Tantalise the taste buds on these culinary tours through some of the world’s most delicious cuisine. Learn the secrets of traditional dishes in cookery classes, indulge in the local liquors & sample numerous different produce whilst touring the classic sights of a country.
Hola! Welcome to Mexico.
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1.
You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
Mexico is an intoxicating land of archaeological treasures, vibrant cities, vivacious culture and welcoming locals. With jungles, mountains, beaches, reefs and caves to explore – and museums, cafés, bars and markets to visit – any time spent in Mexico will never be long enough.
This evening your tour leader will take you on a "taco crawl" to enjoy tacos from around town, including Mexico City’s street food staple, tacos al pastor.
On the way, we’ll also stop in for a sip of mezcal at one of the many mezcal bars that have started popping up all around Mexico City.
Hotel (1 nt)
Today we fly (approx. 1 hour) to Oaxaca.
Oaxaca is a UNESCO World Heritage site celebrated for its pre-Hispanic ruins, colonial architecture and, of course, its cuisine! The region has been inhabited by pre-Hispanic tribes for thousands of years and Oaxaca remains home to more than fourteen ethnic groups – including the Zapotecs and the Mixtecs, whose influence is omnipresent in the state's culture, customs and cuisine.
Abastos Market is one of the most vibrant markets in the country and will be in full flight when we visit on Saturday, its main trading day. This will be your first introduction to the building blocks of Mexican cuisine, as well as to some of Oaxaca’s distinct regional specialties – taste everything from cactus fruit to grasshoppers to the heavenly Oaxacan cheese, queso oaxaca.
Finish at the less crowded, but equally interesting Mercado 20 de Noviembre. Any carnivores will relish lunch at the pasillo de carnes asadas (grilled meats hall) and the yellow mole empanadas available outside Mercado 20 de Noviembre also come highly recommended.
Your afternoon is free to explore the markets as well as Oaxaca’s many other culinary delights. Perhaps check out the crafts at Benito Juarez Market or, if you are after real Oaxacan chocolate, there are several shops on Calle Mina (just south of Mercado 20 de Noviembre) where you can see this regional specialty being made.
Alternatively, you may wish to visit the impressive Monte Alban.
Monte Alban was inhabited over a period of 1,500 years by a succession of cultures (Olmecs, Zapotecs and Mixtecs) and it is an outstanding example of a pre-Columbian ceremonial centre. The terraces, dams, canals, pyramids and artificial mounds of Monte Alban were literally carved out of the mountain.
Tonight we journey to a nearby town to sample some of the region’s famous ‘barbarcoa’, or ‘slow, pit-cooked’ meat. Toast the meal with a glass of mezcal before sitting down to enjoy our final Oaxacan feast.
On Sunday we visit Mercado Tlacolula, one of the oldest markets in Mesoamerica and a unique opportunity to witness the ancient Zapotec cultural traditions of dress, cuisine and language, as the community gathers together from neighbouring villages.
Afterwards we head out to lunch at a truly old-world Oaxacan restaurant. The restaurant has no electricity and no menu and serves excellent traditional Oaxacan fare..
This afternoon we visit Mitla archaeological site.
Mitla is an important Zapotec archaeological site and was the main religious centre for the Zapotec people. It was originally built as a gateway between the world of the living and the world of the dead and the name Mitla is derived from the Nahuatl word Mictlan, meaning ‘underworld’.
On our way back to Oaxaca, stop into a mezcaleria (mezcal distillery). Mezcal is an alcoholic beverage, related to tequila, which is produced from the maguey plant. Although mezcal is experiencing a resurgence in popularity all over Mexico, it is largely produced in Oaxaca. Not for the faint-of-heart, mezcal has an enticing smoky flavor and is generally enjoyed straight up – salud!
This evening is free for your own Oaxaca food adventure. Your leader will tell you about a range of Oaxaca's best kept dining secrets, so you can decide on what best takes your fancy for dinner.
Hotel (2 nts)
Before leaving Oaxaca, breakfast at a unique street-side restaurant. At any one time they have three different types of corn dough made from different types of corn gathered from cooperatives of farmers who work throughout the Oaxaca state.
After breakfast we travel by local bus to Puebla (approx. 5 hours)
Although it's a rapidly growing city, Puebla has managed to combine modern development with its colonial past and there are plenty of well-maintained churches and colonial buildings to admire. Puebla is also a city obsessed with food and regarded by many as the gastronomic capital of Mexico. Its cuisine is a mixture of pre-hispanic fare and Spanish influenced dishes, including mole poblano and chiles en nogada. Bear in mind, chiles en nogada is seasonal and should only be eaten in restaurants between May and September.
Enjoy a culinary tour peppered with stunning architecture and historic sites in Mexico’s fourth largest city.
