PUEBLOS MAGICOS OF PUEBLA, 6-17 MAR, 2022

PUEBLOS MÁGICOS OF PUEBLA (SCOUTING TRIP)
6-17 MAR, 2022

with Jeremy Woodhouse
(12 Days/11 Nights)

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CHURCH OF SAN FRANCISCO ACATEPEC © JEREMY WOODHOUSE

Logo Pueblos Magicos

Introduction

The cultural, historical, architectural and gastronomic value of Mexico's destinations is as great as its country.

The Pueblo Mágico designation is awarded to those communities that, over time, have maintained their original architecture, traditions, history and culture, and that have been of great relevance to the history of the country.

The Magic Towns are defined as places with great symbolism and legend; they are towns whose historical importance has been fundamental for the development of history and that enhance national identity. These places have a special magic that connects the visitor with the roots and customs of Mexico. 

Currently, throughout Mexico, there are 132 Magic Towns whose attractions delight travellers from around the world.

These destinations will enchant you with the beauty of their natural settings, the incredible precision of their construction (many of them in the Baroque style), the perfect combination between their pre-Hispanic past and the mixture of ethnic and cultural groups throughout Mexican history. 

Discover Mexico and fall in love with its Magic Towns.


Daily Itinerary

Southern Route

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Pre-tour: Sun, 6 Mar, 2022 – Arrive Mexico City
You will arrive during the day and book into the conveniently located airport hotel in preparation for our drive to Puebla tomorrow.

O/N NH Collection Mexico City Airport T2

Day 1: Mon, 7 Mar, 2022 – Mexico City/Puebla (128km)
Today we drive to Puebla which will be our base for the next 3 nights. During our time in the Pueblo Magico of Puebla, we will be visiting the Pueblos Magicos of Cholula and Atlixco.

Once a bastion of conservatism, Catholicism and tradition, Puebla has come out of its colonial-era shell. The city retains a fantastically well-preserved center, a stunning cathedral and a wealth of beautiful churches, while younger poblanos (people from Puebla) are embracing the city’s increasingly thriving art and nightlife scenes.

The city is well worth a visit, with 70 churches in the historic center alone, more than 1000 colonial-era buildings adorned with the Talavera (painted ceramic tiles) for which the city is famous, and a long culinary history that can be explored at any restaurant or food stall. For a city of its size, Puebla is far more relaxed and less gridlocked than you might expect.

Watch painters and sculptors at work in the galleries of the Barrio del Artista, amid bronze monuments to poblano authors and poets. Farther down Calle 8 Norte, you can buy Talavera pottery and other local crafts from the dozens of small stores and street vendors. There are occasional weekend concerts and open-air theater performances.

Construction on the Puebla Cathedral began between 1536 and 1539. Work was completed by Puebla's most famous son, Bishop Juan de Palafox y Mendoza, who donated his personal fortune to build its famous tower, the second largest in the country. The altar was constructed between 1797 and 1818. Manuel Tolsá, Mexico's most illustrious colonial architect, adorned it with onyx, marble, and gold.

The magnificent Templo de Santo Domingo is famous for its overwhelming Capilla del Rosario (Chapel of the Rosary), where almost every inch of the walls and ceilings is covered with gilded carvings. Dominican friars arrived here in 1534, barely a dozen years after the Spanish conquered this region. The Capilla de la Tercera Orden (Chapel of the Third Order) was originally called the "Chapel of the Dark-Skinned Ones," named for the mixed-race population born a short time later.

Founded in 1824, the Uriarte Talavera is one of the few authentic Talavera workshops left today. To be the real deal, pieces must be hand-painted in intricate designs with natural dyes derived from minerals. That's why only five colors are used: blue, black, yellow, green, and a reddish pink. English- and Spanish-language tours take place weekdays every half hour between 10am and 2pm and cost about MX$500. If you miss the tour, you can only visit the shop and the patio.


Day 2: Tue, 8 March – Puebla/Cholula (13km)
Creeping out from under the shadow of Puebla, with a growing nightlife scene thanks to students from the Universidad de la Américas, Cholula is gradually being restored to something of its former greatness. Before the Spanish conquest, the ancient settlement west of Puebla had hundreds of temples and rivaled Teotihuacán as a cultural and ceremonial center. On his arrival, Cortés ordered every temple to be destroyed and replaced by a church. However, the claim that Cholula has 365 church cupolas, one for every day in the year, is to be taken with a grain of salt.

