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Introduction to the Tours
2014-2015 Schedule
REGISTRATION
General Trip Information
Survivor's Testimonials
The Staff of Traditions Mexico
About Traditions Mexico
A Primer on Mexican Bus Travel
EXPEDITION TOURS
(7-10 days)
Festivals and Celebrations
The Return of the Souls
Cultura Maya
Textile and Folk Art
Fiber Arts
of the Oaxacan Coast
Murex, Silk,
and Threaded Flowers
Slice of Oaxaca
Highland Textiles
(Woven Maya)
SHORT TOURS
(3 & 4 days)
Culture &
Traditional Arts
Dia de los Muertos
Celebrations in the
3 Valleys of Oaxaca
Textiles
Istmo: Velvet Flowers
Exploration
The Lost City:
Ruins of Quiotepec
Monte Negro and the
Garden of Eden
Mixtec Market,
Fortress Monastaries
1 DAY TRIPS
Dates On Demand
$300 for 1-4 pax
CUSTOM GROUP TOURS
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cultura maya
Trip Features

Sericulture revival in the Sierra Madre

Wild pre-Easter ceremonies

The legendary colossal stone heads of the Olmec

Highland Mayan villages

Jungle pools

Guide Chip Morris, Mayan expert and author of Living Maya

Unparalleled access to the Mayan world.

Visit Mayan markets

Six nights in colonial San Cristobal de Las Casas

Small group travel

Cultura Maya
Roots and Celebration

Mar 8 - 17, 2015

 

 

 

 

 


The ruins of fallen Mayan empires, the thriving cultures of their descendants and spectacular festivals of the cultura Maya.

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From the lowland jungles that housed the greatest of the ancient Maya cities to the mist-clad uplands where Maya villages and customs still thrive, this expedition transports us through 3,000 years of Maya history.  Our journey no only spans a great expanse of human history, it also places us in the midst of Lenten festivals that are not at all somber! We will see, feel and live Mayan culture in all its glory.

cultura maya

Our travels begin in the land of Mexico’s first civilization, the Olmec. We will see the mysterious gigantic stone heads that the Olmec were famous for. Then to the edge of the jungle to explore the places of temples of ancient Palenque as well as the little-visited but very impressive ruins of Tonina. These once grand cities have been silent for more than a thousand years and only the stones recall the life and color that once filled these kingdoms.

Yet the Maya have not disappeared. Far from it! Mayan culture continues to thrive, and as we travel through the limestone mountains into the pine-clad Chiapan highlands we’ll find ourselves in the heartland of a deeply traditional and wildly vital world of Maya. Staying in the beautiful colonial town of San Cristobal de Las Casas, we will travel into the Mayan villages with Chip Morris, Maya expert and author of The Living Maya.  Our visits will take us into the new Mayan “pyramids”, the very unusual Maya churches and saint’s houses where we can get a taste of how 16th century Catholicism and Classic period Maya rites have fused. We’ll also immerse ourselves (there is no other way) in the festivals of Lent, the boisterous, colorful, noisy and absolutely spectacular parading of the saint’s. God sends them out of the churches to have a look at how the Mayans are keeping the world. The people do their best to show that the world is a happy place with a good party and everyone well dresses in the best of traditional fashion. The saints report back to God that all is well and the world is in balance for another year.

 

We will also visit markets, artisans, explore colonial San Cristobal to our hearts content and get an intimate look at a way of living and being that few outsiders get to see. This is an unparalleled opportunity to learn about the life of the Maya, both ancient and contemporary, an opportunity to marvel at the ancient cities in the jungle and realize that the people and cultures who created those places have not disappeared, but continue to thrive in a far corner of an exotic land.

cultura maya

Trip
Details
Where

From Tabasco to Chiapas, jungle and pine forests, lowland ruins, highland villages.

When Mar 8 - 17, 2015
Duration Ten days. nine nights
Cost

6-12 pax $2,550 3-5 pax $2,850

Single supplment $375

Trip Guides Chip Morris

Day 1, (D). Our trip starts in the city of Villahermosa, Tabasco. Today we arrive from our various necks of the woods and meet at the hotel to get to know each other and have dinner. There are many flights to Villahermosa from Mexico City, as well as some connections through Houston and San Antonio. Evening in Villahermosa

olmecDay 2, (B,L,D). After breakfast we will visit the La Venta Museum and Park, which showcases several spectacular Olmec stone heads (one of which weighs over 24 tons) and pre-Hispanic stone sculptures. The park is also filled with examples of tropical flora from the region and there is a zoo with jungle animals such as macaws, lynxes, jaguars and boa constrictors.  After a leisurely visit to the park and museum we will head for Chiapas and the town and ruins of Palenque. We will arrive here in the afternoon and, time allowing, we will visit the Palenque museum in preparation to visiting the museum tomorrow.  Evening in Palenque.

