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Festivals of Oaxaca: Mushrooms, Mezcal & Guelaguetza
Always a host of cultural and environmental splendor, Oaxaca has two important festivals that coincide in July. First is the Feria de Los Hongos, or the Wild Mushroom Festival, directly followed by the traditional Festival of Guelaguetza. Crooked Trails is offering a program for those interested in mycology and the natural world mixed with culture and adventure.
At 10,000 feet in the heavily forested Sierra Norte of Mexico, the ground is heavy with pine needles and wildflowers, as well as over 340 varieties of mushrooms. Participants will spend several days within the mountain communities learning about the cultural, medicinal and gastronomical importance of mushrooms to this region. Centered in a grouping of small Zapotec villages, locals and visitors go out on a mushroom hunt together to collect as many specimens as possible. Afterward, there are seminars on mycology as well as the pleasure of using the mushrooms to prepare typical meals. There will also be opportunities for stunning hikes to far-reaching views through fragrant pine forests.
The festival of Guelaguetza can only be compared in importance to the Day of the Dead, and we will catch it directly after we descend from the Sierras and the Hongo Festival. The Guelaguetza has pre-Hispanic roots within the indigenous cultures of Oaxaca, in which all communities of the state gather in celebration with parades, traditional dancing, and artisanal crafts and goods. It is a magical time to be in Oaxaca, as the city comes alive and the pride and energy of the community are palpable.
Arrive in Oaxaca
Bienvenidos! Upon your arrival in Oaxaca City you will be picked up at the airport and transferred to your hotel. After check in, take the time to explore the famous walking street around the corner, or the 20th de Noviembre market on the other side of the main plaza. There are plenty of great dinner spots in the area, but you might want to try La Catedral right around the corner.
Exploring the city
After breakfast, meet your guide and start to get a taste of life in Oaxaca by exploring on foot. You'll visit the Temple of Santo Domingo, built in 1608 in the Baroque style by the Dominican order, and the Macedonio Alcalá street, which houses galleries, museums, craft stores, libraries, and cafes. Continue to the Teatro Macedonio Alcalá, a French-style building built in 1903, then to the Cathedral of Oaxaca, dedicated to our Lady of the Assumption, with Greek marble finishes and elaborated with green quarry stone. Pass through the heart of the city, the Zócalo de Oaxaca, then continue to the Benito Juarez Market and November 20 Market, where the modern merges with traditional life. Here you can watch the process of grinding chocolate and taste a rich mezcal.
The afternoon and evening are free to continue exploring this lively city on your own.
Teotitlan and the Sierra Norte
Enjoy breakfast at your hotel and get packed up. Your driver and guide arrive in the morning to take you to Teotitlan to learn about the incredible weaving community which exists in this valley. The colorful textiles are world famous. You will learn about the natural dyes and weaving techniques and how this art form passes from generation to generation.
Then, you'll continue onwards up into the Sierra Norte. Arriving at the village of Benito Juárez, lunch will be a true farm-to-table experience in the home of Señor Eli, whose family lives on a 100% organic farm. After lunch, you'll be invited into the home of a local family who will teach you how to make local specialties of bread and chocolate.
Get settled in to your cozy cabin; overnight in Benito Juárez.
Trek to Cuajimoloyas
Enjoy breakfast and then get packed up for your 3-hour trek to the village of Cuajimoloyas where the Feria Regional de Hongos Silvestres (Wild Mushroom Festival) takes place. Your gear will be transported for you and you have the option of getting a ride as well.
After arrival and getting set up in your cabin, there is the opportunity to meet with the local traditional medicine woman (curandera) who will be talking about mushrooms as well as other mountain herbal medicine. You can also take a traditional temescal bath. It’s like an herbal steam room (extra cost about $25 which you pay directly to the Curandera). Dinner will be in the village
Mushroom Hunt & Wild Mushroom Festival
This morning rise early and enjoy breakfast at the comedor. Then get your hiking shoes and baskets ready to head to the mountains forests for the mushroom hunt. Tourists and locals depart in groups led by a local professional and collect as many as possible. The forests are teeming with hundreds of varieties of mushrooms. Everyone meets in the valley at the end to display their
In the afternoon, there's the option to attend a community cultural presentation of dances by local children. Dinner at the local
Wild Mushroom Festival - Oaxaca City
Today after breakfast is the formal festival procession and exhibition of all the mushrooms that were collected. Awards go to the biggest and rarest. There are talks on the importance of 'hongos' along with more workshops on cultivation and cooking with mushrooms. You will have a mushroom cooking class with the mother of our friend Angelina and be able to enjoy the flavors of your hard work.
In the late afternoon, transfer back to Oaxaca City and get checked into the hotel. Rest and grab yourself a bite to eat. Tonight at 6:00 pm is the Legend of Donagi, a spectacular dance performance of a famous Oaxacan legend. You won't want to miss this! It's amazing and very well done.
Guelaguetza and Mezcal Festivals
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel. At about 9:00am, your guide and driver will take you to the festival grounds for the elaborate Guelaguetza celebrations. A feast for the eyes, beautiful dresses and dances fill the celebration with people coming from all over the area. You will have the afternoon and evening free to shop.
Dinner will be on your own.
Tonight's fun and wild Mezcal Festival is a great way to learn about and enjoy the local liquor of the land. It starts at 6:00 pm and goes all night, and has live music and food as well. It's cheap to get in and a total blast! Ask your guide about it if you wish to go and they can give you information and directions.
Enjoy breakfast and whatever free time you have available before your flight. We will arrange to transfer you to the airport in time for your outbound flight. Or, you can plan on staying 2-4 more days for time on the beach, which we can arrange for you.
$1,895 based on double occupancy
8D / 7N
Oaxaca City - Teotitlan - Benito Juárez - Cuajimoloyas - Oaxaca City
Village experience, Customizable
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