there will be more options here, from tableware and vases to individual tiles and custom requests.

We finish with a stroll down Calle de los Dulces, a three-block street lined with sweet shops, and a stop at La Gran Fama Dulceria. Taste handmade confections and be sure to try the camotes, Puebla’s signature candy made from sweet potato.

After this epic day, our driver will take us back to our hotel to enjoy an evening at leisure.

Overnight: Casa Reyna (B / L)

Day 7 - Oaxaca - Day of the Dead - 31 October

This morning after a leisurely breakfast we transfer to Oaxaca (pronounced ‘wa-ha-ca’) by road - with necessary stops along the way. The transfer is about 4 hours (no stops). Lunch will be taken en-route (to own account).

Oaxaca is renowned for its cuisine and vibrant art scene. It's also an excellent place to browse for traditional Mexican handicrafts, as descendants of the Zapotec and Mixtec Indians sell an array of bright woven blankets and shawls here.

The population in this area is still dominated by people of Zapotec and Mixtec descent, and the town has many examples of well-preserved Spanish colonial architecture.

On arrival at Oaxaca we check into our hotel. After checking in, we explore the historic centre – yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site – on foot with our guide and soak up the unique flavours of Oaxaca.

Rich in history and culture, Oaxaca is a fascinating city where ancient civilizations, colonial architecture and traditions are still very much alive. Founded in 1529 as New Spain city, this land was already inhabited by Zapotec civilizations. We visit the Cathedral, the magnificent Santo Domingo church and Gold museum. 

Oaxacan Day of the Dead celebrations take place over several days. The main events take place from October 31st to November 2nd. Different villages have different customs around the celebration and may observe Day of the Dead on different dates.

This evening we will visit the village of Xoxocotlan, commonly called Xoxo (pronounced "ho-ho"), a good place to visit tonight. There are two cemeteries here, the Panteon Viejo (old cemetery) and the Panteon Nuevo (new cemetery). Many people visit this Xoxo for Día de Muertos, both tourists and locals – and although in some respects it may seem like a carnival atmosphere, you will still find quiet spaces where family members remember their loved ones. Different villages celebrate on different nights, and some cemeteries are only open during the day, but are still worth a visit to see how the graves are decorated.

A highlight of Day of the Dead in Oaxaca is a visit to the cemeteries. One of the main cemeteries to visit is the Panteon General (the Oaxaca General Cemetery), also known as the Panteon San Miguel. Here we see candles lighting up the niches, and some Day of the Dead altars. There are stands selling treats and carnival rides set up outside the cemetery. So on our way back to our hotel this evening, we will make a quick stop here also. 

Overnight Hotel Azul (B)

Day 8 - Oaxaca - Day of the Dead - 01 November

After breakfast we head off to the Tlacolula Valley to visit one of Mesoamerica’s oldest markets – the Tlacolula Market - and the temple of Tlacochahuaya. The little village has a population of just over 2,000 and its citizens remain loyal to the language inherited from the ancient Zapotec settlers of the region. The village square, as in most Mexican towns, is the focal point of religious, administrative and social activities and this one is dominated by the 16th century Church of San Jeronimo. 

Lunch is a real treat today: a rustic local lunch with a family.

We will continue with the excursion to the Zapotec village of Teotitlan del Valle, a traditional weaving town which is known particularly for its’ colourful, hand-woven rugs, naturally-dyed textiles, as well as elaborately decorated hand-made candles made of beeswax, shiny metallic paper and paper flowers. Many families in the village are dedicated to weaving rugs and other woollen garments. We will spend some time visiting a family home/studio to see the process of how they are made. Many still use the traditional techniques of carding and spinning their own wool, then dying it with natural colours and finally weaving on solid-wood looms. You will also get a better understanding from artisans about their initiatives to revive cochineal in Oaxaca as a primary source for red dye.

We arrive back at the hotel early evening.

Another Day of the Dead tradition in Oaxaca is the Comparsas. A comparsa is a carnival-like procession of people in costumes, with music and dancing. These take place in many different barrios (neighbourhoods) of Oaxaca and also in villages. Often these are informally organized, so it's difficult to know when you'll see them. Some of the most popular comparsas take place in Etla, a village about 30 minutes from Oaxaca, so we are going to jump in the van and take a trip to Etla to watch the carnival.  

Overnight Hotel Azul (B / L)

Day 9 - Mitla & Mezcal - Oaxaca - 02 November

This full-day experience will take us on a journey into Mesoamerica at the ceremonial site of Mitla and an exploration of the art of Mezcal production.

