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TOUR PRICE:  TBA

Dates:  Feb 22-Mar 16, 2023

Group Size:  14

Age Group:  29+

We can create a private tour for your family or group.  Please contact us for more information.

EL CAMINO
DE LA
PLATA

INTRODUCTION
Mexico's Silver Road
 

El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro remains an overlooked yet colossal fragment of an intercontinental trade route, which now boasts several UNESCO protected structures, bridges, and fragments of the original road.  From the ancient trade of important commodities such as salt and feathers, to the exploitation of precious minerals, the accumulation of incredible wealth and protectionist laws of the Mother Country that gave rise to the struggle for power,   we will also explore the root causes of Mexico's independence from Spain.   Topics include the indigenous origins of this route, and how the convergence of so many cultures from around the world influenced the architecture, food and handicrafts of Mexico, and how contact with the Americas transformed the world. 

Our journey through Mexico's nearly forgotten Silver Road includes elegant lodgings in four UNESCO cities and two enchanting Pueblo Magico ghost towns.  Sample the terroir of local wineries, soak in thermal medicinal waters, horseback to a sacred temple and ride a jeep willy to the sacred Peyote desert, known as Wirikuta.  Revel in the wonderment of Plateresque and Moorish architecture, ruins of old Haciendas, and time travel through three ancient cities that were already abandoned before the Spanish arrived.  Descend below the surface of the earth to a working mine, and explore one that is abandoned, before riding a Tram across the sky to Cerro La Bufa, where Chichimeca warriors first introduced the Spaniards to silver deposits in this region.  Feast at specially selected restaurants, attend a private dinner party with set menu, sip on mezcal and people-watch in the plazas of Mexico's most opulent cities, which were raised from the riches of her mines. 

 

Mexico's Silver Road is a path worn well by the ancients, but long forgotten by modern man.  This is an experience unlike any other, for lovers beguiled by the historical fusion of culture, art and architecture.

LOCATION
Mexico State, Hidalgo, Queretaro, Guanajuato
Jalisco, San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas
 

From the Valley of Mexico to the Sierra de Catorce, we will reach altitudes upwards of 10,000 feet, with the highest hotel location being 9000 feet in Real de Catorce before we descend to 8500 feet in Zacatecas.    

Our tour begins and ends in Mexico City, allowing easy access through Mexico City International Airport.  If guests wish to continue travelling, it is quick and easy to fly anywhere from Mexico City, or you may choose to stay in Zacatecas longer.  From Zacatecas, it is possible to head through the incredible state of Durango to Mazatlan, Sinaloa by bus or private car.  It is also possible to head south to San Luis Potosi if you're eager to explore La Huasteca.  As Mexico is so well connected by bus and airports, there are endless options for extending your adventures here.  Please contact us if you would like assistance with bookings, or adding a private tour to this journey. 

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BASIC TOUR ITINERARY
Hotel Locations
 

2 Nights - Mexico City, Mexico State:  February 22-23, 2023

1 Nights - Teotihuacan:  February 24, 2023

2 Nights - Tepotzotlan:  February 25-26, 2023

2 Nights - Santiago de Queretaro:  February 27-28, 2023

2 Nights - San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato:  March 1-2, 2023

2 Nights -  Mineral de Pozos, Guanajuato:  March 3-4, 2023

2 Nights - Guanajuato City, Guanajuato:  March 5-6, 2023

2 Nights - Lagos de Moreno, Jalisco:  March 7-8, 2023

3 Nights - Real de Catorce, San Luis Potosi:  March 9-11, 2023

4 Nights - Zacatecas City, Zacatecas:  March 12-15, 2021

Departure Day is from Zacatecas to Mexico City, March 16, 2023

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DETAILED TOUR ITINERARY

Destinations, Activities & Parties

Welcome TO LA RUTA DEL PLATA

Day One:  Wednesday February 22, 2023

Hotel Location: Mexico City, Mexico

Please be in Mexico City by 5PM to meet your guides and fellow guests. We will meet in the hotel lobby at 5:30 for transport to dinner. If you would like assistance getting to the hotel, we can make arrangements for you.

