Designated a Pueblo Magico in
Starting & ending in Mexico City, this tour includes return transportation to the airport, unless you are heading elsewhere.
This tour runs October 24-November 4, 2021. If you would like to customize your experience, it is possible to request a custom tour price quote.
Unless organized as a custom experience, this tour is for adults only.
Set tours are for 10-14 guests. If we are customizing your tour, please let us know how many are in your group.
This tour is easy, with the exception of being out late on Noche de Muertos. This tour is a night tour.
A UNESCO PROTECTED HUMAN HISTORY
Dia de Muertos is an auspicious and magical time of year, when indigenous peoples engage in ancestor worship. This sacred observation is one that involves an intensity of preparation and planning, which we will witness in the week leading up to November 1. We ask our guests to read through the cultural protocols for this tour, out of respect for the locals and the fact that they welcome us to observe their annual ritual.
Cosmopolitan Capital of Mexico, including Teotihuacan
Enjoy La Catrina Art Festival in Capula
Visit several art villages around Lake Patzcuaro Region
La Catrina Costume & Altar Party at Cielo Cocina Fusion
Two days observing authentic cemeteries
Explore the UNESCO City of Morelia
BE ECO-FRIENDLY & RESPECTFUL
Carry refillable water bottle & coffee mug
Dress modestly, especially in churches & villages
Ask permission before taking close-range photographs of people.
BE A GOOD FELLOW TRAVELER
Punctuality - crucial for fluid travel
Flexibility - always expect the unexpected
Participation - including one daily group photo
Consideration - please don't chit chat during presentations
Cooperation - the rules are made for all of us, including you
Diplomacy - agree to disagree about politics & religion
Confidence - know your limits
The cost for this tour is $50,000 MXN per person, based on shared accommodations.
If you are traveling with a friend and would like 2 beds, please contact us for a price quote, as we are sometimes charged extra.
Single Supplement is $8000 MXN. If you are willing to share accommodations with someone of the same sex, please contact us for possible arrangements.
Day 1 - Mexico City
Day 2 - Patzcuaro
Day 3 - Patzcuaro
Day 4 - Patzcuaro
Day 5 - Patzcuaro
Day 6 - Patzcuaro
Day 7 - Morelia
Day 8 - Morelia
Day 9 - Morelia
Day 10 - Morelia
Day 11 - Mexico City Airport
Scroll down for Itinerary details. If you would like to visit Mexico City, please contact us about adding a few days to either the beginning or end of your tour.
DIA DE MUERTOS - A BRIEF EXPLANATION
Autumn has long been considered an auspicious time in many cultures around the world who acknowledge the changing colours as trees shed their leaves and the last of the crops become ripe for harvest. This is a transformative time of year when many living things enjoy their final moments before winter sets in. This fragile line is a promising window between the world of the living and the dead – a time when the veil between the two is so thin, it becomes near invisible.
As this is a holiday of national importance, there are many preparations that take place behind the scenes, such as growing enough flowers to supply countless cemeteries throughout the land. Traditional altar frames must be constructed, to be later decorated with an abundance of flowers. Grand arch-frames are also adorned with flowers and raised in key places, as doorways between the living and the dead. The cemeteries must be cleansed and cleared, to make way for a fresh and elaborate display of flowers, candles, food offerings, photographs and other elements significant to this observation. As Dia de Muertos draws near, the locals are in full action, creating beautiful flower-petal pathways from their homes to the cemeteries, erecting their altars on the graves of their loved ones, and preparing to light the candles. To imagine – all of this is happening as the annual cycle of the most important indigenous crop is coming to a close, with the corn harvest. To call this an important and busy time is an understatement.
There are a number of different flowers associated with Dia de Muertos. Most of them have a very strong scent, as it is believed this is pleasing to the souls of the ancestors. The most prominent flower is called cempasuchi – which is known in English as marigold. The Nahuatl root of this word is cempohualxochitl. Cempohual is in reference to the number 20, and when combined with xochitl, the word for flower, cempohualxochitl translates as “flower with 20 petals.” Due to the bright yellow hue, reminiscent of the sun, marigolds were of significant importance to the sun worshipping Mexica. These flowers have been used for funerary rites and to adorn tombs since pre-Hispanic times. It is interesting to note – in 2016, the marigold harvest of Mexico was worth an estimated 80.4 million pesos (SIAP).