palenqueDay 3, (B,L). Today we head to the ruined Mayan city of Palenque, ancestral homeland to many of the Mayans living in this area today. We will be guided through this elegant Mayan city, exploring palaces, temples and ruins lost down jungle trails. In the trees we may see or hear Howler monkeys or see a flying toucan. In the afternoon we’ll head to Evening in Palenque

Day 4, (B,L,D) We leave the jungle low-lands and begin our migration to the cool highlands. Our travels will take us to Agua Azul, one of the most gorgeous jungle swimming holes imaginable. Bring your swim suit! Here, mineralized, gem-blue water has formed step-like waterfall after waterfall, beneath which are inviting swimming holes surrounded by cool, green jungle vegetation.  Then onward to Tonina’, a little visited but spectacular Mayan archeological site that covers an entire hill in the broad, green valley of Ocosingo. Evening in Ocosingo

Day 5, (B,L,) To the highlands! Mid-day will find us arriving in beautiful San Cristobal de las Casas with its tiled roofs, ornate churches, pedestrian walks, shops, indigenous markets, bakeries, cafes, restaurants, museums…the afternoon will be spent in an exploring the city, partially guided, and then on your own allowing you the freedom to follow your nose.  Evening in San Cristobal.

maya

Day 6, (B,L). Having come from the land of the roots, the ancient and abandoned cities of the Maya where the celebration of a rich civilization has long gone silent…today we dive into the midst of the celebration of a vibrant and vital Mayan civilization! We travel to Magdalenas and find ourselves in the thick of a Lenten cacophony as the saints of three villages are brought together and paraded round the town plaza. Be prepared for a visual feast like few you’ve ever had; people by the hundreds in rich traditional dress, fireworks, candles, smoke, music, the dramatic mountains beyond…The party is Catholic, the rites centuries old and un-changed, the people Mayan, dressed and celebrating as they likely would have done in Palenque or Tonina  one thousand years ago.  Evening in San Cristobal.

Day 7, (B,L,) The celebration continues! We will walk through the gateway of Mayan heaven today, at least for Chamula Maya, by stepping into the interior of this breathtaking church. But it is not the architecture that takes your breath away, rather it is the human presence, the prayers over candles, chanting shamans, pine needles and deep faith. It is also market day in Chamula so the plaza will be full of life and action. And then to neighboring Zinacantan to witness the walking of the saints on this fourth Friday of Lent. In this spectacular procession the ground is swept and a bed of flowers pedals is laid that the saint’s journey may be pleasant.  Evening in San Cristobal.

maya

Day 8, (B, L).  We leave behind the excitement and cacophony of festivals and markets today and head into the warm and dry lowlands for a trip down the Grijalva river. We’ll motorboat through the immense Sumidero Canyon. This canyon is known for its diverse wildlife and canyon walls, which rise an astounding 2400 feet above the river. We’ll also visit to the town of Chiapa de Corzo where we may meet a mask maker, an embroiderer or even a marimba maker. For as it happens, this town is the capital of marimba in Mexico- honed wood that sings with a woman’s voice!  Evening in San Cristobal.

Day 9, (B,L,D).  It is Sunday and we return to Zinacantan. There is a unique market today in this ethnic chic, fashion conscious village of clothing by the people for the people. A whole market of floral embroidered skirts, blouses and shawls for sale to a whole crowd of women wearing the same. It is quite a site to see! We’ll also meet some of the people who do this work. And, being an auspicious day, it is quite possible that there will be weddings and baptisms taking place in the church, which alone is worth the trip.  Returning to San Cristobal we’ll have some free time in the afternoon before a final group dinner. Evening in San Cristobal.

Day 10, Those traveling home today will want to transfer to Tuxtla Gutierrez, about 1.5 hours, where flights can be booked to Mexico City.

All itineraries are subject to change without notice.

Recommended Reading

Morris, Chip, Living Maya, Harry N. Abrams, Inc. New York, 1986.

Fomento Cultural Banamex, The Great Masters of Mexican Folk Art, Fomento Cultural Banamex, A.C., Mexico City, 1998. 

Stephens, John L. Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan, Vol. 1

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