México diverso

Welcome to our 7th annual Mexico trip. This year trip has been designed with diversity in mind. We will start in the most beautiful hacienda in Mexico, in the small town of Alamos. While there, we will have an opportunity to overfly Copper Canyon with its unique geological features, which many compare to the Grand Canyon.

We will continue to the city of Puebla, capital of the state with the same name, the second largest in colonial Mexico. Due to its history and architectural styles ranging from Renaissance to Mexican Baroque, the city was named a World Heritage Site in 1987.

Our last destination will allow us to rest and recover in the spectacular Pacific Coast resort of Ixtapa, with well deserved beach, pool and margarita time.

Date Day Town Comments
2/15/20 Saturday Tucson, Arizona Optional US get together for a flight to Mexico
2/16/20 Sunday Alamos (MM45) Fly to Ciudad Obregon (MMCN) and continue to Alamos
2/17/20 Monday Alamos Fly over Copper Canyon or relax at the Hacienda
2/18/20 Tuesday Puebla (MMPB) Fly to Puebla, visit the town
2/19/20 Wednesday Puebla Visit Cholula
2/20/20 Thursday Ixtapa (MMZH) Fly to Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa
2/21/19 Friday Ixtapa Relax at Pacific coast resort
2/22/19 Saturday Fly back home or extend your stay in Ixtapa

Program

Alamos

Our trip starts at the Hacienda de los Santos in Alamos, Sonora. This is the fourth time we are coming to Hacienda de los Santos and it is because this is truly a unique place. The hotel won first place in 2016 Trip Advisor Top 25 Small Hotels in Mexico and it certainly deserves that honor. Jim and Nancy Swickard bought the property over 30 years ago and patiently renovated it, adding over the years to what used to be three Spanish colonial mansions and a sugar mill. It is a breathtaking collection of colonial mansions connected by stone pathways, brick tunnels and Moroccan-style arches. The 30 guest rooms, all individually designed, have antiques, fireplaces, original artwork and tile floors topped with thick carpets, and they all face front courtyards lush with fountains, small swimming pools and leafy guanacaste trees. A spa on the premises offers treatments from massages to body wraps, and its restaurant serves tasty Mexican classics in a romantic, candlelit ambience.

The city of Álamos, dating back to 1682 is an architectural treasure and had 188 of its structures declared National Historic Monuments in 2000. It was also named one of Mexico's handful of Pueblos Mágicos, placing it in good company with 13 others, including Taxco and San Miguel de Allende. Founded by Spaniards in 1681, Álamos has a long history of playing host to missionaries, explorers and miners, and was once the world's leading producer of silver.

On Monday, you will have an opportunity to fly over Copper Canyon (Barrancas del Cobre), a group of six distinct canyons in the Sierra Madre Occidental. The overall canyon system is larger and portions are deeper than the Grand Canyon. The canyons were formed by six rivers that drain the western side of the Sierra Tarahumara, a part of the Sierra Madre Occidental. All six rivers merge into the Rio Fuerte and empty into the Sea of Cortez. The walls of the canyon are a copper/green color, which is the origin of the name.

Those wishing to relax instead will be able to visit the spa, go on a town history tour or hike through the Parque Colorado. In the evening, we will have a Tequila class and a talk about one pilot flying in Africa.

Puebla

Puebla de Zaragoza is the capital of Mexico's Puebla state. This is Mexico's fourth largest city and is also one of the oldest in the country. The city has well-preserved colonial architecture and is among those chosen by UNESCO as World Heritage sites. Founded in 1531 as Ciudad de Los Angeles, the city represented a bastion for Spaniards as a midway point between Mexico City and the port of Veracruz. The name was later changed to Puebla de Los Ángeles (Puebla of the Angels). The Battle of Puebla, in which Mexican troops defeated French invaders took place in 1862 at the Forts of Loreto and Guadalupe. The victory is celebrated annually throughout the country and beyond as the 5 de Mayo holiday. General Ignacio Zaragoza was in command during that battle and died soon after. The city was re-baptized Puebla de Zaragoza in his honor.

Cholula’s great pyramid is what puts this small town outside of Puebla State’s capital on the map. Its base is the widest in the Americas, but you can't really see it, because only one staircase on one side this pyramid has been excavated – largely due to the fact that the Spanish built a church right on top of it. We will visit the archaeological site that surrounds the pyramid though and take a walk through the pyramid’s tunnels.

It is said that Cholula has 365 churches, one for each day of the year. We will not visit all 365, but there are several worth seeing including the former Franciscan Convent of Saint Gabriel, one of the oldest temples in Mexico that sits on land sacred to the Aztec followers of Quetzalcóatl. The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Remedies sits atop the town’s pyramid and has stunning views of the surrounding countryside, while the Chapel of the Third Order that sits just off of the main plaza has an unforgettable Baroque entryway and altarpiece.

The newly opened Museo Regional Cholula explains the history of Mexico and Cholula, and has some beautiful pre-Hispanic pieces. We may also learn the love story of the two nearby volcanoes Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl.

