A Cultural Immersion into Old Mexico

boutique-small-group-travel-mexico-ajijic

Fully escorted 8 night tour.

Saturday 4th to Sunday 12th November 2017

Plus optional 5 night extension to San Miguel de Allende and Mexico City

Sunday 12th to Friday 17th November 2017

Unpack once – so much variety from one base – do as much or as little as you want – soak up the ambience of this delightful village which includes an active and engaged ex-pat community who chose it for its perfect climate, artistic community and friendly and welcoming locals. This is ‘slow travel’ at its very best as we are drawn into the rhythms of daily life.

Join us for this immersion into Mexico’s cultural and artistic heartland.  At over 5,000 feet (1,600 metres) in elevation Ajijic (pronounced Ah-hee-heek) is a unique village located in the colourful State of Jalisco.   Ajijic nestles in Mexico’s Sierra Madre Mountains on the northern shore of Lake Chapala.  Only 30 minutes from Guadalajara international airport, Ajijic remains a quaint cobble-stoned village, a rustic reminder of an earlier time but with all the normal services of the 21st Century.  The Lake Chapala area has a year round moderate climate.  National Geographic magazine rates it as one of the three best climates in the world.

Having developed warm friendships with a variety of local people, we’re lucky to be able to share our knowledge and give exceptional access to private homes and opportunities to meet local artisans with like-minded travellers.

The breadth of local talent means that we can offer a range of activities or classes for your free days such as painting, photography, birding or cooking.  Classes can be arranged for individuals as well as small groups.

There’s something in the very spirit of this village which lingers long after you leave and will most likely draw you back.

The highlight for me was that the trip was so personal and people involved.  We met wonderful interesting locals and were invited into their homes.

What an amazing experience!  You could actually put your arms around this village, Ajijic.  Thanks to Big Yellow Suitcase every day had a WOW factor.  The exceptional local knowledge of the tour leaders was willingly shared amongst the group.  A great experience, great company, and amazing tour leaders – I can’t wait for the next tour.

Mexico is one country that doesn’t seem to be on anyone’s Bucket list.  Big Yellow Suitcase can change that perception.  Their November  “tour de force” was based in the delightful village of Ajijic on the shores of Lake Chapala.  The purpose of the tour was to experience the vibrant art experience and immerse ourselves in the culture.  That we did.

Accommodation:

LaNueva_front8 nights in a traditional family owned private hotel La Nueva Posada. The hotel is Ajijic’s most unique and romantic hotel classified as a small boutique hotel with Mexican Colonial charm.   The hotel is located on the shores of Lake Chapala surrounded by lush tropical gardens and with all local sights and services within walking distance.  The Eager family has owned and operated this charming hotel for 35 years.   Their restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner each day.

Inclusions:

  • Unpack once
  • Individual transfers from Guadalajara airport to the hotel
  • 8 nights’ accommodation
  • English speaking guide for walking tours and excursions
  • 8 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 4 dinners
  • Full sized air conditioned motor coach for longer excursions
  • Air conditioned van for local transfers
  • Escorted walking tour of Ajijic
  • Full day tour of Tequila and the historic Mundo Cuervo distillery
  • Transfer for day trip to Tlaquepaque
  • Cooking class
  • Optional special interest activities including photography, painting class, birding
  • Behind the walls tour to private homes and haciendas
  • Unique opportunities to meet ex-pat locals to discover more about life in a  Mexican village
  • Group transfer to Guadalajara airport
  • Extension tour available to the beautiful colonial town of San Miguel de Allende, the unique and fascinating Guanajuato and Mexico City
  • Tips for drivers and guides
  • Entry fees for scheduled visits
  • Charitable donation
Days 1 - 9

Day 1:

Arrive at Guadalajara international airport. Private transfer provided to your accommodation, La Nueva Posada, in Ajijic. Meet your fellow travellers for a welcome cocktail followed by a casual dinner at the hotel.

Day 2:

mexico-01Guided walking tour of Ajijic. Wandering along the cobble-stoned village streets is the best way to experience Ajijic. In the most unexpected places you will discover things to surprise and delight you. You will find the houses are typical of old Mexico: simple village homes with colourful walls fronting the cobblestone streets as well as the elegant haciendas hidden behind the high walls. Dotted throughout the town are magnificent murals depicting social and historical scenes created by famous Mexican artists – many of whom are based in Ajijic.