AN ANCIENT AGRICULTURAL CENTRE

Day Two:  Thursday February 23, 2023

Hotel Location: Mexico City, Mexico

This morning we will head to Xochimilco early, to board a Trajinera and explore the floating gardens of an ancient agricultural centre. Returning to Mexico City, we will visit the famous Museum of Anthropology..

THE CITY OF GODS

Day Three: Friday February 24, 2023

Hotel Location: Teotihuacan, Mexico

This morning we will visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe before departing Mexico City for the ancient city of Teotihuacan. Visit the ancient ruins and enjoy a restful evening.

A JOURNEY OF A THOUSAND MILES BEGINS

Day Four: Saturday February 25, 2023

Hotel Location: Tepotzotlan, Hidalgo

This morning we depart for the Pueblo Magico of Tepotzotlan, where we will visit the Museo Nacional del Virreinato and the Temple San Francisco Javier. Our hotel is located in the centro, so guests can easily explore the shops, cafe's and bars in the evening.

FRAGMENTS OF THE OLD ROAD

Day Five:  Sunday February 26, 2023

Hotel Location: Tepotzotlan, Hidalgo

Few locals or foreigners have even heard of Santiago Tlautla, let alone visited this quiet little village that was once a bustling and high traffic area. We will begin at the Puente la Colmena, which is also known as the Puente la Quitacalzone, walking just over 3 KM (6 KM Return) on an historic portion of the original road to Hacienda la Cañada. Our next stop is Sitio del Arcos, or the Aqueduct of Xalpan, which is the highest aqueduct in Mexico. Measuring 438 meters in length, and 61 meters in height, this monumental structure was built by the Jesuits in the 18th century to bring water to their college in Tepotzotlan. Guests may cross the Aqueduct for stunning views, and the adventurous may choose to enjoy the ziplines or take a hot-air balloon ride. (These latter two activities are not included in the price.)

AN ANCEINT CITY TO A COLONIAL METROPOLIS

Day Six:  Monday February 27, 2023

Hotel Location: Santiago de Queretaro, Queretaro

The ancient city of Tollan-Xicocotitlan is more commonly named Tula, which is a Castellano-interpretation of Tollan, and name of the town and river that irrigates its' lands. This ancient city was the capital of the Toltec Empire and is most famed for featuring four, 15-foot high anthropomorphic statues on Pyramid B, which became known asThe Atlanteans of Tula. After our visit, we will take a break from history at the lovely sheep Rancho San Josemaria, where we will sample international award winning cheese with a charcuterie board and select wines from the Queretaro region. We will arrive in the UNESCO protected centro of Santiago de Queretaro on time for supper.

A TALE OF TWO CITIES

Day Seven:  Tuesday February 28, 2023

Hotel Location: Santiago de Queretaro, Queretaro

Though the famous aqueduct, which consists of 74 arches, has an average height of 28.5 meters, and is 1280 meters long, is what Santiago de Queretaro is most known for, what makes this city particularly unique is the divide between the grid road system where the Spanish first settled, and the meandering, winding roads where the indigenous peoples lived. Queretaro's historical centro has some important UNESCO Protected Churches that are now museums that house fantastic exhibits about the regions sordid past. We begin with the Regional Museum, which is housed in the halls of the historic San Francisco Convent, and end with the Panoramic view of the Aqueduct. Following lunch, we will enjoy free time to explore the shops and landmarks of your choice. Dinner party at Tikua Restaurant.

PRE-HISPANIC PERSPECTIVES

Day Eight:  Wednesday March 1, 2023

Hotel Location: San Miguel del Allende, Guanajuato

Dr. Rossana Quiroz Ennis is respected for her ground-breaking research at the ancient Otomi city of Cañada de la Virgen, which has inevitably changed the way Pre-Columbian society has been studied by the west. Dr. Rossana Quiroz Ennis has dedicated her life's work to archaeoastronomical observation and research, and is the President of the Museo de Astronomia de Prehispánica. We will visit the site this morning, and enjoy a special pre-Columbian lunch at the Museum. Upon returning to San Miguel de Allende, we will enjoy an afternoon of free time..

A DAY OF REST

Day Nine:  Thursday March 2, 2023

Hotel Location: San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato

Today, our guides will enjoy day of rest, while guests enjoy a visual feast, which is the colonial centro of San Miguel de Allende. If you would like a guided walking tour, please confirm in advance, so we can make arrangements for you.

VOYAGE INTO A FORGOTTEN PAST

Day Ten:  Friday March 3, 2023

Hotel Location: Mineral de Pozos, Guanajuato

This morning we depart San Miguel de Allende by 8:45 for La Gruta Spa, which though modern, was once considered sacred to the indigenous groups who congregated here to be blessed and healed by these medicinal waters. General entrance to the Hot Springs is included, but the spa offers different treatments that can be arranged prior to our arrival. We will depart the Hot Springs at 11 AM to visit what is fondly called Mexico's very own Sistine Chapel, which is protected by UNESCO. The Santuario de Jesus Nazareno de Atotonilco is a bewildering experience, and one of very few churches we include on our tours (aside from museums that are housed in churches). From here, we will visit Dos Buhos Winery to sample wines, before exploring the incredible Santa Brigida Mine in Mineral de Pozos.

BACK-STRAP WEAVING 

Day Eleven:  Saturday March 4, 2023

Hotel Location: Mineral de Pozos, Guanajuato

This morning, we will visit a gemstone mine in Mineral de Pozos, before departing for San Juan del Rio, to learn about the incredible rebozos that are woven there. Learn the history behind this national treasure, and return to Mineral de Pozos by dinner time.

THE OPULENT CITY OF TUNNELS

Day Twelve: Sunday March 5, 2023

Hotel Location: Guanajuato City, Guanajuato

Along our way to Guanajuato City, we will have the chance to stop in Dolores Hidalgo to visit the Church of “El Grito,” where Father Hidalgo rose up against Spain. Browse through beautiful ceramic galleries, where wares are often confused with Talavera, and learn the difference between authentic Talavera, and what is on offer here. The pieces are beautiful, inexpensive, and collectible – and the history of Talavera is fascinating.

 

Guanajuato City offers stunning examples of some of Mexico's finest architecture, which is evidence of the riches earned through extensive mining in the vicinity. What makes Guanajuato City mesmerizing to so many visitors, is not only the ornate and colorful structures, winding streets and spectacular architecture, but the extensive tunnel system that now serves as part of the road system in the historical centre. This afternoon, we will ride the Funicular to Al Pipila for magnificent views of the city and spend the rest of the afternoon exploring.

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THE WEALTHY MINERS DAUGHTER AND HER STAR CROSSED LOVER 

Day Thirteen:  Monday March 6, 2023

Hotel Location: Guanajuato City, Guanajuato

Today we will visit the Museo de Alhondiga de Granaditos, which not only houses an impressive exhibit, but was the site of the first major battle during Mexico's fight for independence from Spain. Eventually, the severed heads of heroes Father Hidalgo, Ignacio Allende, Juan Aldama and José Mariano Jiménez were placed in cages and suspended from the four corners of this historic granary before a gruesome and public "lottery" was held to torture and kill anyone suspected of supporting the resistance movement. From here, we will embark on a magical walking tour of Guanajuato's colorful streets, museums and Hidalgo Market.

Following dinner we will enjoy a theatrical street-performance of a Guanajuato legend involving the narrowest alley in the city, and a romantic tragedy of star-crossed love between a poor miner and a woman of privilege. Please wear comfortable shoes, as this performance requires some walking

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EX-HACIENDAS, LEATHER AND BEER

Day Fourteen:  Tuesday March 7, 2023

Hotel Location: Lagos de Moreno, Jalisco

Our departure from Guanajuato City includes a stop at the Ex-Hacienda San Gabriel de Barrera, before we arrive at La Bru artisan beer distillery in Leon. We will visit Mercado la Luz leather market, before departing for the Pueblo Magico of Lagos de Moreno.

