12 Days / 11 Nights to Explore the Cities, Ancient Ruins, Mountains, Coffee Region & Tropical Rain Forests of Veracruz
On this 12 day journey, you will embark on a road trip filled with local cultural and historical adventures mixed with stunningly beautiful tropical and alpine scenery as you travel to the far corners of México’s gulf coast state of Veracruz.
During each day of your Veracruz exploration, one of our local English/Spanish speaking tour guides will be with you to lead your group on a discovery of this culturally rich and geographically diverse region.
You will visit major Veracruz cities, travel to the coffee growing areas, explore a huge outdoor market, marvel at the high altitude alpine vistas, enter a pirate’s cave by boat, tour an ecological reserve in the tropical rain forests of southern Veracruz, and much more.
On this México vacation, you will truly experience The Best of Veracruz!
- Arrival to the City of Veracruz
Your trip guide will be waiting for you upon your arrival at the Veracruz International Airport and will then take you to your hotel. If your flight arrives earlier in the day, there may be some time to show you around the city or get something to eat if you are hungry.
- San Juan de Ulúa (harbor fortress & later, a prison)
- Tour the Historical Downtown Area
- El Baluarte de Santiago (the last remaining military fort that was once a part of the wall built around the city)
- Visit the Veracruz Naval Museum
After breakfast, you will start the day with a historical tour of San Juan de Ulúa; a massive fortification built in the harbor of the port city to protect it from foreign invaders and savage pirates. Later, it was converted into a prison. Next, your group will return to the central district for a walking tour to see the important historical landmarks including the main Cathedral. Just a short walk from the downtown area, you will encounter El Baluarte de Santiago (a military fort). At one time, the port of Veracruz had a wall surrounding it for protection. This fort was once part of the wall which faced the sea and with its cannons, helped protect the city from invading pirate ships. After lunch, your guide will lead you on a tour of the very modern Veracruz Naval Museum where you will view many interesting multi-visual exhibits explaining the history of the Mexican Navy. The rest of the afternoon and evening are free to explore on your own. Overnight in the city of Veracruz. (B,L)
- Explore the town of La Antigua (Final Landing Site of Hernán Cortéz)
- Walk the Beach in Villa Rica (where the Spanish Conquerors first landed)
- Visit the Ancient Quiahuiztlan Archaeological Burial Site
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 Cortez 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 churches built in the Americas. Then you will keep traveling north to the ancient burial ruins called, Quiahuiztlan (Key-ah-wheezt-lan). This peaceful remote site is located on a bluff with a stunning view 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 more affluent people as their final resting place. Just below this site is the small village of Villa Rica. This is the frist place Hernán Cortéz landed with his men in 1519. Later you will overnight at one of the beach side hotels found in the Costa Esmeralda region of Veracruz. (B,L)
- Tour El Tajín Archaeological Site (A UNESCO World Heritage Site)
- See the Papantla Voladores Perform Their Ancient Ceremony
- Explore the city of Papantla (Europeans 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. Either your tour guide or 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 again in the Costa Esmeralda area. (B,L)
- Visit Hacienda Lencero (Mexican General, Santa Anna once lived here)
- Learn about the Ancient History at the Anthropology Museum in Xalapa
- Tour the Major Cultural Sites of Xalapa (the capital of Veracruz state)
After breakfast, you will travel toward the bustling city of Xalapa (Ha-la-pah) 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 huge 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, interesting small shops, and is also the home to the University of Veracruz. You will overnight in the nearby town of Coatepec. (B,L)
- Explore the Coffee Growing Region of Veracruz
- Visit a Coffee Plantation
- Explore the Pre-Hispanic Towns of Xico & Coatepec
- View Texolo Waterfall (Use in the movie, Romancing The Stone)
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. Nearby there are two very quaint towns; Coatepec and Xico, both designated as "México Magic Towns." Coatepec is recognized 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, your trip continues to Coscomatepec, a town which is located below the towering snowcapped volcano called, Pico de Orizaba. You will overnight in a hotel there. (B,L)
- Explore the Mountain Regions of Veracruz
- Visit the Scenic Mountain Village of Alpatláhuac
- Wander the Huge Outdoor Market in Coscomatepec
- Eat a Freshly Cooked Lunch at the Market
After breakfast, your guide will take you to the small village of Alpatláhuac where the local Catholic church is perched high above the town. It is there that you can get a sweeping panorama of this higher altitude hilly area of western Veracruz. Then it is back to Coscomatepec where it will be time to get ready for a true Mexican cultural experience. Every Monday the whole town transforms into an outdoor market place. Everything from shoes to live animals are bought and bartered here. You can have lunch right in the market where you can sample some local dishes which are prepared fresh. Most likely your group will be the only foreigners there so the locals will probably be watching you as much as you are observing them. Overnight again in Coscomatepec. (B)
