Day 1: Mexico City, Mexico
Our representative meets you on arrival in Mexico City and accompanies you to your hotel in the upscale Polanco district of Mexico's capital. The remainder of the day is at leisure to explore the city, take in the sights, or just relax and enjoy dinner on your own at one of the many restaurants in and around the hotel.
Day 2: Mexico City / Pyramids of Teotihuacan
Depart the city this morning with your private guide. About an hour's drive outside Mexico City, we reach Teotihuacan. Human occupation of this broad valley began more than two millennia ago, but it was only between the first and seventh centuries A.D. that the settlement developed into one of the largest cities in the Americas, home to at least 125,000 residents at its height. Our tour of the site begins at the Pyramid of the Sun, where there's a chance to hike to the top if you wish, for a grand view of the temple complex, but please keep in mind that the climb involves hundreds of steps that are quite steep and often uneven.
The city’s urban plan integrated natural elements of the Teotihuacan Valley, such as the San Juan River, whose course was altered to cross the Avenue of the Dead. This north/south-oriented main reference axis of the city aligns with monumental buildings and complexes, from which the Pyramids of the Sun and Moon, as well as the Great Compound with the Temple of Quetzalcoatl, stand out. A considerable number of buildings were decorated with elaborate wall frescoes depicting the worldview and environment of that time. Considered a model of urbanization and large-scale planning, the city greatly influenced the conceptions of cities for contemporary and subsequent cultures. At the peak of its development, the city covered 14 square miles. Outside the ceremonial center, which despite its imposing size represents just 10 percent of Teotihuacan's total area, excavations have revealed other palaces and residential quarters. After the city was consumed by fire in the 7th century, it was consequently abandoned.
Next, we visit an obsidian workshop where a local artisan teaches us about the different varieties of obsidian, the meaning of traditional figures, and demonstrates ancient carving techniques. We also learn about the process of making pulque, a fermented alcoholic beverage, from the agave plant. After lunch, return to the ruins with our guide to visit a further selection of ancient monuments. Your tour may include the Palace of the Court of the Jaguars, Palace of the Feathered Sea Shells, Palace of Quetzalpapalotl, where ancient frescoes have been restored, and the Pyramid of the Moon. Later this afternoon, we make our way back to Mexico City, arriving at our hotel in time to freshen up before dinner. For those about to begin a monarch butterfly adventure, you'll have an orientation and welcome dinner with your Expedition Leader this evening.