Explore a tucked away treasure in Mexico's southern highlands
In the highlands of southern Mexico, mountains split the land to isolate and sustain centuries-old communities. Here, exquisite arts, crafts, and textiles follow a rich tradition integral to the country.
Take in the creativity of Maya villages with famous ceramic or textile traditions near the lovely colonial town of San Cristóbal de las Casas, the natural beauty of Chiapas, and the magnificent archaeology of Palenque and other ancient sites. In January, during the festival of the Parachicos, performers in Chiapa de Corzo wear intricately carved wooden masks, vast headdresses and flamboyant clothing. The feast of San Sebastián is also celebrated in the Tseltal Maya communities of San Juan Chamula and Zinacantan with lavish processions. As in the past, artistic traditions link the contemporary Maya with their ancestors
Led by Mexico scholar and curator, Chloë Sayer.
** A Leisurely 16 days deep-dive **
From past tours
I’m still re-living and remembering our marvellous tour in Mexico. I needed to let it perk awhile in my brain, to begin to absorb and relish all the wonderful people we met and the arts and crafts we saw. When I look at the treasures I brought home or the photos I took, I get a smile on my face and a good feeling all over – what a trip!! Carol Koenig, Ontario
In one word, breathtaking. We were lucky to have two fabulous tour leaders. One was Shila herself , organising our daily outings and marvellous accommodation and meals, and in her inimitable fashion encouraging us to share our thoughts and reactions and communicate with each other from day one. Additionally we had the huge benefit of Chloe Sayer, curator and expert in Mexican art and culture, who introduced us to artisan families and their skills. We watched their creative processes in small workshops that we could never have stumbled upon without Chloe’s guidance or her personal friendships with the artists themselves. It was a huge privilege to join this tour and if repeated, must NOT be missed. Ruth Bundey, U.K.
The Parachicos Festival's flamboyant celebrations are now on UNESCO's List of Intangible Cultural Heritage. This celebration of music, dance, handicrafts, gastronomy, religious ceremonies, and feasting honours the Catholic Saints. The technique of mask-making is passed from generation to generation. The dance of the Parachicos during the Great Feast embraces all spheres of local life, promoting mutual respect among communities, groups and individuals. Must be experienced to be believed!
The Maya of Chiapas are some of the most accomplished weavers in the world. Complex designs, some extremely ancient, are woven on the backstrap loom. Highland communities preserve their identity through traditional forms of clothing. Wool and cotton are still hand-spun and dyed with indigo and natural colourants. We will visit weaving cooperatives and homes of spinners, weavers and dyers. In Zinacantán, we will see constantly evolving clothing styles where garments are exuberantly embroidered with shimmering threads in an ever-changing range of colours.
Traditional ceramic skills are preserved in the village of Amatenango del Valle, where women hand-shape their work before burnishing and painting it with earth colours. Chiapa de Corzo is famous for its lacquered and exquisitely decorated gourds. Elaborate masks and dazzling costumes are made by specialists in Chiapa de Corzo for performers in la Danza de los Parachicos
The Maya have been a cultural force for well over 3,000 years. Immense stone cities like Palenque and Toniná were home to vast populations. Site museums include magnificent carved stone panels, fine ceramics and jade carvings. We will visit these timeless sites accompanied by expert guides.
San Cristóbal de las Casas
This beautiful colonial town has bustling craft markets, interesting and quirky museums, spectacular churches, sidewalk cafes and restaurants with local cuisine. The Maya Centre, in the Ex-Convento de Santo Domingo, displays pre-Conquest and Colonial Art. Housed upstairs is one of the finest collections anywhere of Maya textiles, many dating back to the 1970s and beyond. We will base ourselves here for our deep exploration of Chiapas.
Four lectures by trip leader, Chloë Sayer. Chloë is a sought-after internationally recognised speaker on Mexican history, textiles, arts, crafts, festivals, and culture. Recipient of numerous awards including the Mexican govt.'s Ohtli Medal. From past travellers: "The lectures Chloë gave added immeasurably to my appreciation of what I was seeing. Timely and in-depth without being too academic. One of the tour highlights!"
The Natural World
Rich in flora and fauna, Chiapas has spectacular landscapes: dense rainforest, pine-covered highlands, lakes, labyrinthine caves, waterfalls and crystalline pools. In the spectacular Sumidero Canyon, small boats carry visitors beneath towering canyon walls along the Grijalva River.
A given on every E.Y.H.O. tour since we are huge foodies. We will introduce you to how locals eat, in a safe and hygienic way. Meals with local families and roadside eateries for a culinary immersion. Worried about getting sick? We have an enviable 12 year record of keeping our travellers healthy!
The beating pulse of any traditional community is also the best place to imbibe local flavour. We will visit the very special textile market of San Pedro Chenalhó and the Sunday weavers market in San Andrés Larráinzar.his region has one of the most consistent weaving traditions and specializes in weaves that incorporate cultural symbolism
Hands on Demos
Learn alongside the best. Pottery workshop, classic Aguacatenango embroidery, optional pottery and handmade paper workshops. Visit private collections, and meet legendary influencers of Chiapas in intimate settings.
Led by Chloë Sayer
Chloë Sayer is an author and curator, specialising in the art and culture of Latin America. She has made ethnographic collections for the British Museum and has published numerous books. She has worked on television documentaries for the BBC and Channel 4 and is a Research Associate with the Department for World Cultures at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. In 2016, the Mexican Government awarded Chloë the Ohtli medal to thank her for her long-standing commitment to Mexican culture.