Safe Driving Through Mexico’s Yucatan From Oaxaca: Archaeology Agave Crafts Wildlife Nature & More

There’s more to the Yucatan peninsula than lying on the seaside in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, or Tulum, visiting Chichen Itza, and swimming in cenotes. And a riding journey, either simply through the place or within the context of a go-to that incorporates Chiapas or Oaxaca, inevitably results in an incredibly worthwhile excursion. As lengthy as you force only in the course of the daylight hours, protection has not to be a trouble, and your two-week jaunt can consist of brilliant lesser-acknowledged archaeological websites, visits to each run-down and restored haciendas, an abundance of natural world sightings inclusive of monkeys and flamingos, and yes cenotes. For people who are aficionados of tequila or mezcal, and particularly its agave raw fabric, you can consist of an afternoon studying about the fascinating records of henequen (sisal) production.

I’ve already written about the drive from Oaxaca through Chiapas. So, because the latter is near Yucatan, Campeche, and Quintana Roo and actually borders the peninsula, this article facilities upon the area related to returning from the state of Oaxaca, a country with which on any occasion I am higher familiar.

Innumerable Driving Options and Getting Started on a Yucatan Adventure

If you’re cozy with a GPS, then I think this is all you need. Otherwise, and in my view on any occasion, you need to recall buying the Guia Roji for Mexico, to be had in any respect decent bookstores, frequently at Proveedor Escolar, and so forth. Of route, there are maps for every of Campeche, Yucatan, and Quintana Roo, which my wife and I purchased for our 2017 journey, which we did now not want because of the Guia Roji. There are multiple popular maps of us of a which might do, but Guia Roji has been my bible for well over a dozen years, so I endorse it.

Your routing can shape more or much less a circle to decrease, doubling again. For instance, you may pressure out of Oaxaca along the dual carriageway toward Mexico City and Puebla and turn off on the Orizaba cut-off, then return both via Chiapas (through Palenque, San Cristobal de las Casas, Salina Cruz, and many others.) or along the secondary highway which is going via Tuxtepec.

We’d been thru Chiapas already and have been instructed through a couple of resources that the safest path would be sticking to the main toll roads so that you can averting slender windy roads alongside the Tuxtepec route reputedly other insecurities in that vicinity, etc.

While we’ve by no means been to Tuxtepec, we opted to now not to pass there this time. Instead, we repeated the pressure among Oaxaca and Villahermosa, coming and going. Otherwise, there has been no good-sized doubling again. The roads at some point of the complete ride were basically secure, extensive, and a pleasure to journey, a great deal extra excellent than the ones in cities and cities at some point in Oaxaca.


Avoid driving anywhere outdoor in towns after dark. If you have not booked accommodations online, arrive at a metropolis or metropolis in search of your lodge no later than about 4:30 pm. We discovered that booking online, even the day before usual, affects a lesser price than pulling as much as a lodge and asking reception about availability for that night. On one occasion, we booked online for one night, did now not especially just like the accommodations (which had been endorsed by a pal), so then the next day spent an hour or so walking till we found something more to our liking and style for the next two nights.

As lengthy as your price range allows, mix up low-cost and old-fashioned (i.E. Casa Kaan near the Calakmul archaeological website online, or something at Celestun), contemporary (i.E. City Express in maximum towns, continually at ease and predictable), after which throw in “the large splurge” (i.E. Sotuta de Peon, with our personal cabin whole with mini swimming pool). Throughout the boarding, lodging for the complete adventure is low-cost at the quiet of the day, starting from the kind of 700 to 2,000 pesos a night time, averaging approximately 1,100 pesos. It all depends on finances and visiting a style. However, you can usually locate modest accommodations in small villages, commonly nothing excessive stops until there’s a spa-like alternative.

If you’ve got a great deal extra than more than one week for the trip, then dig deeper into your travel publications and the net to locate exciting locations to go to similar to the ones cited here. But this sojourn was for best 17 days, included about 4,000 km of territory, in no way riding extra than approximately seven hours in a day besides for our ultimate day returning home, and focused upon what turned into of the best hobby to us; with nary a day at the beach. Landscapes, the natural world, cenotes, agave distillate (i.E. Mezcal) and maguey, crafts and antiques, and the history and vestiges of colonization have been what we sought and encountered.

The Meat of the Yucatan Visit

Spend a day and a 1/2 or days attending Campeche from the city of Oaxaca. With a bit of good fortune, the vistas on your first day will be clean, and you will see the spectacular snow-capped % de Orizaba. But mountaineering through the mountains, you can be delayed by very dense fog, so take it smoothly. On the manner out, we encountered fog as never experienced before, and at the way lower back, a put-off occasioned with the aid of an accident. Still, at the return, we did see the volcano pretty definitely. Depending on your begin time on a primary day, you’ve got several options for bedding down, as close to Oaxaca as Tehuacan and as close to the Yucatan peninsula as Villahermosa.

