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Immersive Oaxaca: Zapotec indigenous heritage, gastronomy and artisans

Oaxaca City – Mezcal – Gastronomy – Textiles – Alebrijes – Artisans – Hierve El Agua – Monte Alban – Temazcal Purification Ritual & Massage

This fully immersive women-only and female-powered tour will take you to the heart of Mexico where indigenous Zapotec people keep their vibrant culture and heritage alive. Explore its famous gastronomy (mezcal, mole, chocolate, corn), its landscapes and its traditions through the eyes of passionate female entrepreneurs and artisans.

Highlights: Pre-Columbian Monte Alban archeological site | Hierve El Agua waterfalls | Mole, chocolate and rainbow tortilla making class | Mezcal palenque visit and maguey cutting | Mezcal tasting and dinner nestled in the agave fields | Mezcal cocktail making demo | Oaxaca city walking tour | Food tour of Oaxaca’s markets | Alebrijes painting workshop | Barro Negro and Huaraches workshop visit | Candle making workshop | Textile dyeing workshop | Traditional Temazcal “sweat hut” ritual and massage | 100% indigenous female-powered tour

Activity level: Moderate, expect to walk 10,000-15,000 steps a day on uneven surfaces, nature paths and cobblestoned streets.

No mandatory single supplements* | 12 spots | Veg / Vegan friendly

*Prices per person, we pair you with another traveler to avoid supplements, or upgrade to have your own room

 

Trip Overview

2024

  • 29 December to 4 January 2025 – Photographer onboard. SOLD OUT

2025

  • 16 to 22 February
  • 13 to 19 April – PRIVATE GROUP
  • 12 to 18 October
  • 9 to 15 November

Lily, our Zapotec guide

Payment plan

From $3,395 USD pp sharing

Max. 12 guests

See inclusions

Book now


Trip summary

Find the day by day itinerary below:

  • Day 1: Arrival, walking tour and welcome dinner
  • Day 2: Walking food & women owned business tour and mezcal tasting
  • Day 3: Modern huaraches, alebrijes painting, black pottery & dinner
  • Day 4: OPTIONAL Hierve El agua, local lunch, Temazcal ritual and massage
  • Day 5: Textiles dyeing workshop, candle demo and mole, chocolate and rainbow tortilla making class
  • Day 6: Monte Alban, palenque visit, maguey fields, mezcal cocktail making class and farewell dinner
  • Day 7: Departure

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1 : Arrive in Oaxaca

We will start the tour at our local boutique hotel with introductions before heading out for a walking orientation tour of the city center, where our hotel is.

Our walk will end at the location of our welcome dinner, a female owned restaurant that is shaking things up for Oaxacan cuisine with innovative twists on forgotten recipes and the recovery of many ancient ingredients.

Our first introduction to local dishes you probably never heard of will be an exciting one!

Overnight at Casa de las Bugambilias / El Secreto or Suites de la Parra

Casa de la bugamvilias and El Secreto are a local and female owned boutique hotel located in 2 courtyard houses with rooms on two levels and a pleasant patio.

Breakfast will be enjoyed in the courtyard, surrounded by trees, birds and colorful flowers. Walking inside is leaving the buzz and noise of the city outside and stepping into a cozy cocoon of quietness and calm. Some rooms have AC and others have ceiling fans as the weather is always cool at night in Oaxaca.

If the trip is sold out, we will have the house all to ourselves, occupying all the rooms.

Suites de la parra is a newly renovated hotel housed in a traditional courtyard mansion in central Oaxaca City.

Rooms are comfortable and spacious, located around a main courtyard and individually decorated with modern facilities, clean lines and colorful paintings.

All rooms have AC and there is a divine rooftop terrace with a pool to relax and unwind after a day out.

Note: When staying at Casa de las Bugambilias / El Secreto, your room may be at either of the two properties who belong to the same owner, share the same standard of quality and are 1 block apart.

Inclusions: Welcome dinner with local drinks. Guests need to make their way to the hotel from the airport. We can provide details of a local driver.

Suites de la Parra

 

Casa de las Bugambilias / El secreto

 


Day 2 : Walking food tour of the markets + mezcal tasting

Welcome to Oaxaca!

Our day will be filled with what makes Oaxaca most famous: its food.

We will walk the streets and markets of Oaxaca city and explore the many recipes and ingredients that make it such a unique cuisine.

We will taste around 25 foods and drinks from restaurants and stalls exclusively owned by local women, as we stroll through the cobblestone streets of this UNESCO-listed city center.

