Two Day Trips in Oaxaca, Mexico You Shouldn’t Miss

Mexico is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating countries in the northern hemisphere of the western world. Its history, culture, food and collage of ethnic groups and their languages make an astounding study. One region in particular bears repeated mention; the state of Oaxaca (pronounced wah – ha – ka). The capitol city is also called Oaxaca. So it’s Oaxaca, Oaxaca City and state like New York, New York. About an eight hour trip by land east of Mexico City, you’ll need several days to get around and do the area any justice. It’s a definite “must” on your travel tour list of Mexico. I’ve singled out these two day trips in particular, as essential during your time in this region.A Day Trip to “El Tule”A Jewish carpenter named Joseph helped his pregnant wife Mary onto a mule for the long trip to Bethlehem, where their first child, known as Jesus would be born. At the same time, a seedling of the Ahuehuete tree (a type of Cypress) was growing on the other side of the world. Now known as the “Tree of Tule”, this massive growth is located in a 17th century churchyard about 10 kilometers outside of Oaxaca in the small town of Tule.Claimed to more than 2000 years old and to have the largest diameter of any tree in the Americas, it is more than 176 feet (58 meters) around and 126 feet (42 meters) tall. To encircle the Tree of Tule takes nearly 20 people with their arms outstretched. There is a small fee to enter the churchyard to view both the 17th century church and the fence-protected tree. Gnarled sections of bark on the tree suggest the faces of people or shapes of animals while scores of birds circle and play in its massive branches.Frequent buses and tours go to Tule so you’ll have no trouble visiting this impressive site. Costs range from 10 pesos on up depending on the bus company or tour which will have other sites included on a typical day trip. Buses from the second class bus station in Oaxaca also go to Tule, but the risks may not be worth it. Check around and at the tourist information office before you go.A Day Trip to Monte AlbanIt would be unthinkable to visit the city and state of Oaxaca, Oaxaca and not go on THE day trip of the area:

The Zapotec capitol city ruins on the flattened hilltop called Monte Alban. With absolutely stunning views of the city of Oaxaca along with the surrounding hills and valleys for many kilometers around, a trip here is a must no matter how many other sites you’ve already seen. A well-planned museum (complete with English language bookstore and cafeteria) with local guides available and an extensive number of buildings restored to near-original status grace this once proud city.

To get there: Go to the Hotel Rivera del Angel at Mina No. 518. The ticket office of Autobuses Turisticos is in the lobby. Buses (16 pesos round trip) leave every half hour from 8:30am to 3:30pm. The museum entrance fee is 30 pesos (about $3 U.S. dollars).After a day of exploring, learning, and photos, buses will return to the city from the tree-lined parking lot entrance where you were dropped off. Workers on the archeological site also take these buses, so you can have some pretty interesting conversations if you speak even passable Spanish. A minimum of three hours or so should be planned to really get the most from this world-famous site. Do be careful, however, of buying “artifacts” from locals, as they may be stolen and illegal to remove from the country or copies of very poor quality.Take one day trip or try them both. Either way you’ll be in privileged company as any dignitary visiting the region is assured of being taken to both of these sites, often on the same day. Each makes an interesting, informative trip on its own. Visiting each site on different days allows greater freedom to soak up the local ambience and choose days on which the crowds are thinnest. This will often depend on the time of year. “El Tule”, you should note, is virtually unapproachable around Christmas time. Enjoy!

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