This day alone would make the trip worthwhile, but you'll enjoy one delight after another from the moment of arrival. Sample Oaxaca's exotic fruit popsicles in flavors ranging from lime to tamarind to Jamaica (ha-MY-ca). Learn from weavers and woodcarvers and try your own hand at painting those whimsical wooden animals that Mexicans call alebrijas (ah-lay-BREE-has). Learn from a Mexican grandma how to cook tortillas, tamales, and Mexican hot chocolate. Explore Monte Alban, the first urban center of ancient Mesoamerica, visit a coffee farm, and swim, snorkel and star gaze.
Day 1: Oaxaca City. Upon arrival you'll be transferred to your hotel in Oaxaca City. If time permits, start on a walking tour to orient yourself with the city, visiting several highlights including the bustling Juarez Market and the lively central Zocalo. Ambling down the lovely pedestrian streets, stop to visit the Santo Domingo Church, the museum, and the Botanical Gardens. Along the way, stop at the Paleteria La Michoacana, for an amazing snack of fresh fruit flavored popsicles made of lime, tamarind, sour sop, and Jamaica petals. Meals: Dinner. Lodging: Hotel Vertiz.
Day 2: Oaxaca Cooking - Radish Carvin. Welcome to Oaxaca. A special treat is in store for you today! Travel to the local markets to learn about some of the unique ingredients we do not see in our supermarkets, namely a vast variety of chili peppers! Learn about the history of the cocoa bean, the source of chocolate, and the maize plant, the source of corn.
We will divide into groups to make hot chocolate, tortillas, tamales, and other Mexican specialties. At night we venture down to the Zocalo to witness the most amazing radish carving contest in the world. Since 1897, local Oaxaca merchants and artisans have carved radishes as an early form of advertising for thier produce stands. Maybe you can pick the winner! Meals: Breakfast, Lunch. Lodging: Hotel Vertiz.
Day 3: Ocotlan - Noche Buena. Venture into the Oaxaca Valley again, this time traveling south on the craft route of Ocotlan. In Ocotlan you’ll visit some special churches, and in neighboring San Antonino, hop on motorcars that will take you into their rose fields. Along the way, stop in Jalieza to buy fun belts and purses made by local artisans on a back strap loom.
A special visit has been arranged to meet with the local artisans from Tilcajete to see how they carve and paint their whimsical wood animals, known as “alebrijes.” You’ll then get a chance to paint your own alebrijes! These won’t go up for sale though, as you’ll get to take them home as special mementos from your trip. Tonight we join with locals to celebrate Noche Buena, the Night Before Christmas. Watch the beautiful parades and festivities around the Zocalo. Meals: Breakfast, lunch. Lodging: Hotel Vertiz.
Day 4: Monte Alban - Arrazola. Today is dedicated to exploring the first urban city of Mesoamerica, Monte Alban. Great civilizations emerged and thrived in this region, with the Zapotec among the first cultural groups to develop. They went beyond being nomadic hunters and gatherers and began to develop complex systems of religion, politics, and commercial activity. Enjoy exploring, climbing, and observing the wonders of these ancient ruins.
After you’ve immersed yourself in this early world, return to present day life and refresh yourself in the on-site cafeteria,museum, and bookstore. From here, visit the town of Arrazola to see their version of Tilcajete wood carvings (they are different!). Lunch is family style at La Capilla. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch. Lodging: Hotel Vertiz.
Day 5: Mitla - Tlacolula - Teotitlan del Valle. After breakfast, journey into the Oaxaca Valley. In Mitla, you’ll see amazing motifs carved into the walls of this ancient Zapotec site. The Tlacolula Dominican Church and adjacent chapel are among the finest examples of Baroque and Rococo architecture in the region. At the dynamic and enterprising Zapotec village of Teotitlan del Valle, see how an entire community is dedicated to the commercialization and preservation of tapestry weaving.
Try your hand at weaving at a local cooperative to experience how these rugs are made on a treadle loom. Leaving the village behind, stop en-route in Tule to see an immense cypress tree. You have to see it to believe it! Meals: Breakfast, lunch. Lodging: Hotel Vertiz.
Day 6: Oaxaca City - Huatulco. In the morning, board your flight from Oaxaca City to Huatulco, a short journey that provides spectacular views of the Sierra Madre del Sur Mountains before they taper off and descend into the Pacific Coast. Upon arrival, transfer to the expansive, colonial garden hotel where you will check in.
Change into your bathing suits, slather on sunscreen and head for the beach! Climb aboard a “panga” boat for a day of exploring the seven bays of Huatulco. From the boat, you can venture into the bays and coves that dot the coast. Spend the day swimming, snorkeling, and fishing as well as dining on a local beach. End the day star-gazing on the beach or relaxing in town with the locals. Meals: Breakfast, lunch. Lodging: Hotel Castillo Huatulco.
Day 7: Huatulco Coffee Ranch and Waterfalls. Venture this morning into the mountains to the north, in the Sierra Madre del Sur to see where coffee is grown and roasted. From Rancho La Gloria a guide will take you on a nature hike and for a refreshing swim in the cascading waterfalls of the Rio Copalita. You will also learn about the local plants that are used for medicinal purposes. Enjoy a family-style lunch at the ranch with your hosts. After returning to Huatulco you can relax by the pool, sit under the palapas at the beach, or go into town. Meals: Breakfast, lunch. Lodging: Hotel Castillo Huatulco.
Day 8: Rafting and More. Glide down the river for a one-of-a-kind experience on the Rio Copalita. Enjoy watching birds and other wildlife as you float on gentle rapids toward the Pacific Ocean. The afternoon is free for optional activities. You may choose to go horseback riding, zip lining, scuba diving, fishing, or relax at the beach. In the evening enjoy a farewell dinner over wood-fire pizzas! Meals: Breakfast, lunch. Lodging: Hotel Castillo Huatulco.
Day 9: Departure. This morning you will be transferred to the airport for your flight home. Meals: Breakfast.
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