Oaxaca (wa-hah-kah) is a land of bountiful possibility. Striking scenery, ancient history, authentic cuisine and a lively arts scene come together here to create an unforgettable journey.
Framed by the Sierra Madre del Sur Mountains, Oaxaca is as diverse in landscape as it is in culture. To the south is the Pacific Ocean, and the coastline claims stunning beach resorts such as Huatulco and Puerto Escondito. The city of Oaxaca – a popular and alluring destination – rests roughly 300 miles south of Mexico City.
Aptly nicknamed “Tierra del Sol” (The Land of the Sun), Oaxaca sits 5000 feet above sea-level, giving it a beautiful, temperate climate suitable for endless exploring. Just outside Oaxaca City grows the magnificent Árbol del Tule. With a reported age of over 2,000 years, this is widely known as world’s oldest tree. The trunk of this Montezuma cypress measures a remarkable 42 meters (137 feet) in diameter.
Oaxaca City features a wealth of cultural experience. The essence of ancient civilizations remains alive here in vivacious markets, old-style handicrafts and enduring colonial architecture dating back to the city’s 16th-century establishment. Wander through the lively downtown streets to take in the history and the innovation as one. Galleries, museums and restaurants now find their homes in expertly restored colonial buildings.
The ruins of Monte Albán comprise the state’s best-known archaeological site – one popular for its historical richness and astonishing views. Located just west of Oaxaca City, the ancient city was erected on a hilltop overlooking the Valley of Oaxaca and served as the capital of the indigenous Zapotec civilization for over 1000 years.
The ruins of Mitla lie southwest of Oaxaca City. Here, visitors can see intricate stone masonry and mosaics still steeped in centuries-old tradition of the Zapotec and Mixtec peoples. The influence of these and countless other ancient civilizations thrives in Oaxaca to this day.
Tradition is particularly influential in a culinary sense. The diverse cuisine of Oaxaca includes pre-Hispanic dishes and elaborate recipes of the colonial era. Each dish is a masterpiece in the “Land of the Seven Moles.” Trademark dishes include mole, tamales, and excellent cheeses. Wake up your senses with a warm cup of creamy atole or café olla.
With A Closer Look Tours, not only will you see the sights, but you will truly learn about and connect with the environment and culture of Oaxaca.
Day 1 – Welcome to Oaxaca (incl. dinner)
Arrive to Oaxaca’s international airport and check in to the Hotel La Noria. Relax with a welcome dinner at the hotel and get some rest for the days ahead.
Day 2 – La Verde Antequera & Monte Albán (incl. breakfast, dinner)
Spend the morning exploring the ruins of Monte Albán, an ancient Zapotec city founded around 500 BC. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is situated high on a mountaintop with outstanding views of the city of Oaxaca below. Rich with history, Monte Albán is one of the most significant archaeological sites in Mesoamerica. Catch a glimpse of the vibrant past in the fascinating remnants of a once-glorious city.
Return for lunch and spend the afternoon touring the City of Oaxaca. Originally called “Nueva Antequera” after a city in Spain, Oaxaca is now nicknamed “La Verde Antequera” for the green quarry stone seen in its buildings. Be sure to bring your camera, Oaxaca is one of the most visually stunning cities in Latin America.
In the evening, see a presentation of Guelaguetza, a song-and-dance display of traditional Oaxacan culture.
Day 3 – The Mitla Valley (incl. breakfast, lunch)
Tour the archaeological site of Mitla, a Mixtec ceremonial center. Then, observe Zapotec weavers at Teotitlan as they demonstrate traditional techniques of weaving and wool-dying. After lunch, visit a distillery to learn the secrets of making mescal.
End the day’s adventures with a stop in Santa Maria del Tule, location of the vast and ancient Árbol del Tule, the extraordinary Montezuma cypress. Return to Oaxaca for an evening of leisure.
Day 4 – Flavors of Oaxaca (incl. breakfast, lunch)
This morning is dedicated to the flavorful and aromatic cuisine of Oaxaca. Visit the Mercado Juarez, a colorful marketplace brimming with local ingredients and handicrafts. Your guide will accompany you for a lesson on the tools and techniques used in the region’s cooking, followed by lunch at a traditional restaurant for the full taste of what you have learned. Return and pass the day at your leisure.
Day 5 – Oaxaca Handicrafts (incl. breakfast, lunch, dinner)
Take in the artistry of Oaxaca’s native handicrafts with a tour of artisan villages. Begin with San Bartolo Coyotepec, known worldwide for its unique black pottery, and continue to the village of San Martín Tilcajate, the birthplace of magical alebrije wood carvings. Finish with a stop at Santo Tomás Jalietza to see the diligent work of local back strap weavers.
Day 6 – Return flight (incl. breakfast)
Say farewell with breakfast at the hotel then transfer to the airport.