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

- Martin Buber

LA PUERTA DEL CAMINO REAL

An Introduction to Mexico's UNESCO Protected Silver Trade Route

QUICK INFO

 

 

LOCATION​

Starting & ending in Mexico City, this tour includes flight from CDMX to Zacatecas.

 

DATES​

This tour runs

Feb 21 - Mar 3, 2021

 

AGE GROUP

Unless organized as a custom experience, this tour is for adults only.

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GROUP SIZE​

This tour is for 6-12 guests.  If we are customizing your tour, please let us know how many are in your group.

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HOTEL LOCATIONS​

Zacatecas

Real de Catorce

Guanajuato

San Miguel de Allende 

Mexico City Option

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DIFFICULTY​

This tour is easy, with the exception of horseback riding in Real de Catorce, and an altitude of 9000+ feet.

INDIGENOUS TO SPANISH COLONIAL TRADE

INTRODUCTION

Archaeology lovers, photographers, spiritual seekers, historians, art collectors & adventurers alike are invited to join us for this exploration to a part of Mexico few foreigners explore.  From the historic footprint of original Indigenous trailblazers to the weight and heft of Spanish Colonial exploits, this region of Mexico is bursting with UNESCO structures and an incredible history awaiting discovery.

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS  

Day 01: Sunday February 21, 2021 - Zacatecas

Afternoon flight from Mexico City to Zacatecas ​ 

Day 02: Monday February 22, 2021 - Zacatecas

Visit the ancient city of La Quemada; Rafael Coronel Museum 

Day 03: Tuesday February 23, 2021 - Zacatecas

Mina el Eden; Gondola to La Bufa; Zacatecas Historical Centre

 

Day 04: Wednesday February 24, 2021 - Real de Catorce

Walking Tour of Real de Catorce; Option to visit Puebla Fantasma 

Day 05: Thursday February 25, 2021 - Real de Catorce

Horseback to Cerro Quemado; Jeep Willy ride to Peyote Desert ​ 

Day 06: Friday February 26, 2021 - Guanajuato City

Long commute through Ojuelos de Jalisco & Lagos de Moreno

 

Day 07: Saturday February 27, 2021 - Guanajuato City

Mummy Museum Option; Guanajuato City Historical Centre ​ 

Day 08: Sunday February 28, 2021 - San Miguel de Allende

Majolica Pottery; Dolores Hidalgo; Atotonilco & Hot Springs ​ 

Day 09: Monday March 1, 2021 - San Miguel de Allende

Mineral de Pozos; Dos Buhos Winery ​ 

Day 10: Tuesday March 2, 2021 - San Miguel de Allende

Canada de la Virgin Archaeologial Site; San Miguel de Allende Centro ​ 

Day 11: Wednesday March 3, 2021 - CDMX - Flight Home

Early departure for CDMX Airport

COST

SHARING

Guests x 6 =  $50,000 ea

Guests x 7 =  $48,000 ea

Guests x 8 =  $46,000 ea

Guests x 9 =  $44,000 ea

Guests x 10 = $42,000 ea

Guests x 11 = $40,000 ea

Guests x 12 = $38,000 ea

PRICES

Prices are based on shared accommodations for 2.  If you are a group that would like to share accommodations to lower the price, contact us for a price quote based on 3 or 4 per room.  Single Supplement is $5000 MXN   

RIDE A JEEP WILLY TO THE PEYOTE DESERT

MEXICO'S CENTRAL

MINE ROUTE TO

MEXICO CITY

OVERVIEW

This short but compact tour is an introduction to the importance of Mexico's historical interior trade route, which despite being known as Mexico's Silver Road, far predated Spanish Colonial times as a major route of various indigenous tribes of North America, for the trade of salt, feathers, semi-precious stones and other valuable cargo. 

 

We will visit several UNESCO protected sites, stay in 3 UNESCO designated cities and a picturesque ghost town that was Mexico's second official Pueblo Magico as of 2002.  Visit wineries, a hot springs, two archaeological sites, and two sacred Wixaritari pilgrimage sites.  A truly remarkable adventure awaits!  

