Be part of the preparations and celebrations for Mexico’s Day of the Dead festival on this exciting small non-exclusive group tour. This trip is perfect for those keen to enjoy an authentic experience of Mexican culture. A colonial city and the artistic capital of Mexico, Oaxaca is one of the best destinations to experience this unique festival.
During the Day of the Dead celebrations, death comes alive. Families celebrate the memories of those they have lost throughout the years, elaborately decorating altars in their houses and holding traditional wakes in cemeteries. You will be immersed into this 4,000 year old festival and learn about the history, meaning and symbolism behind it. Streets will be filled with iconic symbols including the intricately painted sugar skulls and cemetery will be elaborately decorted.
UK - Mexico City - 28th October 2020
Depart London Heathrow on your direct flight to Mexico City arriving early evening. On arrival, transfer to your hotel for 1 night.
Accommodation: Zocalo Central
Mexico City - Oaxaca - 29th October 2020
This morning you are collected for an introductory tour of Mexico City. Built on top of the ruins of the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan, you first visit the Zocalo (main square), one of the biggest public squares in the world. Visit the Catedral Metropolitana (Metropolitan Cathedral) – the biggest church in Latin America, and the Palacio Nacional – which hosts Diego Rivera’s murals depicting the history of Mexico. Continue along the famous boulevard Paseo de la Reforma, built during the short-lived reign of Emperor Maximilian to connect the main square and his castle in Chapultepec. The final stop is the Anthropology Museum, where there is time to explore the treasures of the Aztec culture prior to then ending the day at the airport for your onward flight to Oaxaca.
Upon arrival you will be transferred to your Hotel Victoria (or similar) for the next 6 nights. Oaxaca offers a fascinating mix of colonial, indigenous and ancient cultures. The city boasts fine Spanish buildings and churches, markets and the important archaeological site of Monte Alban. After the Spanish conquered Oaxaca in 1533, the city quickly took on a Spanish flavour with ornate buildings, elegant archways, decorative wrought iron balconies and charming plazas. Today's Oaxaca may be a combination of pre-Hispanic, colonial and modern influences but, despite its heritage, the city remains essentially Indian at heart, wherein lies its particular charm. The townsfolk speak their own language and their market is one of the most colourful in Mexico. Oaxaca is definitely the best place in Mexico to experience the Day of the Dead celebrations.
Oaxaca - 30th October 2020
Today visit Coyotepec, Jalietza, Ocotlan handicrafts, and visit to a family in San Martin Tilcajete to watch Alebrije making
This morning you are collected and driven to San Bartolo Coyotepec, located 12km south of the city where Oaxaca’s gleaming black pottery (barro negro brillante) is made. The pottery was made famous by Rosa Real who invented the method of burnishing it with quartz stones for the distinctive shine. There is a demonstration of the process at Rosa’s family pottery workshop (Rosa died in 1980), before driving 15km to Santo Tomas Jalietza. The village is famous for its beautiful weavings and embroidery work, and there is time to browse the market, before continuing for another 8km to Ocotlan where the village’s most renowned artisans, the four Aguilar sisters, create colourful pottery figures. Ocotlan was also the hometown of artist Rodolfo Morales (1925-2001). He turned his international success to Ocotlan’s benefit by setting up a foundation, that, amongst other things, has renovated the village’s pretty 16th century church. On Fridays the town also hosts one of the regions most vibrant markets, and you have some time to explore the stalls before the final visit of the days to San Martin Tilcajete. Here you are shown the process for making the fantastically shaped wooden "Alebrijes" figures and a local family carves the wood (of the copal tree), before then running through the technique to hand paint them with different brushes and colours according to the size of the figure. At the end of the excursion you return to your hotel back in Oaxaca.
Oaxaca - 31st October 2020
Today visit the Mitla archaeological site before visiting an 'Altar of the dead'. Located 46km southeast of Oaxaca, Milta was an important Zapotec city after the decline of Monte Alban, and was later occupied by the Mixtecs. Many of Mitla’s temples were destroyed by the Spanish, and the stones were used to build the Iglesia de San Pablo, the Catholic church that dominates the site. Your guide takes you to explore the beautiful buildings and see their unique geometric stone mosaics. next you make your way to an 'Altar of the dead' for a full explanation of the significance and how this connects with the day of the dead festivities in the city, and the symbolism of what it represents. You return to your hotel at the end of the trip.
In the evening, visit one of the oldest towns of the Oaxaca Valley; Xoxocotlan on a shared excursion. Visit the tombs of the old and new cemetery of San Miguel and celebrate with flowers and candles alongside the villagers. Families gather to spend part of the night or the whole night beside the tombs of their loved ones, reminiscing of the good times and celebrating in the memory of the deceased. The atmosphere within Xoxo is very special and an unforgettable experience.