We will journey to the archaeological site of Mitla (45 mins, 40 km). The site is famous for its intricate mosaic work that is found in no other Mesoamerican center. The mosaics, made from finely cut and polished stone, were fitted together without mortar and set against deep-red stucco, which remains vibrant in much of the site today. We will be led on an exploration of the site by our guide and have the chance to enter the tombs found there. Your time at Mitla will also include a visit to the 16th Century church built on a pre-Hispanic platform that now functions as an atrium. It is one of the clearest expressions of Mesoamerican and Catholic syncretism found in the region and is home to fragments of original codices (Mesoamerican writings).

Having explored Mitla, we enjoy lunch at a local restaurant nearby before continuing our journey through the valley of Oaxaca to the “Mezcalerias” in the towns of San Dionisio Ocotopec, San Baltazar Chichicapam and Santa Catarina. These distilleries produce quality mezcal using varied distillation methods. You will be visiting the producers in each town and learn how donkey-power is still used in the fermentation process and learn about the differences between distillation still using the traditional copper and the pre-Columbian clay.

After our mezcal tasting experience, our guide will drive us back to our hotel. Rest of the evening at leisure.

Overnight Hotel Azul (B / L)

Day 10 - Oaxaca - 03 November

This morning after breakfast, we make our way to the fascinating Oaxaca Textile Museum (Museo Textil de Oaxaca). We will have time to wander the museum on our own - and make sure to check out the highly recommended gift shop!

This afternoon we hit the streets to explore our favorite craft and textile stores in Oaxaca City such as Miku Meko, Lanii Gifts, Marchanta, Aripo, Los Baúles de Juana Cata, La Jicara, Voces de Copal and more.

We will also try and check out 2 local markets - Mercado Benito Juárez + Mercado de Artesanías.

We continue with our guide for an evening Oaxaca Delicacies Tour. We will discover special places outside the tourist area that locals prefer and enjoy outstanding Mezcales, and then one of Oaxaca’s most famous night delicacies’: a grilled Tlayuda. The evening begins at a great local “hole in the wall” Mezcaleria, where we will taste anywhere between 4-8 different varieties of excellent mezcales - to experience the authentic flavour of the endemic agaves of this region: this is the land of Mezcal after all! Then we will go to a popular, clean and delicious local favourite night eatery and enjoy a great grilled Oaxacan Tlayuda with choice of toppings. We can end our evening at Expendio Tradicion Mezcaleria for a last tipple.

Overnight Hotel Azul (B / Mezcal Tastings + Street Food)

Day 11 - Oaxaca - 04 November

This morning we will start our community tour with Fudanción En Vía. Fudanción En Vía supports local women and families through the power of microfinancing. We will be taken into two communities approximately 25-40 minutes outside of Oaxaca to meet women who are ready for their next En Vía microloan. These inspiring group of hard-working, optimistic, and problem-solving women created their own successes through their skills and tenacity, and with the assistance of En Vía who offers education, training and microfinancing to female entrepreneurs. Each of the women we visit will present her project – whether it is weaving rugs or raising chickens, selling flowers or making tortillas – and explain what she has done with past loans, and what she plans to do with subsequent loans. We will hear about the projects, learn about their community, and have a chance to ask any questions we may have about how it all works.

We will experience a much more personal view of local life than an ordinary ‘tour’ permits and we will also gain a better understanding of the challenges faced - and often overcome - by many in an economically challenged state.

Then we get to have a delicious lunch at an En Vía borrower’s business or home, which will provide us with an authentic taste of Oaxacan cuisine.

We return to Oaxaca.

Overnight Hotel Azul (B / L)

Day 12 - Merida - 05 November

You have the morning free for any final sightseeing, shopping or eating!. 

Today we farewell Oaxaca and fly to Merida, the vibrant capital of the Mexican state of Yucatán. Merida has a rich Mayan and colonial heritage and is characterized by colonial architecture, a tropical climate and frequent cultural happenings. It is sometimes called the "White City," because of its buildings made of white stone and the city's cleanliness.

We arrive at the airport, are transferred to our lovely hotel, check in and rest / relax. Have a swim in the lovely pool or take a well deserved nap.

Your evening is free. But we can meet for our first Yucatec dinner in on of favourite local eateries. (to own account). 

Overnight Hotel Casa Lucia (B)

Day 13 - Uxmal - Merida - 06 November

Today we have a day trip from Merida to Uxmal. Uxmal is the most important site of the Puuc region and was at its peak between 600 and 1000 A.D. Its name means "Three harvests" or "Three times built." The legend of the city's founding involves a dwarf who outwitted the king, became the new ruler and magically constructed the buildings of Uxmal. The Pyramid of the Dwarf (also known as the Pyramid of the Magician) dominates the site.