BRIDGES THAT CROSS THE WORLD

Day Fifteen:  Wednesday March 8, 2023

Hotel Location: Lagos de Moreno, Jalisco

Ironically, Lagos de Moreno is void of lakes, but was named after insurgent Pedro Moreno. Today, we will enjoy a walking tour of the centro, including a beautiful UNESCO protected bridge.  Today is a restful day, with time to enjoy unwinding at the hotel, or exploring on your own. 

A MOMENTARY LAPSE IN TIME

Day Sixteen:  Thursday March 9, 2023

Hotel Location: Real de Catorce, San Luis Potosi

Founded by Pedro Carilla Davila in 1569 as a military garrison, the fort at Ojueles de Jalisco was the first of seven built on the route from Mexico City to Zacatecas, and remains the only one standing today. Viceroy Enriquez de Almanza requested the construction of these forts, as protection against the Chichimeca Warriors under the legendary Maxorro. The Viceroy's concerns were not unwarranted, for the Spaniards were already in the midst of a brutal war with the Chichimeca, following the aftermath of September 8, 1546 when Chichimeca warriors introduced the Spanish to the silver-rich ore at Cerro La Bufa, in what is now the city of Zacatecas. Between 1550-1590, the Chichimeca made advances on Spanish power and the Royal Treasury, thus rendered the most expensive assault on colonial powers, as recorded in Mesoamerican Colonial history. The Spanish were forced to concede through what became known as the Purchase for Peace program. The distribution of food and goods were used to establish negotiations with the Chichimeca, and women from the coast were sold as slaves, for the right to purchase back gold seized during the war. Eventually the roads between Mexico City and Zacatecas were safe once more, and the Chichimeca were settling lands and even converting to Catholicism. The Spanish learned that their policy of blood and fire was less effective than one that upheld the rights of indigenous peoples to land and sustenance. We will visit the Fort in Ojueles de Jalisco, before our long and arduous journey to the alluring ghost town of Real de Catorce.

This is our longest travel day. Upon check-in at our hotel, we will enjoy a Charcuterie Board in the garden, so guests can unwind and relax without having to head out to a restaurant. We will enjoy a mezcal tasting tonight.

PUEBLA FANTASMA & INDIGENOUS DISCOURSES

Day Seventeen:  Friday March 10, 2023

Hotel Location: Real de Catorce, San Luis Potosi

This morning we will depart the hotel for a thrilling climb on horseback, up the steep switch-backs to Puebla Fantasma, which overlooks the small village of Real de Catorce. Enjoy stunning views and the chance to ride through the crumbling structures of a forgotten history. After lunch, we will have the afternoon for free time, to explore this romantic and captivating ghost town.

PILGRIMAGE TO CERRO QUEMADO & WIRIKUTA

Day Eighteen:  Saturday March 11, 2023

Hotel Location: Real de Catorce, San Luis Potosi

Our early morning journey is one of the most spectacular features of this tour, as we will be riding from the edge of town, through the ruins of old haciendas, and out across the Sierra de Catorce to a Shamanic Temple at the peak of Cerro Quemado. Overlooking the Peyote desert, this pilgrimage takes about 80 mins on horseback each way, and includes a short hike up a steep hill to the temple. We will return to town for lunch, then board a jeep willy for an exciting and hair-raising ride that will deliver us to the Peyote desert. We will stop at the ruins of the Socavon de la Purisima Hacienda along the way. Pack your wits, and expect to be shaken-up on this journey! This one is for the bucket-list!

THE SILVER CITY

Day Nineteen:  Sunday March 12, 2023

Hotel Location: Zacatecas City, Zacatecas

Though the name Zacatecas means "Place where there is abundant grass," this powerful city is comprised of stone structures and incredible churches, some featuring exquisite Plateresque facades. Built from the riches of the mining industry, the state of Zacatecas has two of the largest mines in the world, accounting for 21% of Mexico's gold output, and 53.2% of silver. In fact, Mexico is the worlds largest producer of silver today, with the majority of it coming from here. We will arrive in the city for lunch, then visit the Church of Guadalupe Museum in nearby Guadalupe, before checking into our hotel.

