Once the centre of the Mixtec and Zapotec civilisations, the city of Oaxaca is one of the country’s most beautiful colonial towns. Famous for its cuisine, Oaxacan specialities range from delicious, rich and spicy sauces such as mole, to fried grasshoppers seasoned with onion and garlic. An excellent way to learn more is to take a cookery class. Visit a local market, where ingredients are tasted and bought, receive an informal lecture and then put on an apron and create a delicious five-course meal.
Visit indigenous villages
Around San Cristóbal lie fascinating Tzotzil Mayan villages such as Zinacantan and San Juan Chamula. The Mayans here proudly wear distinctive traditional outfits with elaborate decorations and ribboned hats. Spanish is often the second language and Catholicism is mixed with older pre-Hispanic customs, with images of patron saints venerated in numerous rituals and festivals.
Whale watch in Baja California
Explore the desert landscape of the Baja peninsula and discover pristine bays surrounded by calm turquoise waters, teeming with marine life. The unspoilt Espiritu Santo island, situated close to La Paz on the Sea of Cortez, is the ideal place to camp in luxury and spot sea lions and blue whales. Further north lies sleepy, historic Loreto, while Bahia Magdalena and Laguna San Ignacio are renowned whale-watching sites (Dec-March).
Relax in the Mayan Riviera
The beautiful Mayan Riviera runs south along the Caribbean coast from Cancun, past fishing villages and the lively town of Playa del Carmen. The coast is blessed with white sandy beaches and turquoise seas, while offshore lies the world’s second largest coral reef. Relax at an intimate beachside resort property and visit the clifftop ruins of Tulum, snorkel the reefs or search for wildlife by boat in the Sian Ka’an Reserve.
Uncover Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza is the best restored of the Yucatan’s Mayan sites, with a superb ceremonial ball court, El Caracol observatory, a sacred cenote, and the reclining figure of Chac Mool. On the spring and autumn equinoxes, the afternoon sun casts a shadow resembling the downward gliding of a snake on the side of El Castillo pyramid, also known as the Temple of Kukulkan, or the temple of ‘the plumed serpent’.
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