One of the great festivals of the world, the Day of the Dead is both a celebration of ancestors and a huge party. From candy skulls and colourful parades to family picnics in historic cemeteries, the Day of the Dead is a party like no other—and this tour is your backstage pass. If you’re culturally curious or slightly ghoulish, join us in Oaxaca—Mexico’s artistic heartland—for a truly different perspective of the country at its most exciting. And with incredible ruins and fantastic landscapes all around, you don’t need to be Wednesday Addams to get into the macabre spirit of this incredible celebration.
B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner
Arrive at any time. Arrival transfer included. Please try to arrive before 6pm for an important group meeting where you can meet the Chief Experience Officer (CEO) and the other group members.
The colourful and lively markets and the impressive Zapotec ruins of Monte Albán are just two of many reasons to visit wonderful Oaxaca. The conqueror of Mexico, Hernán Cortez, chose the Valley of Oaxaca as his personal domain in the Americas and many visitors have followed in his footsteps. Surrounded by the Sierra Madre del Sur and Sierra Madre de Oaxaca mountain ranges, Oaxaca is a lovely colonial city, which has maintained not only the physical structures, but also the serenity of an era gone by.
Monte Albán, a spectacular grouping of pre-hispanic (Zapotec) mountain top temples, is just a short bus ride away, as is the Valley of Mitla with its colourful ruins and hand-loomed carpets. Stepping from the cultural to the culinary, Oaxaca is also a great area for trying out new tastes and textures. From the sublime to the exotic, the restaurants and markets around town will challenge you to one adventure after another. After all, this is the home of Mezcal (look for the unfortunate worm at the bottom), Oaxaca chocolate, cheese, and yes, even dried grasshoppers covered with chili and lime, if you are so inclined.
In addition to the above, the Oaxaca region is home to a plethora of activities and celebrations focused around the oft-described as macabre Day of the Dead ("Dia de los Muertos") festivities in Mexico. During this tour, you'll get to experience many related events firsthand.
Orientation walk around town provided by your Chief Experience Officer to help you get your bearings around Oaxaca. You'll be sure to visit the two massive markets in Oaxaca that are just off of the main square, where you'll find many local foods on sale alongside ornaments and Day of the Dead essentials for local families.
Day of the Dead takes place between October 31 and November 2 and is a celebration and remembrance of the deceased. Families will build private altars and bring large feasts to cemeteries, where they go to be with the souls of the departed. It is believed that the souls will come to be near their families and will be able to take part in the celebrations. Some of the altars that are built are very elaborate and include sugar souls and marigold flowers. In most regions, the souls of infants and children are honoured on November 1 with adults being honoured on November 2. It is generally a festive rather than somber gathering.
This tour includes visits to cemetaries in both Xoxocotlan and Atzompa to view the altars and families gathering as dusk turns to dark. The many candles placed around the altars and graves add to the ambience of the sites. In addition, you'll view Day of the Dead parades in both Oaxaca proper and the Etla Valley. Participants in these parades dress in elaborate costumes and are serenaded by brass bands. Mezcal served in small plastic cups is frequently passed out to those watching the parades.
The Oaxaca area is well known for its many artisans who make everything from pottery to elaborate weavings to tequila's cousin, mezcal, and the group will also have the opportunity to visit a couple of the the nearby communities to see the artisans at work.
In your free time, you can opt to experience Oaxaca's other great offerings. From the nearby ruins of Monte Alban or Mitla to cooking classes to learn about the mouth-watering mole of the area to or relaxing in a cafe on the city's main square, we think there's something for everyone to enjoy.
Depart at any time.
Physical Grading — 2
There'll be some light walking and hiking. Suitable for most fitness levels. Nothing too challenging.
Service Level — Upgraded