Campeche has lots to offer, so bear in mind more than one day there. We opted for a morning open-air trolly bus tour the primary day to give us a feel of a way to exceptional spend the balance of our time in and across the city. It leaves each morning from the city rectangular and highlights history and sights. We had been extraordinarily inspired with how a great deal of the land at the Gulf of Mexico was reclaimed at some stage in the latter half of the 20th century, now housing inns, workplace buildings, restaurants, and greater.

Certainly experience a meal at one of the numerous seafood eating places alongside the boardwalk, stroll the coronary heart of downtown, and make sure to visit each of the numerous fortresses (or balusters) strung out along what turned into to start with the waterfront. Each row consists of a museum of sorts, with personnel keen and equipped to explain pre-records of the vicinity, colonization, piracy, and gulf lands’ reclamation. It’s several walking, however, definitively really worth it. En route, you will find craft shops and eat places galore. We determined to visit the closest archaeological website to Campeche one morning, approximately an hour’s pressure away, called Edzna, and its manner thoroughly remarkable.


Leaving the state of Campeche for Yucatan and it’s capital of Merida, you can select to visit attractions en direction, or truly take the motorway and use Merida as your base for a few days. We opted for the latter. We had been content material with a chunk of duplication in motorway routes for this part of the trip, but without a doubt, if you do not want any doubling lower back along the same routes, you may keep away from it.

For example, we drove to Puerto Progreso one afternoon to spend the night with friends, then headed returned closer to Merida tomorrow. There is a dual carriageway; however, secondary highways connect Merida and Progreso, so depending on your inclination and time, you have alternatives. Progreso has a substantial ex-pat populace and expansive beaches flecked with restaurants. Otherwise, to my questioning, there may be little reason for traveling the city, and for us catching up with an antique buddy become the handiest purpose we went there. Merida is known for its several factories and retail outlets specializing in the sale of guayaberas, so if that Cuban look is for you, the town is a goldmine in that admire. And, we also stumbled upon a downtown antique keep.

The Gulf of Mexico coastal metropolis of Celestun is simplest an hour’s power from Merida. It’s acknowledged more often than not for the flamingo populace in the lagoons and another aquatic natural world, including other birds and crocodiles. Check earlier for seasonal fluctuations within the flamingo populace considering there may be a positive time of the year whilst literally lots can be seen up near within the course of a lagoon boat trip, whilst they arrive to feed on tiny shrimp (giving them their purple coloration we have been informed).

Celestun changed into a popular seaside vacation spot at one time, however with the construction and promotion of Cancun and Playa del Carmen, and more recently Tulum, it’s been forgotten. The accurate information is that the lodgings are small and quaint, and residents are stressed to delight. Consider a day forced to Celestun, possibly making more than one stops in direction and spending the night there so that you can take the lagoon excursion no later than nine am the next day and thus keep away from crowds. Most traffic and simply the tour buses make day trips for some hours.

The Merida location and all of the way to Valladolid is known for cenotes. Swimming in one turned into a priority for the trip. You can really visit several of those sinkholes in an unmarried day or combine them with other sights within the location over the path of a couple of days; that is what we did. Take a day trip from Merida to Cuzama and hire a local to power you on a horse-drawn tiny railway automobile on a tune, a holdover from the hacienda/sisal enterprise era, to the 3 cenotes.

Don’t get talked into going with humans waving you down at the aspect of the street close to the city, but as a substitute, maintain a bit past Cuzama till you stumble upon, on the aspect of the street at the right aspect, a chain of parked railway vehicles and a couple of horses, where people will evenly direct you to park on the left, explain the modest fee, and so on. The revel in became a spotlight of the journey. Afterward, you may continue alongside that secondary highway and stop at the guayabera manufacturing facility at San Isidro Ochil, then circle and go back to Merida on a distinct secondary toll road or at the motorway. This and every other of the routes along this part of the peninsula incorporates many abandoned haciendas which may be visited, presenting the right picture possibilities.

In our case, we headed lower back to Merida along one of the smaller roads and tomorrow had our big splurge. But you may do all of it in the future, I suppose. Sotuta de Peon, just outdoor of Tech, is well worth every penny of the cost and each minute of warfare, making sure you are on the right road. But getting a piece lost enabled us to go to perhaps one of the maximum colorful and particular cemeteries inside the vicinity if now not u. S ., stop at craft stores, and in any other case wander the highways at a leisurely tempo assembly and interacting with locals.


If you have at least multiple weeks for the ride, there may actually be no factor in rushing to get anywhere. Build-in more than one more day for contingencies, and if things move easily, you may visit locations that were preliminary “maybes” and locations you’ll truly stumble upon which genuinely were not predicted.

Sotuta de Peon presents a comprehensive albeit touristy experience. It is a restored sisal hacienda with plantation now up and walking (predominantly to show traffic how the enterprise functioned after Spanish colonization); and a notable better quit spa-like resort complex. There are eating places and several cenotes. A 3-hour horse-drawn rail ride explaining the history of the location includes journeying restored indoors components of the hacienda’s lavish residing quarters with duration furniture and different high-end accouterments the technology, the absolutely functioning henequen (sisal) enterprise factory centers, and more.

