"All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware."

- Martin Buber

MEXICO'S SILVER ROAD

An Introduction to UNESCO Cultural Heritage Route 

El Camino Real de la Tierra Adentro 

Quick Info

Start Location:
End Location: 
Dates:
Duration:
Group Size:
Age Group:
Hotel Locations:
Physical Rating:
Mexico City
Zacatecas* 
March
15 Nights/16 Days
30 +
6
Easy + Options
*Flight from Zacatecas - Mex City Included

HOTEL LOCATIONS

San Miguel de Allende

Mineral de Pozos

Guanajuato City

Lagos de Moreno

Real de Catorce

Zacatecas

PRICE  $50,000 MXN
Price per person is based on shared accommodations for two.  If you are travelling with a friend and prefer a room with two beds, we can adjust your price. 
Single Supplement:  $8000

Traverse Mexico's Most Ancient & Impressive Trade Route

INTRODUCTION

Archaeology lovers, photographers, spiritual seekers, historians, art collectors & adventurers alike are invited to join us for this extensive 16 day journey to a part of Mexico few foreigners ever explore.  From the centre of Mexico City and the depths of Mina el Eden's underground, to the vista's of Cerro el Quemado & Cerro La Bufa, this incredible pilgrimage along El Camino Real de la Tierra Adentro is one you will long to return to and further explore.

 

WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT TO EXPERIENCE & EXPLORE   

 

  • Important UNESCO Heritage Sites & Structures

  • Picturesque Pueblo Magico Towns, including 2 ghost towns

  • Horseback journey to an abandoned settlement

  • Ancient Cities of the Nahua & Otomi

  • Crumbling Haciendas for captivating photographs

  • Underground mine museum to a gondola ride in the sky

  • Indigenous places of ancient, cosmic mystery and power

  • Jeep Willy ride down the "Hill of the Repentant" to the Peyote Desert

  • Wine Tasting, Street Theatre, fabulous cuisine and so much more!

PHYSICAL / PSYCHOLOGICAL CHALLENGES FOR THIS ADVENTURE

  • Claustrophobia may challenge your entrance to Real de Catorce  Please contact us, or watch for the video below. The other underground experiences are not mandatory - but the tunnel is.

  • Horseback Riding is not for everyone, though it is optional

  • Fear of heights may prevent you from riding the gondola

  • If you lack balance on your feet, please contact us about Real de Catorce.  The cobble stone feels slippery, and the hills can feel burdensome for those who are uneasy.  Walking sticks would certainly help, depending on your mobility.

WHAT MAKES YOU A GOOD FELLOW TRAVELER

 

  • Punctuality - crucial for fluid travel

  • Flexibility - always expect the unexpected

  • Participation - including one daily group photo

  • Consideration - we all have different strengths, fears & phobias

  • Cooperation - the rules are made for all of us, including you

  • Respect - for local customs & protocols

  • Diplomacy - agree to disagree about politics & religion​

  • Confidence - know your limits 

HISTORICAL INTRODUCTION

EL CAMINO REAL DE LA TIERRA ADENTRO

El Camino Real de la Tierra Adentro (El Camino Real) translates as “The Royal Inland Road,” which covers 2600 KM from Mexico City to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Crossing several states dotted with related UNESCO Heritage sites, and through the Mexico/US border makes this too extensive a journey for most to complete in one trip. 1400 KM of this historic route was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010, with five urban World Heritage sites and 55 other structures and locations, including bridges, ex-Haciendas, historic towns, an old cemetery, abandoned convents, a mountain range, a mine, chapels, temples, caves and stretches of road.

 

There are only a handful of cultural routes on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, and Mexico’s El Camino Real is one of them. Lauded for “outstanding universal value” for connecting the Americas with Europe, there are significant historical aspects as to how this route transformed Europe through a plethora of trade goods unseen prior to this time. In much the same way the Silk Road brought new philosophies, spices and other materials into Europe, so did El Camino Real witness a massive exchange of goods that would transform various aspects of both European, North American and Mexican culture.

 

El Camino Real was a major trade route that converged with two other routes. One path connected Mexico City with the port of Veracruz on the Gulf of Mexico, where a busy maritime route extended to Cadiz and Seville, Spain. A second route was constructed from Mexico City to Acapulco on the Pacific Coast. This was the port-of-call for the Manila Galleons, or Spanish trade ships that traversed a maritime route between Mexico and the Philippines. Mexico City was essentially an intersection of routes from Asia and Europe, with El Camino Real winding north-west to Santa Fe in New Mexico.

