Destination Spotlight: The Other Side to Mexico
Travel planners often overlook Mexico as a destination for their travelers. Why? In part, Mexico gets a steady stream of negative news these days, mostly for political reasons. Plus, most travelers think of Mexico only for the beach resorts. Finally, the U.S. State Department issued a new travel warning last August. However, that warning was just revised with the new system to a “Level 2” and indicates specific areas.
Is it time to reconsider Mexico? We think so. Mexico is not only a safe destination if you exercise common sense and avoid specific areas of the country as per the travel warning, it is also a haven for natural wonders, cultural encounters, and Mayan treasures - not to mention very affordable.
Mexico attracts travelers from all parts of the world. Last year, a record 35 million international travelers visited the country, an increase of 9% from the previous year. Aside from going because of its white sandy beaches, warm sun and state-of-the-art resorts, many people are visiting Mexico for the natural aspects that make it truly unique.
Below are reasons why Mexico has merit for group travelers.
Monarchs in Mexico by Ian Segebarth
Mexico accounts for 10-12% of the world’s biodiversity, serving as a refuge for 200,000 different species. There are also more than 1,000 bird species and 1,500 mammal, reptile, and amphibian species. The diversity of Mexico’s species is immediately palpable once you enter the rainforest, mountains, or seacoast. From monkeys, iguanas, and jaguars to turtles, sharks, swordfish, and whales, Mexico boasts a zoo full of impressive critters.
One of the most famous species you’ll encounter while in Mexico is the Monarch Butterfly, which embarks on a massive migration from the north, sometimes journeying for up to 3,000 miles. Millions of Monarch’s migrate each year. They typically cluster on trees, often covering entire leaves or branches. The plant life is equally as diverse and includes over 30,000 types of plant species throughout the country. Holbrook has been over Monarch migration programs for many years.
Yucatan Wren by Alexander Dzib
Mexico’s thriving ecosystem is home to over one thousand bird species, where the Yucatan alone is home to more than 500 bird species. Birding programs offer experienced English-speakingn guides to take you to the places that only the locals know about. Take out your binoculars and admire the collage of colors and gentle sounds that make each bird unique.
Chichen Itza detail by Laura Hare
Rich cultural history
The ancient Aztec and Mayan civilizations once dominated Central America dating back thousands of years, and their influence still permeates Mexican culture today. The Yucatan peninsula houses some of the most famous ruins in the entire region of Central America including Uxmal and Chichen Itza, which both chronicle the hardships faced by Mayan peasantry classes and the rituals and customs of the Mayan religion. Forget history textbooks or Google images; viewing the history from where it happened firsthand is a powerful educational experience that will resonate with any group traveler.
Diverse and dramatic geography
Mexico features a vast array of geographical landmarks and a wide range of climates that are perfect for group travel. From deserts to the north, jungles and mangrove forests to the south, and 6,000 miles of majestic coastline stretching along the Pacific and Gulf coasts, Mexico has it all. Southeast of Mexico City lies the colossal “Popocatepetl,” an active stratovolcano that stands at 17,802 ft.
Ziplining by Selvática
Adventure travel haven
Mexico is a world-class adventure travel destination with opportunities including rainforest zip lining, scenic hiking trails, scuba diving, and hardcore mountaineering excursions up volcanoes and glaciers. Even for the most ambitious of individuals, there is always something challenging and exhilarating to explore. With professional guides and safety always prioritized first, your group will be thriving in the moment and reliving their experience the rest of the trip.
Tostada by Marisa Ross
Art and Cuisine
One of the best ways to immerse yourself in Mexican culture is to admire the ubiquitous amount of art displays across the country. Art can tell a story of a person, a time period, and a way of life. Visit the Museo Nacional De Arte: Munal in Mexico City and relish in celebrated painters, ceramists, and sculptors, among others. Also local Mexican cuisine will keep your group travelers energized and motivated to tackle the day’s activity. The freshest guacamole and chili peppers make up a variety of local favorites including:
Chilaqueles - a popular breakfast dish featuring lightly fried corn tortillas cut into quarters and topped with green or red salsa often with scrambled eggs, chicken, and refried beans.
Pozole – flavorful soup that comes in pork, chicken, or vegetarian, and is served with lime and chili on top. According to historians, it was served during the days of ritual sacrifices.
Tostades – literally translated to “toasted,” these toasted tortillas feature a crunchy taste topped with refried beans, cooked meat, cheese, seafood, and salsa.
Tamales – this delicious treat was first developed for Mayan and Aztec tribes needing a nourishing fix before a battle.
For information on Holbrook’s Mexico programs, visit our Mexico Destination page.