We will learn about the dozens of different kinds of corn, and about the ancient Mesoamerican farming and agricultural practice called la milpa, which grew corn, beans and pumpkin in the same plot of land and forms the basis of Oaxacan cuisine.

The diversity of Oaxacan cuisine, often not found anywhere else in Mexico or overseas, and how it has been influenced and has influenced other Mexican regions, will surprise you.

We will taste freshly ground chocolate beans (and order your own pot of gooey goodness), various moles and several dishes you probably never heard of before but will now crave.

Our tour will also take us to the three main markets in Oaxaca where we will mingle with the locals and taste various grilled meats in the famous Pasillo del humo (smoke corridor), popular local snacks such as culona ants or fried grasshoppers and ice creams of interesting flavors.

The food tour will be sprinkled with visits to female owned, local artisan businesses and shops that you can revisit later during your free time, to make room for more delicious food.

Our female guide will also introduce famous Oaxaca’s artists, intellectuals, galleries and the city’s printing tradition.

We will also talk about its recent history, most notably the events of 2006 which led to a civil rebellion and the formation of an anarchist community that lasted 7 months and made Oaxaca a semi autonomous region with its own currency.

You will then have free time to explore Oaxaca on your own or go back to the hotel for a power nap.

We will meet again in the evening for a mezcal introduction and tasting where you will learn all about the production of mezcal and the various types of maguey plants that are used to produce it. This will help you choose what to drink during the rest of the week and give you a basis to recognise the many varieties.

Like wine, mezcal can be made from many different kinds of maguey species, each tasting differently and requiring a different length of time to mature and reach the necessary sugar content.

We will taste several varieties and get our taste buds going before dinner, when you will have free time to explore Oaxaca on your own.

After the extensive food tour, you will probably only have space for small street snacks!

Overnight at the hotel

Inclusions: Breakfast at the hotel, guided walking food tour of Oaxaca’s markets, mezcal introduction and tasting. Dinner not included.


Day 3 : Artisans

Oaxaca is famous for its artisans and today we will explore the many crafts, both traditional and modern.

We will start the day with a visit to Paolas modern huaraches workshop where she will share her family’s leather tradition and the history of huaraches, traditional Oaxacan sandals worn by the farmers.

Instead of continuing with her family’s leather tannery, she decided to transform the traditional sandal into a modern item that could come straight out of the pages of fashion magazines.

She hand makes each piece of her colorful sandals employing local leather and materials. You won’t be able to resist buying a pair.

We will continue our day in San Martin Tilcajete, a town that has become synonymous with Oaxaca’s pioneers in the world of the wood carved figurines called alebrijes.

These colorful allegorical and fantastical sculptures are made using local copal wood and painstakingly hand painted, sometimes for weeks.

Albrijes are not an ancient Zapotec tradition, but rather a relatively new comer into the world of artisanal work, yet with a link to Zapotec spirituality.

The magical creatures, often made of the mix of two animals such as a lizard body and a dog head or a lion head on butterfly wings, were imagined by a Mexican cartoonist in the 1940s in Mexico City.

They came to Oaxaca via a workshop organized by an American artist in the 1980s and stayed.

We will visit one of the workshops where we will learn about the super elaborate process to carve the statue and then paint it, by hand. We will also make our own, which we will decorate ourselves.

With our finished statue we will go to lunch at the beautiful restaurant of a local project that supports reforestation of the copal trees, whose wood is used to make the alebrijes.

In the afternoon, we will visit the workshop where black pottery sculptures are made.

Black pottery gets its name from the process used to cook the pieces which burns them until they turn black. The result is a beautiful sculpture or piece that is silver in color and bright in finishing.

We will return to Oaxaca for dinner at a local restaurant that serves Oaxacan cuisine from the Isthmus, the narrowest part in Mexico’s territory, and a culinary world on its own.

Food in the Isthmus is influenced by the proximity to the Pacific Ocean and the lush rainforests.

We will enjoy dishes that include ingredients such as fish, fried banana and prawns.

Note: For NYE departure, this evening we will join the NYE celebrations in town, get ready to welcome the new year like only Oaxacans can!

Overnight at the hotel

Inclusions: Breakfast at the hotel, transportation to all the sights in private minibus, huarache moderno workshop visit, alebrije workshop tour and painting class, lunch in open air restaurant, black pottery tour, dinner in town.


Day 4 : Hierve el Agua, Temazcal ritual and massage

Today is all about self-care and natural healing.

OPTIONAL: This morning we will start bright and early for a hike and dip into the magical natural hot spring pools of Hierve el Agua.

On our way, we will stop at a casual donut and coffee stall to gran an early snack.