CHICHIMECA ROOTS OF THE SILVER TRADE

Day Twenty:  Monday March 13, 2023

Hotel Location: Zacatecas City, Zacatecas

Today features the root history of El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, and will take us on an adventure that leads us to Mina el Eden in the bowels of the earth, and across the sky to Cerro la Bufa, where the Silver Trade began. It was here where Chichimeca Warriors introduced the Spaniards to the silver-rich ore in 1546, with the construction of Mina el Eden commencing 40 years later, in 1586. We will spend the afternoon at the Museum of Wixaritari art.

THE RAZED CITY OF CHICOMOZTOC

Day Twenty-One:  Tuesday March 14, 2023

Hotel Location: Zacatecas City, Zacatecas

We will depart Zacatecas early to beat the heat of the day. The razed city of Chicomoztoc has bewildered archaeologists since its discovery, though the one certainty is that this city was once burned to the ground. Many theories surround who built this fortress, and what groups moved through this region. As this site is located along the ancient northern trade route of Mesoamerica, some historians ponder whether it existed as a trade centre. This surprising site holds many secrets, and is stunningly beautiful. We will return to Zacatecas for lunch and a famous mask museum.

LAST CHANCE ZACATECAS

Day Twenty-Two:  Wednesday March 15, 2023

Hotel Location: Zacatecas City, Zacatecas

Spend one last day, processing all you have learned, and exploring the incredibly opulent city of Zacatecas, on your own. We will enjoy a special meal this evening, as our last farewell dinner party.

HOMEWARD BOUND

Day Twenty-Three:  Thursday March 16, 2023

Hotel Location: N/A

This morning we say goodbye, and part ways. Your guides will return by van to Michoacan State, and guests will fly into Mexico International Airport early enough to connect with departing flights. Please allow us to confirm your flight time back to CDMX prior to booking your own flight home.

If you would like to continue exploring Mexico, please contact us for assistance with your itinerary, suggestions and insights. There are many fabulous places one could add-on to this trip from Zacatecas itself, including Durango, Aguascalientes and San Luis Potosi, which is the gateway to the supernatural region of La Huasteca. From Mexico City Airport, you can head to Veracruz or Acapulco, as an add-on to the trade history we've been exploring. There are also some fantastic routes that will take you through Puebla and Oaxaca, en route for Chiapas and Yucatan Peninsula. If you would prefer to visit Michoacan, you may ride along with your guides to the city of Morelia.

MAY THE SECRETS OF MEXICO FASCINATE YOU TO THE CORE - WE HOPE YOU RETURN FOR MORE!   

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PHOTO GALLERIES

EL CAMINO DE LA PLATA
Includes Select Photographs from our 2019 Tour
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WHY TOUR WITH US?
Is this Tour for You?
 

Our El Camino de la  Plata exploration of Mexico's Silver Road is an educational, fun and exciting adventure.  If you love history, architecture, archaeology, and following the path of ancient cultures, following this historical trade route will appeal.  Expect an incredible diversity of information, and history that includes indigenous history, the Spanish conquest, Mexico's fight for independence, and an understanding of just how contact with Latin America transformed the world.  We will enjoy some free time for shopping and resting, but most days will be filled with fascinating activities.  We do work hard to limit our activities, so guests don't feel worn-out by the end of our tour.  We have scheduled a free day in Zacatecas, so guests have a day to unwind and process all you've experienced, before departing.

BE A TEAM PLAYER

Respect Local Customs

Our tour includes some educational perspectives on religion in Mexican society, as it is an integral part of the culture, and has deeply influenced Mexican society..  We ask guests to refrain from political or religious debates while in group, and to keep an open-mind.

Please respect our departure times, so our schedule remains fluid.  We ask guests to switch up the seating arrangements in the van, so everyone has an opportunity to enjoy a window view.  

Please respect the locals, and remember we are visitors here.  Acknowledging sales-people, and asking permission before taking photographs is a sign of respect.

