Lighting the way of the Dead
Arrive at the Oaxaca City Airport
One of our staff will be waiting for you upon your arrival at the Oaxaca City
Airport. You will then transfer to the Hotel Misión de los Angeles in Oaxaca City where you will check in. The rest of the day/evening is free to relax or explore on your own.
Oaxaca City Tour
Today is the day to get to know Oaxaca City. A local guide will lead your small group on a walking tour of the city which will include the major landmarks such as the Santo Domingo church, the government palace, and a visit to the Regional Museum of Oaxaca where you will see ancient artifacts from the Mixtec and Zapotec cultures.
Traditional Artisan Markets
It’s a Deadman’s Party
You will also stroll the main city markets and see all the items for sale that relate to the Day of the Dead celebration. Lunch will be at a nice local restaurant. After lunch you will have the rest of the afternoon and evening to do more exploring on your own.
Monte Alban Archaeological Zone
Artisans of San Anotnio Arrazola
Artisans of Bartolo Coyotepec
Explore a 16th Century Ex-Convent
The ruins of one of the earliest cities established in Mesoamerica is located just a very short drive from Oaxaca City. Monte Alban was inhabited over a period of 1500 years first by the Olmecs and then the Zapotecs and Mixtecs. Today, you will see that the structures built here are situated on several hundred artificial terraces which were created on a high ridge with a superior view of the surrounding valleys and hills. After your private tour of this very impressive archaeological zone, your group will travel to the town of San Antonio Arrazola. This town is known for the artisans who create brightly painted animals (Alebrijes). After lunch at a local restaurant, your Oaxaca journey continues to the large XVI Century ex-convent in the town of Cuilapam de Guerrero. Here you will learn about its history and architecture. Your final stop today will be to the town of San Bartolo Coyotepec where you will meet artisans who are known for creating unique black pottery. And of course, there will be time for browsing and shopping in their small stores. The rest of the evening is free to find a nice place for dinner on your own.
Cultures, Customs, and Costumes
Mitla Archaeological Zone
Artisans of San Miguel de Valle
Artisans of San Marcos Tlapazola
Day of the Dead Celebrations …
– San Miguel Cemetery in Oaxaca City
– Xoxacotlan Celebrations & Cemetery
Happy Halloween! Yes, you may see kids dressed in costumes trick or treating. It is a custom that has filtered into México from the US but has not taken over the real celebrations which begins this evening; the celebration of Día de los Muertos. First on your tour agenda this morning, you will head out to the Mitla Archaeological site. This is an appropriate place to visit on this day of exploration as the word, “Mitla” means the place of the dead or place of burial. This site was considered the “gateway” between the world of the living and the world of the dead. Your private tour guide will fill you in on more details and of the significance of this place for the Zapotec and Mixtec people. Also worth noting is that unlike Monte Alban, which sits on a high hill, Mitla was built on a valley floor. Next on the itinerary is a visit to the village of San Miguel de Valle. This will be an interesting afternoon as your guide (Guillermo) is from this small town. He knows just about everyone! There, you will have the opportunity to visit some homes to see how they have created small alters or shrines to honor their deceased loved ones. You will also visit the home of a women who will show you the steps to making rugs and tapestries which are called, Tepetes. A stop at the local bakery will also be on the list of “must see” places. Not only will the fresh bakery smell great, you will see how they decorate the cookies and breads with Day of the Dead themes.
Famous Oaxaca painted wood carving
After a nice lunch, everyone will head to the town of San Marcos Tlapazola to see the artisans who specialize in making red clay ceramics. It is interesting to see the designs of some of the pottery decorated with roosters, pig snouts, other farm animals, and even dancing dolphins.
Your group will then return to Oaxaca City, have dinner, and visit the San Miguel Cemetery. Picture this… thousands of lit candles illuminating the darkened night for the many families who are gathered around the individually decorated grave sites of their departed loved ones. This moving experience will definitely be something you will remember for a long time. Later, you will have the option of traveling to another cemetery (Xoxocotlan) to view the differences in details of the alters and of the celebrations from one family to another at the gravesites.
Tlacolula Traditional Market
Private Mezcal Production Tour
Day of the Dead Celebrations …
– Villa de Etla (Parade & Festivities)
Santo Domingo Cathedral
The market in Tlacolula is especially interesting in that there are so many participants who are dressed in traditional fashion. Everything from shoes to produce to live animals to crafts from artisans are sold there. You will have lunch in the “food court” area. OK, it’s not even remotely like the ones at the modern malls. Nearby, you will learn how Mezcal (a “distant cousin” to Tequila) is produced. Sampling? OF COURSE! Then we will stagger, I mean travel to the town of Villa de Etla where we will see how they celebrate Día de los Muertos with a parade and other festivities. Later, more cemeteries to visit? It will be up to the group to decide.
Visit the Ginormous Tule Tree
Explore the Village of Teotitlan de Valle
Atzompa Archaeological Ruins Site
Tour the town of Santa Maria Atzompa
Get your wide angle lens out because you will need it to photograph the Tule tree. First off, it’s over 2000 years old! Even the ancient Aztecs wrote about it. The measurement of the base is about 160 feet in circumference. Yikes! It is one of the oldest living things on this earth. After your photo opt with the ole tree, your group will travel to the town of Teotitlán de Valle. This place is famous for the artisans who weave wool rugs using natural dyes. Interestingly, about 90% of the residence who live there devote themselves to local crafts. After lunch, you will go to explore the smaller archaeological ruins site of Atzompa which is near Monte Alban. It was like a suburb of Monte Alban where the upper class lived, including some of the priests, and Zapotec rulers. It has a very nice 360˚ panoramic view of Oaxaca City, the Etla Valley, and surrounding area. You will also visit the small nearby museum with artifacts from the ruins site. Then your group will head into the town of Santa Maria Atzompa to explore its markets and experience its Day of the Dead celebration. You will have dinner there at one of the local restuarants. Later, everyone will travel back to the hotel in Oaxaca City.
Horseback Trail Ride Adventure (2 hours)
Thrilling Zipline Ride
What better way to enjoy your last full day in the state of Oaxaca then to go on a fun day of adventure. You will travel east into the highlands where you will meet your well-trained horse for a backcountry 2 hour trail ride. As you may know, horses were not introduced into the New World until Spaniard, Hernán Cortéz and his men brought them from Cuba in 1519. Of course today, you will find them everywhere in México for transportation, farming, and for hauling carts. After your trail ride, it’s time for a fast adrenalin-rush zipline ride. It’s the longest in the entire state. Think of it in these terms. You will be zipping over the countryside for more than the length of 10 football fields backed up end to end. After that, it will be time for lunch and probably a cold beer to celebrate your new accomplishment of “flying” in Oaxaca. Later in the evening, everyone will meet for a lively farewell dinner.
Depart from the Oaxaca City Airport
Travel Day Home
After breakfast, you can relax until its time to take a taxi to the Oaxaca Airport for your flight home. If you are joining the group going on the extra 4 day extension trip to Veracruz, you will take off right after breakfast for more México adventures.