Where to start with Mexico? Mexico is a vast treasure trove of colonial glory, ancient wonder and breathtaking landscapes including mile upon mile of pristine beaches. At Oasis, we could fill this page with destinations yet have whittled down the list to the following highlights:
The Copper Canyon
The fact that it is four times larger (and on average deeper) than the Grand Canyon says it all. The Copper Canyon is vast, remote and simply magnificent. For walkers, the options are un-paralleled in Mexico – the trek between the Urique and Batopilas Canyons is simply breathtaking – while the views from the cliff-top hotels are mesmerising. Best of all, visiting the Copper Canyon involves one of Latin America’s great train journeys, a ride on the fabulous Chihuahua-al-Pacífico railroad (or “el Chepe”).
There is no better way to spoil yourself on the Yucatan Peninsula than with a stay at one of the country’s great hacienda estates. Here you can experience the old-world charm of a 16th century plantation house set amidst crumbling ruins, beautiful gardens and lush forest. Close by, there are Mayan pyramids and colonial towns to explore or you can simply while away the days around the hacienda relaxing around the pool, enjoying the finest food.
Chiapas is the Mayan heart of Mexico, a fascinating region rich in indigenous culture, wonderful local cuisine and beautiful colonial cities from Oaxaca to San Cristobal. Travel into the steamy lowlands and you discover ancient pyramids such as Tonina or Palenque or head off the beaten track into the dense jungle to explore more isolated sites such as Bonampak or Yaxchilan. This is Indiana Jones territory which each year, ever more citadel kingdoms are being reclaimed from the forest.
Mexico City is one if the world’s great capitals, a true global monster yet if you have an interest in art, culture and pre-Colombian history, it is the perfect starting point for Mexico. For ancient ruins, look no further than the Aztec “Templo Mayor” which resides beneath the impressive “zocalo” or venture out to the temple complex of Teotihuacán on the edge of the city. Mexico City boasts more galleries and museums than any other Latin American city, where vast Diego Rivera murals adorn the national palace and works of Frida Kalho grace countless collections.
Where better to finish your trip than on the powder white sand and sun-drenched beaches of the Riviera Maya. In the 1960’s, it was the Pacific coast and Acapulco that hosted Hollywood glamour yet today, south of Cancun, a string of gorgeous resorts runs the length of the Riviera Maya towards the town of Tulum. Off shore, you can swim with whale-sharks or snorkel off the Great Maya Reef while heading inland, you can visit Mayan ruins, colonial towns and famous “cenote” sink holes. Most visitors, however, tend to stick to the beaches, a golden expanse lapped by turquoise water and only venture as far as a local restaurant or bar.