The impressive Ex-Convento de San Gabriel includes a trio of churches. The most unusual is the Moorish-style Capilla Real, with 49 domes. Construction began in the 1540s, and the building was originally open on one side to facilitate the conversion of huge masses of people. A handful of Franciscan monks still live in one part of the premises, so be respectful of their privacy. La Biblioteca Franciscana (open weekdays 9 to 5) is a fascinating on-premises library of over 24,000 volumes from the 16th through 19th centuries, with occasional exhibitions.

The exterior of the 16th-century Iglesia de Santa María Tonantzintla might be simple, but inside waits an explosion of color and swirling shapes. To facilitate the conversion of the native population, Franciscan monks incorporated elements recalling the local cult of the goddess Tonantzin in the ornamentation of the chapel. The result is a jewel of the style known as churrigueresque. The polychrome wood-and-stucco carvings—inset columns, altarpieces, and the main archway—were completed in the late 17th century. The carvings, set off by ornate gold-leaf figures of plant forms, angels, and saints, were made by local craftspeople. Flash photography is not allowed.

Manuel Toussaint, an expert in colonial art, likened the Templo de San Francisco Acatepec to "a temple of porcelain, worthy of being kept beneath a crystal dome." Construction began in 1590, with the elaborate Spanish baroque decorations added between 1650 and 1750. Multicolored Talavera tiles cover the exceptionally ornate facade. The interior blazes with polychrome plasterwork and gilding; a sun radiates overhead. Unlike that of the nearby Santa María Tonantzintla, the ornamentation hews to the standard representations of the Incarnation, the Evangelists, and the Holy Trinity. Look for St. Francis, to whom the church is dedicated, between the altarpiece's spiraling columns.

The third church we will visit, which like Iglesia de Santa María Tonantzintla and Templo de San Francisco Acatepec, both which have a tiled exterior and a stucco interior, will be San Bernardino Tlaxcalancingo.


Day 3: Wed, 9 March – Puebla/Atlixco (30km)
After breakfast we will drive to Atlixco where we will spend as much time as we need to visit this charming town. The view of Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl volcanoes is magnificent from any angle, especially when you're just a few kilometres away. Atlixco boasts the best climate in the world due to its proximity to the volcano, and flowers are part of the everyday landscape.

We visit the Zócalo, an Arabesque-style square, which houses the former convent of Carmen, dating from the 16th century, and the Church of La Merced built in 1680 with an important painting collection, the Chapel of the Third Order, with a magnificent baroque altarpiece and the Temple and Convent of Santa Clara.

Going up to Cerro de San Miguel viewpoint gives you a panoramic view of Atlixco. In addition to the sweeping valley views, this is also the location of the 18th Century Capilla de San Miguel. You can either reach it on foot if you’re in good shape, or by car.


Day 4: Thu, 10 Mar, 2022 – Puebla/Tecamachalco/Tehuacan (150km)
Leaving Puebla early, we begin our drive to Tehuacan, stopping off on the way to visit Tacamachalco—we will spend the night in Tehuacan.

Puebla has many communities that seem to be guardians that protect its history. One of these is Tecamachalco. We are talking about a small city whose name comes from Nahuatl and means "in the jaw of the stone", because this hill resembles a jaw. This is the place where the first inhabitants of the region settled. The first population in this zone were the Popolocas that settled here around 1441. In 1530, the indigenous evangelisation by the Spaniards took place. A church and a Franciscan Convent were built here.

We will take a tour of the Historic Center of Tehuacán and we will spend time in its main plaza where we can enjoy chalupitas or molotes, typical food that you can find in the street stalls. We visit the Cathedral. Its construction began in the year 1724 and ended 4 years later. It is made from stone and brick in a Renaissance style. 


Northern Section

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Day 5: Fri, 11 Mar, 2022 – Tehuacan/Tecamachalco/Tlatlanquitepec (215km)
Tlatlauquitepec is a beautiful town founded by ancient Toltec and Olmec civilizations. Its name is derived from the Nahuatl words “tlatlahui” (coloring) and “tépetl” (hill), which means “Colored Hill”. In addition to its setting in the beautiful landscape, surrounded by trees and flowers, it offers a magnificent view of nearby Cerro Cabezón. Visit La Iglesia del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús (Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus) from where you will have one of the best views of "El Cabezón" in the town.

