New York to Cancun to Oaxaca
Replies: 17 - Last Post: Mar 6, 2013 12:03 AM Last Post By: chris0daniel
Feb 27, 2013 7:37 AM
Feb 27, 2013 7:39 AM
Feb 27, 2013 8:53 AM
Feb 27, 2013 7:35 PM
3Since this will be a summer trip, "take in the culture" while staying up high, above 1,000 meters/3,000 feet elevation. There are lots of highland destinations to explore. You could stay high by flying into either Mexico City or Oaxaca and then never (or for just a few days) descend to the scorching lowlands. Or you could fly into a lowland airport such as Tuxtla Guiterrez . (near San Cristobal de las Casas) or Cancun, and then get yourself up high as quickly as possible.
If you fly into Cancun, consider immediately taking a twelve hour overnight bus ride to Palenque. Then, after spending no more than one or two nights at Palenque, do the scenic five hour bus ride up into the mountains to cool San Cristobal de las Casas. From San Cristobal it would be another nine hours or so, (usually done overnight) north to Oaxaca.
Expect to pay approximately US $6 per hour to travel on first class (or first class plus) buses in that region. When you calculate the cost of long distance bus travel, and consider how tiring such trips can be, paying a bit more to fly instead into inland locations, such as Mexico City, Oaxaca, or Tuxtla, may make sense.
Mar 1, 2013 5:34 PM
4Thanks for this advice--it confirms what I already felt about the options. I would prefer to stay at altitude to avoid the summer heat. The flights to Cancun are about $150-200American cheaper than a flight to Mexico City, but at $6/hour would probably cost more to reach Oaxaca.
The destinations mentioned look interesting-- I have been to Palenque, San Cristobal, and would like to visit Merida and Campeche--but the flight to DF with bus to Oaxaca is looking like a more probable trip.
Mar 1, 2013 8:04 PM
5"...visit markets, y'know, take in the culture."
Charlie Tuba--Some travelers "take in the culture" by getting out of cities and spending some days and nights in small, highly indigenous towns. There are places around Oaxaca where its possible to do that, including the "Pueblos Mancommunados" an hour or two north or the city, up in the mountains.
Another indigenous mountain town that is emerging as a cultural tourism/eco-tourism destination is Cuetzalan. That's in northern Puebla, only three hours off of the Mexico City-to-Oaxaca route that you'll take. See:
Mar 2, 2013 4:54 AM
6Chris, you might mention something about Cuetzalan in the rainy season. When we were there many years ago, in March, which is the dry season, it rained and drizzled or more every other day. What's the weather like in the true rainy season?
Mar 2, 2013 7:16 AM
Mar 2, 2013 7:27 AM
8A comparison on one website I found shows Cuetzalan gets on average 11 days and 40 mm of rain in March vs 4 days and 10 mm of rain in Puebla. You can see a graphic illustration of this on Google Maps, the green landscape of Cuetzalan vs the brown landscape of Puebla. Not surprising since Cuetzalan is on the slopes facing the Gulf where the moisture originates, and Puebla is on the plateau or high valley.
Mar 2, 2013 5:12 PM
9Lotusland2--I'd like to learn more about the "12th class bus from Cuetzalan to Papantla". I'd guess it might run just once a day (if that often) and be a slow but interesting trip. I wonder what smaller towns/villages it passes through in route. (That could potentially be an interesting walking/trekking route, along those back roads.
Mar 2, 2013 6:03 PM
10Anonimo and McClarjh--Yes, Cuetzalan , like Puebla's Sierra Norte generally, gets a lot of rain, If by chance you are there when a tropical storm or hurricane stalls off the Gulf Coast, you could experience heavy rain lasting for several days and nights, and some road wash outs. I've not been through that yet, but recognize that it happens. Fortunately, movements of tropical storm systems from West Africa to the Gulf of Mexico are tracked these days. So, if right before someone plans to enter the Sierra Norte, he or she encounters weather reports indicating that a tropical storm or hurricane is heading towards the state of Veracruz, detouring then to another area (somewhere drier than northern Puebla) might make sense.
Sometimes mornings in Cuetzalan are sunny but are followed by intense, exciting tropical downpours occurring for an hour for two during mid-afternoon, late afternoon, or evening. I was in Cuetzalan for five days in mid-July, 2001, attending two interesting local festivals. Four of the days were dry. On the other day a late afternoon storm of the kind described above occurred.
In late December, 2011 ("dry season") I spent seven days total in other mountain towns near Cuetzalan (specifically Zacapoaxtla, Xochitlan, and Zapotitlan). I experienced one full day and night of mist, drizzle, and light rain, conditions perhaps resembling the weather Anomimo encountered visiting Cuetzalan. On another day everything was shrouded in thick fog. My other five days in the area were clear and sunny.
Mar 2, 2013 7:29 PM
11Hard for me to give a specific instruction as to where to catch the "12th class bus", other than to say the departure point was on a fairly major street west of the centre (not a bus station), and we found it by having heard that there was a bus going there and just kept asking until we sussed it out. While the ride was slow, because it was direct, didn't really take that much more time. I recall it left somewhere around 9ish in the morning. I can't think of any towns along the way, but it remains a memorable bus ride for me, through absolutely gorgeous and verdant countryside.
Let me know if you find it, and yes, I would imagine it would make a wonderful walk/trek.
Mar 2, 2013 7:41 PM
12i went to cuetzalan from oaxaca on feb 14, with a change of bus in puebla. it did not occur to me to check the weather report first. all was sunny and nice down in the plain. once we got into the sierra, heavy fog blanketed us. in cuetzalan, it was pouring in the evening when i got there.
it continued, with no let up, and i talked about solid sheet of water coming down, for the next days.
good thing there was great coffee in this town. i basically drank coffee, read, and observing the downpour. people seemed to conduct their affairs as usual.
sunday feb 17 saw a break in the sky. the weekly market was set up and as bustling as ever. i took the texcoco bus at half past noon bound for mexico city.
still, i love cuetzalan. that was my second trip. i will go back again, but only after checking the weather report.
i bought 2 kilos of ground coffee from a native stall, 120 pesos total. the aroma was so overhelming in my little room at hotel rioja in mexico city, that it literally gave me a headache.
Mar 4, 2013 2:02 PM
13Wow--did you say coffee? That and torrential rains sound like enough, but the market is the thing Cuetzalan is known for. I remember some downpours in Oaxaca the last time I was there, another phenomenon for this New Englander to travel for. We have some spectacular weather here, punctuated by too much cold, gray dark and windy this time of year.
It seems like (from reading the LP guide) accommodations are not so easy to come by in this little town. Any ideas? Or is there a good route for a trip from DF on the way to Puebla and Oaxaca from the capital?
Mar 5, 2013 5:51 PM
14Re: hotels, head west from the zocalo. Quite a few down there, and much more interesting than the one we spent one night in just above the zocalo. Funny, was just going through some files the other day, and I think this is the hotel (simple but very pleasant) that we stayed in there: El Encuentro, http://www.grupoelencuentro.com.mx/hotel/instalaciones.html.
(4 star Hotel)
From US$70.00 per night
(3 star Hotel)
From US$92.59 per night
(3 star Hotel)
From US$82.49 per night