 

The economy generated from this diversity of tangible currency meant a massive upturn in international trade. Silk, spices and porcelain were imported from Asia, while residents who lived along the silver road also enjoyed imported wine, chocolate, olives and nuts from Europe. In Europe, transformations were also taking place. Italian Cuisine underwent a major transformation following contact with the Americas, due to the sudden arrival of the Tomato. Tomatl is the Nahua origin of the word tomato, and though Tomatoes were not an easy-sell in Europe at first, they eventually helped Italian cuisine evolve into what we know today.

 

One of the major downfalls of El Camino Real is that European diseases arrived, including smallpox, cholera and the measles. The consequences of such brutal diseases on a population previously unexposed to such incurable maladies was catastrophic.

 

While many consider the wealth sent to Spain from Latin America in the form of precious metal, the exchange was much greater than just money or other products. This important trade route was a major interchange of philosophy, language and other cultural traditions, including knowledge of plants and their medicinal values, and dozens upon dozens of new food plants that would ultimately transform cuisine around the world.

 

El Camino Real de la Tierra Adentro is a name inspired by the ruling Crown of Latin America, a name that also applies to previous ruling hierarchies of the Americas, for local indigenous groups were who first inscribed this path into the worn earth beneath the feet of a thousand years trade of obsidian, turquoise, feathers, salt and other commodities valued in pre-Hispanic civilizations, long before this route converged with the rest of the world.

 

Fondly called Mexico’s Silver Road by intrepid travellers and locals alike, who fall in love time-travelling along this spectacular pilgrimage into Mexico’s past, this is truly a journey for history lovers who enjoy exploring off-the-beaten path.

TOUR OVERVIEW

DAY ONE - March 1, 2020

Hotel Location:  San Miguel Day Allende

 

We will depart Mexico City by 7 AM sharp. This morning, we will have breakfast in the colonial city of Queretaro, and spend the next few hours exploring the heart of the city, including the famous Aqueduct, Templo y Exconvento de San Augustin, and the Cathedral of Queretaro. From Queretaro, we will head to San Miguel de Allende on time to check in and have dinner.

 

DAY TWO - March 2, 2020

Hotel Location:  San Miguel Day Allende

 

We will depart San Miguel de Allende after breakfast, heading to Canada de la Virgen Archaeological Site. Here we will meet Dr. Rosana Quizo Ennis for a specialized tour of this site, followed by lunch and tour of the adjacent museum. Following lunch, we will enjoy an afternoon of free time in San Miguel de Allende.

DAY THREE - March 3, 2020

Hotel Location: Mineral de Pozos

 

This morning we will depart San Miguel de Allende by 9 AM, stopping first at the UNESCO Protected Sanctuario de Jesus Nazareno in Atotonilco. We will enjoy our morning at the Hot Springs here. By 2 PM, we will depart Atotonilco for Dus Buhos Winery for a tour and wine sampling. We will arrive in Mineral de Pozos on time to check into our hotel and have dinner.

DAY FOUR - March 4, 2020

Hotel Location:  Guanajuato City

 

This morning we will visit Luis Cruz of Casa del Venado Azul, and enjoy a short demonstration of his intriguing and high quality pre-Hispanic instruments. Next we will visit Mina San Rafael, where guests can actually enter one of the mines. We will then head to Santa Brigida Ex Hacienda & Mine ruins on our way out of town. This site is an extraordinary stop, full of interesting structures including an oven with three vaulted chimneys where ore was smelted, several crumbling warehouses, and a mysterious celestial building that fills with moonlight during the summer equinox.

 

Our next stop will be to Cuna de Tierra Winery. Here, we will enjoy local wine from their terroir, and a lovely charcuterie lunch with artisan salami and cheese.

 

Continuing along, we will visit the talavera galleries of Dolores Hidalgo, and ice-cream at the plaza where we can only imagine what it may have been like at 5 AM on the morning of September 16, 1810 when Father Hidalgo’s “Cry of Dolores” rang out across the small town, encouraging everyone to take up arms against the Loyalists of Spain. Called El Grito, the church itself is not overly decorative to look at, but politically, it remains of great importance due to it’s connection to the event that triggered the War of Independence. From Dolores Hidalgo, we will finally depart for our final destination – being the opulent city of Guanajuato.