The petrified waterfall system of Hierve el Agua is about an hour drive from Oaxaca and can be accessed through a path and with the help of a local guide from the nearby village.

The formations were created millions of years ago and are located on top of a hill, surrounded by a complex Zapotec irrigation system of terraces that makes for stunning landscapes.

The thermal hot spring water that fees the pools and created these formations comes out at around 24 Celsius, making for a wonderful spa experience.

We will walk to the pools and have time to enjoy the thermal waters and the views.

We will continue to a local restaurant for a traditional lunch and meet the rest of the group who opted out of Hierve el Agua.

Our afternoon is all about the ancient Zapotec healing ritual of the Temazcal.

We will be welcomed into abuelita Lucy’s home up on the hills for an ancient traditional medicine ritual that dates back to pre-Hispanic times.

The ceremony will start with a cleansing welcome tea and continue with a one long hour session in the “sweat hut” where she will guide us through a meditation and renewal ritual as the hut fills with steam infused with herbs and medicinal plants.

Note: For the Temazcal ritual, it is recommended to wear a swimming costume.

Abuelita Lucy will guide the energy with sound and help us heal and renew our body and soul as we reconnect with Mother Earth.

The temazcal ritual will continue with a one hour message in the open air huts at sunset and finish with light snacks and drinks.

We will return to Oaxaca in the evening.

Overnight at the hotel

Inclusions: Breakfast at the hotel, transportation to all sights in private minibus, lunch at a local female owned restaurant, temazcal ritual, one-hour massage, drinks and snacks.


Day 5 : Teotitlan textiles, candles and cooking class

If yesterday was all about eating, today will be all about Zapotec artisans and learning how they make their beautiful textiles, candles and food.

Our morning will start in Teotitlan del Valle, a village about an hour from Oaxaca that is famous for its colorful textiles that are naturally and traditionally dyed.

We will meet two artisans, Aurora and Veronica, who represent two generations of Zapotec women keeping the natural dyeing traditions alive.

We will learn how dyes are produced, by hand, from natural ingredients such as insect pests which only grow on certain cacti, plants grown in their own gardens, herbs and flowers.

They will show us how the yarn is spun, by hand from wool, and how they dye it into bright colors.

Veronica will also demonstrate how she weaves beautiful carpets and other items in her loom. You will have the chance to purchase what they make as souvenirs.

Our time in Teotitlan will continue with a visit to a local candle making workshop where traditional religious candles are being made by hand, using a secret technique.

Candles are made of beeswax and rolled by hand then decorated with brightly colored designs. Our local female artisan has also perfected a secret method to decorate the candles, but you’ll have to come to find out what that is!

We will then head over to a local restaurant to make our own lunch. This afternoon is all about how to take local recipes you tried yesterday, back home.

We will learn how to prepare mole, Zapotec chocolate drinks and rainbow tortillas from scratch, using a traditional metate, a Zapotec sort of mortar an pestle.

Mole is Oaxaca’s most famous food and Mexico’s most traditional, often ranked as the country’s number one contribution to the world’s gastronomy.

Originating in prehispanic times and translated to English as “sauce”, mole can consist of up to 100 ingredients and take days to prepare, slowly cooking in pots over fire.

There are many different kinds of moles, some sweet, some spicy, some savoury.

We will learn to make the most popular mole in Oaxaca that is usually served with chicken. We will get to try our creations for lunch, accompanied by our handmade tortillas.

Making tortillas, the staple ingredient in Mexican cuisine, from scratch, is not easy.

We will take turns to grind the corn in the metate, how it has always been done, to make the dough, or masa, needed to make the tortillas, and will blend it with natural dyes to make colorful rainbow tortillas that will cook in the traditional griddle.

We will also prepare several of Oaxaca’s many chocolate drinks, some of which you tried during the food tour. Oaxacan hot chocolate is thickened with corn and prepared with water, not milk. There are many variations of this drink, all of which are equally delicious.

After a feast of our own making, we will return to Oaxaca for free time for dinner, if you still have space for more culinary exploration!

Overnight at the hotel

Inclusions: Breakfast at the hotel, transportation to all the sights in private minibus, textile dyeing workshops, candle demo and cooking class including mole, chocolate and rainbow tortillas. Dinner not included.


Day 6 : Monte Alban and mezcal

Our last full day will be spent at two very important places: the archeological site of Monte Alban and the maguey fields of Santiago Matatlan, the cradle of mezcal.

We will start the day with a guided visit of Monte Alban, the most important and largest pre-Columbian archeological site in Oaxaca.

Monte Alban was one of the earliest cities in Mesoamerica and consists of several raised terraces that look like stepped pyramids.

