Mexico: Limited Edition Day of the Dead Trek
This limited edition itinerary is offered only once a year and includes two days in Oaxaca City highlighting the famed “Dia de los Muertos” festivities that take place throughout Mexico. The celebrations and ceremonies associated with Day of the Dead are particularly remarkable in this region. Taking part in this rich cultural tradition of honoring those who are no longer with us will be an experience of a lifetime, one you won’t soon forget. Come ready to taste complex ancestral cuisine, embark on timeworn footpaths and connect authentically with the people of Oaxaca.
Our itinerary takes us into the Sierra Norte mountain range and along the famous Camino Real trailway. These trails formed the basis for trade in pre- Hispanic times between indigenous Zapotec communities. The people have managed to conserve an integral part of their original language, traditions and customs, as well as their relationship with nature; and connecting with the local community is a vital part of our experience. We will dine often in local family kitchens or community cafeterias and you’ll have the opportunity to share experiences with local guides and families from the area.
Our Sierra Norte reconnaissance will also include a few other must-see sites. We will glimpse sunrise over the awe- inspiring reflective pools that form before the Hieve el Agua waterfalls- an expansive set of petrified waterfalls. And the final feather in our caps: the ominous Nueve Puntas. This massive escarpment rises prominently from the valley floor and is rarely climbed.
- Activity Level
- Trip Type
Welcome to the magical city of Oaxaca! The city's vibrant culture shines through with a laid-back, artistic ambience and charming inner city protected by Unesco World Hertitage site status. Upon arrival in Oaxaca City Airport you will be met by our Embark representatives, who will provide transportation to your hotel. Tonight have the chance to imbibe optional cocktails and appetizers on a rooftop terrace to kick off our adventures!
Teotitlan Market and Santa Maria Atzompa
The Teotitlan del Valle market is bustling with activity, as all the families gather to buy the ofrendas (gifts) for their loved ones that will come to visit from the underworld. Flowers, chocolate, sweet bread, moles, seasonal fruits, mezcal, decorations are all on offer here and in great quantity. This is the busiest day in the market as the celebration nears and the locals decorate their homes and the tombs in the cemeteries. From here we travel to Santa Maria Atzompa, located on the outskirts of Oaxaca City. The town is reknown for two things; its vibrant green-glazed ceramics and its Día de los Muertos festivities. What sets the Atzompa Muertos celebrations apart is the vibrant colors of the town cemetery. Every grave and tombstone is illuminated with candles, cempasuchil flowers and other adornments beginning on October 31st. At the close of Dia de los Muertos, Atzompa has a parade called a comparsa. During this celebration, people adorn masks and detailed costumes, dancing through the town on the way to the cemetery to usher the souls of their loved ones back to their resting place until next year.
Oaxaca Neighborhood Tour
Welcome to downtown Oaxaca, Jalatlaco and Xochimilco neighborhoods. We begin our day at Xochimilco church, walk the streets and gaze in awe at the amazing street art specifically dedicated to Day of the Dead. Next we continue through downtown Oaxaca and on to Jalatlaco, trying street food and drinks such at tejate, memelas, tamales, aga de chilalcayota, chocolate de agua and other regional delights that make this area famous. Jalatlaco neighborhood is considered the last urban area that refuses to lose its traditions and we will see that first hand in the decorations, street art, and a famous "contest of altars and rugs." We will get to see the ornate alters and intricately designed 'carpets' made from colored sawdust, pine needles, fresh flowers, fruits and vegetables. You will come away from today with a better understanding of the rituals and traditions that envelop this city during this time of year.
This morning we will wake early to take advantage of breakfast cooked by a local family before embarking on our journey into the Sierra Norte. The locals have made it a priority to keep their ancestors' recipes alive, and this is why we are starting our hike off in this manner. Teotitlán is a small village located 43 km east of Oaxaca City. Our trek begins after breakfast, in the Zapotec village of Llano Grande. Today's ascent will be our gateway into the Sierra Norte. Local guides will take you into the woods and through villages while sharing their knowledge of the communal land, the stunning biodiversity of flora and fauna, and the history of the region. We will pass through a hidden gorge, “La Cueva de la Iglesia”, a mystical place full of stories and legends. The culmination of our hike today is an outsanding hanging bridge that takes you to to an amazing viewpoint. Here we take in stunning views for sunset while we refuel with some snacks and drinks before dinner at a local comedor. Lodging tonight is in mountain cabins- bundle up because we end our day at nearly 10,000 feet.