EL CAMINO REAL DE TIERRA ADENTRO

El Camino Real de 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 as an inter-continental exchange, 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 trade of goods that would transform various aspects of both European, North American, Asian 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 delivering goods from as far away as Santa Fe, New Mexico.

 

The economy generated by 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. While tomatoes went east, majolica pottery travelled west – though a style of majolica pottery that is better known in Mexico is talavera.

 

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.

ZACATECAS

ARRIVAL IN MINING TERRITORY

 

DAY 1:  Sunday February 21, 2021

There is an afternoon flight departing Mexico City at 4:45 PM, arriving in Zacatecas at 6 PM.  This will allow guests to fly into Mexico City in the AM to avoid an extra night in the capital (though we highly recommend a few days in this cosmopolitan city).  Our guide will pick us up from the airport in Zacatecas, transporting us to our hotel.  We will enjoy a casual dinner at THE MILK Brew Pub.   

HOTEL LOCATION:  Zacatecas

Flight to Zacatecas included - Meals are not included

THE ANCIENT CITY OF LA QUEMADA

& RAFAEL CORONEL MUSEUM

 

DAY 2:  Monday February 22, 2021

This morning we will enjoy breakfast before departing for the ancient city of La Quemada.  This site is constructed on a fairly steep hill, but we will ascend slowly, enjoying fantastic ruins along the way.  As a city located along an ancient trade route, archaeologists have exercised many theories about who settled La Quemada - though one thing is certain:  This city was razed at one point in her history.

 

From La Quemada, we will return to Zacatecas for lunch at La Lleynda, an eclectic restaurant with cheerful dishes.  Just around the corner is the incredible Rafael Coronel Museum, which is located in the partially restored, but crumbling, former San Francisco Convent.  This museum has an extensive collection of art, featuring a famous mask collection, pre-columbian artefacts, and an exhibit of Diego Riveras work.  Rafael Coronel was the son-in-law of Diego Rivera.         

 

HOTEL LOCATION:  Zacatecas

All entrance Fees included - Meals are not included

MINA EL EDEN & LA BUFA

& THE CITY OF ZACATECAS

 

DAY 3:  Tuesday February 23, 2020

Mina el Eden is one of the oldest mines in Mexico, founded in the late 1500's.  Due to flooding, the mine was eventually closed and later reconstructed into a fantastic museum.  If you suffer from claustrophobia, please let us know, as we will ride a small rail car into the side of the mountain, which will deliver us to level 4 of the mine.  Housing a fantastic fossil collection, this museum also has a wonderful pathway leading through the mine, exposing levels below and above - eventually leading us to an elevator that will take us back to the great outdoors - and a gondola ride to La Bufa.  Combining the mine tour with the gondola ride is quite spectacular, as it was at La Bufa where the Indigenous Chichimeca first showed silver deposits to the Spanish - which not only resulted in the construction of Mina el Eden, but also triggered an ugly war that forced the Spanish to recede. 

 

There are zip lines from La Bufa, for those who yearn for an adrenaline rush.  For the rest of us who prefer to keep our feet on solid ground, we will return to the city to explore the historical centre.   

 

HOTEL LOCATION:  Zacatecas

All entrance Fees & gondola ride included - Dinner Included

REAL DE CATORCE

JOURNEY TO REAL DE CATORCE

& TRADITIONAL LANDS OF THE WIXARITARI

 

DAY 4:  Wednesday February 24, 2021

We will depart Zacatecas by 8:30 AM for the remote and enchanting ghost town of Real de Catorce.  This commute will take about 4 hours with only one bathroom stop!  If you are claustrophobic, please ask us about the Ogarrio Tunnel (and watch the video below).  This tunnel is 2 km long, is narrow, low and dimly lit.  For those who brave this experience, you may just feel as though you have traversed a time-warp to be spat out, into an ancient village that truly feels as though we've arrived at the end of the world.  Seated at 9,000 feet on a small plateau in the Sierra de Catorce range, this small village is hunched up the side of a mountain that was once home to 15,000 people.  With only 1000 full time residents today, most of this town has crumbed into very photographic ruins.  It's little wonder this town was the 2nd in Mexico to be designated a Pueblo Magico, nor why it has long attracted Mexicans and more recently, international visitors.  Fortunately, its remote location means only those of us willing to adventure off the beaten path, make our way here.