It was important as the main center of Zapotec political and economic power for 1,000 years since 500 BC and was then abandoned.

After Monte Alban, we will drive to the center of mezcal production in Oaxaca, Santiago Matatlan, to visit two female owned palenques, or mezcal production facilities.

At the first one, we will learn about the production process and even try our hands at cutting one of the piñas, the maguey plant core, directly in the fields.

We will jump on the back of a truck and head to the many maguey fields that surround the town of Santiago Matatlan in search of a mature plant that is ready to be harvested and learn how to do so.

We will get our hands dirty trying to pull it off the ground (hint: it is not easy!) and cut the leaves until we reveal the sweet core that will be the main ingredient to produce mezcal.

We will return to the production premises to learn how the process of cooking and distilling the piñas continues until the bottle.

We will have lunch on site and continue the afternoon with a visit to another female owned palenque managed by a mother-daughter duo. We will go back to the fields for a visit and tasting among the maguey, followed by a mezcal cocktail making class and a sunset farewell dinner in the fields.

We will return to Oaxaca after dinner and enjoy one last night before departure.

Overnight at the hotel

Inclusions: Breakfast at the hotel, transportation to all the sights in private minibus, guided visit of Monte Alban, maguey cutting, palenque visit, mezcal cocktail making workshop, lunch and farewell dinner with mezcal.


Day 7 : Departure

We say goodbye to Oaxaca after one last breakfast. If you have free time, you can return to any of the markets for some shopping or to try all your favorite foods.

Inclusions: Breakfast at the hotel. Airport transfer not included.


About Your Host, Lily


Lily was born and raised in Santa Monica, California, home to the largest Oaxacan Zapotec migrant community in the U.S. After spending her summers in Oaxaca with her parents in the dream home they built, she rematriated in 2013.

Seeing the lack of representation of indigenous woman-led initiatives in the tourism sector, she decided to start her own sustainable travel company centering the conversation around indigenous voices.

Her experiences support local businesses and offer an insight into Zapotec traditions to travelers who are invited into the local communities.

Lily’s business now works rotating over 50 service providers, 80% of which are woman owned and led, to make sure everyone gets a fair share of the tourism funds.

Bonus: Our NYE 2024 trip will be accompanied by our Co-Founder Mar Pages, and a professional photographer who will take pictures of the group for you to treasure, share and keep.


Inclusions

✔️ 6 Nights in shared twin accommodation in local female owned boutique hotel in the historical city center. We pair you with another traveler so you don’t have to pay a single supplement

✔️ All activities, visits and entry tickets as mentioned in the itinerary.

✔️ Tips for drivers.

✔️ Fair compensation to all the local female artisans we visit to appreciate their time sharing their craft with us.

✔️ Daily Breakfast (6), Daily Lunch (5) and 4 Dinners.

✔️ Water during all included meals. Alcoholic drinks at dinner on welcome and farewell dinners.

✔️ Transportation to and between activities as listed in the itinerary.

✔️ Zapotec female host for the duration of the trip, local female guides for the food tour, the history tour and Monte Alban.

✔️ Tips for drivers and artisans included in the tour. Tip for the host not included.

Exclusions

✘ Optional: Hierve el Agua, which can be added in our portal after booking.

✘ Other activities not included in the program that you book yourself.

✘ 2 Dinners. Our included meals are very complete so you may not want to eat anymore.

✘ Transportation from and to the airport in Oaxaca. Private airport pick up costs 35 USD each way and we can provide details of a trusted driver.

✘ Visa, if required, we can provide invitation letters.

✘ Travel & Medical Insurance (Required)

✘ Souvenirs

✘ Tips for the Guide (at your discretion)

Payment Info

From 3,395 USD

Payment Plan:

30% deposit to secure your spot (non refundable*)

Final balance due 90 days before departure

*The initial 30% is refundable if the minimum number of guests is not reached. By joining our trips you agree to our T&C.

The Solo Female Travelers difference – What makes us unique

All our tours follow the same values and philosophy that makes us who we are which you can find here.

Our Oaxaca trip is 100% female and indigenous powered and exclusively supports businesses owned by women, including restaurants and hotels.

We do not adhere to the practice of other tour companies who require local artisans and guides to make a living from the commissions made on your purchases or even demand them payment to bring you to their workshops. Instead, we compensate all the female artisans who are part of our itinerary for taking the time to share their craft with us irrespective of whether you make a purchase or not.


Book NOW

Interested in joining us in Oaxaca? We are keeping the group to 12 guests maximum so don’t wait up. Select your package below and click the Book button or pick a time to book a video call with us and get all your questions answered. Note: Please do not book any flights until the trip is confirmed.

