Get to know authentic Oaxaca with Discover Veracruz. // © 2015 Discover Veracruz
Feature image (above): Embark on a tour led by a Maya guide and local archaeologist with Intrepid Travel. // © 2015 IStock
Mexico is a land filled with culture, history and noteworthy attractions and events. But sometimes, it’s easier to find these memorable experiences by booking an escorted tour — especially in the nation’s central region, where a knowledgeable guide can help travelers unlock the secrets of ancient cultures and explore the most striking natural beauty.
Here are a few examples of interesting tours available in the coming months.
The company’s name may reflect its origins in one Mexican state, but Discover Veracruz now offers cultural and adventure tours in various regions. Its eight-day “Experience Oaxaca’s Day of the Dead y Mucho Mas” takes travelers behind the scenes during one of Mexico’s most legendary annual celebrations.
Participants will spend time at cemeteries, wander traditional markets and explore Oaxaca city and small villages nearby as they learn about the revered tradition of honoring deceased family members. A horseback trail ride and zipline adventure add a different kind of excitement to the tour, which is slated for Oct. 28 to Nov. 4.
Travelers will follow the steps that archaeologist Giles Healey took in 1946 during Intrepid Travel’s 15-day Expedition – Exploring the Mayan World itinerary. Leaving from Mexico City, the tour is led by a Maya guide and local archaeologist, who helps guests “discover” some of the lesser-known Maya sites in Mexico. Included are visits to Teotihuacan, Oaxaca, San Cristobal de las Casas and the ruins of Palenque and Bonampak. This tour, slated for Nov. 14-28, is best for people looking for jungle exploration and physical challenges, including river rafting, camping and hiking.
The company also offers tours that combine visits to ruins in Mexico, Guatemala and Belize, with an extensive, 25-day Mayan Highlights tour that starts in Cancun and ends in Playa del Carmen.
This tour operator has introduced several new itineraries for the fall months. The Best of Oaxaca: Culture, Mezcal & Beach program takes travelers through the city of Oaxaca to visit the historic, colonial center as well as indigenous towns elsewhere in the state, plus the uncrowded, postcard-perfect beaches of Puerto Escondido.
Foodies should consider the company’s Culinary Tour Through Mexico City, Puebla and Oaxaca, with opportunities to sample sophisticated creations by renowned chefs as well as authentic regional specialties prepared by local families.
Mexico City’s varied architectural treasures are the focus of Journey Mexico’s Art and Architecture in Mexico City, which highlights the capital’s fascinating pre-Hispanic structures, its impressive 21st-century buildings and a lot of creations that took place in between. Customized tours and dates are available.
Tia Stephanie Tours
This U.S.-based tour operator never fails to provide an interesting assortment of small group excursions to some of Mexico’s cultural hotspots. The company’s Art of the Charro and Tequila in Jalisco, scheduled for Nov. 7-15, focuses on the culture and art of the “charreria” (Mexican rodeo) and the “charros” (traditional horsemen) who make it happen. Travelers will attend a charreria, learn about the clothing participants wear and the art of roping and horse riding.
The tour also stops at the town of Tequila for an insider’s look at — you guessed it — tequila, the distilled beverage that’s placed this town on the map. The tour group will attend Feria Maestros del Arte, an annual arts and crafts fair along the shores of Lake Chapal.
Also available from Tia Stephanie is the Night of the Radishes, Christmas in Oaxaca program, scheduled for Dec. 19-26. Attendees will participate in the great radish carving festival in Oaxaca, an interesting tradition during which locals create nativity scenes and Christmas-related characters from the vegetable. Travelers choosing this program also participate in an Oaxacan cooking class.