Skulls, skeletons and celebrations
Join this unique small group tour to experience an explosion of colourful celebration and life-affirming joy during the Dia de los Muertos festivities. From your arrival in Mexico City, through the quaint town of Puebla, the culinary city of Oaxaca and finally to the beachside chic of Tulum, you’ll be immersed in Mexican culture, food and festivities.
24 October - 5 November 2020
12 nights' accommodation in twin share four and five-star boutique hotels
13 breakfasts, 6 lunches and 7 dinners
English speaking local tour guide
All activities, from swimming in cenotes to hiking to the top of pyramids, included
Airport transfers on day one, private air-conditioned transport throughout, one domestic flight (OAX-CUN)
Maximum 14 fellow travellers
Bienvenido! Welcome to Mexico!
Your Mexican foodie adventure begins in Mexico City. After landing at Mexico City’s Benito Juarez International Airport, you'll be transferred to your hotel. In the evening, you’ll meet your tour leader and the other members of your group for a pre-tour briefing and sunset welcome drink.
Next, we’ll head out into the night for your first taste of Mexican cuisine at a nearby restaurant, where you’ll get to know your fellow travellers further.
Introducing Mexico City!
After loading up on your first Mexican breakfast, we’re heading to the Zocalo (main square) for a visit to the cathedral and national palace. Near the historic centre, we’ll visit one of the largest and most important markets in the city, Mercado San Juan. Your guide will show you around, so you can see, smell and taste the fresh ingredients used in Mexican cuisine. Make sure to try some samples! The rest of the afternoon is yours to explore.
Tonight, we’re having our first traditional Mexican night out! We’ll visit a local Mexican cantina and sip on mezcal and tequila, then we’ll take in a mariachi performance at Plaza Garibaldi before heading to the Lucha Libre arena. Mexican wrestling is the second-most watched sport in Mexico, we’ll soak up the atmosphere as we watch dramatic Lucha Libre moves. What a start to your Mexican adventure!
This morning, we leave early and travel to Tepoztlán to explore this fascinating town and the nearby Aztec ruins with a local guide. Tepoztlán is considered the birthplace of the Mesoamerican god, Quetzalcoatl, and is an important indigenous site. The town itself has a well-preserved historic centre and is surrounded by soaring cliffs, on the top of which is the Tepozteco pyramid.
Many people still feel a kind of magic or energy about the town and it is a mecca for artists and mystics. The one hour walk uphill to the pyramid is challenging, but we’ll help each other along the way and once at the top, the view of Tepozteco is mesmerising.
This afternoon we will go to see traditional altar building and/or lamp creating that forms part of the Day of the Dead ceremony. With luck, we'll be able to get our hands dirty helping to create these objects, and then participate in the ceremony that follows.
Dare to explore Doll Island?
This morning, we’ll visit the University of Mexico to see its spectacular display of traditional Day of the Dead altars. This is a very popular activity for locals so we’ll arrive early to avoid the queues.
Next, we’ll take a traditional boat to Xochimilco Doll Island. Doll's Island (or Isla de las Muñecas) is an island dedicated to the lost soul of a poor girl who drowned in mysterious circumstances. This small island is home to hundreds of dolls - many of them with severed limbs, decapitated heads and black eyes - who are said to be possessed by the girl's spirit. Local legend says that the dolls move their heads and arms and have even been known to open their eyes!
A trip to Mexico City is never complete without trying some authentic tacos, so this evening, we’re heading out on a 'taco crawl' around town. We’ll explore a variety of tastes, including the locals' favorite ‘taquerias’, Don’t ask for the ingredients, just trust your taste buds!
Today we say goodbye to Mexico City and hello to Puebla.
Before arriving at this beautiful colonial city, we’ll stop at Izta-Popo Zoquiapan National Park to take in the incredible views of Iztaccihuatl and Popocateptl volcanoes, before enjoying a hike surrounded by the diverse flora and fauna of the park.
After a local lunch, we’ll make our way to Puebla and after checking into our boutique colonial-style hotel, the rest of the afternoon is yours to explore. Take some time to rest at the hotel or ask your guide for recommendations if you feel like exploring Puebla.
In the evening, we’ll head out for a group dinner in one of the best restaurants in Puebla and a local favourite. The restaurant uses produce from local producers and most recipes on the menu were collected from local families, making it the best place to try traditional dishes from the area.
A culinary day in Puebla
As Puebla is one of the culinary capitals of Mexico, there’s no better place to have a cooking class. This morning, we’ll learn how to make some local dishes, including mole poblano, a Mexican favourite. The day will start with a visit to the market to pick out the ingredients, before donning our aprons in the kitchen.
After enjoying the typical Mexican lunch we have prepared, the afternoon continues with a city tour. Puebla has retained its colonial heritage despite rapid growth and development, and you’ll visit Calle de Los Dulces (Candy street) and El Parian (handicraft market), as well as the impressive Rosary Chapel.
