March 3 - 12, 2019
About This Tour
The word "Carnival" refers to the festivities that occur in many predominately Catholic cities around the world every year prior to the Lenten season. These celebrations typically involve a parade combining some elements of a circus, masks, and a huge street party. However, every country brings its own character to their own Carnival, and Mexico has some of the most exuberant in the world.
Carnival usually begins with the Quema del Mal Humor, the "Burning of Bad Mood," usually an effigy of an unpopular political figure whose burning symbolizes people leaving behind everyday worries so that the merriment can begin. There is the crowning of a Carnival Queen or King, with parades, fireworks, games and rides. On this thrilling 9-night tour, you will experience historic cities, archaeology, architecture, agriculture and wildlife, plus the delightful revelries of an unforgettable Mexican Carnival.
- Mexico City *
- San Cristobal de las Casas, cultural capital of Chiapas
- Village of Chamula
- Zinacantan in Chiapas Highlands
- Native Zoque Carnival of Ocozocoaultla
- Artisan Village of Amatenango
- Potiltik Orchid Farm
- Tonina, pre-Colombian archaeological site
- Mayan Site of Palenque *
- Wildlife Cruise in Laguna de Catazaja
- Villahermosa, Capital of Tabasco District * UNESCO World Heritage Site
Welcome to Mexico City
Plan your international flights to arrive in Mexico City today, no later than the mid-afternoon. You will be greeted at the airport and transferred to our hotel in Centro Historical District. We meet in the lobby of the hotel at 6:00 pm and walk to the Zocalo for welcome drinks at a rooftop bar overlooking the Plaza de la Constitution, the Cathedral, and the National Palace. Next, we stroll through the charming historical district to the century-old Cafe de Tacuba and for a traditional Mexican dinner. Our time in Mexico City is limited, and if you have not experienced it before you will want to consider arriving a day or two early to explore. Our tour leader will be available to assist with your planning. Overnight in Mexico City. (Welcome Drink and Dinner included)
Sumidero Canyon / San Cristobal
We take a short, early flight to the city of Tuxtla Gutierrez. Our van takes us to the Sumidero Canyon which we tour by boat, followed by lunch at El Campanario in Chiapa de Corzo. We continue up into the mountains to San Cristobal las Casas. San Cristobal was the Spanish capitol of Chiapas in the nineteenth century and maintains its colonial charm. After checking in to our hotel we have a guided walking tour of the town for orientation and dine at restaurant LUM, in Hotel BO. (All Meals)
Chamula / Zinacantan
Today we enjoy Carnival in Chiapas by visiting two remarkable celebrations in the nearby villages of Chamula and Zinacantan. Here we see fire walkers, monkey dancers, musicians, fireworks, and colorful costumes. Our first stop will be Chamula, where we will also have lunch before continuing to Zinacantan. We return in the evening to explore San Cristobal's many attractions. Overnight in San Cristobal. (Breakfast / Lunch)
Today is Ash Wednesday. We attend the Carnival in Ocozocoaultla, "one of the most curious and interesting of the many religious festivals you’ll find across Mexico. This event harks back to the pre-Hispanic era, drawing on the traditions of the native Zoque people. Several days of dances and parades are topped off with a prize given for the best performers and then a riotous free-for-all in which everyone dusts each other in flour, talcum powder, water and the yellow powder of the zapoyal fruit" (from "Top Five Festivals in Mexico" by Deborah Hudson). Some guests may choose to remain in San Cristobal for a relaxed day visiting the museums, markets and shops. Overnight in San Cristobal. (Breakfast / Lunch)
Amatenango / Potiltik
Today we travel to Amatenango to visit the pottery artists. We next visit Potiltik, an orchid farm with formal gardens, and have lunch under their beautiful arbor. We return to San Cristobal in time for an afternoon stroll and to prepare for an early departure the next day. Overnight in San Cristobal. (Breakfast / Lunch)
Tonina / Palenque
After breakfast, we check out of our hotel and travel by van to Palenque. On the way we stop to see the beautiful archeological site Tonina. We have lunch at restaurant El Jarocho in Ocosingo. If time permits, we stop at the Agua Azul or Misol-Ha waterfalls. We check in to our hotel and then go as a group to Monte Verde Restaurant for dinner. Overnight in Palenque. (All Meals)
We spend the day exploring the famous archeological site of Palenque, a Mayan city state that dates from 226 BC to AD 799, reaching its height during the 7th century. While a smaller site than other Maya cities, it contains some of the finest architecture, sculptures and bas-reliefs. The evening is free to enjoy our tropical hotel. Some guest may wish to end the day at the gay-friendly dance bar Don Mucho's to enjoy the nightly Fire Dancing. Overnight in Palenque. (Breakfast / Lunch)
Laguna de Catazaja / Villahermosa
We travel by van to Villahermosa. On the way we visit the Laguna de Catazaja where we take a boat to see wildlife including the golden iguanas, roseate spoonbills, crocodiles, and much more. We have lunch at a lakeside seafood restaurant. Arriving in Villahermosa we visit the outdoor museum La Venta Park, where we see artifacts of the Olmec people, a civilization that pre-dates the Maya. After checking in to our hotel we go as a group to a popular local restaurant. Overnight in Villahermosa. (All Meals)
Return to Mexico City
Leaving Villahermosa in the morning we catch a flight back to Mexico City. In Mexico City we may have time to explore some museums and markets and then enjoy Farewell Drinks at L'Opera and Farewell Dinner nearby. Overnight in Mexico City. (All Meals)
The tour officially ends after breakfast this morning. We will organize small group transfers to the airport (included). If you wish to extend your stay in Mexico City, please let us know on your reservation form so that we can keep your room available for another night. (Breakfast)
Entry Requirements: For U.S. Citizens a valid passport is the only document required to enter Mexico for stays of up to 60 days.
