Authentic Mexico

Welcome to the 6th COPA Mexico trip. This year we are visiting more authentic regions of Mexico, far away from American-style resorts and crowds of tourists. The trip is limited to 12 airplanes.

Date Day Town Comments
2/16/19 Saturday Brownsville/Marathon
(KBRO/KMTH)
Optional get together in US (TX or FL) for a flight to Oaxaca
2/17/19 Sunday Oaxaca (MMOX) Fly to Oaxaca and meet there late afternoon
2/18/19 Monday Oaxaca Visit Oaxaca and Monte Alban
2/19/19 Tuesday San Cristóbal (MMTG) Fly to Tuxtla, boating in Sumidero Canyon
2/20/19 Wednesday San Cristóbal Visit San Cristóbal de las Casas
2/21/19 Thursday Palenque (MMPQ) Fly to Palenque
2/22/19 Friday Palenque Visit Palenque, visit Agua Azul waterfalls
2/23/19 Saturday Fly back home

Program

Oaxaca

Our trip starts in Oaxaca, a city recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site where all the historical periods of Mexico shine: pre-Hispanic, colonial, independent, modern, and contemporary mix in every street, colonial building, museum, magical festival, colorful crafts, pre-Columbian ruins, and the many baroque churches that are to be found in every corner of the city.

Oaxaca is a city obsessed with food and the Mexican food you've eaten probably doesn't even come close to what you'll find there. Let's start with the mezcal to whet your appetite: Mezcal, a spirit distilled from the agave plant, is central to Oaxacan culture, high on octane and is practically the drink of the state. Mole, which means sauce, is a pronounced blend of chile and chocolate, and in Oaxaca, be careful what you say your preferred mole blend is because there are seven. A semi-dried tortilla, tlayudas are Oaxaca's answer to a Mexican pizza, glazed with pork lard and topped with a variation of meat, beans and avocado — served chargrilled. Made with masa, a type of flour, tamales are a vessel for a wide variety of ingredients from meats, beans, herbs and salsas. If you are truly adventurous, Chapulines are grasshoppers served fried and seasoned with onion, garlic, chile, lime and salt.

Food is not the only thing we will experience in Oaxaca, in addition to visiting the town, we will also explore Monte Alban archaeological site, with ruins of an ancient center of Zapotec and Mixtec culture from 8th century BCE.

San Cristóbal de las Casas

On Tuesday morning, we will head back to the Oaxaca airport for a short 220 nm flight to Tuxlta Gutierrez (MMTG), where we will board a bus for a half an hour drive to Chiapa de Corzo, lunch and a boat ride in the spectacular Cañon del Sumidero, created by the mighty Rio Grijalva, which runs northwards through it. Canyon walls stand between 600 and 1,200 feet, but stretch up to 3,000 feet deep in some places. The walls are a lush green and jungle-like and you can find crocodiles and other wildlife along the river.

At the completion of the boat trip, we will board a bus for a drive to San Cristóbal de las Casas, where we will spend two nights. Set in a gorgeous highland valley surrounded by pine forest, the colonial city of San Cristóbal has been a popular travelers’ destination for decades. It’s a pleasure to explore San Cristóbal’s cobbled streets and markets, soaking up the unique ambience and the wonderfully clear highland light. This medium-sized city also boasts a comfortable blend of city and countryside, with restored century-old houses giving way to grazing animals and fields of corn.

On Wednesday morning, we will leave the hotel early for a trip to Chamula with its Templo de San Juan and a Mayan village of Zinacantán. After a lunch at a local restaurant, we will return to San Cristóbal to visit the town itself, with the lovely Templo Santo Domingo, and for those with extra energy, Iglesia de Guadalupe and de San Cristóbal, which are perched atop hills.

Yet perhaps the best thing to do in San Cristóbal de las Casas is to stroll along the many pedestrian-friendly streets and simply soak it all in. Sip some local Chiapan coffee at a cafe in the morning and switch over to pox, a local liquor, by nightfall. There’s no shortage of shopping opportunities either as you can find an abundance of locally made handcrafts at the market.

Palenque

Thursday late morning, we will head up to the Tuxtla airport for an 80 nm miles flight to Palenque, perhaps overflying Sumidero Canyon for one last look and transfer to our hotel in Palenque in the afternoon.

