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Festivals of Oaxaca: Mushrooms, Mezcal & Guelaguetza
Always a host of cultural and environmental splendor, Oaxaca has two important festivals that coincide in July. First is the Feria de Los Hongos, or the Wild Mushroom Festival, directly followed by the traditional Festival of Guelaguetza. Crooked Trails is offering a program for those interested in mycology and the natural world mixed with culture and adventure.
At 10,000 feet in the heavily forested Sierra Norte of Mexico, the ground is heavy with pine needles and wildflowers, as well as over 340 varieties of mushrooms. Participants will spend several days within the mountain communities learning about the cultural, medicinal and gastronomical importance of mushrooms to this region. Centered in a grouping of small Zapotec villages, locals and visitors go out on a mushroom hunt together to collect as many specimens as possible. Afterward, there are seminars on mycology as well as the pleasure of using the mushrooms to prepare typical meals. There will also be opportunities for stunning hikes to far-reaching views through fragrant pine forests.
The festival of Guelaguetza can only be compared in importance to the Day of the Dead, and we will catch it directly after we descend from the Sierras and the Hongo Festival. The Guelaguetza has pre-Hispanic roots within the indigenous cultures of Oaxaca, in which all communities of the state gather in celebration with parades, traditional dancing, and artisanal crafts and goods. It is a magical time to be in Oaxaca, as the city comes alive and the pride and energy of the community are palpable.
• Airport transfers
• Hotel In Oaxaca for 4 nights (double occupancy with American breakfast included)
• Tour Pueblos y mezcales
• Visit to Santa Maria el Tule and Teotitlán del valle
• Shuttle service between Oaxaca City and mountain villages
• Hikes in Sierra Norte
• Activities of the regional Wild Mushrooms Fair
• Mushroom cooking class
• Accomodation in cabins for 3 nights in Sierra Norte (Double occupancy)
• All meals in Sierra Norte
• English-speaking guide for 6 days (Day 2 to day 7)
• Tickets for "The Legend of the "Princess Donaji"
• Tickets for Guelaguetza
• Shuttle service for Donaji and Guelaguetza in Oaxaca City
• Entrance for the Mescal Festival
Does not include:
• International airfare
• Guide tips
• Additional activities (temascal, zip lines)
Additional cost for activities (only cash at time of activity)
• Walking City tour in Oaxaca: $30
• Temascal Herbal Healing baths in Cuajimoloyas: $28
• Zip line Cuajimoloyas $15
DAY 1 - July 17
Arrive in Oaxaca
Bienvenidos! Upon your arrival in Oaxaca City you will be picked up at the airport and transferred to your hotel. After check in, take the time to explore the famous walking street around the corner, or the 20th de Noviembre market on the other side of the main plaza. There are plenty of great dinner spots in the area, but you might want to try La Catedral right around the corner.
DAY 2 - July 18
Weaving and mezcal in the central valley
Today we head to the community of Santa Catarina Minas in the central valley to learn about weaving and enjoy a nice lunch in the home of Maria and her daughter Eva. Maria is a skilled weaver and has won awards for her work which his unbelievably intricate.
Afterwards, we will drive a short distance to meet Eduardo La Locura, aka ‘the crazy one’, an artisanal Mescal maker. His maguey farm and distillery are run by his family and a posse of locals bent on the hard work of making this ‘whisky of the south’ by hand. Learn the ins and outs -- from the field, to the mash, to the tasting of this “drink of the gods”. This is an incredible look one of Oaxaca’s most famous exports. You can purchase some mezcal to take home as well. We will head back to the city and dinner is on your own.
DAY 3 - July 19
Weaving in Teotitlan and the Sierra Norte
Enjoy breakfast at your hotel and get packed up. Our driver and guide arrive in the morning to take us to Teotitlan to learn about the incredible weaving community which exists in this valley. The colorful textiles are world famous. You will learn about the natural dyes and weaving techniques and how this art form passes from generation to generation.
Afterwards, the road heads up into the Sierra Norte and in just 1.5 hours you will be in the small village of Llano Grande. The villages in the area have formed a community based tourism program you will be a part of.
Get checked into your cabin and relax, or enjoy an afternoon hike in the dense pine forests. Dinner is at the local 'comedor', served by women from the village who take turns cooking. The food is locally grown and delicious. Be sure to step outside to enjoy some amazing stargazing.
DAY 4 - July 20
Trek to Cuajimoloyas
If you would like, there is an optional dawn hike to see the sunrise while sipping Mexican hot chocolate and snacking on bread. It’s worth the early morning rise to do this. Otherwise sleep in a bit and enjoy breakfast at the comedor and then get packed up for your 3-hour trek to the village of Cuajimoloyas where the Feria Regional de Hongos Silvestres (Wild Mushroom Festival) takes place. Your gear will be transported for you and you have the option of getting a ride as well.
After arrival and getting set up in your cabin, there is the opportunity to meet with the local traditional medicine woman (curandera) who will be talking about mushrooms as well as other mountain herbal medicine. You can also take a traditional temescal bath. It’s like an herbal steam room (extra cost about $25 which you pay directly to the Curandera). Dinner will be in the village comedor.
DAY 5 - July 21
Mushroom Hunt & Wild Mushroom Festival
This morning rise early and enjoy breakfast at the comedor. Then get your hiking shoes and baskets ready to head to the mountains forests for the mushroom hunt. Tourists and locals depart in groups led by a local professional and collect as many as possible in 4 hours. The forests are teeming with hundreds of varieties of mushrooms.
Everyone meets in the valley at the end to display their hongos, which are categorized and counted. A ride will be provided back to the village and folks can rest or explore the Hongo Festival grounds where there are classification workshops and other activities with fellow mushroom enthusiasts. Dinner at the local comdeor and lots of sharing and festivities at the grounds.
DAY 6 - July 22
Wild Mushroom Festival - Oaxaca City
Today after breakfast is the formal festival procession and exhibition of all the mushrooms that were collected. Awards go to the biggest and rarest. There are talks on the importance of 'hongos' along with more workshops on cultivation and cooking with mushrooms. We will have a mushroom cooking class and be able to enjoy the flavors of our hard work.
In the late afternoon, the group will be transferred back to Oaxaca City and checked into the hotel. Rest and grab yourself a bite to eat. Tonight at 6:00 pm is the Legend of Donagi, a spectacular dance performance of a famous Oaxacan legend. You may be tired, but rally for this, as it's amazing and very well done.
DAY 7 - July 23
Guelaguetza and Mezcal Festivals
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel. At about 9:00am, our guide and driver will take us to the festival grounds for the elaborate Guelaguetza celebrations. A feast for the eyes, beautiful dresses and dances fill the celebration with people coming from all over the area. You will have the afternoon free, and then in the evening it’s off to learn about and enjoy the local liquor of the land at the Mezcal Festival. Dinner will be on your own, or with the group at the delicious 15 Letras restaurant.
DAY 8 - July 24
Enjoy breakfast and whatever free time you have available before your flight. We will arrange to transfer you to the airport in time for your outbound flight. Or, you can plan on staying 2-4 more days for time on the beach, which we can arrange for you.
$1,995 based on dbl. occupancy, $150 sgl supplement
8D / 7N
Summer 2019 dates TBD
Oaxaca City - Teotitlan - Llano Grande - Cuajimoloyas - Oaxaca City
Village experience, Customizable
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