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Chiapas, Mexico Jan 17-31, 2013

Thu, 2013-01-17
Dick Opsahl / Sherry Hardage

2 Week trip to Chiapas Mexico with the Los Alamos Mountaineers.

Dick Opsahl will be the official leader for this Mountaineers trip to Chiapas from Jan 17-31, 2013.  I, Sherry Hardage, am organizing it. I lived in San Cristobal de las Casas for 7 months and know the state reasonably well.

Attached you will find the itinerary for this 2 week excursion in the state of Chiapas, Mexico. It is the farthest state south and shares a border with Guatemala. It is semi-tropical with a lot of the state above 6,000 feet and therefore more temperate. We will spend much of our time based in San Cristobal de las Casas, exploring this colonial city and its surroundings using local tour companies. In addition we'll visit some well-known and not so well-known Mayan city ruins and waterfalls.

Cost for this trip will be $1500 based on double occupancy of hotel rooms. That does not include food or airfare. It does include tours, bus fares, tickets for activities, entrance fees to ruins and museums, etc. We will use three local tour companies for day tours and one longer tour of some remote Mayan ruins. We will use public transportation for most of our activities, all of which serves to keep the costs down. We're planning to spend one night at a Lacondon Mayan village in the jungle, but I'm not sure yet what those accommodations will look like, whether it will be in cabanas with beds or hammocks, or just what. It's all part of the adventure!!

I opted not to cover food for the participants because there are so many wonderful restaurants in San Cristobal that vary in cuisine and price. It's easier on pocketbooks and diets if we make our own food choices. On a few occasions we will all be at the same restaurant, but we'll purchase our meals separately. Meals in Mexico are very reasonable, even at expensive restaurants. A steak dinner with wine will be less than $20 at most of the Argentinian restaurants. $15 buys a large pizza, salad (and probably beer) for two people.

I just checked a few airline tickets. The cost is under $1000 R/T from Albuquerque. Flights typically arrive in Tuxtla Gutierrez airport from Mexico City in the afternoon and evening. As far as I know, there are no direct flights from the US to Tuxtla Gutierrez. Arrangements will be made to get people from the airport to San Cristobal on January 17th even if you arrive quite late in the evening.

There will only be 8 people on this tour, I will make nine. Nine is the maximum number that most of the tour vans can take. The hotels that I've booked are for double occupancy, so if you are a single person, please find someone to share the room with you. To hold your place on this trip,  contact me first at  A deposit of $400 will be required to hold your place on the trip.   

The balance will be due Dec 15. If you decide you can't go and you let me know before Dec 15, I can refund the $400, but after Dec 15, I can't refund anything. So please think about buying trip insurance to cover the loss of money in the event that you can't come after that date. Also, check with your medical insurance to see if they will cover you for an emergency in Mexico, or consider getting travel medical insurance as well. Most of the travel websites offer both kinds of insurance at the time you purchase your ticket.

Attached is an itinerary for the trip. I've gotten the tour companies to reserve our dates and will make hotel down payments as soon as I get deposits. There is so much to see and do in San Cristobal and Chiapas. I think we'll have a great time together!

