Private Journeys

Signature Mexico: Day of the Dead

8 days from £2,797pp

Mexico

Itinerary

map marker Map

Day 1

28 Oct: Arrive Mexico City.

Transfer to your hotel in the historic centre.

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Day 2

29 Oct: Guided city tour and Museum of Anthropology.

Your tour of Mexico City includes the historical places of interest around the vast main square (Zócalo) including the National Palace with murals by Diego Rivera and the 16th century metropolitan cathedral.

Continue to peruse the handicraft market before heading up the illustrious Paseo de la Reforma boulevard to reach the Museum of Anthropology. In our view this is one of the continent’s best museums, with presentations representing different regions, each featuring exhibits manifesting society in pre-Hispanic history and the colonial period as well as showing how life is lived in contemporary Mexico. 

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Day 3

30 Oct: Fly to Oaxaca: explore Tlacolula market, Teotitlan, Santo Domingo Tomaltepec.

Preparations for Day of the Dead celebrations get well under way today. You will learn about the fascinating Zapotec culture, an indigenous pre-Columbian civilisation which thrived in the valley of Oaxaca. Travel east to the town of Tlacolula for market day: the stands full of traditional goods from the area include woven Zapotec rugs and red pottery pieces.

Continue onto Teotitlán del Valle, a weaving village. The history of this craft dates back to when tributes of cloth were paid to the Aztecs. Visit a Zapotec family to watch the delicate weaving and spinning techniques which use natural dyes to create tablecloths and rugs.

After a traditional lunch in a family home you’ll visit the village Santo Domingo Tomaltepec to watch the Day of the Dead bread being prepared for the following day. Today’s journey through the valleys will end in the village of Santa Maria, home to possibly the world’s thickest tree, El Tule.

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Day 4

31 Oct: Explore Abastos market; visit a traditional wake.

In the morning you’ll peruse the eclectic and energetic Day of the Dead tiangus at the Abastos Market. In an open-air bazaar you’ll browse the stalls piled high with Day of the Dead ornaments and decorations including colourful strings of beads, bunches of vibrant marigolds and the iconic illustrated sugar skulls. Watch families buying decorations to adorn their home altars in tribute to their loved ones. The afternoon is yours to wander through Oaxaca, observing the festivities as you please.

In the late evening head off to observe a traditional wake in the village of Xoxocotlán, before being invited by a local family into their home to savour hot chocolate and Day of the Dead decorated bread – pan de muerto. Continue on to the cemetery to take part in the annual celebration, appreciating the unique atmosphere of joyous remembrance mixed with sadness. Join the same local family as they decorate their family grave.

In this festival honouring the spirits at the graveside flowers play an important part. The decorations in the old cemetery include marigolds, candles, and copal incense. An abundance of flowers decorates the graveyard where the people of Xoxocotlán hold a vigil by candlelight at the decorated tombs. 

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Day 5

1 Nov: Day of the Innocents. Soledad Etla Valley and Comparsa Parade.

You have a morning at leisure. In the afternoon drive north of the valley to the village of Soledad Etla to be a part of the magnificent Comparsa Parade. Walk with the jubilant procession alongside 3m tall stilt walkers dressed as spirits, marching bands playing loud banda music and local people dressed in elaborate costumes. You’ll pass rows of vendors where you can stop to buy food, mezcal, flowers, coffee and hand-made crafts. 

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Day 6

Nov 2: Day of the Dead. Valley of Ocotlan, Coyotepec and Tilcajete.

Visit Oaxaca's outlying villages where you can find many examples of crafts and folk art. At this time of the year artisans set up the family altars and you can witness first-hand how Oaxacan families welcome their relatives who are visiting on this special occasion.

Spend the day discovering the artisans of the area and learning about the diversity of the folk art in the valley of Zimatlán. Visit the village of San Bartolo Coyotepec, famous for its black pottery and potter Carlo Magno Pedro who specialises in Day of the Dead art. Continue to the village of San Martin Tilcajete known for Alebrijes, fine wooden and intricately painted animals. While this style of wood carving is a relatively new craft, dating back only two generations, these objets d'art represent a magnificent expression of Mexican folklore.

Lunch today is a delicious meal of Day of the Dead quesadillas hosted for you by a local family in Santo Tomas Jalietza, who will share with you how to prepare a traditional Oaxacan meal.

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Day 7

3 Nov: Fly to Mexico City to connect with international flight home.

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  • Evie Oswald
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    It’s hard to believe that Evie has had time to cram so much in to her life so far. Having lived as a child in the Americas and Europe she found herself immediately attracted to Latin America.

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    Lina's passion for the continent where she was born really took off when she moved to Córdoba to study, spending the holidays travelling between Argentina and her native Colombia.

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