​COVID-19 UPDATE:  Out of respect for the local Mexicans and all of our guests, proof of Covid-19 Vaccination is required for our tours.  Thank you for your cooperation.  We will take everyone's temperature before boarding the van in the AM.  All guests and team members are expected to use hand sanitizer upon entering the vehicle, and wear a face mask over mouth & nose for the duration of our tours and events.  These health protocols are subject to changes.

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MEET YOUR GUIDES
 
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JAIME BALDERAS

LICENSED NATIONAL GUIDE

Jaime Balderas was born and raised in the Lake Patzcuaro region of Michoacan, has been a guide for over 18 years and is the proud owner of Animecha Tours.  Jaime completed the accredited tour guide training course offered by the SECTUR of the state of Michoacan, and is constantly updating his education through history courses, tourism seminars, and personal research.  Jaime is a member of Toastmasters International, which has allowed him to improve his communication skills to provide guests with an enriched understanding about the local culture, history, architecture, art forms, cuisine, archaeology and important cultural protocols.  Fluent in Spanish, English and proficient in the P'urepecha language, experiencing the Lake Patzcuaro region of Michoacan with Jaime Balderas is an educational experience you won't soon forget.  We are truly pleased to be working with Jaime for this Dia de Muertos experience, due to his thorough research, ease of engaging academic perspectives in an easy-to-understand communication style and his ethical approaches to cultural sensitivity.

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JENNIFER BJARNASON

TOUR COORDINATOR & ART DEALER

With a background as a sales person and dealer of Indigenous art for over 30 years in Canada, Jennifer Bjarnason has been exploring Mexico for many years, and is a resident of Michoacan.  With a passion for indigenous and cultural art forms, she was first hired as an assistant and tour coordinator at Casona Rosa B&B in Morelia, where she began organizing art and butterfly tours for guests of the hotel.  With a passion for indigenous narratives, cultural art, history, nature and travel, Jennifer coordinates scientist-led eco-fundraisers for Monarch Butterfly Research, art-collection tours in the Lake Patzcuaro region, workshops with artists in authentic villages, Dia de Muertos experiences in Michoacan and an extensive exploration of La Ruta de Plata - or The Silver Road, which was a major intercontinental trade route of international importance.  Jennifer first met Jaime Balderas in 2015 on her first trip to Patzcuaro, and is very pleased to be working with such an esteemed and passionate historian for this Dia de Muertos experience.  She looks forward to meeting you!

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INCLUSIONS
& Exclusions

ACCOMMODATIONS
Accommodations are separate, but we will assist you

MEALS


All Meals are separate with the exception of:

Tikua Restaurant

All Beverages & Tips are separate

TRANSPORTATION

 

Private Transport with Licensed Professional Guide Included

Horseback Riding Included

Jeep Willy Ride Included

Trolly Train to Mina el Bufa Included

Tram to La Bufa Included

HISTORICAL SITES

 

Teotihuacan Included

Tula Included

Canada de la Virgen Included

Chicomoztoc Included

UNESCO DESIGNATIONS

 

El Camino de la Tierra Adentro

Mexico City Centro & Xochimilco

Teotihuacan Archaeological Site

Santiago de Queretaro Centro

Atotonilco Sanctuary of Nazarene

San Miguel de Allende Centro

Guanajuato City Centro

ZacatecasCity Centro

FIESTA'S & EVENTS

 

TBA

OTHER SERVICES

If you would like a welcome basket for the night you arrive, we can arrange for a picnic basket with local wine, beer and/or mezcal, cheese, crackers, salami, olives, tapenade, plus napkins, cutlery, plates, and glasses

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RESERVATIONS

We require a 20% non-refundable deposit to confirm your reservation.

Full payment is due by January 1, 2023

CANCELLATIONS

Cancellations made after January 1, 2023 are non-refundable.

You may transfer your tour to a friend or family member at your own discretion, so long as they are in the right age group for this tour.

INSURANCE MATTERS

We are not an insurance company.  Please make sure you read the fine print on your airline reservations, and purchase travel and medical insurance.


 

SUGGESTED KIT LIST

TBA

PDF DOWNLOADS

We will be updating this soon, with more PDF files containing information about this tour