Exploring Mexico's Cultural and Natural Riches

Chichén Itzá

Mexico’s cultural riches come in many forms. And, timely initiatives are shining a light on them across the country. One example is tailor-made for clients interested in a deep dive into the Mundo Maya (Mayan World). Regional carrier Aeromar has introduced the AeroMayan Pass. It’s a segmented pass of five, 10 or 15 flights, with prices ranging from $425 to $1,125. 

Flight segments can be used for travel between Cancun, Merida, Mexico City, Oaxaca, Tuxtla, Villahermosa and other destinations. They’re valid for stays of seven to 45 days from first day of use. 

The new flight pass is a step in the right direction, according to tourism officials in Yucatan. The state is closely linked to the Maya, who first arrived there in 2500 B.C. They built their many pyramids, palaces, and plazas between 300 and 900 B.C. 

Today, several Mayan cities in the Yucatan are UNESCO World Heritage sites, including Chichén Itzá and Uxmal. The former is home to the Temple of Kukulkan, named for the Mayan snake deity. Throngs gather there for a twice-yearly phenomenon that takes place on the equinoxes. The sun’s shadow creates the illusion of a massive serpent descending the pyramid’s edge. 

It’s but one monument to the Maya’s prowess in astronomy and engineering. 

At Uxmal, the Pyramid of the Magician is a major archaeological structure that visitors can still climb. It’s known for its rounded sides, steep slope, and unusual elliptical base. 

The Ek Balam (Black Jaguar) archaeological site is famous for El Torre. The huge tower lined with decorative motifs measures 500 feet in length, 200 feet in width and stands 100 feet tall. 

"Yucatan's Mayan archaeological sites are Mexico's biggest treasures," Fernando H. Ceballos, Yucatan’s director of tourism promotion, tells Travel Agent. "This is beyond buildings and beautiful places, they are spaces where you literally see the wisdom and the possibilities of humanity and get inspired by that. For our economy, these sites are magnets of tourism, and we feel compelled to share them with the world,"

An agave field in Tequila // Photo by camaralenta/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Tourism officials in other states are keen to promote their own cultural treasures. That’s particularly true this week, which began with National Tequila Day

The national elixir, of course, originates in the town of Tequila, in the state of Jalisco. Fields of blue agave plants mature for seven to ten years before they’re harvested and distilled. The complex process produces all the world’s tequila.

Less than an hour (40 miles) from Guadalajara, Tequila is a Pueblo Magico (Magical Town). UNESCO has also designated Tequila and its environs as a Heritage Site. 

There’s a bustling Tequila Trail tourist circuit that includes historic haciendas, grand tequila mansions, distilleries, museums, opal and obsidian mines, archeological ruins, spas and other attractions. 

Distillery tours offer the chance to see the production process first-hand. That process includes brick ovens that cook the agave, massive copper stills for distillation and barrels stacked up in aging halls.

Popular distillery tour options include Mundo Cuervo, the visitor and events center of Jose Cuervo; La Rojena and Casa Sauza.

Another means for clients to explore the tequila-producing region is aboard the Tequila Express tourist train. It departs from Guadalajara and includes a guided tour of the Herradura distillery, lunch at a Mexican hacienda, live mariachis and folk dancing, and of course, tequila sampling.

The Jose Cuervo Express also travels from Guadalajara across the agave landscape. Three passenger wagons can accommodate 62 passengers each. 

Additional highlights of Tequila itself include the National Museum of Tequila, the central gazebo (lively in the evenings) and Santiago Apostol Church

On Mexico’s Pacific coast, it’s the riches of nature on display this time of year. 

Hilton Los Cabos Beach & Gold Resort sea turtle nesting area 

The sea turtle nesting and hatching season runs through November in Los Cabos. That’s later than the country’s Caribbean coast. It also features a different sea turtle species, the Olive Ridley. 

Several hotel properties are involved in sea turtle protection programs. One worthy of special mention is Hilton Los Cabos Beach and Golf Resort

The staff mounts a robust effort to patrol the beach and protect the hundreds of nesting turtles there. The team monitors a 10-mile stretch of beachfront daily. 

Director of property operations Phil Sanders is an expat who’s especially proud of the resort’s conservation work. The Hilton Los Cabos team boasts a dual certification from SEMARNAT, the federal ministry of environment, and Profepa, Mexico’s environmental protection agency. 

“We have that dual certification, and we’ve put in a lot of work for it. But, it’s such an amazing experience to be able to do our part to help the turtles. The guests love it. A few years ago, I came across a leatherback on the beach. They’re giants, extremely endangered. It was pretty incredible,” Sanders tells Travel Agent. 

Los Cabos Beach and Golf Resort general manager Marco Tabet tells Travel Agent that prime time is yet to come. “September is the busiest month for the turtles. You don’t want to miss it,” said Tabet. 

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