DAY FIVE - March 5, 2020

Hotel Location:  Guanajuato City

 

This morning we will enjoy a walking tour of Guanajuato. Today’s tour will include the old granary, as an extension of our visit to El Grito in Dolores Hidalgo. During the War of Independence, the rebels seized Guanajuato temporarily. Unfortunately for them, when the Spanish Loyalists regained the city, they administered a horrifying “Lottery of Death,” which involved pulling the names of “winners” from a hat. The forlorn winner was then subjected to heinous tortures before being hanged. After Hidalgo and his men were captured in Chihuahua City, they were executed by firing squad, and their heads were sent back to Guanajuato, to be suspended on the granary as a reminder of who was in charge. Ironically, this backfired on the Loyalists, as this reminder only maintained the fuel of anger among rebel forces, who eventually managed to defeat the Loyalists – paving the way for Mexico’s rise as an independent nation.

 

Our walking tour will also include the birth home of Diego Rivera, which is now a small museum. We will visit the Pipila, with fantastic views of this majestic city, and also the jam-packed Hidalgo Mercado. This evening, we will meet at Juarez Theatre by 7:45 PM for an enchanting street theatre performance that will lead us to the Alley of the Kiss.

 

DAY SIX - March 6, 2020

Hotel Location:  Lagos de Moreno

 

This morning we will head for the bustling commercial centre of Leon, departing Guanajuato at 9 AM. We will first stop at La Libertad Brewery, to tour a small beer making facility and sample their beer. After exploring Mercado la Luz leather supply mercado, we will enjoy snacks and a lesson on how to make Pico de Gallo at Chef Israel Salazar’s El Arrecife restaurant. After visiting Claudio’s Shoe Making workshop around the corner, we will return to El Arrecife for an early dinner party. From here, we will head for our hotel in the UNESCO designated Lagos de Moreno.

DAY SEVEN - March 7, 2020

Hotel Location:  Lagos de Moreno

 

This morning we will enjoy a walking tour in this magnificent city-centre, enjoying many different structures that are protected as part of El Camino Real de la Tierra Adentro, including the famous bridge of Lagos de Moreno, two amazing churches, and the Mummy of Lagos de Moreno.

 

DAY EIGHT - March 8, 2020

Hotel Location:  San Luis Potosi

 

This morning we depart Lagos de Moreno by 8:30 AM, heading for the Pueblo Magico Ojuelos de Jalisco. The fortification of this small village is considered a significant structure along El Camino Real de la Tierra Adentro, as it was not only the first of seven fortifications built to protect the Spanish and their goods from indigenous warriors, but it is the only one of seven still standing. There is also a famous bridge here, that is protected by UNESCO as part of this route.

 

We will depart Ojuelos de Jalisco at 2 PM for San Pedro Gogorron. Named after Don Pedro de Arizmendi Gogorron, the property was obtained by Spanish philanthropist Don Felipe Muriedas, who transformed it into a successful Hacienda featuring a Mezcal and Textile factory, as well as 16 wells that flowed with water reaching 40 degrees, which he purported had healing qualities.  We will arrive in San Luis Potosi on time for dinner and an evening of relaxation.

Please note: This would be a great time to do laundry. Please have it ready in the AM, so we can hand it to the hotel upon check-in.

DAY NINE - March 9, 2020

Hotel Location:  San Luis Potosi

 

Today we will explore the fabulous and under-rated city of San Luis Potosi. Calle Universidad and the San Luis Cathedral are both protected by UNESCO as part of our route, but the city is bursting with so many beautiful plazas and museums. We will take an evening bus tour of the city, offering us great views of the colonial scenery.

DAY TEN - March 10, 2020

Hotel Location:  Real de Catorce

 

This morning, we will depart San Luis Potosi by 8:30 AM, heading along a route that actually deviates from the traditional Camino Real de la Tierra Adentro. As there are still many locations and structures in this region that are recommended as UNESCO designations, it is possible that the Ogarrio Tunnel and Pueblo Magico ghost town of Real de Catorce may someday be part of this route. For now, it’s just too fun to miss – and so we have included it as part of our tour.

 

It is important to communicate with us, if you suffer from claustrophobia. The Ogarrio Tunnel is 2 KM of narrow, low-ceiling tunnel that passes through a section of the Sierra de Catorce, emptying traffic to what some rightfully call the end of the world. Hunched up against the slopes of one of Mexico’s highest plateau’s, this ghost town of 1000 was once home to 40,000 who relied on the mining industry here. Seated at an altitude of 9000 feet, you will find the air slightly thin here – making this a great place to just unwind and enjoy people watching between a few exciting adventures. Our first day will be gentle, so everyone will have a chance to acclimatize to the high altitude. We will enjoy a relaxed walking tour of the town, followed by an evening of relaxation.

