Tierraventura, set up by a Swiss-German couple in 1999, is the antidote to the rest of the tour guide pack, offering trips to places few others think to tread. Local guides accompany travelers wherever possible.

Options include hiking in the Sierra Norte, trips to Santiago Apoala, and some truly off-the-beaten-track destinations such as Santiago Quiotepec in the dramatic La Cañada area (where you'll see a rarely visited Zapotec fort, Mexico's last military macaws and some amazing cardón cacti), or the northern village of Santo Domingo Cacalotepec, where lauded coffee and everything else is grown organically and you'll swim beneath waterfalls and hike through ancient high-altitude rainforest.