Tlatlauquitepec has a unique cultural importance and natural beauty, which is why it was recognized as a Magic Town in 2012.

O/N Hotel Santa Fe, Tlatlauquitepec

Day 6: Sat, 12 Mar, 2022 – Tlatlauquitepec/Cuetzalan del Progresso (67km)
The traditional, indigenous village of Cuetzalan is famed for its market, coffee and vibrant festivals. Designated a Pueblo Magico by Mexico’s Department of Tourism, the picturesque village is also famed for its voladores, the "flying" dancers who spin around a tall pole. The ritual ceremony has been recognized as an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO, and continues to attract tourism and funding to the remote mountain town.

The Parroquia de San Francisco de Asís towers above Cuetzalan and can be seen from all around the town. Both indigenous and Catholic traditions blend in the Parroquia de San Francisco de Asís. 

O/N Hotel Casa de la Piedra, Cuetzalan

Day 7: Sun, 13 Mar, 2022 – Cuetzalan del Progresso/Tetela de Ocampo/Chignahuapan
We will spend an extra day here in Cuetzalan to enjoy some of the local cultural events, especially the voladores. If you are so inclined, take in the noon Sunday Mass which is given in the Nahuatl language, where the music reflects the town’s roots.

O/N Hotel Casa de la Piedra, Cuetzalan

Day 8: Mon, 14 Mar, 2022 – Cuetzalan del Progresso/Tetela de Ocampo/Chignahuapan (110km)
In the state of Puebla, located in the heart of the northern Sierra is Tetela de Ocampo, a recently designated Pueblo Magico surrounded by mountains and abundant vegetation. Located on top of a hill, the views from this community are impressive. The center of the city preserves its traditional architecture, with steep streets and beautiful colonial facades. The name of this Magic Town in Nahuatl, means "abundance of stone mounds".

Chignahuapan is a town in Mexico’s southeastern state of Puebla known for its Basílica de la Inmaculada Concepción and its huge figure of the Virgin Mary, carved from cedar. The central Plaza de Armas features a colorful wooden kiosk and the Parroquia de Santiago Apóstol church, with its brightly coloured facade.

It is also known for its traditional crafts, in particular, the making of Christmas spheres through a glass blowing technique which has earned the town the moniker of "Christmas spheres capital of Mexico".

O/N Hotel Nube 9, Chignahuapan

Day 9: Tue, 15 Mar, 2022 – Chignahuapan/Zacatlan/Xicotepec (73km)
If you enjoy forests enviromnents filled with waterfalls, and often cloaked in fog, you will love Zacatlán de las Manzanas, one of the most beautiful Pueblos Mágicos (Magical Towns) in Puebla.

In order to become acquainted with the mountainous landscape, we begin our journey at the Mirador de Cristal (Glass Overlook). It's half mile long and protrudes from the summit of the Barranca de los Jilgueros, located a few blocks away from the town square. This natural wonder stands around 1,312 feet high overlooking the San Pedro River snaking its way through the valley. 

Zacatlán de las Mazanas is considered the birthplace of monumental clocks? Here, you can learn about the process of fabricating monumental clocks: from the metal smelting to creating the device, to the final tests they go through.

Xicotepec, a Magic Town, perfectly located in the mountainous region of Puebla, is place of impressive colonial beauty. Founded in 1571, the Church of San Juan Bautista in Xicotepec features two impressive towers that dominate the landscape of this town. Its neo-Gothic architecture was inspired by that of the famous Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral.

The Monument to the Virgin of Guadalupe, at a height of 30 meters, is located on the Cerro del Tabacal, from where you can photograph the panoramic views of Xicotepec. 

O/N Hotel Casablanca, Xicotepec

Day 10: Wed, 16 Mar, 2022 – Xicotepec/Huauchinango/Pahuatlan (80km)
The Pueblo Mágico of Huauchinango is surrounded by hills, rivers that descend in waterfalls, and deep ravines belonging to the Sierra Norte de Puebla. It is said that Huauchinango is scented by the azaleas and orchids that grow on the banks of the Texcapa River, which borders the town. The aroma carries up to the streets around the zócalo (main square).

