Published on April 19th, 2018 | by Geckos Tales Team
What to expect on a Geckos trip in Mexico
Read time: a bit over 4 minutes
This article first appeared on Peregrine Travel Centre, written by staff member, Adriana.
When we think of Mexico, quite often people imagine relaxing on the beach, cocktail in hand and staying in luxury all-inclusive resorts.
While this is the case for destinations like Cancun, Cabo San Lucas and Playa Del Carmen – there is a whole other side to this fascinating country that travellers quite often don’t get to discover. I recently went on the 15-day Mexico Highlights tour with Geckos Adventures and had the opportunity to experience the big city side of Mexico, the relaxing beach-side and some pretty amazing small local towns along the way – places I never would have visited if I hadn’t travelled through Mexico on a small group tour. The trip started in Mexico City and then we spent two nights in Puebla, Oaxaca, San Cristobal De Las Casas, Palenque (for one night), Merida and finally finished in Playa Del Carmen.
Here are my highlights – and reasons why you should do a Geckos trip through Mexico.
Ruins and History
Mexico is a country with a rich history and there is so much to learn along the way (like, did you know Mexico City was initially built on a lake?). We got great insights into the cultural history and plenty of opportunities to explore Mayan Temples, ruins, palaces and more. We visited the ancient Aztec city located under Mexico City, had the option to visit the archaeological site of Teotihuacan, saw the Mitla Ruins, the Monte Alban Zapotec Mixtec site and of course, the iconic Chichen Itza. These places were incredible to see in real life and to help us learn all about the history of the people and this country. There were also many beautiful churches, palaces, art galleries and museums that provided an insight into this fascinating destination.
Travel Tip: Make sure you visit the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City, definitely worth a visit and will leave you speechless.
Food (and drinks)
One of the best parts about travelling is getting to try the local food of the destination you are visiting. It’s a great way to learn more about the culture and people, and Mexico is no exception. There are tacos, quesadillas, chilaquiles, empanadas and guacamole that you would expect, all with a slight twist depending on the region you are in. But you’ll also have the opportunity to try scorpions, crickets, grasshoppers and ants – and for those not too keen on giving bugs a go, there are some specialties along the way such as Mole Poblano (a dark sauce made of chilli and chocolate), Nopales (grilled cactus leaves) and ceviche when you get closer to the coast. My advice – give it a try (yes, even the bugs), you may only visit once so why not! As for drinks, there’s no better place in the world to enjoy a Margarita, Tequila or Cerveza (beer) but also make sure you try mezcal, a local drink very similar to tequila. We were able to visit a mezcal distillery and see how it is made (and try a few samples as well). Another bonus is that food and drinks are cheap. Think AUD2.50 for a taco or Corona and AUD4 for a Margarita – you have no excuse not to try one of everything along the way.
Travel Tip: The orange salt they give you with Mezcal/Tequila or on the rim of your Margarita is worm salt – sounds gross, but it’s surprisingly delicious! Also, if you’re anything like me, you’ll want to know the word Queso (Spanish for cheese).
Getting to know the locals
The people of Mexico are very friendly and welcoming, but of course like all destinations you need to make sure you are aware of your surroundings and watch your personal belongings and you won’t have any trouble at all. A great thing about a Geckos trip is that they put a focus on helping the local community and giving younger travellers an authentic local experience. Our tour leader was from Mexico City and was very knowledgeable having travelled and guided extensively through Mexico. This means he was able to take us to local restaurants, bars and shops that we may not have visited had we been travelling on our own. We visited local markets and villages and learnt how crafts were handmade, as well as visiting a local textile factory, local distillery and much more.
Travel Tip: Learn to speak a little Spanish, even just some of the basic words like Hola, Gracias, Cuenta, Adios and Como estas will go a long way when you talk with people at shops, restaurants and other places.
Colourful towns and beautiful scenery
Mexico is full of Insta-worthy photo opportunities! But as much as we all love the perfect Instagram shot, make sure you take the time to look up from your phone/camera and take in all of the amazing buildings, colours and cobblestone streets around every corner. Mexico is also home to some incredible waterfalls, cenotes (or sink holes) and jungles. On our trip, we had the opportunity to trek through the jungle in Palenque in search of Howler Monkeys, explore some incredible cenotes at the bottom of hidden caves and swim in some breathtaking waterfalls that seemed as if they were in the middle of nowhere.
Travel Tip: Do the optional Cenote tour from Merida, our local guide took us to three different Centoes (all very different) and you get to spend the day swimming in these incredible caves.
As you can see, Mexico certainly has a lot to offer all travellers. We had a group of only 11, which meant we had an authentic experience and were able to travel using local transportation rather than a coach tour; our tour leader was fantastic, and being a local himself meant he gave us some great advice and tips to make the most out of our trip. Having at least two nights in most destinations allowed us plenty of time to explore and really see each town and the accommodation exceeded my expectations along the way.
Do you want to see Mexico like a local? Book your spot on a Geckos trip today.
Hero image by Tegan and Nathan.