Following lunch, we will enjoy a walking tour to visit the old bull ring, cock-fighting theatre, wander the mesmerizing streets, and shop for Wixaritari (Huichol) artwork.  For those who are not interested in shopping, but would like to take in an extra adventure, we can arrange a spectacular climb to Puebla Fantasma, on horseback.  The cost of this tour is $400 Pesos, which you pay directly to your guide Omar.  Though the climb is steep and slippery, you will be wowed by the stunning vistas that look back to the small ghost town.  Puebla Fantasma is an abandoned mine site.

 

HOTEL LOCATION:  Real de Catorce

Horseback Excursion to Puebla Fantasma is not included - Meals are not included

PILGRIMAGE TO CERRO QUEMADA

& THE PEYOTE DESERT OF WIRIKUTA

 

DAY 5:  Thursday February 25, 2021

This morning, we will depart our hotel at 9 AM, following breakfast, on a pilgrimage to the Shamanic Temple of Cerro Quemado.  This journey is difficult, as the path has a lot of rock and tricky footwork for the horses; therefore, if you have not ridden before and feel uneasy on a horse, please let us know prior to our departure.  (We require 24 hours notice to cancel with the horse guides).  We will be moving at a walking pace, in the open and exposed Sierra de Catorce.  Once we near the end, we will dismount and hike up a fairly steep hill to reach the Shamans temple.  You can make a donation to the Shaman for a cleansing ceremony, and bring cash if you would like to purchase some beautiful beadwork.

 

We will return to Real de Catorce around Noon, just on time for a nice, leisurely lunch.  From there, we will climb aboard a 1950's Jeep Willy for the ride of a lifetime!  Skirting the edge of a deep ravine on a narrow road with two-way traffic isn't something you might want to tell your mother about - but the descent of "The Hill of the Repentant" is a thrill everyone should enjoy at least once!  We will stop at an interesting mine site, before we reach the Peyote Desert, known to the Wixaritari as Wirikuta - or place where the sun was born.  

 

A note about the Jeep Willy Rides:  If you sit on top, you really need to hang-on.  Do not expect to take pictures from the roof-top.  If you feel safer inside, and want to take photographs, there will be enough room for all of us.  Locals pile up to 14 people in these willies! 

 

HOTEL LOCATION:  Real de Catorce

All activities included - Breakfast included

GUANAJUATO CITY

THE LONG ROAD TO THE OPULENT

CITY OF TUNNELS

 

DAY 6:  Friday February 26, 2021

This morning, we will depart Real de Catorce by 9 AM, aching and sore and ready to rest.  And that is a good thing, since our travels today will include some distance.  For this reason, today we will have a bag lunch that we can enjoy in the van.  We will detour around San Luis Potosi and make our way to the Pueblo Magico of Ojuelos de Jalisco, arriving around 1 PM.  We will explore the UNESCO protected and important fortress, before heading to Lagos de Moreno for a short exploration of the UNESCO Protected bridge, and interesting cemetery.  We will arrive in the City of Guanajuato by 6 PM.

 

HOTEL LOCATION:  Guanajuato City

Breakfast & Lunch Included

DISCOVER THE MAGNIFICENCE OF 

MEXICO'S LAVISH CITY OF RICHES

 

DAY 7:  Saturday February 27, 2021

Guanajuato City is an incredible place to explore, as the city is connected through a series of tunnels that were once canals to divert the river.  Since the construction of the damn, the canals have been claimed by the city, for traffic.  Due to the riches of the mines here, this city has stunning architecture and a majestic energy.  We will enjoy a walking tour in the morning, followed by free time to rest of continue exploring.  This evening, we will meet at the Juarez Theatre by 7:45 for an evening of fun.

Please Note:  The Mummy Museum can be a disturbing experience. Contact us if you are concerned about viewing the dead on display.  This museum is not for everyone.