Immunizations and Health: No immunizations are currently required for travel to Mexico, but it is wise to have your inoculations up-to-date. Is your tetanus booster current?
Exit Requirements: There is currently no separate departure tax required of visitors leaving Mexico other than that included with the cost of your airline ticket.
What to BringIn March, average daily temperatures in Mexico City and San Cristobal can get as cool as 45 degrees at night up to a high of 75 degrees during the day. It can be a full 10 degrees warmer in Palenque. You won’t need a suit jacket or tie, as the tour is informal and dinner attire will be casual, but you will want nice casual outfits for dinners. Try to pack light and bring only one piece of luggage plus your carry-on. Create mix and match outfits, and think about layering! Pack any medications you require in a carry-on bag and leave expensive jewelry at home.
Suggested Packing List:
- Proof of citizenship. Passport required.
- Nice casual wear for dinners.
- Lightweight long pants & long-sleeved shirts for sun protection.
- Shorts for warm touring days.
- Socks, underwear for 10 days (laundry services are available in our hotels).
- Sweater or lightweight jacket for cool evenings.
- Disposable old clothes for Carnival in Ocozocoaultla.
- Swimming Suit
- Personal toiletries, and bug repellant
- Comfortable walking shoes.
- Camera, lots of digital memory, extra batteries.
- Ziploc Bags (sandwich size for documents, gallon size for wet items or toiletries).
- Electrical Adapter. The electricity supply in Mexico is 110 volts, 60 Hrz, the same as in the U.S. and Canada. You will not need to bring an electrical adapter on this tour.
- A good book for your flights.
Money MattersMexico's currency is the Mexican Peso (MXP), with bills in 20, 50, 100 and 500 MXP denominations and coins in .50, 1, 2, 5 and 10 pesos. Although most tourist centers widely accept U.S. dollars, we recommend using Pesos during your visit. Money exchange facilities offer the best exchange rate. On April 30, 2018, the exchange rate was 19.15 MXP to the U.S. $1.00.
Tipping in Mexico: Tipping guidelines for Mexico are nearly the same as tipping guidelines used in the United States or Canada, with some exceptions. Most service employees earn very little or no base salary and the tips they earn comprise most of their overall income. In restaurants, it is customary to leave your server a tip of 15% of the cost of the food/beverages before the value added tax. Click here to read an article about Tipping and Etiquette in Mexico.
The Toto SpiritToto Tours provides Adventure Travel Experiences as differentiated from tours in the traditional sense. Adventure Travel allows (even encourages) you to be an active participant. Adventurers can be identified by certain traits. They are:
- fun-loving optimists who have a sense of humor and accentuate the positive;
- good natured realists who are willing to accept situations as they exist;
- good natured realists who are willing to accept situations as they exist;
- willing to forego some of the amenities we normally take for granted;
- eager to try new things & test limits;
- not whiners!
Travel InsuranceWe recommend you purchase travel insurance with Travel Guard to cover for unforeseen events prior to and during your trip. Please follow the link below or call us for more information.
Tour prices per personPrice: $4,300 in double occupancy hotel accommodations.
Private Room: $550 additional, for a total tour price of $4,850.
(Paying a single supplement is not required. Toto Tours will try to match you with a roommate if you are traveling alone and prefer to share a room. If this is not possible, a single supplement will be applied to your reservation before the final payment date.)
(Due at time of registration for the tour. May be paid with a credit card.)
Remaining Balance: $3,700 double / $4,250 single
Remaining Balance Due: December 13, 2018 (80 days prior to departure - full payment required with reservation form if enrolling after this date.)
Note: The tour price does not include bank service charges for processing credit card payments and assumes that the balance of the tour price will be paid by check. If you would like to pay the final balance with a credit card, a 4% service charge will be applied. Let us know if you wish to pay by credit card, and we will adjust your invoice accordingly.
Included: 9 nights hotel accommodations; arriving and departing hotel transfers; two domestic flights within Mexico; hotel breakfasts daily plus Welcome & Farewell Dinners; other meals as listed in the itinerary; ground transportation in climate controlled van; sightseeing activities and entrances as listed in the itinerary. This is a fully guided and escorted tour.
Not Included: International airfare to Mexico City (MEX); ground transportation for sightseeing on your own (taxis, local guides, etc.); meals and optional activities not specifically listed in the itinerary; camera fees; alcoholic beverages; insurance; laundry, telephone calls, faxes, or any other expenses of a personal nature. Tips to drivers and guides and other conveyance attendants are not included; tipping guidelines for our group tips will be provided prior to departure.