Mayan Day of the Dead 1

Mayan Day of the Dead

CATEGORY

Festivals

DATES

Oct 28 - Nov 3, 2017

COST

$1,995*

* Early Bird Discount

* Be part of one of Mesoamerica's most unique celebrations and go into the heart of living Mayan Culture.

* Enter one of the most unusual religious centers in the Western Hemisphere

* Witness Shamans praying on a bed of pine needles over rows of candles.

* Become part of a boisterous fiesta on a cross-topped hill graveyard to celebrate the Return of the Souls.

* Spend a morning in a Mayan village among flowers where every man, woman and child is dressed in their floral best in a graveyard filled with grand bouquets.

OVERVIEW

This is an immersion into the vital, vibrant and dynamic Mayan culture of highland Chiapas and our travel will span the days of celebration when the souls of the ancestors are believed to return from beyond.

This grand festival happens throughout Mexico, but to experience it in the culturally rich Mayan world is a truly special experience. And, as we like things, free of masses of tourists! We’ll visit the crag-top graveyard of Zinacantan, brilliant in flower-bathed tombs and the equally colorful and floral villagers…who stand quietly in the somber cool air while the spirits circle. On a hill twenty miles (and one nation) away we’ll visit the Chamula graveyard. Here the scene is completely different; a raucous fiesta with live bands, booths selling all sorts of foods, ice cream carts and hundreds and hundreds of highland Chamulas dressed to the nines in their best homespun festival garb. Day of the Dead in the highlands is a full feast for the senses.

Our journey is based in the beautiful colonial town of San Cristobal de Las Casas and we'll spend our days visiting artisans, exploring San Cristobal and traveling to surrounding villages. We'll meet villagers, traditional church officials and rural artisans as well as explore markets and villages. We'll visit the very unusual Maya churches and see how Catholicism and Classic period Maya rites have fused.

Join our small group for this 7-day journey into the heart of a festival and the soul of a culture.

B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner included in trip cost

Day 1, SAT, OCT 28. WELCOME. (D)
Fly into Tuxtla Gutierrez and transfer to San Cristobal de las Casas which will be our glorious base camp for the entire tour. Meet at the hotel for conversation and dinner at 6pm.
Evening in San Cristobal.

Day 2, SUN, OCT 29. Meeting San Cristobal. (BLD)
We begin to meet the dynamic world of the Mayan highlands today through visits to three different organizations, each with a history of fascinating and important work in the Mayan communities of Chiapas. Our first visit is the weaving cooperative of El Camino de los Altos, which through thoughtful fusion has created a line of beautiful textiles from the hands of Mayan weavers with a twist of French design. Then to Na Balom, the home and museum of two charismatic ethnographers who did fascinating work with the Lancandon jungle Maya in the early 20th century. After lunch and a short walking tour of San Cristobal we’ll close out the day with a visit to the Museum of Traditional Dress in Chiapas where you’ll see examples of the unique community fashion worn from one Mayan community to the next. Equally fascinating is the behind the scenes of this museum, it is run by Sergio Castro, a highly respected humanitarian doing fabulous work in the Chiapan Highlands.
Evening in San Cristobal.

Day 3, MON, OCT 30. Chamula! (BL)
Today we head to Chamula. This is the most tourist visited village in the highlands. There's a reason for it, Chamula is deeply Maya. But most people only have the opportunity to skim the surface. We'll go deeper learning about ancient, living Mayan beliefs. We visit shrine of the Yahval Balumil, the Lord of the Earth. We'll also visit the shrine room of a saint and meet the couple who have made a commitment to care for that saint for a year. The room and saint image is adorned with hanging bromeliads, laurel and oak branches, there are clay bulls with burning candles and incense, lights and flowers. Though Catholic, is possible that 1,500 years ago the altar rooms on top of the Mayan pyramids were adorned just like this. We'll also enter the church of Chamula, the doorway to Mayan heaven, one of the most powerful religious centers in the Western Hemisphere. Tourists are allowed to visit...and they are totally ignored by the people worshiping in the church. Yet the shamans, praying on a bed of pine needles over rows of candles, are normally quite happy to speak to someone (Chip) in Tzotzil Maya, share a round of posh, and speak proudly of their traditions.
Evening in San Cristobal.