This morning we will have breakfast with a local family. Our chef is known for making the best food in town and our meal will be cooked using an ecological stove meant to conserve firewood. Our hike today takes us up a gorgeous high point at Puente Colgante which overlooks the Sierra Madres. We are now fully inside the forest walking from village to village. We start on dirt roads out of Cuajimoloyas, and continue over a high ridge through a moss forest up to a view point. From here we descend to a river at the valley floor then continue back up. Dinner tonight is in a comodore- you will eat well to regain those calories lost!
Today we trek the Camino Real, an 9 mile hike along an ancient trail, which connects two communities located in these beautiful mountains. In pre-Hispanic times, Mesoamerica was a spider web of interlinking trade routes, and one of these routes connected the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific, via Oaxaca. We start off on a bigger road which transitions into a scenic trail that follows along a mountain river where we can stop for a cooling plunge. We continue through a forest of mossy, bromelia-filled trees. The hike ends at Lachatao, where we share a lovely sunset dinner on a local church patio. Lodging tonight in cabins. The village center boasts a museum - with local history and archeological artifacts. Sip a coffee from the upper floors of the municipal building with stunning panoramic views of the surrounding mountains; or choose to visit the botanical garden with local medicinal plants. Overall, the attention to visual aesthetics is evident throughout the village. Optional afternoon hike out of Lachatoa.
We will take a brief morning hike to the Cerro del Jaguar (Jaguar Mountain), a sacred Zapotec site with a 360 degree view of the Sierra; here we will learn about the history of this sacred site. After our early morning ceremony we return to Lachatoa for breakfast before departing for our final hike in the Sierra Norte. Capulalpam is one of the "Pueblo Magicos"- a designation given to a select number of villages in the region that are highlighted for their "magical" qualities. With its neat, artistic vibe and cobbled street, this town definitely fits its "magical" designation. In the late afternoon we will get a chance to explore this quaint community nestled in one of the best preserved natural areas of the region.
We will have a leisurely breakfast this morning before our transfer out of the mountains to the valley and the town of Mitla. Mitla is a vibrant small town about 25 miles outside Oaxaca. Today is a rest day and can be spent relaxing, exploring some local caves, or visiting one of the best-preserved archaeolocial ruins in the region.
We depart this morning at the break of dawn to discover Hierve el Agua in all its majesty. Hierve el Agua is a petrified wa- terfalls and, in this sense, is quite remarkable. Wonder around, meditate, take panoramic pictures, relax, swim. In the late morning, we begin our 3 mile hike down the valley to a small, secret waterfall. On descent we will catch a glimpse of our final, culminating hike- Neuve Puntas. Our hike takes us through rough terrain, mostly downhill. Refreshing drinks await us when we arrive to the waterfall and you will have the opportunity to swim at this amazing spot, which will feel amazingly fresh after our hike. As our swim comes to an end, a local woman will meet us to offer some healthy and traditional food.
Today we culminate our trek with the most profound of hikes this itinerary has to offer- Nueve Puntas. This prominent 9-point- ed cliff rises distinctly from the valley floor and will challenge your physical and mental fortitude. This lesser-known hike is off the beaten path and, therefore we should have the trail to ourselves today. Nueve Puntas "9 Points" is a mountain rising high above the valley floor that forms the ridge of the valley to the east of Oaxaca, indeed it is the tallest and most identifying part of the watershed ridge. The opposite side of Nueve Puntas is an impressive excarpment with a 500-meter drop-off. We start by walking through agave farms and continue upwards as our trail grows ever more steep. We begin to conquer one rolling summit after another and eventually glimpse a few pre-hispanic ruins nestled up top. We descend to the valley floor and celebrate with a pit barbecue at a remote palenque (mezcal distillery). We will sample artisanal mezcal along with locally cooked barbacoa prepared by the local family who owns the distillery.
Today you are free to explore town. Tonight we will have our final group dinner at a farm-to-table restaurant.
Depart today according to your flight schedule.
Dates & Pricing
Oct 30Nov 10$2,830 USD
Above Costs Include:
- All international airport transfers as per the program by private vehicle
- 3 nights in hotels in Oaxaca City, 3 nights in mountain cabins and 2 nights in Mitla
- Day of the Dead tours and festivities as outlined in the itinerary
- All entrance fees
- All meals and accommodations indicated on the daily itinerary
- Accommodation, meals, insurance, equipment, trans- portation and allowances of guides
- All applicable government taxes
Cost Does Not Include:
- Any meals not specified in the itinerary
- International and domestic airfare
- Bottled drinks (mineral water, any cold drinks, and alco- holic drinks).
- Supplemental insurance coverage
- Expenses of personal nature (tips for guide, porter and driver, laundry, bar bill, telephone calls etc.)
- Liability for expenses against sickness, flight cancellation, road blockage, accidents and other occurrence beyond our control
- Any other expenses not mentioned above
Book Oaxaca Day of the Dead Trek