Mexico: Oaxaca: Art and Archaeology

Rich in culture and archaeological significance, Oaxaca’s past is visible in the region’s every village and valley.



Upon arrival this morning, you’ll transfer to your hotel by private car and meet your guide to set out for an exploration of Oaxacan folk arts, focusing on the Zapotec villages of the Tlacolula valley.

Traditional and deeply rooted, the villages spread among the rolling hills and valleys are home to some of the region’s most exciting folk arts. You’ll wander through several villages, meeting artisans as you go and enjoying a home-cooked lunch, complete with fresh tortilla’s, along the way.

No fiesta would be complete without papel picado (cut tissue paper) decorations. Your first stop is a handmade source of this colorful art. Papel picado is famously incorporated into altars during the Day of the Dead, but has a place, as well, in other religious and secular celebrations, including Easter, Christmas and weddings. Traditional themes includes birds, flowers, and skeletons.

You will also meet potters creating stone polished pots as they have done for 3,000 years, visit the little known rug weaving village of Santa Ana del Valle, and meet a family that turns cane into baskets and birdcages.

Finally, for a bit more excitement at the end of the day, you’ll visit a traditional fireworks maker, one of the crafters behind the big booms heard in the skies of Oaxaca during raucus local festivals.

We will provide you with suggestions for dinner this evening.



Following breakfast at your hotel this morning, meet your guide for a challenging hike, exploring ruins and the Oaxacan back country. You’ll follow ancient footpaths, joining the fallen kingdoms of Yagul and Mitla. Your hike through the back country winds past cliffs, caves, cactus, watering holes, and the ancient no-man’s land between two of Oaxaca valley’s best known Zapotec archaeological sites.

Begin your day in Yagul, famous for its ball court, temples, and well-built fortress on the mesa just above the ruins. End your day in Mitla, legendary for its fretted stonework and well-preserved chambers. En route, visit the little known Mitla fortress, a mile and a half from the heart of the kingdom (a long sprint if under attack), and pass the site of the oldest known remains of domesticated corn. See these classic ruins as the inhabitants would have a thousand years ago, one foot at a time, walking between kingdoms.

Return to your hotel in time to relax before dinner. After your long day, you may wish to schedule a massage with the hotel’s spa (Optional) before dinner.



Today’s exploration is a unique opportunity to travel beyond the typical sights of the city, exploring new neighborhoods and meeting some of the people behind Oaxaca’s thriving arts scene.

Oaxaca valley is filled with interesting villages and excellent folk art…so much so that the city, itself, is often overlooked. But there are treasures to be found here as well. Today you’ll see the modern iteration of traditional crafts, visiting weavers who create cotton bedspreads and table cloths on flying shuttle looms, a jeweler using the ancient lost wax casting technique, and one of the last toy makers from an era when creative and colorful wooden toys with simple moving parts were thrill enough.

After lunch, visit tinsmiths who have transitioned from making watering cans and braziers to crafting ornate wall hangings and picture frames. Finally, you will visit a creative artisan who takes one of the cities most abundant resources, garbage, and turns it into a variety of creative and fascinating objects.

After your day of exploring the city, return to a favorite neighborhood for dinner on your final evening.



This morning, enjoy a quiet breakfast at your hotel. If time allows, explore the gardens, or the surrounding neighborhood. Transfer to the airport, by private car, in time for your departure flight, or continue on to the next segment of your Willing Foot itinerary.

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