All that walking is thirsty work, so we’ll end the tour with a craft beer tasting at a local brewery. Then, the rest of the afternoon is yours to enjoy!
Mexico’s magic mountains
Nestled in the hills above Puebla is Cuetzalan, one of Mexico’s Pueblos Mágicos (magic towns). Today we’ll visit this small, lively town where you will meet the locals and sample a few tasty specialties of the area.
Upon arriving into town, we’ll embark on a subterranean adventure to discover the many different natural caves and waterfalls in Cuetzalan. First, we’ll rappel down to the Gruta Xalostoc, also known as the cave of sand. We’ll continue hiking to visit the waterfalls where we’ll have some time to swim and cool down before heading to a traditional sewing workshop.
In the afternoon, before heading back to Puebla, enjoy a nerve-wracking traditional dance ceremony from Los Voladores de Cuetzalan (Dance of the Flyers) during which the performers dance around a 30-meter-high pole, then climb atop it!
Oaxaca – Mexico’s foodie capital
After breakfast, we’re off to another gastronomic gem - Oaxaca. Upon arrival, we’ll check into our boutique hideaway before taking a walking tour of the city. After exploring the historic centre, you have the rest of the afternoon free to explore.
This evening, we ramp up our Day of the Dead activities. Around 7pm we’ll start by visiting a local cemetery, and experience how the locals farewell the dead. We’ll explore the colourful decorations of the cemetery, including special gifts for the dead, brought to them by their families. The evening will give you a true understanding of what a joyful and significant celebration this is.
Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Oaxaca has much to offer and today we’ll take a full-day tour of the city including lunch at a local family’s home.
Your local guide will take you to the Mitla ruins, which were once the religious centre for the Zapotec people, and Hierve el Agua, a group of stunning natural rock formations where the minerals resemble cascading waterfalls.
We’ll sip on the famous, tequila-like local booze, mezcal, but not before checking out the Tule Tree, a 1500-year-old tree that's over 11 meters wide. Later, learn about a peculiar tradition not many can witness when visiting Oaxaca: beeswax candle making. We'll visit a local shop that keeps this tradition alive to learn about the technique involved in making these delicate candles.
The evening is free for you to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy Oaxaca’s nightlife.
Beachside chic in Tulum
Today we’ll catch a flight to the beautiful coastal town of Tulum – a place of gorgeous seas, blindingly bright sand and ancient ruins. Tulum was one of the last cities built and inhabited by the Maya and stood at the height of its progress during the 13th and 15th centuries. It offers a blissful combination of total relaxation, tranquility and seclusion, but with enough outdoor activities to keep you busy for days.
You’ll have the day free to settle into our new home, an eco-chic wellness retreat located right on the beach. Then, in the evening, we’ll enjoy a relaxing temazcal ceremony. This ‘sweating lodge’ was traditionally used by Mayans to remove all bad energy and cleanse their souls. Nowadays, it is used in spa rituals to cleanse and purify body, mind and soul. Enjoy!
To finish off this day of pampering, we’ll enjoy a relaxing meal as the sun sets on our first day in Tulum.
Cycling, cenotes and cocktails
After enjoying a beach-side breakfast, we’ll hop on our bikes and pedal to Tulum’s archeological site. This ancient Mayan city was once an important trading port, protected against invaders by a high wall. Situated on a cliff, overlooking a white sandy beach, it offers wonderful views and Insta-worthy photo opportunities.
Afterward, we'll continue cycling until we reach a local cenote where we’ll take a swim to cool off. Taking a dip in this secluded natural pool within an open-air cave will definitely be a highlight of your trip.
After cycling back to the hotel through laid-back Tulum Town, you have the rest of the afternoon to chill out, swim or explore the area. In the evening, we’ll meet by the sea where some delicious pre-dinner Mexican cocktails will be waiting for you. The perfect way to end the day.
Kayak through paradise
Fill up on breakfast this morning, because today we take to the water! Our first stop is the Siaan Kaan Biosphere, a UNESCO world heritage site and the largest protected area in the Mexican Caribbean. This reserve covers 10% of the state of Quintana Roo and is one of the most eco-diverse reserves in the world.
We’ll kayak through two beautiful lagoons in the reserve: Muyil amd Chinuyaxche. As we paddle along, we’ll take in the sights of the surrounding jungle and hear the calls of the many species of birds and other animals that call this area home.
After returning to the hotel, the rest of the afternoon is free for you to enjoy and relax before we meet for a final night dinner.
See ya, Mexico!
After breakfast, it’s time to say farewell to sunny Mexico! Your adventure comes to an end today. But, If you just can’t bear to say goodbye to Tulum, we’re more than happy to help with arrangements.