 

HOTEL LOCATION:  Guanajuato City

All activities & entrance fees included - Meals not included

SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE

CRY OF DOLORES, CUNA TIERRA WINERY

MEXICO'S SISTINE CHAPEL & LA GRUTA SPA

 

DAY 8:  Sunday February 28, 2021

This morning, we will depart Guanajuato City by 8:30 AM for the small Pueblo Magico of Dolores Hidalgo.  The Church of El Grito is arguably Mexico's most historically important of all, as it was here where Father Hidalgo delivered his infamous "Cry of Dolores," - a call to arms among the separatists who would declare on Spain, and fight for the birth of a new nation.  On Independence Day each year, the President of Mexico still uses the very bell Father Hidalgo used, to ring in the celebrations for the National holiday.  We will make a brief stop to visit the church, before heading to the Talavera shops.

 

We will head to Cuna de Tierra Winery to enjoy samples and an elegant charcuterie picnic.  From here, we will head spend the rest of our afternoon relaxing at La Gruta Spa, a hot springs in Atotonilco that has an indigenous history.  As the spa closes an hour before the Sanctuario de Jesus Nazareno, we will visit the church last.  This incredible and historic church is protected by UNESCO, and is revered as Mexico's own Sistine Chapel, due to the magnificent paintings that cover every inch of canvas available between the walls and ceiling.

 

We will arrive in San Miguel de Allende by 6 PM 

 

HOTEL LOCATION:  San Miguel de Allende

All entrance fees, winery & charcuterie included - Other meals not included

Massage at La Gruta Spa not included - Please advise us, and we can check availabilty

A GHOST TOWN REBORN

& DOS BUHOS WINERY

 

DAY 9:  Monday March 1, 2021

This morning, we head to Santa Brigida Mine and Ex-Hacienda in Mineral de Pozos.  This site is quite incredible, as it features three vaulted chimneys, sorting houses and an interesting structure that was used for cooking ore, yet also seconds as a celestial clock during May and June when the Full Moon glows down inside the chimney!  From Santa Brigida Mine, we will visit Casa Venado Azul to meet Luis Cruz, who makes high quality pre-hispanic instruments, including drums, ocarinas, stone xylophones, and flutes.  Our final stop will be at the San Rafael Mine, which is a working gem-stone mine that those who are brave, can descend right into using ropes!  From here, we will head back to San Miguel de Allende, making one stop at Dos Buhos Winery along the way! 

 

HOTEL LOCATION:  San Miguel de Allende

All entrance fees, winery & included - Meals not included

THE ASTRONOMICAL WONDERMENT 

OF CANADA DE LA VIRGIN

 

DAY 10:  Tuesday March 2, 2021

Our last site of exploration is one of the most fascinating places in Guanajuato, not only because Dr. Rossana Quiroz Ennis has studied the site through an astronomical lens, but also because of the fascinating museum includes a pre-hispanic meal.  We will enjoy a guided tour and meal before returning to San Miguel de Allende to enjoy the rest of our afternoon exploring on our own.  

 

HOTEL LOCATION:  San Miguel de Allende

Canada de la Virgen entrance, lunch & last supper included - breakfast not included

THE DEARLY DEPARTING RETURN

TO MEXICO CITY AIRPORT

 

DAY 11:  Wednesday March 3, 2021

We would like to remain flexible for our breakfast plans this morning.  We can get some yogurt and fruit, and depart by 6 AM, or have a meal in San Miguel de Allende before we depart.  We would like to confirm this tour first, so we have your flight schedule.  International flights need to check-in 3 hours prior to departure.  If you are on a domestic flight to another region of Mexico, you will need 2 hours check-in time.  

Once everyone has confirmed their flights, we will make arrangements for our departure time this morning.  Please keep in mind, the transit time to Mexico City is approximately 4 hours, though we prefer to suggest an allowance of 6 hours case of heavy traffic.

Alternately, you can stay in Mexico City one night, or book an extension for this tour with our guide Gerardo.  Visit Teotihuacan, Chapultapec Park, Sonora Market, Xochimilco Canals and more!

 

  

 

HOTEL LOCATION:  Where you call home unless you stay in CDMX

No Activities planned.  Meals are not included