Oaxaca - 1st November 2020
Located in the heart of the Zapotec zone, visit the town of Teotitlan del Valle; considered the craft centre of Oaxaca. This traditional town has been renowned for its weaving wares and handicrafts since pre-Hispanic times. Visit the workshop of a traditional candlemaker to witness this exemplary art form, carefully hand crafted to be used throughout annual celebrations and particularly Day of the Dead.
In the afternoon, drive northeast of the valley to the village of Soledad Etla to be a part of the magnificent Comparsa Parade. Walk with the jubilant parade alongside 10 feet stilt walkers dressed as spirits, marching bands playing loud ‘banda’ music and locals in elaborate costumes. You’ll pass rows of vendors where you can stop to purchase local and traditional food and mezcal. Being part of this vibrant parade and all the festivities is an amazing experience of Mexican life.
Oaxaca - 2nd November 2020
Exploring the extraordinary archaeological site of Monte Alban is not to be missed on any visit to Oaxaca. A collection of temples, palaces, terraces, dams, canals and pyramids carved out of the mountain, Monte Alban was the ancient capital of Zapotec and once supporting 35,000 people.This ancient city is centred around the Great Plaza, an open area on the mountain top which offers breathtaking views of the surrounding area. Looking down across the spectacular landscape is an incredible way to view the valleys you have spent the last few days exploring.
Later on today explore the beautiful city of Oaxaca and discover its colonial heritage on a city tour. Wander the stone paved streets of this picturesque city set against a mountainous backdrop. Pass the houses, shops and cafes which are painted a multitude of bright colours. End the tour with a stop at a local market, full of diverse offerings for the locals to purchase on the altars for the Day of the Dead tradition. This open-aired bazaar, is piled high with Day of the Dead ornaments and decorations including colourful strings of beads, bunches of vibrant marigolds and the iconic illustrated sugar skulls. Learn about the traditional local breads decorated for the festival season, local fruits and the flowers of the dead.
Oaxaca - 3rd November 2020
Today visit “Hierve El Agua”, where up in the hills these mineral springs run into icy cold clifftop bathing pools and offer spectacular panoramic views. The surrounding cliffs appear to be covered in huge frozen waterfalls formed by the petrified minerals from the water. On the way back to Oaxaca, there is a stop at the Tule tree, one of the world’s largest trees thought to be more than 2000 years old. Continuing along the same route, there is then a final stop before returning to the city at a Mezcal distillery. This visit includes a tasting as well as a tour to demonstrate the process of making one of the region's most famous drinks.
Oaxaca - Mexico City - 4th November 2020
Oaxacan cuisine is famous for its refinement and complexity, and we will learn how to prepare it; the teacher is a local woman who learned cooking from her mother and her grandmother before her. We will take you to the local market where we will taste and buy the ingredients: different fruits, vegetables and traditional herbs that are used in the preparation of the regional dishes of Oaxaca. A light lecture on Oaxacan cuisine is given, and then we grab an apron to create a delicious 4-course meal.
In the afternoon you will be transferred to the airport for a flight to Mexico City. Upon arrival, you will be taken to your hotel for 2 nights.
Mexico City - 5th November 2020
Today visit the archaeological site of Teotihuacan, located 50km northeast of Mexico City. First stop will be the Three Cultures Plaza where 3 cultures converge: Aztec, Spanish and contemporary Mexican. Continue to the Shrine of Guadalupe, one of Latin America's most revered religious shrines and it is here that the Virgin of Guadalupe was said to have appeared. A one-hour drive from here takes you to Teotihuacan, one of the most impressive cities of the ancient world, held sacred by the Aztecs. We will explore its temples, palaces and pyramids, including the Quetzalpapalotl Palace Complex, the Temple of the Feathered Conches, the Pyramid of the Moon, and the immense Pyramid of the Sun, ranked among the biggest in the world. This is a shared service.
Mexico City - UK - 6th November 2020
Today depart Mexico City. You will be transferred to the airport for your international flight home, which arrives back into the UK tomorrow.
Pricing Information & Dates
10 day tour, from £2895 per person
Group tour includes:
Shared airport transfers
6 nights accommodation at Hotel Victoria and Hotel City Express (or similar) in Oaxaca including breakfast
3 nights in Mexico City at Zocalo Central (or similar) including breakfast
Shared sightseeing tours as detailed in the itinerary and please note that accommodation is subject to availability at time of booking.
You spend the day of the dead festival in Oaxaca.
International & Domestic flights
This is a non-exclusive small group tour operating from 28th October 2020 until 6th November, specifically for the Day of the Dead celebrations. This group tour is operated by our Mexican suppliers and runs with between 8-10 people.
Services outside of these dates are suggestions and based on shared services. These services outside of Oaxaca can be tailored to your requirements or be taken on a private basis.
Please note as these will be shared with other clients they will be less convenient than a private service. For example pick up/drop off times may not link exactly with flights and for excursions you may spend some time whilst the driver collects other clients. Please enquire for details if you would rather have private services.
Hotels are subject to change due to availability. At time of bookings the best option with the best price will be selected.
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