Mexico: Oaxaca: The Colonial Center
Located south of Central Mexico, boasting over 3,000 years of pre-Colombian history, Oaxaca, with its large populations of both Zapotecs and Mixtecs, is best known for its preservation of indigenous cultures. Oaxaca City is today the culinary capital of Mexico, with a vibrant arts and entertainment scene, beautiful colonial architecture, and one of the most impressive central plazas (zócalo) in the Americas.
Upon your arrival today, you will be met at the airport and privately transferred to your hotel, located just outside of Oaxaca City. An 18th century hacienda, your accommodation is a boutique hotel enhanced with traditional Mexican décor; each room features stucco walls, colorful accents, terra cotta floors, and balconies overlooking the lush gardens that surround the property.
You will be picked up at 9 am in the hotel lobby for a private tour (6-8 hours) of the stunning archeological zones of Monte Albán and Mitla, as well as the ancient tree of Tule, which grows on the church grounds in Santa Maria del Tule, and has the stoutest trunk of any tree in the world.
Located along a low mountainous range overlooking the Valley of Oaxaca, Monte Albán is a pre-Colombian archaeological site which houses the remains of one of the earliest cities in Mesoamerica. Established around 500 BC, the city was the center of the social, political, and economic life of the Zapotecs for close to 1,000 years.
Established as early as 900 BC as a fortified village, Mitla became the religious center of Zapotec life, until the arrival of the Spanish in the 1500’s. The site includes five groups of ceremonial structures, known especially for the mosaics and geometric designs that cover the tombs, panels, and walls. Comprised of finely-cut and polished stone pieces, Mitla is the only site in Mexico to house these mosaics.
The Sierra Norte (Sierra Juarez) is the mountain range located to the north of the city of Oaxaca (an hour-and-a-half drive by car), home to one of the world’s oldest ecosystems, estimated to be over two million years old. Its summit is approximately 3,000 meters above sea level, and provides a spectacular view of the central valleys, with seven of the nine types of vegetation that exist in Mexico found in 4,000 plant species throughout the region. This territory offers a unique natural beauty, and the local communities share a common cultural inheritance of care and respect for their surroundings.
After breakfast this morning, you will meet your guide in the hotel lobby and head up to the Sierra Norte mountain range for a day of hiking through the beautiful and ecologically diverse Llano Grande area.
After hiking, you’ll enjoy a community dinner of delicious local fare at tonight’s accommodation, a locally owned and operated cabin featuring bunk beds, a group fireplace, and shared bathrooms with hot water. Relax and enjoy an evening chat by the fire, getting to bed early in preparation for a full day of hiking tomorrow.
A day of hiking awaits as you continue to explore the villages in the cloud forests of the Sierra Norte. You will be transported by vehicle to Cuajimoloyas, where you will begin your hike to the neighboring village of Benito Juarez, descending through the local farming fields of potatoes, beans, and wheat, down into the dense pine, oak, and cedar forests.
Continue your hike as you climb up and over a rocky ridge that provides a wonderful view back towards Cuajimaloyas. Here you’re surrounded by a much drier vegetation of cacti and yucca plants. Upon arrival in Benito Juarez, feast on locally-raised trout for lunch. After lunch, you will be transferred back to Oaxaca City for the night.
You’ll be privately transferred to Oaxaca Airport this morning in time to meet your departure flight, or to continue on to your next Willing Foot Mexican destination.
This is just the beginning.
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