Happy Trails & Mayan Tales

Send clients on a journey to unrehearsed, unrestricted Mexico.

Outdoor recreation in Mexico is a bountiful affair of mountain slopes and underground caves, horse country and sea turtles—and there’s something about its many landscapes that unleashes the adventurer in most of us. Clients leaning toward true adventure—not just trying the “medium-hot” sauce on the buffet table—will find that there’s always a little bit more than they thought down south.

For instance, they can mosey on down to the outskirts of the village of Santo Domingo, about two hours away from Guadalajara, where the Moonbeam Rancho awaits. At this laid-back working ranch, guests can participate in everyday chores or sign up for riding or roping lessons, and even go on an equestrian tour and explore the beautiful countryside. Visitors can ride straight into town on working horses or enjoy galloping on wide trails. Also available are charro workshops, where your clients can learn the traditional art of horsemanship and how to parade on a horse rodeo-style.

Moonbeam Rancho is a fun and affordable option for families, as it can be booked for just $750 per week or $150 per day for a 2-day minimum. If desired, clients can arrange to have a cook prepare their meals on site for an extra charge—and the cook can also babysit. A bilingual guide is also available for an additional daily fee.

mountains to sea There are more than a handful of options out in Mexico for clients hoping to see as much diversity as possible in a short period of time. Colorado-based The World Outdoors opens the door for safe and exciting exploration with Oaxaca Mountains-to-the-Sea Explorer—an apt name given Oaxaca’s varied topography. Long recognized for its gastronomic offerings and architectural masterpieces, the “Land of the Seven Moles” is a flavorful slice of Mexicana, with 16th century structures and gold-covered altars, rich chocolate and mescal and exquisite crafts to take home. But it’s also the gateway to the discovery of thousands of years of earlier civilization in nearby sites such as Monte Alban, a pre-Hispanic complex built by the Zapotecs.

The tour allows clients to explore the heart of the city of Oaxaca but also visits the temples, ball courts and other vestiges of earlier times in Monte Alban and in Mitla, which has structures from different time periods. There are a few days of forest hikes, walks through agave and wildflower fields and submersion into the Oaxacan countryside. The tour wraps up with a short flight and 2-day stay in the coastal village of Puerto Escondido, where travelers can tube down the Colotepec River, bike around the area and do some lagoon kayaking before maybe feasting on the catch of the day. Accommodations include the Hostal de La Noria in Oaxaca and Hotel Santa Fe in Puerto Escondido, as well as the local community cabins of the Sierra Norte. Oaxaca Mountains-to-the-Sea Explorer starts at $2,498 pp for eight nights and has monthly departure dates from October through May.

women’s-only eco For active girlfriends’ getaways that offer a bit more action than splashing up to a swim-up bar, try Adventures in Good Company, where women connect with nature and each other as they experience some of the prettiest locations around the world. With travelers ranging in age from 20 to over 80—and in professions from businesswomen to stay-at-home moms—the outfitter has created trips with varied levels of activity, accommodations and cost, and even provides limited financial assistance to single mothers who could use a much-needed break.

Adventures in Good Company’s Beaches, Castles and Caves of Mexico heads out to the Riviera Maya for seven days on Feb. 7, 2010—an ideal time to visit, as the weather is pleasantly cool. Travelers get the chance to kayak in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve and revel in the sights and sounds of howler monkeys, anteaters and hundreds of bird species; snorkel by the coral reef barrier among exotic marine life; and explore the legacy of the Maya among the ruins of Tulum and Coba. They also get to explore Aktun Chen, a limestone cave system replete with stalactites and stalagmites and a dazzling cenote for post-exploration swimming. Clients spend one night in Cancun and the rest in tent cabins with private patios at CESiaK, an ecotourism center and lodge right by the ocean in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve.