A 7 Day Journey to Explore the Early Civilizations of Veracruz, México
The cultural blend of Spanish, European, Caribbean, and African influences combined with the customs of the original indigenous people make the state of Veracruz a veritable melting pot rich in history, traditions, music, and dance. Add to this the ancient archaeological ruins sites and artifacts left by the Olmec, Totonac, and Huasteca populations and you will discover a land overflowing with a colorful story of conquest, human sacrifice, myths, slavery, assimilation, and world trade.
On this fun and informative trip to the tropical areas of Veracruz, your personal local Spanish/English speaking guide will be with you each day as you explore several archaeological ruins sites, an anthropology museum, and other areas that played a key roll regarding the history of the Spanish conquest of the New World. In addition, you will have the opportunity to visit the port city of Veracruz and the capital of the state of Veracruz; Xalapa.
Your bilingual trip guide will be waiting for you upon your arrival at the Veracruz Airport. The rest of the day is free to explore the town and begin to acclimate to the slower-paced life here in Veracruz. Overnight at a hotel in the city.
- Quiahuiztlan Archaeological Ruins (Ancient burial site)
- Villa Rica (First landing site of the Spanish Conquerors)
- Cempoala Archaeological Ruins (Where Cortéz first met the local chief)
- La Antigua (Final landing site of Hernán Cortéz )
Today you will travel to the small town of La Antigua where you will see the remains of what is thought to be an administration building built by Cortéz and his soldiers. Your guide will explain the known history of this area as well as give you a tour of how this riverside town was laid out back in the early 1500s. It is also in Antigua that you will see one of the first Catholic churches built in the Americas. Then you will travel to see the Cempoala Ruins. Back in the 14th and 15th centuries, Cempoala was the capital of the Totonacans as well as the largest city on the Gulf of México with over 30,000 people living there. This is also an important place because Cortéz first struck an alliance with the Totonacan chief to help him defeat the Aztecs who had invaded that area. You will also visit the ruins of Quiahuiztlan (Key-ah-wheezt-lan). This peaceful remote site is located at a higher elevation with a stunning backdrop of the Gulf of México coastline. One of the more interesting aspects of this site is the 70 small miniature temples or tombs used by the wealthy people as their final resting place. Just below this burial site, is the small seaside village of Villa Rica. This is where Cortéz and his men came ashore to the New World. You will overnight at one of the small seaside hotels found in the Costa Esmeralda region of Veracruz. (B,L)
- Archaeological Ruins of El Tajin (a UNESCO World Heritage Site)
- Papantla Voladores (Ancient ceremony)
- Tour of the City of Papantla (Europeans first discovered vanilla here)
After breakfast, you will continue your journey to visit the ancient ruins site of El Tajín which is a recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Totonacan people built over 150 structures including 17 ball courts and flourished there between 800 and 1150 A.D. The most famous structure at El Tajin is called, the Pyramid of the Niches. An on-site guide will escort your group on a tour of the major structures and answer your questions. The starting point of the tour will be at a small museum located near the entrance of the site. Later, you will have the opportunity to witness the ceremonial flight of the Voladores. Five men (Voladores or fliers) will reenact high above the ground an ancient ritual which was performed by the Totonacs to appease their god of fertility to bless the area with an abundance of food and water. After lunch, you will get the opportunity to take a tour of the interesting town of Papantla. This northern area of Veracruz is also the place where the Spanish invaders first smelled and tasted a delightful new spice which was growing there. You know it today as vanilla. You will overnight at the same seaside hotel. (B,L)
- Visit Hacienda Lencero (the Mexican General, Santa Anna once lived here)
- Learn about Ancient History at the Anthropology Museum in Xalapa
- Xalapa City Tour