It was a need to give that I am concerned in the mezcal industry and tout sustainability, which continues today with the manufacturing of the agave-based spirit. Also, it became a possibility for both people to live how rich Spanish-stock aristocrats lived, to again go to cenotes, and to equip ourselves for the following jungle revel in.

Try to arrive at Sotuta de Peon after 3 pm, enjoy dinner and your luxury pad, retire early, possibly after a swim on your personal pool, after which embark upon the tour the subsequent morning, perhaps with a drink and/or rub down thrown in the later morning whilst a few in your organization are swimming in a cenote. Yes, they are larger institution tours. However, if you opt for the morning tour, you must avoid the tour buses. The Cuzama cenote revels in can be for just you and your small group or companion by evaluation.

The morning after your spa enjoys at Sotuta de Peon, head out closer to Valladolid, a town that houses seemingly the widest choice of Mexican folks art inside the usa. For me, the force allowed us to visit a distillery at Izamal, more or less on course. But as on occasion occurs, your study is no longer correct; the agave distillery was no greater and has been transformed into a wine production facility.

Some had instructed us it nonetheless existed, even as others recommended that it become no extra. But as often occurs on such adventures, all become not lost. Izamal is an old-fashioned metropolis visited via Mexican nationals on holiday, is known for all buildings being painted in yellow, has a cute ex-convent, and would not you are aware of it, en course we came throughout an art gallery/vintage keep owned via a Canadian.

It’s definitively really worth the journey to Valladolid because of the privately-owned folk’s art museum called Casa de Los Venados, genuinely the giant series housed within the house of its owners, an American couple. However, the “mezcal/tequila” distillery in the town, Mayapan, at the same time as functioning, for me became a sadness. Firstly, it was very touristy, and secondly, it offered agave distillate at the most effective 38%.

The distillery regarded to specialize inside the sale of spirits produced in other parts of us of an along with tequila and a very constrained extent mezcal, with best one brand of the latter at the cabinets. But for those who have never been to a functioning agave distillery, it should be worth a stop, and for those who have been, I suppose that the distillate is made from best blue agave may preserve some hobby.

For your final foray at the trip, loop all the way down to Chetumal before using over to the archaeological site of Calakmul, and live someplace en direction to the archaeological region, perhaps 30 – 60 minutes east of it, on the primary motorway in or near Xpujil. There are several accommodations alongside the way, one in all which is Casa Kaan, which also offers excursions of Calakmul underneath the call Ka’an Expeditions. The archaeological area is true without problems navigable on your own, and the literature suggesting the street is difficult is both stale-dated or overblown. However, an excellent manual makes the day without a doubt superb.

At Casa Kaan, we once more had our own cabin, albeit now not the lap of luxury of Sotuta de Peon. However, it did have its personal kitchen. Every morning, a body of workers member entered our unit from an outdoors kitchen door to not infringe on our privacy and prepared a hot breakfast for us. What a pleasing private contact.

One would possibly surprise why we did now not visit Chichen Itza. My wife has been there a long time earlier; we have been told that it’s far now highly touristed with visitors from Playa del Carmen, Cancun, and Tulum; and Calakmul continues to be fairly rustic, expansive, and with a terrific manual, you’ll have a possibility to see non-human primates (monkeys), other massive mammals, and wild turkeys with colorful plumage, all of their natural habitats.

On your very own, you may spend a full day on the web page and with a guide, possibly three or four hours. My idea is to reach an accommodation within the afternoon previous to heading out to Calakmul to get an early begin traveling the web site. Then, either spend a second night at the equal lodging or get a few hours’ heads start on your way lower back to Oaxaca.

Epilogue to a Driving Vacation from Oaxaca to the Yucatan Peninsula

Oaxaca is a superb day drive from Calakmul any way you chop it, longer if you want to soak up any additional points of interest en path. As suggested near the outset, you can return thru Chiapas, through Tuxtepec, or the way you first arrived at the place thru Villahermosa. It all relies upon your inclination and any time obstacles. Our go back along the identical stretch of highway enabled us to leisurely stop at places we missed on the way to the peninsula because we were perhaps overly aggravating to reach the Yucatan area. Other stops? For domestically produced espresso and even coffee bean rosaries; Doritos (low alcohol milky liquids together with peanut-flavored, our favorite); wooden, palm leaf, and leather handicrafts; artisanal small-batch cheeses; and the list goes on.

We did buy more, plenty extra, and I assume that’s one of the advantages of a riding excursion on your very own or a rented vehicle. We continually control to fill the SUV. The foregoing had been just a few of the stops and highlights of our Yucatan vacation. Our trip included different archaeological websites, antique and craft buying possibilities, different natural world sightings, and opportunities to stop and wonder at a plethora of various flora together with plantations of pineapples, tall grasses and of path agave, and numerous extra attractions precise to the states of Yucatan, Campeche, and Quintana Roo. Take some time, and leave a couple of days for the sudden. And remember that you’ll be handiest mins from Belize and no more than a couple of hours from Guatemala.

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