 

DAY ELEVEN - March 11, 2020

Hotel Location:  Real de Catorce

 

This morning, our day will start with a bit of adventure. Our guide Omar will meet us at the hotel by 9AM, and lead us to an old bridge where we will mount horses for our ride to Cerro El Quemado. The full tour takes about 3 hours, which will lead us through the ruins of an old hacienda and out into the desolate Sierra de Catorce towards the sacred ceremonial grounds of the Wixaritari (Huichol). We will dismount and climb for about 10-20 mins to reach a small temple, where we can purchase bead work from the Shaman, and even pay him a small fee for a cleansing.


Cerro el Quemada is often confused as being Wirkuta, as this is where the Wixaritari hold Peyote Ceremonies to make offerings to the sun, which was born in Wirikuta. Upon returning to Real de Catorce, we will have lunch and then embark on a second exciting adventure, which will deliver us to Wirikuta, which is where the Wixaritari harvest peyote.

 

Our Jeep Willy ride down “the hill of the repentant” will not only deliver us to the peyote desert, literally thousands of feet below our starting point, we will also visit a picturesque mine site. We do want to warn our guests that the ride to the desert is hair-raising and exciting. If you love an adrenaline rush, you may sit on top of the vehicle as we snake our way down a narrow, one-way path with two-lane traffic, on the edge of a ravine. For those of us who prefer a bit more safety, we can ride in the back of the willy. This ride sounds and seems much more dangerous than it really is – the drivers who use this road are watchful of one another, as they drive this road several times a day.

 

DAY TWELVE - March 12, 2020

Hotel Location:  Real de Catorce

 

For those who really love adventure on horseback, we have one last excursion that starts after breakfast. Omar will bring the horses to our hotel, and this trip will take you straight up the mountain to an abandoned settlement now called Pueblo Fantasma (ghost town). This ride will take you up a series of steep switch-backs, and you will enjoy incredible views of Real de Catorce and the surrounding area. Highly recommended.

For those of you who don’t wish to ride, spend the day relaxing, people watching and taking in the quaint loveliness of this small and special place.

WARNING!

If you suffer from claustrophobia, please watch the video "Ogarrio Tunnel" - as this will give you an idea as to what to expect.  Rumor has it, one tour company had to abandon their Real de Catorce experience because of one guest who refused to enter the tunnel.  We had one guest on our last tour who suffers from claustrophobia, but upon watching this video, was confident she could handle it!  She even recently told me she'd love to return to Real de Catorce!

We have included a short clip from our Jeep Willy Ride down the "hill of the repentant" to give guests an idea as to what this adventure is like!  FYI - it looks much worse than it really is!

DAY THIRTEEN - March 13, 2020

Hotel Location:  Zacatecas

 

We will depart Real de Catorce by 9 AM for the UNESCO City centre of Zacatecas. Please note – there is only one bathroom between Real and Zacatecas, and this trip takes about 4 hours. We will be passing by countless rolling hills, dotted with cactus. When we arrive in Zacatecas, we will have lunch at La Lleyenda, then head to Rafael Coronel Museum of Masks.

 

DAY FOURTEEN - March 14, 2020

Hotel Location:  Zacatecas

 

This morning, we will depart Zacatecas by 8:30 AM for the ancient city of La Quemada. Archaeologists have many theories on this city, and their one certainty is that it was once razed. This desolate site is surrounded by barren landscape, but is powerful and alluring. Enjoy climbing up through the city for some excellent views of the surrounding area. Upon returning to Zacatecas, we will have lunch. Our next adventure will take us through the fourth level of Mina el Eden, where an awesome fossil museum is housed. After touring the historic mine, which was first constructed in the 1500’s, we will take an elevator to an opening near a gondola, that will whisk us across the city to Cerro la Bufa. It was here where Chichimeca Warriors first showed the Spanish silver deposits, which not only resulted in the construction of Mina el Eden, but eventually was the cause of a massive war that ended in Spanish retreat and major payments to indigenous warriors for the return of their precious metals.

 

DAY FIFTEEN - March 15, 2020

Hotel Location:  Zacatecas

 

Enjoy a free day in the incredible city of Zacatecas. There are countless heritage buildings, museums and plazas to enjoy here. This evening, we will enjoy our last evening at a restaurant now housed in what was Zacatecas’ original bull fighting arena.