Following lunch the remaining afternoon is at leisure to further explore the streets of Ajijic, hang out with the locals in the village square or simply relax in the hotel gardens. For dinner choose from our selection of local restaurants offering traditional Mexican food or opt for a light supper in the hotel.

Day 3:

mexico-09

Today we head into one of Guadalajara’s oldest village, Tlaquepaque. With over 40 specialty shops and exclusive art galleries, shopping becomes a joyful revelation of fabulous art treasures and distinctive gifts around every corner. Tlaquepaque is filled with spectacular one-of-a-kind experiences in every medium from Western and eclectic bronze sculptures, functional and traditional ceramics, breathtaking glass blown creations, fine contemporary jewellery and designer casual wear in silk and leather. Just walking around Tlaquepaque is an adventure in discovery. We return to Ajijic late afternoon. Free night – dine around options provided.

mexico-10

 

Day 4:

mexico-04Today is your special personal day where you have an opportunity to explore the local villages and surrounds, or join one of a selection of guided activities.We offer a specialized photography day trip to surrounding villages to meet local artists, guided by an internationally renowned photographer living in Ajijic. Or you may want to partake in a hands-on cooking class. Lunch is naturally included.

Or try your hand at a local art class, or go birding. Please inform us at the time of booking if you are interested in any of these personalized activities. Dinner tonight is in the neighbouring village of San Juan Cosala at Viva Mexico, owned and run by Agustin, one of the area’s local heroes due to his charitable work in the community and a master Mexican Chef.

Day 5:

mexico-08

Today is market day in Ajijic. It’s located approximately 10 minutes’ walk from our hotel and an excellent place to interact with locals and discover the work of the local artisans. Following the market you will have a unique opportunity to discover what’s “Behind the Walls” with a visit to some of the privately owned magnificent colonial haciendas.

The Spanish style architecture features central courtyards, colourful tile work, lush gardens and modern and antique furnishings, many designed and made locally. This is a unique opportunity to meet local home-owners and gain insight into some of the town’s private art collections.

The afternoon is at leisure to further explore Ajijic, visit the shops or the art galleries or take in a spa or massage.

This evening we will have dinner in one of our favourite restaurants.

Day 6:

After breakfast we’ll depart for a full day tour to Tequila – home to a 300 year old distillery still producing the highest quality tequila. We will travel through Maguey plantations along our route to the only area where tequila is manufactured. A private escorted tour through Mundo Cuervo family distillery will be followed by a tour of the gardens attached to the family’s hacienda which features a selection of surrealist sculptures by the artist Leonora Carrington, alongside works by Juan Soriana and Sergio Bustamante. After lunch there will be time to explore the village of Tequila before our return to Ajijic. Dinner at leisure in one of our recommended restaurants.

Day 7:

After breakfast we’ll head to the Maestros del Arte Fair in Chapala which is a unique event and the largest artisan fair in Mexico. Organized by an array of volunteers, artists do not pay fees or percentage of sales to attend. They are hosted by local ex-pat families and their participation forms part of a unique community event. For many artists it is their first contact with the outside art world. The Maestros are hand-selected artists from all over Mexico. Many of them are featured in the acclaimed book “Great Masters of Mexican Folk Art” and have practiced their art for generations; others are inspired artists yet to be discovered.

All are masters of their mediums; clay, paper, fabric, print, wood, stone, silver, alpaca wool and other traditional materials. Feria Maestros del Arte brings you an opportunity to meet the artists and witness demonstrations of these ancient crafts.

Why not explore the lakeside town of Chapala and its Malecon (extensive boardwalk) before heading back to Ajijic. Dinner tonight is in one of Ajijic’s finest restaurants.

Day 8:

Your last full day to wander the village, sit in the plaza and watch the world go by or chat to some of the locals, take a walk beside the lake, do some last minute shopping or take a local bus to explore one of the other local towns or villages. Tonight we’ll dine together in one of Ajijic’s finest restaurants to celebrate the end of a memorable tour and our immersion into the life and spirit of this wonderful community.

Day 9:

Guests leaving us today will be provided a group transfer to Guadalajara airport.

Those guests joining us for our extension tour will depart the hotel after breakfast for their transfer to San Miguel de Allende, which takes approximately 5 hours.