- Explore the Tropical Gulf Coast of Veracruz
- Explore a Local Fish Market
- Enjoy Lunch on the Beach (the seafood is freshly caught)
- Ocean Boat Ride
- View Hundreds of Tropical Birds on an Island
- Motor into a Huge Sea Cave once used by Pirates
This morning your group will leave the mountainous area of western Veracruz and embark on a road trip to the southern rain forested areas of the state. First stop is to visit a local fish market in the town of Alvarado. Then you will continue to a small village adjacent to the Gulf of México where you will have a relaxing lunch. Next, it’s to motor off into the ocean on a local small boat to explore the shoreline, see a huge cave used by pirates, and witness hundreds of birds on an island just off shore. Overnight in a rustic cabin in one of the small seaside villages. (B,L)
- Explore the Los Tuxtlas Region (a recognized tropical rain forest World Biosphere Area)
- Mineral Mud Bath
- Lake Catemaco Boat Ride to Spot Tropical Birds & Monkeys on Islands in the Lake
- Walking tour of the Lakeside Town of Catemaco
After breakfast, your party will travel on a small road which winds through the natural thick tropical rain forest. On the way, you will enter a tropical ecological reserve and be pampered with a mineral mud bath. A special mud is applied over your entire body and after it dries, you immerse yourself in a natural mineral spring pool using minty fresh patchouli leaves to wash off the dried mud. It is very refreshing! Next, from the dock of this reserve, your group will embark on a lake boat ride to take in the wonderful green tropical vistas found in this designated World Biosphere area where you will encounter many tropical birds and maybe spot howler and spider monkeys on islands in the lake. Lunch will be served at a restaurant overlooking this tranquil lake paradise. In the evening, your guide will lead you on a leisurely walk to explore the downtown area of Catemaco. (B,L)
- Scenic Road Trip Around the Lake
- Hike in the Tropical Jungle Forest Lead by a Local Villager
- Swim in Pools found under Hidden Waterfalls
- Enjoy a Special Lunch at a Local Family's Home
- Optional - Evening Temascal Ceremony
This morning, your guide will take you and your traveling companions on a day of tropical exploration starting with a scenic driving trip around a part of the lake. The lake has about 32 miles of shoreline. However, there is still not a road that goes all the way around the entire lake. Your final destination will be to the small village of Benito Juarez. A local village guide will meet you and then lead everyone on a hike into the tropical rain forest jungle. Along the way, your guide will explain about some of the plants and trees you will be passing. You will also encounter some beautiful waterfalls where (if you choose to) you can swim in the cool pools found below these cascading jungle falls. After the hike, your group will enjoy a specially prepared lunch by a local family at their home. Later you will return to Catemaco and overnight there. On this evening, you will also have the option at an additional cost to experience a Temascal Ceremony. Picture yourself in an igloo-shaped hot sauna chanting and sweating. It is an experience you won't soon forget. (B,L)
- Visit a Cigar Company to Learn How Cigars are Hand-Rolled
- View the "Niagara Falls" of Veracruz
- Farewell Dinner
This area of southern Veracruz is prime for growing tobacco. After checking out of your hotel, you will tour a local cigar manufacturing company. There you can learn about how they grow, cultivate, process, and package their products before they are ready to be shipped worldwide. All aspects of this process are done by hand so you will get to see up-close their employees as they rapidly and skillfully work at the different stations. Next, your group will travel a short distance to view the awesome waterfall called, Salto de Eyipantla (Eee-gee-pant-la). This waterfall was featured in the movie, Apocalypto directed by Mel Gibson. Lunch will be at a small restaurant located next to the waterfall. Then you will travel back to the city of Veracruz to check in at a local hotel. Later, everyone will meet for a fun farewell dinner in the downtown area. (B,L,D)
- Travel Day Home from the Veracruz International Airport
- Buen Viaje!
$1097 /child ages 8-17 years
Single Supplement: $390
Trip fees listed above are in US dollars, based on double occupancy, and are subject to change until the date your deposit is received.
Included in Tour FeeIncludes: Airport pickup in Veracruz, all ground transportation (except on day 7), all entrance fees, local bilingual guide, tours per itinerary, all taxes, 11 nights of hotel lodgings, filtered water each day, 10 breakfasts, 9 lunches, 3 dinners
Not Included in Tour FeeNot included: Airfare, meals not listed above, alcoholic drinks, transfer to airport on last day, travel trip insurance, trip medical insurance, guide tips
Our trip has been absolutely beautiful with gorgeous foliage and beautiful waterfalls. My wife and I have been to Costa Rica, Panama, and Ecuador, but Veracruz is by far, the best.
-Richard & Shirley Good