Credit card payments carry a surcharge. Wire transfer details are available via email: [email protected].

IMPORTANT: This trip can accommodate vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free diets, but is not suitable for celiacs with concerns over cross-contamination. If you are unsure, please reach out before booking.

29 December 2024 to 4 January 2025 (Photographer onboard) – Sold out


16 to 22 February 2025

Checking availability...

13 to 19 April 2025PRIVATE GROUP


12 to 18 October 2025

Checking availability...

9 to 15 November 2025

Checking availability...

Let’s Talk!

Have questions? Pick a convenient time and date below to talk to us live, we’d love to meet you!


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Frequently Asked Questions

This is a trip of a lifetime and we know there are many things you’d like to know more about.

What are the COVID measures in Oaxaca and how will you ensure everyone is safe?


We care deeply about the wellbeing of our guests and our trip follows all local regulations. We require guests who develop a cough or cold-like symptoms to use a mask and separate themselves from the rest of the guests. COVID testing is not mandatory though it will be encouraged.

What if I cannot travel because of COVID restrictions?

Payments are not refundable if the trip goes ahead. This is why we require all guests to purchase travel insurance that covers unforeseen circumstances that would prevent them from traveling.

In the event that the trip needs to be postponed for reasons beyond our control such as a global pandemic or COVID after the the 30% deposit is due, any payments made will be put towards a similar trip in the future.

We recommend checking with an aggregator such as Travel Insurance Master to compare quotes and coverage.

Do I need a visa for Mexico?

Most travelers do not need a visa for Mexico. In cases where a visa is required it will be issued by the Mexican embassy in your country of origin. We can provide invitation letters if necessary.

What is included in the trip?

This trip includes 6 breakfasts, 4 dinners and 5 lunches and does not include 2. In the cases where a meal isn’t included, it is because we do not think you will be hungry for more food after a very complete meal at lunch so we have opted to leave the meal time free for you to explore Oaxaca’s amazing street food snacks.

All activities mentioned in the itinerary are also included, with the exception of the optional trip to Hierve el Agua which you can add to your booking via our guest portal. We have also opted to include tips for everyone to make your experience more comfortable. The only tip not included is that of the host which you can tip at the end of the week based on your experience.

Can I have a room to myself?

All costs above are considered on a sharing basis with two guests per room in twin bedding; we will pair you with another solo female traveler on the trip. If you wish to have your own room, a single supplement applies and you can select the single room in the Booking section above.

Can special dietary requirements be accommodated?


Because of the nature of Oaxacan food being primarily vegetarian, vegan and vegetarian diets can be accommodated. We can also cater to gluten-free guests but are unable to accommodate celiac disease due to the risk of cross contamination from the many meals we eat at people’s homes.

I want to bring my partner to the trip

This is a female-only small group trip specifically designed for women traveling on their own. If you wish to travel with a female friend, partner, family member, etc. they are absolutely welcome, however we are not able to book male travelers on this trip.

I want to bring my daughter

How wonderful! If your daughter is above the age of 16, we will be glad to have her with us.

Will the guides be female?

Yes, this trip is 100 female powered. It will be hosted by Lily, our local Zapotec host, and we have engaged the services of over 10 female guides and artisans as part of the tour.

What medication do I need to take for a trip to Mexico?

We recommend talking to your doctor to decide what medication and vaccinations you need to get before your trip. You can see the CDC list of recommendations here.

What should I pack for this adventure?

Oaxaca has mild weather all year round and our tours happen during the dry season. Rain is unlikely and the day temperatures vary widely between day and night, so we recommend packing a light jacket for the evenings.

Since this is a trip that has a lot of inbuilt walking tours, comfortable walking shoes are a must. A swimming suit is recommended if you will be joining us in Hierve el agua.

What happens if I get sick?

The prospect of getting sick while alone in a foreign country is daunting, and this is why we require all our guests have comprehensive travel and medical insurance that includes international evacuation. Should you fall sick, we will escort you to the nearest medical facility so you can get the help you need.

What travel and medical insurance should I get?

While the cost of medical healthcare in Mexico is relatively affordable, travel and medical insurance is mandatory to come on our trips and we recommend you get the most comprehensive coverage that includes international evacuation. We recommend checking with an aggregator such as Travel Insurance Master to compare quotes and coverages.

Can I make various instalments for this trip?

Our payment plan includes 2 instalments: a 30% payment to secure your spot, and the remaining 70% payment 90 days before the trip. You can make any partial payment between the 30% and the 70%.

Can I pay by credit card?

Yes payments can be made by credit card or by wire transfer.