Start at the traditional Mercado de Sabores Poblanos, a great introduction to Pueblan street food, where a multitude of stalls produce local dishes cooked up by different chefs. Try dishes like cemitas (like the Mexico City tortas – crusty sandwiches filled with goodies), large tostadas called chalupas and tacos arabes, which are tacos filled with meat cooked on a large spit and served with salsas and fresh lime.
We then stop at Calle de los Dulces, or “Sweets Street”, to sample camotes (yam-based candies flavoured with fruits) or Tortitas de Santa Clara, which are round shortbread type cookies topped with a sugary pumpkin-seed glaze.
Conclude the tour at a pulquería that sells the viscous "pulque", which is a lightly alcoholic fermented sap of the maguey plant.
This evening is free for you to continue exploring Puebla's renowned food scene.
For something equally traditional but perhaps less flavoursome, why not pay a visit to a "Lucha Libre" match. This sport - part wresting, part theathre - is next to religion in Puebla.
Hotel (1 nt)
Spend your final morning in Puebla learning how to recreate some of the city’s most prized dishes in a hands-on cooking class. Enjoy your creations for lunch.
Later in the afternoon we head back to Mexico City by local bus (approx. 2 hours). This evening you can spend at your own leisure.
In Mexico City your leader will take you on an orientation walking tour of the city's Centro Historico. Take in the beautiful Bellas Artes Palace, travel down the Paseo de la Reforma (the city's main thoroughfare) and marvel at the hugely impressive Zocalo (Latin's America's largest main square).
Along the way, we’ll stop for a traditional desayuno (breakfast) of café de olla (sweetened spiced coffee) and pan dulce (sweet rolls). We also visit Mercado San Juan, the city’s main food market, before roaming the surrounding streets, watching tortillas being freshly pressed (they are amazing warm and sprinkled with salt) and winding up for lunch at one of Thomasina Miers's favourite local restaurants in Mexico City.
The rest of your day is free for your own exploration. Perhaps relax in Chapultepec Park or take in some of the city's notable museums, including the renowned Museo Nacional de Antropologia (anthropological museum), considered one of the finest in the world.
This evening you will again be able to explore more of Mexico City’s vibrant dining scene. Choose to make a reservation in one of the city’s top dining establishments or delve into another of the wonderful local restaurants to be found around town. There are no shortage of amazing options!
On the morning of day 7 we visit Coyoacan, a tranquil, leafy precinct located a short metro ride away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre. Thursday morning is market day and we enjoy a stroll around the various stalls in the square, indulging in churros filled with cajeta, a Mexican confection of thickened syrup usually made of sweetened caramelised milk.
After the market, you may want to walk to the nearby Frida Kahlo and Leon Trotsky museums. Both were residents of Coyoacan and the museums are in their former homes.
On the final night of your Mexican Real Food Adventure we celebrate with an included dinner at a wonderful old school cantina in the heart of Mexico City.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. Please check the 'Finishing Point Hotel' section for checkout times and luggage storage possibilities.
Hotel (3 nts)
Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans.
Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.
Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
A number of activities on this itinerary may have an alcohol component. Relevant local laws governing the legal age for consumption of alcohol apply to this trip. If you are below the local drinking legal age, you will not be able to participate in any trip activities involving alcohol. No refund will be offered for those activities.
The official currency of Mexico is the Mexican Peso (MXN).
With ATMs being widely available in major towns and cities, credit and debit cards are the best way to access money in Latin America (note though that charges are made for each transaction). Please check with your bank before departure that your card is accepted in the countries you are travelling to. Also ensure your bank is aware of your travel plans as - suspecting fraud - they may cancel your cards after the first few international transactions.
Be aware that your withdrawing limit may vary from country to country (regardless of your withdrawing limit in your home country) and it can be as low as the equivalent to US$100 per day.
It's also advisable to carry some cash in small denominations bills, for those times when ATMs may not be available. US$ dollars is the most readily changeable currency.
US$100 bills with serial number CB or BE and any other US$ bills that are old, torn, written or stamped on will not be accepted by local banks.
Currency exchange rates often fluctuate. For the most up to date rates please refer to the following website: www.oanda.com.
If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. Please note we recommend that any tips are given directly to the intended recipient by a member of your group as our group leaders are prohibited from collecting cash for tips.
Restaurants: Tipping is not expected in local markets and basic restaurants. However if you wish to tip, round your bill up to the nearest 5%. In more up-market restaurants we suggest up to 10%-12% of your bill. Some restaurants already include tipping on the final amount, which should be shown on the bill as: propina, servicio or cubiertos.
Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest US$2 per person per day for local guides.
Porters (if applicable): While on the Inca Trail, we suggest PEN80-120 for all porters, assistants and cook.
Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group however a base of US$1-2 per day is generally appropriate.
Your Group Leader: You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline US$1-3 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
Please allow US$25 for international departure tax from Mexico.
Please note hurricane season is June to November when landslides, mudslides, flooding and disruptions to essential services can occur. Intrepid monitors situations as they arise, and may need to change itineraries or activities in response to these natural weather occurrences.