 

DAY SIXTEEN - March 16, 2020

Hotel Location:  Zacatecas

 

This concludes our Introduction to El Camino Real de la Tierra Adentro. We will transport you to the airport for your departing flight to Mexico City. If you would like to stay in Zacatecas for a few extra nights to enjoy further explorations here, please let us know in advance so we book your ticket for the date of your choice.

 

If you have enjoyed this tour, please stay tuned for our Conclusion to El Camino Real de la Tierra Adentro, which we are currently organizing. This tour will start in Zacatecas, and take you on an exploratory journey to visit the bulk of UNESCO protected sites along this route, delivering you to the city of Chihuahua. Not only did El Camino Real de la Tierra Adentro pass through the city of Chihuahua, this city is also a nice conclusion to the War of Independence history, as this was where Father Hidalgo and his men met their demise. We are excited to be offering Part 2 of this journey in 2021, and hope you may join us.

TRIP INCLUSIONS

Hotels – 15 Nights included

Hotels in San Miguel de Allende, Mineral de Pozos, Guanajuato City, Lagos de Moreno, San Luis Potosi, Real de Catorce & Zacatecas included.

 

We will make a recommendation for your hotel in Mexico City.

Meals – 9 Meals included

 

5 Breakfasts

2 Lunches

2 Dinner Parties

Transportation

All van transport from Mexico City to Zacatecas

Gondola Ride in Zacatecas

Flight from Zacatecas to Mexico City

 

Horseback riding and Willy Jeep ride in Real de Catorce are optional; therefore, these activities are not included in the price

Sights & Activities

Queretaro City guided walking tour

Canada de la Virgen Archaeological Zone & Museum guided tour with archaeologist

Sanctuario Jesus de Nazareno in Atotonilco

Atotonilco Hotsprings

Dos Buhos Winery Tour & Sampling

Mina San Rafael

Exhacienda Santa Brigida

Tierra Cuna Winery

Guanajuato City guided walking tour

Granary Museum entrance fee

Diego Rivera Museum entrance fee

Street Theatre Performance

La Libertad Cerveca Tour

Lagos de Moreno guided walking tour

Ojuelos de Jalisco guided walking tour

Exhacienda & Church of San Pedro Gogorron

San Luis Potosi guided walking tour

San Luis Potosi bus tour

Real de Catorce guided walking tour

Horseback to Cerro el Quemado (Optional Tour)

Willy Jeep to Wirikuta (Optional Tour

Horseback to Pueblo Fantasma (Optional Tour)

Rafael Coronel Museum entrance fee
La Quemada Archaeological Zone Entrance Fee & locally guided tour

Mina el Eden entrance fee

Cerro la Bufa Gondola Ride

RESERVATION & CANCELLATION POLICY

TO SECURE YOUR RESERVATION

To secure your reservation, we require a 25 % non-refundable deposit.

We require the balance 3 months prior to departure.

Please download, print, read and bring Waiver with you.  All waivers must be signed before our tour begins.

TO CANCEL YOUR RESERVATION

If you cancel 2 months prior to our departure, we will retain 50% of the total cost.

If your cancellation falls within the 2 months prior to our departure, we will retain 100% of the total cost minus hotels that allow us last-minute cancellation, minus cost of activities that are covered on a per/person basis (such as a gondola ride, museum entrance fee, dinner party*, etc) This will vary, depending on the tour

* Most breakfasts on our inclusions list are part of your hotel reservation. If we cannot secure a refund from the hotel, we cannot refund the meal

EMERGENCY CONTACT INFORMATION

 

Please send this to your emergency contact person, in case they need to reach you.

Jennifer Bjarnason

Mexican Cell +52 443 639 2782 (Oct - Apr)

Canadian Cell 001 778 585 1882 (Apr - Oct)

Whatsapp: 001 778 585 1882 (Year Round)

Email: info@soulofmexicotours.com

YOUR EMERGENCY CONTACT INFORMATION IS IMPORTANT

It is important for us to have an emergency contact for you, in the event that there is an accident or medical emergency.


Please send us the full name, phone number and email for your emergency contact or next of kin.

MAKING PAYMENTS

  • We will invoice you using Square Invoicing. This is a secure system that allows you to use a

  • credit card without having to divulge your information.

  • If you prefer to use Paypal, we can invoice you using Paypal.

  • If you have a Canadian bank account, we accept e-transfers.

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