Pahuatlan, located near the bordering State of Hidalgo is a Pueblo Magico with a Nahuatl and Otomi heart, protector of the pre-Hispanic production of amate paper. Pahuatlán is located in the Puebla Sierra, the region surrounded by "emerald" hills, valleys and ravines.

Daily life in Pahuatlán begin with the aroma of freshly milled coffee percolating through the cobblestone streets of the small town center. The bean harvest is one of the main riches of this Magic Town, as well as its wood-oven bakeries. Therefore, a cup of coffee and a warm polvorón (short bread) or concha (a sweet bread roll) are the perfect breakfast to start the morning.

Amata Paper Workshops
Thanks to a population of nearly 400 master craftsmen, the Pueblo Mágico of Pahuatlán is known historically as the source of amate paper, originally made by Mesoamerican cultures. This community, considered the cradle of this craft, is located 20 minutes from the municipal capital of Pahuatlán in the small town of San Pablito, whose inhabitants are of the Hñahñu (Otomi) ethnic group. Here, the workshops proudly open their doors to show visitors their ancestral techniques for the making of the paper.

O/N Hotel San Carlos, Pahuatlan

Day 11: Thu, 17 Mar, 2022 – Pahuatlan/Mexico City (160km)
After our sunrise shoot, we head back to the airport in Mexico City. We should arrive by the middle of the day so you will be able to take a mid-afternoon flight back home.

END OF THE TOUR

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Arrival, Departure

​Arrival & Meeting Place 
Sun, 6 Mar, 2022 – Arrive Mexico. Make your own way to the NH Collection Mexico City Airport T2 hotel

​Departure 
Thu, 17 Mar – drop off at the airport at Mexico City for your mid-afternoon flight back home


Weather

Average Weather During March in Puebla State
The first month of the spring, March, is still a pleasant month in Puebla, Mexico, with average temperature ranging between min 9.8°C (49.6°F) and max 22.8°C (73°F).

Temperature
In Puebla, the average high-temperature is almost the same as in February - a still pleasant 22.8°C (73°F). In Puebla, in March, the average low-temperature is 9.8°C (49.6°F).


2 SPOTS OPEN
TOUR: $3,400

12 DAYS/11 NIGHTS
GROUND TRANSPORT INCLUDED

SINGLE: $450
GROUP SIZE: ONLY 6


Tour Price Includes

  • All Ground Transportation during the trip
  • Transfer to the airport at Mexico City at the end of the tour on 17 March, 2022
  • All Lodging Included
  • In-Field Photography Instruction
  • Breakfast where included at hotels

Tour Price Excludes

  • Flights to and from Mexico City
  • Meals and snacks (where not mentioned)
  • Beverages

    Lodging

    All lodging has been booked and a room will be assigned to you on registration. 


    Paying by check

    If you would like to pay your deposit and/or balance with a check, please make the check payable to: Pixelchrome, Inc and mail it to:

    Nicole Woodhouse
    Pixelchrome
    605 Rouen Drive, 
    McKinney TX 75072

    Paying by Wire Transfer

    If you would like to pay by Wire Transfer please contact nicole@pixelchrome.com for bank account details.


    Dress for the Weather

      Personal Gear List

      • Sunscreen, sunglasses, sun hat
      • Layers for cooler mornings
      • Waterproof Shell in case of rain
      • Sturdy hiking shoes

      Photo Equipment Checklist

      • Sturdy tripod and ballhead
      • Digital SLR or Mirrorless Camera Body
      • Wide angle lens in the 16-35mm range
      • Mid-range zoom lens in the range of 24-100mm
      • Long telephoto lenses in the 100-400mm range. 
      • Circular polarizer filters and ND filters for your lenses.  If you like shooting with grads, bring them along.  A 6 or 10-stop ND filter will be useful for creating very long exposures.
      • Backpack to carry your gear
      • Extra batteries, memory cards, and cleaning supplies
      • Laptop if you wish to backup your photos.

        Covid-19 Precautions

        • Instructors will wear masks while teaching at close range
        • Clients are encouraged to wear masks whenever they are at close range
        • Where possible, we will practice social distancing. Tripods 6ft apart.
        • You are encouraged to wash hands frequently and use hand sanitiser.