We will have a lovely lunch at photogenic Hacienda Ochil. Ochil is a charming hacienda that houses a museum, a restaurant, a gift shop, and artisan workshops. The property includes a small henequén field, railway and drying area. San Pedro Ochil hacienda first started as a cattle ranch. The first records of this hacienda go back to the 17th century and in the 19th century the estate turned to henequén production. There is a gorgeous garden to wander while you wait for lunch (the margaritas are to die for!).

On our way back to Merida, we will (time permitting) stop at the village of Muna to see the local handicrafts ie liquor, bees and honey (which is famous from Uxmal), the rain sticks, jewellery and carvings.

We return to the hotel - our evening is free. 

Overnight Hotel Casa Lucia (B / L)

Day 14 - Merida - 07 November

Today we'll enjoy a Guided visit to a couple of the best of Merida's markets, the heart of the city. Mercado Lucas De Galvéz is an iconic market that offers stall after stall dedicated to local handicrafts, clothing and food products. It is Merida's main market and covers 156,000 square feet and has over 2000 vendors that sell fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, seasonings, pots, baskets, animals, shoes, clothes...the list goes on and on. Roughly 100,000 visitors flock to the colourful stalls on a daily basis. Among the largest and busiest markets in the city, El Mercado Lucas De Galvéz is also a popular and cheap place to eat. One of the highlights is found downstairs, where you’ll find a range of coctelerías serving delicious seafood cocktails – a favourite local hangover cure!

Mercado Municipal No 2 Santos Degollado, a centrally located market, is a great place to hunt for quirky souvenirs. The covered market is divided between handicraft stalls and food stalls selling regional food.

Tacos for lunch at Parque de Santiago - at either La Lupita (which offers some of the best tacos in the city, if not the state) or one of the other amazing taco eateries.

Then, we will hit the neighbouring shops full of linen clothes, handbags made of sisal fiber, Guayaberas, Huipiles, woodwork, hammocks, a tiles factory and of course, a chocolate boutique to die for. We can visit: Artesanaria, Sureste Craft Boutique, Concept House Casa T’Hō, 100% Mexico, Pineda Covalin, Coqui Coqui for Yucatec perfumes, Kukul Boutique

It will be a shopping extravaganza! 

We return to the hotel - our evening is free. 

Overnight Hotel Casa Lucia (B / L)

Day 15 - Chichen Itza - Merida - 08 November

Today will be a highlight of our journey; exploring the archaeological site of Chichen Itza, possibly the most famous Maya site in Mexico. The UNESCO site is located 120km east of Merida and has been the centre of pilgrimage for the ancient Maya civilization for over 1,000 years. One of the New Seven Wonders of the World, Chichen Itza was originally built by the Maya, later conquered by Itzás, and Toltecs, and ultimately defeated by princes of Mayapán.

We will explore the magnificent ruins including El Castillo - the Pyramid of Kukulcan – the famous pyramid which dominates the site of Chichen Itza and actually sits on another, much older, temple. We will see the Great Ball Court, the largest and most impressive in Mesoamerica, the Temple of Warriors and the Sacred Cenote, a natural well used for human sacrifice. 

From Chichen Itza we'll return to Merida where our afternoon is free.

This evening we will don our finest and have a lovely farewell dinner at Hacienda Xcanatun, once a sisal hacienda. The Hacienda’s restaurant, Casa de Piedra, serves a menu featuring a variety of regional flavours. We can toast to a fabulous tour with our tequila or mezcale!

Overnight Hotel Casa Lucia (B / Picnic Lunch / Farewell Dinner)

Day 16 - Departure - 09 November

Today is departure. You are transferred to the airport for your ongoing flight.

Adios y gracias!

About this tour

Mayan Ruins:  Housing some of the most finely restored ruins in world, the Yucatán Peninsula contains ruins still covered in dense jungle, waiting to reveal new hidden mysteries. Those unearthed offer a glimpse into the ancient Maya world as you walk in the footsteps of civilizations past.