Maximum of 12 travellers per group.
As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.
Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.
Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
Hotel (7 nts)
The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.
Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on different Intrepid trips than your own.
Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.
If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.
Some of the accommodation along the way is very basic, staying in local guesthouses and homestays with limited facilities. Some facilities are shared and some accommodation has cold water only. Multishare includes triple and quad rooms or even dorm rooms.
While travelling with us you'll experience a vast array of dishes, beverages, dining experiences, ingredients and produce.
To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, the trip price does not include all meals. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility – whether you wish to partake in budget, mid-range or high-end dining options. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. Generally, our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company, however there's no obligation to do this.
For travellers wanting to eat at a particular high profile and/or ‘fine dining’ restaurant, there will be specified free nights in certain locations where you can make your own restaurant reservations. It is recommended you make reservations for high profile and/or ‘fine dining’ restaurants well in advance of your departure, as there can be long lead times for booking in some instances.
7 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 3 Dinners
Budget for meals not included:
The group leader will endeavour to cater for specific dietary requirements where possible, and vegetarianism and gluten intolerance will be catered for in most instances. There are, however some meals and activities that are fixed in advance and therefore cannot be modified to suit dietary requirements. These instances will be indicated in the ‘trip notes’ itinerary.
Please inform your booking agent of any dietary requirements you have before trip departure date. While we can't guarantee to cater to all dietary requirements, we'll endeavour to do so as far as possible.
For those suffering from particular food allergies, your group leader will endeavour to disclose to their fullest knowledge the main ingredients in dishes being consumed. It is, however, your personal responsibility to ensure that you do not ingest any foods to which you are allergic.
All group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. You can expect your Intrepid Food Adventures group leader to be passionate about the local food scene and keen to share their insider knowledge on the best authentic local food and drink experiences throughout your trip.
Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
República de Brasil No. 25
Phone: +52 55215220
Fax: +52 55120070
Alternate Joining point
For trips departing on the following dates, use this joining point.
20 Dec 2013 (QVZA131220)
Luis Moya No. 39 Centro Histórico Del
We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your group trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.
If you have pre-booked an airport transfer (where available) and have not made contact with our representative within 30 minutes of clearing customs and immigration, we recommend that you make your own way to the starting point hotel, following the Joining Instructions in these Trip Notes. Should this occur, please apply to your travel agent for a refund of the transfer cost on your return.
No refund is available on missed transfers or portions of your trip owing to a different flight arrival or delayed flight arrival. Any additional cost incurred in order to meet up with your group is at your own expense.
República de Brasil No. 25
Phone: +52 55215220
Fax: +52 55120070
In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, Intrepid's local ground representative Viaventure can be reached on +502 5778 4052 or + 502 5207 4914
For all other enquiries please contact our Reservations department which is open 24 hours, 6 days per week.
Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
Australia: Not required
Belgium: Not required
Canada: Not required
Germany: Not required
Ireland: Not required
Netherlands: Not required
New Zealand: Not required
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Switzerland: Not required
United Kingdom: Not required
USA: Not required
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
Temperatures can be low in the winter months, especially at altitude, so bring a set of warmer clothes including thermal underclothes and a fleece jacket.
Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day
During our trip there will be many opportunities for you to meet and talk with locals. One way to start any conversation is with pictures. We recommend that you bring some photos / postcards of your family, home, city or country where you live, animals peculiar to your country etc.
All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
Dengue Fever is common in Latin America and can occur throughout the year. Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay, Brazil and parts of Mexico are currently suffering from a serious outbreak. This virus is transmitted by mosquitoes. There is no vaccination against it, but there are preventative measures that you can take such as wearing long clothing, using repellent and being indoors particularly around dusk and dawn.
The World Health Organisation has countries in Latin America registered as zones affected by hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, cholera, rabies and malaria.
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!
Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in the western world or from your home country and not all the transport which we use provides seat belts.
Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.
While life jackets are generally available on water craft, there may be occasions where they are not provided and child size life jackets are not always readily available. If travelling with children and this safety issue concerns you we will be able to advise alternative methods of transport (where available) for you to travel to the next destination. You can choose to travel independently for this leg of the journey. This would be at your own expense.
Please take care when taking part in any activities in the ocean, river or open water, where waves and currents can be unpredictable. It's expected that anyone taking part in water activities is able to swim and have experience in open water. All swimmers should seek local advice before entering the water.
Horse riding is an option available to groups on this trip. Please note however that horse riding is usually not covered by your travel insurance and helmets are not always available. If riding without a helmet is a concern then you should bring our own.
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
When travelling on a group trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects.
Latin Americans can be very conscious of appearance so try to be casual but conservative in your dress. Outside of beach areas halter tops and very short shorts should not be worn. When visiting churches or religious sites shoulders and knees should be covered.
Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
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