- Taste and shop your way through Oaxaca's vibrant markets
- Learn traditional Oaxacan recipes with the members of a local Zapotec community
- Sample two of Oaxaca's most famous drinks: cacao and mezcal
- Enjoy a picnic of local flavors overlooking the cloud forest of Ixtepeji
|Day 1||Arrive in Oaxaca, City Tour & Cacao Tasting||Oaxaca|
|Day 2||A Culinary Journey through Oaxaca's Markets||Oaxaca|
|Day 3||Rural Cooking Workshop in the Oaxaca Valley||Oaxaca|
|Day 4||Experience the Culture of Oaxaca Tour, Gastronomic Indigenous Roots Dinner||Oaxaca|
|Day 5||Hike Through the Enchanted Forest of Ixtepeji||Oaxaca|
|Day 6||Huautli Experience in San Pablo de Etla||Oaxaca|
|Day 7||Depart Oaxaca|
Day 1: Arrive in Oaxaca, City Tour & Cacao Tasting
Welcome to Oaxaca, one of the cultural and culinary gems of Mexico! Located in the southern Pacific region, Oaxaca is known as the "foodie capital of Mexico" for its diverse flavors, including local favorites like the famous seven moles (sauces). Upon your arrival at Oaxaca International Airport, meet your driver, who will then escort you to your charming hotel. After you freshen up, you'll embark on a city tour.
The focus of the tour will be to orient you to the hidden corners of the city and its art world through its many murals, art studios, and galleries. The greater Oaxaca Valley is famous for its many Indigenous communities, many of whom specialize in their own handicrafts, some of which you'll see on display in this tour. At the end of the tour, you'll be able to make your own art print, followed by a tasting of the region's famous cacao (chocolate) drink.
Day 2: A Culinary Journey through Oaxaca's Markets
The Chilean poet Pablo Neruda once said: "Mexico is in its markets." Discover what he meant on a culinary journey through some of Oaxaca's most colorful marketplaces. You'll meet your local guide and head to the Mercado de Abastos, where you'll sample the world-famous memelas (open-faced tortillas). Continue to the Mercado de la Merced, where you'll delight in the flavors of empanadas prepared on a charcoal stove with various sauces. Next, you'll get the chance to try one of the most unique flavors of Oaxaca: a grasshopper omelet accompanied by pennyroyal tea.
Depending on the day, your guide might next take you to the Trinidad de las Huertas neighborhood, where you'll enjoy the piedrazos (bread soaked in vinegar). You'll continue your tour of local markets in the Reforma neighborhood, where you'll try specialties such as stewed tacos and tetelas (stuffed triangle tortillas). Round out the day with a sample of Oaxaca's famous empanadas de amarillo, followed by several samples of the best tortas (cakes) in town.
Day 3: Rural Cooking Workshop in the Oaxaca Valley
Yesterday you had a taste of Oaxacan cuisine, and now it's time to learn to make it yourself with a rural cooking workshop in the Oaxaca Valley. You'll have the opportunity to visit one of two Zapotec (local Indigenous group) communities: either Teotitlán del Valle or Santa Ana del Valle. During your visit, meet with the comideras in the local market. These local women are recognized for their culinary knowledge and skills and are responsible for preparing feasts for community celebrations.
Alongside the comideras, you'll select and buy local products at the market, then head back to one of their homes to start preparing some regional dishes. The menu begins with a traditional soup, such as chepil (local herb), milpa (garden vegetable), pumpkin leaf, or chickpea. Other local favorites you may whip up include a mole verde (green sauce) with pumpkin seeds and a desert of apples or tejocotes (Mexican hawthorn) wrapped in a sweet, chocolate tamale. You'll also get the chance to make (and sample) a local drink of coffee or chocolate, handmade using traditional tools and methods.
Day 4: Experience the Culture of Oaxaca Tour, Gastronomic Indigenous Roots Dinner
Today, you'll join your local English-speaking guide on a tour of Oaxaca's rich cultural heritage. Your tour starts at a barro rojo (red clay pottery) workshop in the Zapotec village of San Marcos Tlapazola, where local women will teach you the traditional technique of this craft. Next, head back to the Zapotec town of Teotitlán del Valle to meet a family of wool rug weavers. The weavers will demonstrate their craft, from the process of carding the fiber to dyeing and weaving it into a beautiful rug with traditional patterns. You'll be able to participate in the process if you wish!
Your last stop on the Oaxacan cultural tour is at a local palenque (mezcal distillery), where you'll get to taste varieties of agave and learn about the making of Oaxaca's famous spirit. End the day at one of the most authentic restaurants in Oaxaca City, where chefs from Indigenous communities offer an experience to taste the traditional Oaxacan gastronomy from their eight different regions. During the multicourse meal, you'll learn—and taste—more about typical Oaxacan food, which has been designated as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.
Day 5: Hike Through the Enchanted Forest of Ixtepeji
Today you'll visit the impressive mountains of La Sierra Norte de Oaxaca, one hour outside of Oaxaca City, for a five-hour hike through the enchanted cloud forest of Ixtepeji. The hike begins on a trail of colorful flowers and imposing guardian trees whom you'll honor with a request for permission to access their mountain. The path to the viewpoint will take you past many intriguing fungi, plants, and animals. Along the way, you'll learn more about the way of life of the region and the history behind the forest.
At the highest point of the trail, around 3,100 feet (945 m) above sea level, you'll enjoy a locally sourced picnic and a panoramic view of mountains, forests, and sky. The trail back, around 6 miles (10 km), winds along a natural spring and takes you through a unique vegetation tunnel. After the hike, you'll be transferred to a local community dining room for a dinner prepared with ingredients and recipes from the region.
Day 6: Huautli Experience in San Pablo de Etla
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
For your final full day in Oaxaca, you'll visit the town of San Pablo de Etla for a Huautli experience led by a local woman from the Amaranto Alegria de la Vida, a group dedicated to preserving the cultural history and uses of amaranth. This ancient Mexican grain, similar to quinoa, has been an Oaxacan staple since pre-Hispanic times.
On this tour, you'll learn about the plant, grain, cultivation process, milling process, and the history of amaranth in the Oaxaca Valley. Finish off the day by making tzoalli using a traditional clay comal (stoneware grill). This delicious pre-Hispanic dessert made with amaranth seeds was considered a food of the ancient gods.
Day 7: Depart Oaxaca
It's time to say adiós to a memorable and flavorful week in Oaxaca. If you have the time, do some souvenir shopping, grab one last cup of cacao or glass of mezcal, and take a final look at the colorful streets. Your driver will pick you up from your accommodation with plenty of time to spare and take you to the Oaxaca International Airport. Safe travels onward to your next adventure!