Haciendas: The haciendas were the landed estates of Mexico. Each one was a rural, autonomous social unit with its own history and myths. Haciendas usually concentrated on one particular agricultural product, depending on the region: mescal in Zacatecas, sugar in Morelos, sisal in Yucatan, pulque (the alcoholic beverage produced from the agave plant which, when further distilled, becomes mescal) in hidalgo, and cattle in Querétaro. Around the haciendas, and administered by them, were smaller ranches which supplied grain and other seasonal crops. By the eighteenth century a typical hacienda was an elaborate institution. In addition to the main house and its guest quarters there were stables, a general store, a chapel, a school, equipment stores, servants' quarters, granaries, corrals and a forge. Clothing was produced at the hacienda from cloth woven on the premises. Haciendas today are often still owned by descendants of the older hacendados. Others have been bought since the Revolution by Mexicans from the city wishing to have a place in the country, and some have become hotels.

Gran Hotel de la Ciudad Mexico: Gran Hotel Ciudad de México pays homage to an era when travel was glamourous and service was impeccable. Originally constructed in 1899, it was home to one of the first department stores in Mexico City, designed in the lavish Art Nouveau style then popular in fashionable Paris. To this day, the interior of the Gran Hotel Ciudad de México has been lovingly maintained, from the grand stairway to the caged elevators and incredible stained glass ceiling. Located on the famed Zócalo Plaza, Gran Hotel Ciudad de México is the ideal location to explore the rich cultural and historical historic center of Mexico City. With stunning architecture, beautifully appointed rooms and all the services and amenities expected from a luxury hotel, Gran Hotel Ciudad de México is the ideal location for enjoying all that Mexico City has to offer.

La Purificada, Puebla: Located in the historic center of Puebla, La Purificadora is the new incarnation of a late 19th-century factory long used to purify water. The tradition of purity is still the guiding leitmotif at this minimalist yet modern and edgy hotel. The retention of many of the building's original elements, including crumbling walls and stone aqueducts, lends La Purificadora an air of authenticity, while modern juxtapositions like a glass-walled swimming pool and sleek purple lounge chairs create a clean, sophisticated ambience. The resulting mix of new and old is truly stunning. Most of the hotel's 26 guest rooms offer spectacular views of the hotel gardens and the city center beyond, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Practicalities

Money Matters:  Tipping is expected in most parts of Mexico. Service workers typically earn a low wage and rely on tips to earn a decent living. Add 10-15% to restaurant bills (if service charge is not already included), and leave a few dollars or pesos for housekeepers, porters, bartenders and guides. Major credit cards are widely accepted in tourist shopping areas, but are less commonly accepted by smaller vendors, in remote towns and rural areas.  ATMs are common in larger cities and tourist centres. ATMs are less common in rural areas and smaller towns, so you're advised to prepare for this by having enough cash before travelling out of the city. Whilst travelling in Mexico, the US dollar is the only widely accepted currency and the easiest to exchange into local currency. 

Visas:  British, other EU, Australian, New Zealand, Canadian and US passport holders travelling to Mexico do not require a visa for stays up to 180 day, but do need a Blue Tourist Card which can be obtained on completion of an immigration form available at border crossings or on board flights to Mexico. To obtain a Blue Tourist Card you will need a valid passport (which must be valid for a minimum of 6 months after your return date), return / onward ticket and proof of financial means (international credit cards or debit cards for instance). Keep your Tourist Card safe because it has to be presented and stamped on leaving. Departure Tax: There is a departure tax of approximately USD$65 pp which is payable on departure from Mexico. This tax depends on which airline you are travelling with and your onward destination. Make sure you have the money just in case if you are unsure whether you need to pay it.

Weather:  In general temperatures in Central America follow the same pattern as the Northern Hemisphere; cooler in the winter (December-January) and warmer in the summer months (June-August), although the hottest time of year is just before the rains come, between March and May, when it can be very hot and humid. Mexico is a year-round destination with the rainy season between May and September bringing the highest amount of precipitation with the rest of the year quite dry. During this season the coastal and low-lying regions are hot and humid. The centre and north of the country enjoys a more temperate climate and can be quite cool during the months of November to February.

The facts

Not Included:

  • International Airfares - PLEASE ASK US FOR A QUOTE
  • Travel Insurance - PLEASE ASK US FOR A QUOTE
  • Meals & drinks not stated in the itinerary
  • Optional Activities
  • Visas
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Pre & Post Tour Accommodation
  • Pre & Post Tour Extensions
  • Tips
Travel advice / FCO

We constantly monitor the advice posted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. In particular we will always advise clients of any travel warnings.

At the time of writing the FCO does not advise against travel to any of the places visited on this tour. Please feel free to contact us should you have any specific concerns.

You should be aware that any travel warnings or advisories may affect the validity of your travel insurance. Therefore, at the time of booking your tour it is essential you check any restrictions on cover with your insurance provider.