Terciopelo Rojo is also known as the cockscomb flower. Red in colour, this flower grows in various conditions and can last up to 8 weeks. It is unclear as to whether or not this flower was used in pre-Hispanic times, as it is most conflated today as representing the blood of Christ. There is much evidence of Christianity in modern Dia de Muertos celebrations, including crosses on graves, and this red flower is used to adorn the cemeteries, creating a beautiful contrast of colour with the bright yellow and orange marigolds.
Other flowers made their way from the Mediterranean and Asia to the cemeteries of Dia de Muertos. Hoary Stock, or Alheli Blanco, is a white flower often placed on the graves of young children. Baby’s breath is sometimes arranged together with hoary stock. Chrysanthemums from Asia are also used by some during Dia de Muertos, and this is directly connected to All Souls Day celebrations from Spain.
Other important elements Dia de Muertos include water, salt and fire. Some say glasses of water are left to quench the thirst of the spirits, while others say it merely represents the underworld. Salt is connected to purification, and the flames of lit candles are important for lighting the way through the darkness. Some leave seeds for the dead – as an offering for prosperous crops in the afterlife. Baskets of food are also left for the ancestors, and are often comprised of fruits, pan de muertos, and other favourite foods of the deceased, such as different sweets, tamales, or even a can of beer with a package of cigarettes.
In 2008, Dia de Muertos was officially inscribed in UNESCO’s protection as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
CIUDAD DE MEXICO
ARRIVAL IN MEXICO CITY
DAY 1: Saturday October 24, 2020
Welcome to the bustling and cosmopolitan capital of Mexico! Touted as the “New York” of Latin America, Mexico City is an exciting experience, with gorgeous parks, historical architectural, colourful markets, diverse cuisine and more museums per capita, than any other city in the world.
Once we have your arrival time confirmed, we can arrange plans for an orientation and welcome party. If you are landing very early, and would like to explore, we can make some suggestions for a self-guided adventure, or arrange for a guided tour for an additional cost.
HOTEL LOCATION: Mexico City
JOURNEY TO THE P'UREPECHA PLATEAU
& CAPULA'S CATRINA FESTIVAL
DAY 2: Sunday October 25, 2020
This morning we will check out of our hotel by 7:00 AM, for breakfast at one of late Anthony Bourdain's restaurants, Fonda Margarita. Departing by 8 AM, we will take the Toll Highway to Morelia, then head for lunch in the small but bustling village of Quiroga. Chef Diego will have his grill piping hot and ready to start preparing his famous molcajetes for us, which are a mix of chicken, beef, chorizo, grilled onions and cactus - topped with cheese and fresh avocado. If there are any vegetarians, Chef Diego does prepare a vegetarian molcajete as well.
Following lunch, we will depart Quiroga for the art studio and romantic estate of maestro Juan Torres, before heading to annual La Catrina Tianguis, or Art Festival, in the centro of Capula.
HOTEL LOCATION: Patzcuaro
MICHOACAN'S PUEBLO MAGICO'S
SANTA CLARA DEL COBRE & PATZCUARO
DAY 3: Monday October 26, 2020
Driving into a village of open doors that shimmer with the warmth of copper makes Santa Clara del Cobre worthy of its title as a Pueblo Magico. We will arrive here around 10 AM, stopping first for a copper demonstration with the Perez family. Tips here are customary – with patrons tipping anywhere from 25-50 MXP each. If you have come clad in sandals and bare legs, you may decide to sit out participating in this fun demonstration – though you are certainly welcome to pound the copper regardless.