Sherry Hardage
Chiapas Tour Itinerary (not set in stone, subject to possible changes....)
Jan 17, Thursday
·      All arrive in Tuxtla Gutierrez Airport in afternoon.  Depending on the schedules, we will have a van for all of us, or arrange a car for pickup
·      Night in San Cristobal at hotel near plaza or on the Guadalupe Andador (a walking street)
·      Explore the nightlife, bars on the Andador, music scene
Jan 18, Friday
·      10:30am go to Chiapa de Corzo on public bus. See the ParaChico Festival all day, return in the evening.   
·      8 pm till midnight: the night market in front of the Cathedral
·      Lots of night life, live music, everything is open late
·      Possible arranged dinner/entertainment
Jan 19, Saturday
·      Tour in the morning of Zinacantan and Chamula, probably the market will be open in Chamula too.
·      Afternoon: Amber and Customs museums, climb to top of the Mirador for vistas of the valley.
·      If it’s showing: the Palenque Rojo theater production in the eve.
Jan 20, Sunday
·      Free exploration day in San Cristobal. Sundays are the days when families are out and about, lots of music in the Centro, and all the stores and churches are open
·      Museums to visit:  Jade Museum, Chocolate Museum, Coffee Museum
·      Artisan’s market where local Mayans sell crafts. Lots of imported clothing from Guatemala and India. Around the market are local co-ops where Mayan women sell their needlecrafts & beautiful embroidery
·      Tour of Na Balom, history museum of the Lacondon Maya, their lives and crafts in the Lacondon jungle. Good to see this one, as we will later be staying in a Lacondon village.
·      Meals at excellent local restaurants: Argentinean steaks, artisanal pizzas, and cuisines of India, Japan, Thailand, or sample a large variety of street foods.

Jan 21, Monday
·      Private tour with Cisco Dietz, founder of the Orquideas Moxviquil Orchid and Bromiliad preserve. Public transport to the preserve, spend 2-3 hours there.
·      Walk to the Mayan Museum of Medicine. 1+ hour visit, walk or bus back to Centro
·      Optional hike to top of Guadalupe Church for panoramic views of Jovel Valley
Jan 22, Tuesday
·      We will check out of our hotel in San Cristobal.
·      Meet at 9:00am; go on public transportation to Ocosingo, where we will check into a hotel. Then we will take combis to Tonina. Spend the day at Tonina, a Mayan ruin, and the tallest pyramid in Mexico. You can climb to the very top for panoramic views of the valley. On-site museum is quite good. A small restaurant is open for lunch or snacks.
·      Dinner in Ocosingo
Jan 23, Wednesday
·      In the morning we will check out of the hotels, and take public transport to the town of Palenque.
·      Check into hotel there
·      We will visit the ruins & museum in the afternoon
·      Dinner in town of Palenque
Jan 24, Thursday
·      Early morning, Jovel Tours will pick us up. We’ll go again to see Palenque in the morning light, then in the afternoon, we’ll go to Agua Azul and Misol Ha.
·      We will spend one more night in Palenque
Jan 25, Friday
·      Jovel Tours will take us to Bonampak, the best murals of the Mayan ruins, then on the river launch to Yachilan, another Mayan city
·      After Yachilan they will take us to a Lacondan Mayan jungle village where we will spend the night.
Jan 26, Saturday
·      Jovel tour’s guide will take us around in the village and then they will take us by van to San Cristobal where we will check into hotels
·      Evening back in San Cristobal, possible Sak Tsevul (Mexican-Mayan-Japanese rock band) concert and dinner at Casa del Pan.
Jan 27, Sunday
·      Cave exploration and hiking with Arnulf Wirth, several public and some hidden caves. Public transport there and back, picnic lunch in the mountains
·      Afternoon tour of a unique paper making factory
·      Some free time to continue seeing the city and enjoying Sunday on the Plaza
Jan 28, Monday
·      Alex Aranda tour: Explore the lakes at Lagunas de Montebello. Hiking, boat rentals, photography, local foods at the tiendas
·      Included is a stop at the ruins of Chinkultik
Jan 29, Tuesday
·      Check out of the San Cristobal hotel
·      Alex Aranda tour of Miradors above Sumidero River, lunch at an excellent restaurant in Tuxtla, he will leave us in Chiapa de Corzo at a hotel for the night
Jan 30, Wednesday
·      Boat trip: Canyon del Sumidero tour up the Grijalva River in the morning, the best light!
·      Tour of a lacquer artist’s studio in the afternoon
·      Climb the church bell tower for views, see the ancient cieba tree in the plaza, lots of artesanias shopping. Town is very old, was a Mayan town long before the Spanish arrived.
·      Dinner together in Chiapa de Corzo.
Jan 31, Thursday
·      Everyone flies home today. Taxis from Chiapa de Corzo hotel to the airport.

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