Oaxaca Day of the Dead 1

Day of the Dead in Backcactus Oaxaca

Guaranteed Departure : Only 4 places remaining




Oct 27 - Nov 3, 2018


$2,400 USD

Travel deep and far beyond the tourist beaten track. Immersion in Day of the Dead festival activities:

Altar building
Bread baking
Food making
Mezcal tasting
Village visiting
A candle-lit night in the graveyard
Visits to festival markets
Cyprus-draped graveyards, topsy turvy tombstones
Archeological sites - including one that is off the map
Ancestral rug weavers, potters, candle-makers and tortilla flippers.

And as ever, small group travel (8 passengers max), person to person visits, home cooked meals and an intimate look at rural Mexico that is otherwise very hard to find.


Day of the Dead immersed in authentic Mexico, far beyond the crowds. Overnight in a distant, candlelit graveyard, create an altar, cook food, visit remote ruins, traditional artisans, markets, mescal stills, house altars and more.

It is the time when the souls of the dead return and all else ceases as people cook food, prepare altars and gather flowers to celebrate their ancestors. It is a truly special and moving celebration and overwhelmingly beautiful.

Our backcactus tour is one of a kind for we will spend the pre-dawn hours of All Saints in a remote village graveyard under a starry sky on the bend of a river in a cactus lined valley far, far from the maddening crowds. Candle-lit, filled with murmuring voices, the scent of copal incense and invisible souls, this is truly another wordly kind of moment.

We journey into rural Mexico and into the homes and workshops of weavers, potters, candle makers, distillers, and cooks; the people who create the items that are necessary to make a festival happen. We will see the heartfelt, beautiful house altars, abundant with food, flowers and incense, built to welcome the souls of the departed home.

Our travels also will take us to the overflowing pre-festival markets, the biggest market days of the year. We’ll visit the town of Mitla, the Zapotec “place of the dead with some of the most ornate rockwork in Mesoamerica, visit a mescal distiller, mill cacao and enjoy a hands on cooking class. And more… plenty more. Join us on this trip and you will discover a place that words cannot describe.

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

Day 1, Sat 27 (D) Arrive in Oaxaca for our first meeting at 6pm followed by dinner on the town.
Evening in Oaxaca City

Day 2, Sun 28 (BLD) We dive into the world of traditional artisans. First Coyotepec, and a visit to the home workshop of a family of internationally known potters who create black clay sculptural pieces, depicting, among other things, death myths. Then to the village of San Martin where beautiful creatures are carved from wood. Nearby we’ll also stop in at the home of a family that makes adornments from dried flowers. And to cap of the days’ travels we’ll stop at a backcountry still where mescal is produced and learn about this delicious Oaxacan distillate. In the afternoon we’ll settle into our lovely little hotel on the town square of Mitla.
Evening in Mitla

Day 3, Mon 29 (BLD) We spend today in the Zapotec mega-weaving village of Teotitlan del Valle, a town of 5,000 weavers. We’ll see how rugs are woven, learn about natural dyeing methods used by some weavers in the village and visit with ceremonial candle makers to learn how they ply this important local trade. But first we cook our lunch! We spend the morning with a skilled traditional cook learning how to make some of the food that is so central to the Day of the Dead celebrations. Home cooked over wood, and sabroso!
Evening in Mitla.

Day 4, Tue 30 (BL) First stop, the mill. When your blender isn’t enough, when you need to grind 5 pounds of cacao into chocolate, or your special mixture of chiles, seeds and spices for Day of the Dead meals, the mill is the place to take your buckets of ingredients. It is a sight worth seeing...and smelling. But to get to the mill we go to the market of Tlacolula, which will be full tilt today as people by flowers and food by the armloads in preparations for the celebration. After getting our fill of the market’s excitement we will retreat to the sanctuary of a silent, tree draped cemetery, unlike any you’ve likely ever seen and soak in the eternal peace for a little moment. Then onward to San Marcos and the home of traditional Zapotec potters who will grace us with their smiles and 100 generations of experience making the vessels that the meals of Oaxaca have been cooked on for a millinea. ...and they’ll cook us lunch to boot! Our richly diverse day winds up where it began, in Mitla. Which is not only where our hotel is, but also is the location of the nearly intact Zapotec palaces that once marked the center of a kingdom. In the cooling light of afternoon we’ll visit these palaces to appreciate the masonry of long forgotten masters.
Evening in Mitla

Day 5, Wed 31 (BLD) We leave Oaxaca valley and travel into a remote and dramatic corner of Oaxaca where cactus grows as thick as grass. Mid-morning will find us in a place of balmy air and mango and lime trees. We'll stop in a small town market below a cliff and shop for flowers, fruits, chocolate and other items that we'll need to build our own altar. We then head to a village in a valley beside a desert river, surrounded by tall cactus and towering mountains where life moves more slowly. Here we settle into the simple and lovely adobe cabins that will be our homes for the next two nights. Then a wander into town to meet some of the villagers, see their altars, visit the graveyard and work on our own collective altar. Evening will be slow and relaxed, with time for chatting, perhaps a walk down by the river and excellent potential for stargazing in this dark corner of the earth.
Evening in village cabins.

Day 6, Thu 1 (BLD) For those up for a hike well make an expedition this morning beyond the village to the spectacular, but almost unknown and seldom visited red stone ruins that top a large hill at the convergence of two rivers. These ruins are just now beginning to be excavated and understood. The location and views are breathtaking. Afterwards there might be time for swimming and we'll spend the afternoon visiting, as is the way during Todos Santos. We'll visit the baker who still cooks in a wood-fired, stone oven and see the unusual technique of pit baked tamales. Then some rest, for this is the night the souls come home, and it is custom here to spend the pre-dawn hours in the graveyard, awaiting the return of the souls. We'll be there with the rest of the village, under the veil of stars and among candles, flowers, hushed voices.
Evening in village cabins.

Day 7, Fri 2 (BLD) As night becomes day and the sun begins to warm the air we will flow with the villagers back to our homes and the festival for the deceased will continue. Mid-morning we will slowly pack our things and perhaps take a last dip in the river, then say our farewells. As we return to Oaxaca we will visit other cemeteries. Each cemetery is unique and idiosyncratic, small worlds unto themselves and reminders of the short, sweet gift that are our lives. And today they will be in full glory, adorned with thousands of flowers and full of care. Today we return to Oaxaca city, settle into our hotel and take a slow afternoon for final explorations of Oaxaca city or simply a nap. We gather this evening for a final dinner together and to share stories about all that we’ve experienced.
Evening in Oaxaca City

Day 8, Sat 3 (B) This morning catch your flights back home or continue your travels on your own.

All itineraries subject to change without notice.

Where: The state of Oaxaca in southern Mexico

When: October 27 – November 3, 2018

Duration: 8 days/7 nights

Cost: $2,400 USD

Single Supplement: $220 (5 nights )
Important Note: During two nights of the tour we stay in adobe cabins where single rooms are not available.

Full payment of your tour is required at time of booking.


* 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