Located in the foothills of the Chiapas altiplano, Palenque was an important Maya city which flourished between AD 500 and 750 CE. The name Palenque derives from the Spanish, meaning fortified place, but the original Maya name, we now know, was Lakamha (Big Water). Situated where the highland and coastal plains join, the site prospered as an inland trade center which allowed Palenque to control a large territory and form beneficial alliances with other powerful cities such as Tikal, Pomoná, and Tortuguero. The elegance and craftsmanship of the buildings, as well as the lightness of the sculpted reliefs with their Mayan mythological themes, attest to the creative genius of this civilization.

On Friday, after spending the morning visiting Palenque ruins, we will drive to see and cool ourselves in the nearby Aqua Azul waterfalls. The waterfalls get their name, Agua Azul, meaning Blue Water, perhaps rather obviously because the water thundering down it has a bright blue hue. Their incredible color is, in fact, because the high mineral content of the water, which deposits itself on the rock. The limestone-rich deposits also give the waterfall an interesting, undulating shape.

This will be our last evening, dinner and night during the trip. On Saturday morning we will all start heading home, for a well-deserved rest after this exhausting vacation!

Lodging

We tried hard to choose hotels with a more authentic Mexican flavor, staying away for traditional American hotel chains.

Date Day Nights Hotel
2/17/2018 Sunday 2 Hotel Quinta Real Oaxaca
2/19/2018 Tuesday 2 Hotel CasaVieja
2/21/2018 Thursday 2 Hotel Piedra de Agua

Flights

If you've never flown to Mexico, this will be a great introduction, it will be as easy as it gets. You will have three options to join the trip:

  1. If you are an experienced Mexico pilot, you may decide to fly yourself to Oaxaca. It may be helpful to read Flying to Mexico guide (password will be provided after registration) to review procedures. In particular, make sure you aware of a new this year requirement to have a documented 406 MHZ ELT.
  2. Otherwise, if you are coming from West or Central United States, you may decide to join us in Southern Texas, most likely in Brownsville, right at the Mexico border on Saturday 2/16/2019 evening. We will depart on Sunday morning as a group and fly non-stop to Oaxaca, with Thomas Daniel as the group lead. You should still read the guide and make sure that you have all documents, but we will be going through immigration and customs in Oaxaca together. Please note that the exact location of the get-together will be determined when all participants are registered in a way to minimize distance. The lodging in the US location is not included in the trip cost.
  3. A similar option will be provided for those coming from the East, via Florida and crossing north of Cuban coastline. Michael Bush will lead a group leaving Marathon, FL on Sunday morning and arriving in Oaxaca in the late afternoon, after a customs and immigration stop in Merida.

You will receive flight briefings, airport descriptions and we will also help you plan your return flight home.

Cost and Payments

Cost

The total cost per person, assuming two occupants sharing a hotel room is $1,100 including:

  • Lodging at the hotels listed above
  • Breakfast
  • All activities described on this page, including admission tickets and boat fare.
  • Transport to and from airport, including inter-city buses
  • Trip setup, hotel and activities bookings, flight briefings

The following expenses are not included:

  • lunch and dinner, drinks.
  • any flight related expenses such as fuel, airport fees etc.

Mexico has fairly reasonable airport fees, compared to countries further south. The principal one is Multi-Entry Authorization, which is about 1,400 pesos ($75) per airplane. You can expect $20-$50 landing/parking fees per airplane, 500 pesos/passenger visa. Fuel is priced similarly as in US.

Payments

The cost of the event is $1,100/person. The registration is for 2 people sharing a hotel room, for a total amount of $2,200 and is composed of:

  1. $100 registration fee, which is non-refundable, but credited against total cost.
  2. After registration, you will receive a PayPal invoice at the address you provided when registering for $1000 deposit.
  3. On December 15, 2018, you will receive the second PayPal invoice for the remaining balance payment of $1,100.

We request that you pay invoices within two calendar days, after which your registration may be cancelled and your past payments forfeited.

Cancellations

The $100 registration fee is non-refundable. The first deposit payment is refundable until December 12, 2018. The second balance payment is refundable until January 12, 2019. Substitutions are allowed and while we will attempt to find them in case of cancellation, we cannot guarantee the outcome.

We reserve the right to cancel the trip if a minimum number of participants has not registered, in which case all fees will be refunded. We will not be able to provide refunds in case of cancellation due to cirumstances beyond our control, for example weather or natural disasters. The program and the choice of hotels may be modified if required.