After breakfast, you will travel to the bustling city of Xalapa (Ha-la-pa) which is the capital of Veracruz. Just outside of this vibrant town is the beautiful estate called, Hacienda El Lencero. You will visit the main mansion, the gardens, and the chapel which the Mexican General, Santa Anna (Remember the Alamo) constructed specifically for his wedding. After touring the hacienda, your group will continue to the very modern Anthropology Museum. Here you will find the largest collection of artifacts from the people who once lived in the Mexican gulf coast region. One of the main attractions on display are the giant Olmec stone heads. After lunch, your bilingual guide will lead you on a tour of the main sites in Xalapa. This city is rich in culture with art galleries, well-groomed parks, and is also the home to the University of Veracruz and other colleges as well. You will overnight in the city of Xalapa. (B,L)
- Explore the Pre-Hispanic Towns of Xico & Coatepec
- View Texolo Waterfalls (it was seen in the movie, Romancing the Stone)
- Tour a Coffee Plantation
You will be in the higher and more temperate altitudes of Veracruz where small organic coffee plantations can be found. You will have the opportunity to meet with the owner of one of these small coffee plantations and learn about the coffee-making process. Today you will have the opportunity to explore the Pueblo Magico town of Coatepec, visit an old coffee hacienda, and drink some great tasting coffee. Nearby there are two very quaint towns; Coatepec and Xico. Coatepec is a recognized México Magic Town noted for its beautiful main park, fun shopping, and many coffee shops. Xico is a pre-Hispanic cobbled street town with a beautiful church, handicraft shops, and nearby, you will find the waterfall which was used in the movie, Romancing the Stone. Later, you will travel to the riverside town of Jalcomulco where you can participate in an ancient ritual known as Temascal. It is a spiritual cleansing which would be similar to a hot steam bath. Then it is back to the port of Veracruz and overnight in a city hotel. (B,L)
- Explore San Juan de Ulúa (harbor fortress & later, a notorious prison)
- Tour of the City of Veracruz
- Visit the Veracruz Naval Museum
- Farewell Dinner
Today you will tour the historical port city of Veracruz which will include a visit to San Juan de Ulúa, a massive fortification built in the harbor to protect the city from foreign invaders and pirates. Later it was converted into a prison. Your guide will lead you on a walking tour of the market area and the main plazas. Nearby you can visit the Naval Museum and climb to the top of El Baluarte de Santiago, another fort which at one time was a part of the wall that surrounded the city for protection. In the evening, everyone will get together for a farewell dinner at a nice restaurant in the port city. Overnight in the city of Veracruz. (B,L,D)
- Travel Day Home
$1597 /adult (double occupancy)
$995 /child ages 10-17 years when sharing same room with 2 adults
Single Supplement: $235 /adult
Note: All trip fees listed above are in US dollars.
Included in Tour FeeAirport pickup in Veracruz, all ground transportation, all entrance fees, local bilingual guide, tours per itinerary, 6 nights of hotel lodgings, all taxes, purified drinking water each day, 5 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 1 dinner
Not Included in Tour FeeAirfare, meals not listed above, alcoholic drinks, transfer to airport on last day, trip travel/medical insurance, and guide tips
Extend your vacation and sign up for our 3 day exploration of the tropical areas found in southern Veracruz.
The Best of Catemaco & the Los Tuxtlas Region – This is a recognized World Biosphere Area and is the northern-most area in the western hemisphere where tropical rain forest conditions exist. Roughly 55% of all the plants, insects, and wildlife you would find in all of Costa Rica can be found in this small area of southern Veracruz. Highlights: Ocean & Lake Boat Ride, Jungle Hike, Swim Under Tropical Waterfalls, Tour an Ecological Reserve, View Monkeys and Hundreds of Tropical Birds, and Visit a Secret Pirate Cave.
Trip Fee: $627 /adult & $297 /child ages 6-17
We just had the most amazing week here ... We saw more things by half again then we would have had we tried to plan this trip ourselves. If you have any inkling to come down to visit Veracruz, this is the company to do it with. We're happy!
-Ron & Susan Weiss