After browsing through the galleries near the Plaza, we will depart for Rancho la Mesa Restaurant for lunch. With open-air views of the lake, you will enjoy a zoom lens to photograph the distant Isla de Janitzio, with the statue of Jose Maria Morelos crowning the small island. We recommend bringing a light jacket or wrap, as the open-air restaurant can be chilly on breezy afternoons.
From Rancho la Mesa, your guide will take you on a wonderful and scenic drive to some of the smaller villages of the Lake Patzcuaro region, including San Francisco Uricho, Erongaricuaro, a Mezcal Distillery in Oponguio, where you can sample Mezcal, and ultimately, Santa Fe De Laguna.
HOTEL LOCATION: Patzcuaro
TRAVELS TO THE VIGILANTE HEARTLAND
OF THE P'UREPECHA HIGHLANDS
DAY 4: Tuesday October 27, 2020
Escaping colonial Mexico for a day spent among the more hidden P’urepecha villages offers a rich insight into the complex politics of daily life here. A locally armed check-point upon entering the vigilante village of Cheran, where locals ousted their politicians and police, is complimented by an opportunity to view the many political murals that are painted about the walls of their small town. Anyone who loves textiles will enjoy a walk-about the compact centro, which is full of rebozo shops and thread stores with treadle looms.
Our journey into the P’urepecha heart of Michoacan’s highlands will lead us through several picturesque villages with traditional architecture so far from the grandiosity of Spanish Colonial and Moorish influences, often found in even the smaller towns. Surrounded by rural green fields, this area is the most traditional region we will visit during our tour.
If there are any musicians in our group, one of today’s highlights will be visiting the legendary luthier town of Paracho.
HOTEL LOCATION: Patzcuaro
FROM LA RUTA DEL MEZCAL
TO LA FIESTA DE CATRINA
DAY 8: Saturday October 31, 2020
Vegetal with a touch of citrus, a hint of anise, or spicy floral notes is a colourful way to describe the flavours of your day, today. Step into the van for your next Mexican undertaking – along La Ruta del Mezcal. Enjoy the lovely pine forests of Michoacan’s back-country from Patzcuaro along the maze of winding, rural roads dotted with occasional farms, and distant churches with tiny villages. Watch out for countless Avocodo plantations, and other forms of agriculture – until you reach the centre of Michoacan’s Mezcal region – and the open fields will reveal small crops of agave. Walk the fields, sip the mezcal, and purchase artesanal gifts for home!
When we reach Morelia, it’s time to get fancy! We hope you have brought something dressy or elegant for this evening, for tonight is La Fiesta de la Catrina! Professional make-up artist Topacio Tapia will be waiting for you by 5:00 PM with her team, ready to transform you into a skeletal, but gorgeous, Catrina! Our dinner party starts with cocktails at 6:30PM – with our first course around 7:30. We will enjoy entertainment by local Gypsy Jazz group Dusty Fingers.
HOTEL LOCATION: Morelia
Cielo Cocina Fusion
La Fiesta de Catrina
October 31, 2020 - Doors Open at 6:30 PM
Welcome to our 3rd Annual La Catrina Fiesta! We are pleased to be working with Eddie Alvarez & Alejandra Martinez Alva , and their fabulously talented, hard working staff at Cielo Cocina Fusion again this coming year! Cielo Cocina Fusion is rated #1 for fine cuisine in Morelia, offering mouth watering dishes to write home about. Our party is scheduled for October 31, with cocktails and music starting at 6:30. At 7 PM, we will take a short break to learn about the Dia de Muertos altar. You may place your photographs and offerings on the altar following the presentation, when you are comfortable. Dinner will commence at 7:30.
YES! THIS IS A COSTUME PARTY!
Local professional face painter Topacio Tapia is going to transform everyone into Catrina's, so all you need to worry about is your outfit. We recommend dressing up for this occasion, though casual is certainly fine, depending on your comfort level. Catrina is associated with extravagance, hence traditional portrayals of men clad in suits with ties, and ladies cloaked in beautiful gowns, a French Chapeau en attende, and long gloves. As we are travelling, it may be difficult to get too fancy - but classic attire with some dazzling costume accessories would certainly be appropriate.