A Cultural Immersion into Old Mexico
Fully escorted 16 days tour.
Saturday 9th to Sunday 24th November 2019
Saturday 18th January to Sunday 2nd February 2020
Join us for this immersion into Mexico’s cultural and artistic heartland. The delightful village of Ajijic (pronounced Ah-hee-heek) is home to an active and engaged ex-pat community who chose it for its perfect climate, artistic community and friendly and welcoming locals. We’re about to experience ‘slow travel’ at its very best as we are drawn into the rhythms of daily life.
At over 5,000 feet (1,600 metres) in elevation Ajijic is a unique village located in the colourful State of Jalisco. It 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. 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.
Our tour also includes a stay in one of the prettiest towns in Mexico, San Miguel de Allende, famous for its intense cultural and artistic life, as well as its striking architecture. Our final destination on this tour is Mexico City where we’ll be staying in the heart of the historic centre, Zocalo. The National Palace Metropolitan Cathedral, Templo Mayor and Palace of Fine Arts are all within a few minutes walk. En-route we’ll explore one of the most remarkable archaeological sites in Mexico – the Aztec pyramids of Teotihuacan.
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 among the group. A great experience, great company, and amazing tour leaders – I can’t wait for the next tour.
Mexico-just go & do it with Big Yellow Suitcase.
There were fascinating guides who were knowledgeable & took you to hidden gems.
There was plenty of diversity from art & craft viewing, history, food & musical experiences , cooking class where you learnt more than cooking, visits to markets, behind wall tours of homes, & the fabulous & unique ‘Feria’-showcasing the very best of artisans & their skill from around Mexico. For that you need an extra suitcase as the beauty is mesmerizing & irresistible to the pocket!
Everywhere we went I was surprised & delighted.
The hotels were delightful & Wendy knew all the best places for meals & drinks.
I have no hesitation in recommending Wendy & her tours of Mexico.
Go & be amazed!
Days 1 – 8 Ajijic
8 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.
Days 9 – 12 San Miguel de Allende
4 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.
Days 13 – 16 Mexico City
3 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.
- Extended stays in each location
- Individual transfers from Guadalajara airport to the hotel
- 15 nights’ accommodation
- English speaking guide for walking tours and excursions
- 15 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 9 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 Mexico City international airport
- Walking tour of San Miguel de Allende, the unique and fascinating Guanajuato and Mexico City
- Visit the Aztec pyramids at Teotihuacan
- Tips for drivers and guides
- Entry fees for scheduled visits
- Charitable donation
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. D Day 2: Guided 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. BL Day 3: Today we head into one of Guadalajara’s oldest village, Tlaquepaque. It’s filled with spectacular one-of-a-kind shopping experiences in every medium from Western and eclectic bronze sculptures, functional and traditional ceramics, breathtaking glass blown creations, fine contemporary jewellry 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. B Day 4: Today 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. 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. BD Day 5: Today is market day in Ajijic. Located approximately 10 minutes’ walk from our hotel, 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. This is a unique opportunity to meet local home-owners and gain insight into some of the town’s private art collections. BD 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. 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. BL 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 pay no 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. (NB: The January tour will not include the Feria and will be replaced with another activity) BD 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. BD
Days 9 – 12 San Miguel de Allende
Day 9: Checking out of our hotel this morning we’ll depart for our transfer to San Miguel de Allende. A picnic lunch will be provided.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. BLD Day 10: 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. BL Day 11: Today 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. BL Day 12: A day at leisure to further explore this fascinating and stunning town. BD
Days 13 – 16
Day 13: 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. BLD Day 14: This morning we’ll walk this historic square with our guide and discover its famous buildings and monuments. After lunch we’ll visit the stunning Museum of Anthropology arguably one of the world’s finest museums and a fascinating introduction to the richness of Mexico’s history and culture. BL Day 15: The day is free to further explore independently or join us for a visit to the ‘Blue House’ home to the Frida Kahlo museum or enjoy a culinary walking tour of the old city. Farewell group dinner tonight. BD Day 16: A group transfer will be provided to Mexico City International Airport.
A Cultural Immersion into Old Mexico(Per person)
- Reductions available for twin share.
- Not Included: Flights to and from Mexico.