Day 4. TUE, OCT 31st (BL)
A morning journey over the steep hills to the valley bottom Mayan village of Chenalho. Unlike Chamula with its busloads of tourists, Chenalho is almost unknown to outsiders. We’ll visit the church and then wander up to the graveyard to see what is happening on this, All’s Hallows Eve. And beyond the church is storied chapel of the Holy Cross, tied to the Tzeltal rebellion of 1712 and its cosmological alignment with the village church below.
Evening in San Cristobal.

Day 5, WED, NOV 1st. Graveyard Festival. (BL)
Twenty towering blue crosses adorned with pine boughs and marigolds top a low hill of cropped grass covered with simple graves. This graveyard is where the Chamula nation comes out in force and in style to remember and celebrate with their ancestors. It is a party for the dead that shouldn't be missed in this lifetime! Mayas dressed to the T in beautifully woven clothing, be-ribboned musicians playing accordions and 12- stringed Mayan guitars, pink cotton candy, red balloons and orange flower petals. This morning we become part of this very Mexican and uniquely Mayan festival. When our senses have had their fill we travel onward, finding lunch in Teopisca, famous for its it's fresh corn, sweet tamales, sausages and pickled palm heart and a favorite Sunday brunch retreat for locals. Then we head to a quiet graveyard surrounded by corn on a hill overlooking the village of Amatenango and soak up the presence of this Mayan valley, so very different from boisterous fiesta on the cross-topped hill this morning.
Evening in San Cristobal.

Day 6, THU. NOV 2. Solemn Flowers. (BLD)
Day of the Dead is a celebration adorned with blossoms. The Mayan village of Zinacantan is famous for flowers, both the cultivated ones from their fields and the embroidered ones on their clothing. Imagine then walking into their cemetery on a crag above the village to find every man, woman and child dressed in their floral best and each tomb covered with grand bouquets. Today you won't have to imagine it. But unlike the party atmosphere of Chamula yesterday, Zinacantan is almost somber. On this wind brushed mountain top one can almost hear the flowers whispering.
From here we leave the deep Mayan world and head into the graveyard of San Cristobal, a grand, almost fortress-like, walled city of miniature with little Gothic chapels and tiny modern houses for the deceased. We’ll meet tonight for a final dinner together.
Evening in San Cristobal

Day 7, FRI. NOV 3. Journey’s end. (B)
Those traveling home today will want to transfer to Tuxtla Gutierrez, about 1.5 hours, where flights can be booked to Mexico City.

Date: Oct 28 - Nov 3, 2017

Duration: 7 days / 6 nights

Category: Festivals

Where: Highland Chiapas

Departing and Ending point: San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas

Cost: $1,995 usd per person

Single Supplement $290 usd

Early Bird Discount - $1,895 usd
If you book 4 months before tour departure


Trip Guides: Roberto Murphy

Included:
* All Lodging during trip based on double occupancy
* Most Meals (listed on itinerary Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)
* Superb Guide
* Transport in private van
* Entry fees

Not included:
* Airfare and transportation to and from the trip pick-up/drop-off locations
* Lodging before and after the trip
* Personal items purchased during the trip
* Alcoholic beverages
* Some meals are not included. On these trips, Traditions Mexico invites you to explore the local cuisine at your leisure.
* Gratuities for your Traditional Mexico Guides may be given at your discretion in response to their professionalism and leadership.
* Industry standard is for each individual guest to tip the guide team 5-10% of the trip price.
* Room Service
* Travel Visa Fees

See Frequently Asked Questions for more details.