5 Night Extension Tour to Colonial San Miguel de Allende and Mexico City

San_Miguel_de_Allende

San Miguel de Allende is a city that manages to be both quaint and cosmopolitan at the same time.  With its narrow cobblestone streets, leafy courtyards, fine architectural details and sumptuous interiors, San Miguel de Allende is arguably the prettiest town in Mexico.

It is famous for its intense cultural and artistic life, as well as for its striking architecture.  A recent entry into UNESCO’s list, San Miguel de Allende is characterized by its degree of preservation, authenticity and integrity.

Mexico City is a fascinating capital that beguiles its visitors with endless options.  One of the largest metropolitan areas in the world, it might seem a bit overwhelming for first time visitors.  However, many of the most visited and fascinating tourist attractions are concentrated in the historic centre, Zocalo, which is where our hotel is located.  The National Palace, Metropolitan Cathedral, Templo Mayor and Palace of Fine Arts are all within a few minutes walk.

Accommodation:

3 nights in a charming 4 star boutique hotel in the centre of San Miguel de Allende.  Casa Rosada Hotel is superbly located one block from the main square, adjacent to San Miguel Arcangel Parish.  Every detail in this small exclusive hotel is synonymous with distinction and good taste.

2 nights in 5 star accommodation in downtown Mexico City at the Gran Hotel de la Ciudad.  Discover the old world elegance of this exquisite turn of the century property perfectly located adjacent to Zocalo.  From the art nouveau décor to the gilded open elevators and immaculate stained-glass ceiling in the lobby, every inch of the Gran Hotel de la Ciudad de Mexico pays tribute to the past, while providing the comfort you expect from a fine luxury hotel.

Inclusions:

  • Air conditioned transfers
  • 5 nights’ accommodation
  • English speaking guide for walking tours and excursions
  • 5 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 2 dinners
  • Walking tour of San Miguel de Allende
  • Day tour to Guanajuato
  • Visit to the Aztec pyramids at Teotihuacan
  • Walking tour of the historic centre of Mexico City
  • Entry fees for scheduled visits
  • Tips for drivers and guides
  • Group transfer to Mexico City International Airport
Days 9 - 14

Day 9 continued:

After breakfast air-conditioned transfer to San Miguel de Allende.  Picnic lunch will be provided en-route.  After checking into our charming hotel we will meet for pre-dinner drinks and dine at one of San Miguel de Allende’s finest restaurants.

Day 10:

mexico-12

Our day will start with an orientation walking tour of San Miguel de Allende, followed by lunch.  The afternoon and evening are at leisure to further explore this fascinating small, walkable city and discover more of its culinary delights.  We highly recommend a visit to the Toy Museum which showcases a wonderful range of antique and current artisan designed toys.

Day 11:

mexico-13

mexico-14Today we will drive to nearby Guanajuato, one of the most picturesque cities in Mexico.  With its unique tunnel system, labyrinth cobblestone alleyways, squares, colourful facades, its strange topography, stairways and its lively environment will take you back to a different world.  After an orientation walking tour and lunch you will be free to roam this remarkable city and discover its many treasures.

Dinner at leisure.

Day 12:

After an early breakfast we will set out for Mexico City with a stop en-route to explore one of the most remarkable archaeological sites in Mexico – the Aztec pyramids of Teotihuacan.  Lunch will be provided and late afternoon we’ll settle into our boutique hotel on the main plaza of Zocalo before enjoying pre-dinner drinks and dinner overlooking this famous square.

Day 13:

mexico-15This morning we’ll walk this square with our guide to discover its history and importance and the surrounding famous buildings and monuments.  After lunch you will have an option to spend more time exploring independently the fascinating streets and sights of the historic centre, visit one of Mexico City’s famed museums or possibly take a trip south of the city to the Aztec created canals of Xochimilco.  Tonight we’ll dine in one of Mexico City’s finest restaurants for our final dinner of the tour.

Day 14:

A group transfer will be provided to Mexico City International Airport.

Tour costs

Ajijic only

(Per person)
$AUD4000/person
  • Reductions available for twin share. Not Included:  Flights to and from Mexico.

Ajijic + Extension

(Per person)
$AUD6660/person
  • Reductions available for twin share. Not Included:  Flights to and from Mexico.

Book your place

Book this tour

Need more information?

6 + 2 =

Contact Big Yellow Suitcase

Email: info@bigyellowsuitcase.com.au

Pin It on Pinterest