The International Museum of the Baroque in Puebla was inaugurated with collections from and the participation of Germany, Brazil, China, Spain, Philippines, France, United States, Guatemala, India, Peru, Portugal, and 21 Mexican museums and collections. It promotes art of the 17th and 18th centuries. The museum is considered one of the most ambitious projects dedicated to the classical, modern, and contemporary Baroque in Mexico, whose two floor building harbors permanent exhibitions rooms, and even areas dedicated to science, nature, scientific experimentation, an auditorium, terrace, and exterior courtyard.

Ixtapa

We are flying to Ixtapa to relax. We will depart Puebla in the afternoon arriving to the Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo airport after little over one hour flight, which will give us one full day to enjoy sun, swimming pool and nearby beaches, before heading back home the following day.

The Cala del Mar resort is set alongside a stunning rock cliff with endless views of the Pacific Ocean. The property features suites, private plunge pools, a world-class spa, restaurants, tequila bar, and more.

For those who have more time, you may choose to extend your stay at the Cala del Mar for up to three more nights at the pre-negotiated group rates, subject to availability.

Lodging

For this trip, we chose truly exceptional properties and you will feel at home in each of them.

Date Day Nights Hotel
2/16/2018 Sunday 2 Hacienda de Los Santos, Alamos
2/18/2018 Tuesday 2 Rosewood, Puebla
2/20/2018 Thursday 2 Cala del Mar, Ixtapa

You will have an opportunity to extend your stay in Cala del Mar for one or two more nights at the discounted group rates.

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 two options to join the trip:

  1. If you are an experienced Mexico pilot, you may decide to fly yourself to Alamos. It may be helpful to read my Flying to Mexico guide (password provided after registration) to review procedures. Please plan to arrive there in the afternoon of Sunday 2/16/2020. If you let us know your ETA, a van will be waiting for you to bring you to the Hacienda.
  2. Otherwise, you may decide to join us in Tucson, Arizona, on Saturday 2/15. Please plan to be there in time for short briefing and dinner. We will depart together on Sunday morning for Ciudad Obregon, to clear customs and immigration together and continue to Alamos just 50 nm away.

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

Procedures

Detailed guide for flying in Mexico will be provided after registration, but please be aware of the following:

  1. You must have valid pilot license, temporary license is not allowed.
  2. Aircraft must have valid registration and airworthiness certificate.
  3. Mexico now recognizes BasicMed.
  4. You should have 416 ELT in the airplane and the documentation proving it.
  5. While instrument rating is not strictly required, it is certainly recommended. While the weather is most often VFR, we will not be able to help if you cannot continue the trip due to adverse conditions.

Airports

Ciudad Obregon, Puebla and Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa are all medium size airports with commercial traffic and an operating tower. You can expect similar procedures as in USA and these airports have avgas.

Alamos is a non-towered airport located about 15 minutes south east from Ciudad Obregon and has 5,000 feet paved runway 31-13. Field elevation is 1,300 feet. Please use 122.8 MHz to make radio calls. The airport identifier is MM45 or XALA, but the coordinates are not in Jeppesen databases, you must enter them manually as a waypoint (27°02.27, -108°56.95 in "degree minute.decimal" format). There is no fuel on the field.

Hacienda has a private hangar for 10 airplanes, which will be available on first-come, first-serve basis. The hotel van will be waiting for us and will drive you to the Hacienda. Here is picture of runway 13 I took when landing there a few years ago. You can see the hangar and the ramp on the left side. Runway 31 is the calm wind runway. There is downsloping terrain and houses on short final for runway 13.

Cost and Payments

Cost

The total cost per person, assuming two occupants sharing a hotel room is $1,600 including:

  • Lodging at the hotels listed above
  • Breakfast for two
  • Welcome cocktail party with appetizers at the Hacienda
  • Guided tours of Alamos, Puebla and Cholula
  • Transport to and from each airport
  • Trip setup, hotel and activities bookings, flight briefings

The following expenses are not included:

  • Lunch, dinner, drinks.
  • Any flight related expenses such as fuel, airport fees etc.

Mexico has quite reasonable airport fees, compared to countries further south. The principal one is Multi-Entry Authorization, which is about 1,800 pesos ($90) per airplane. You can expect a total of $20-$50 landing/parking fees per airplane, 500 pesos ($25) per passenger visa. Fuel is priced similarly to the US.

Payments

The cost of the event is $1,600/person. The registration is for 2 people sharing a hotel room, for a total amount of $3,200 and is composed of:

  1. $100 registration fee, which is credited against total cost.
  2. After registration, you will receive a PayPal invoice at the address you provided when registering for $1,500 deposit.
  3. On January 4th, 2020, you will receive the second PayPal invoice for the remaining balance payment of $1,600.

Please contact us for any special requests, for example single rooms, extra or double beds. We request that you pay Paypal invoices within two calendar days, or your registration will be cancelled and your past payments forfeited.

Cancellations

Registration fees, deposit and balance payments are non-refundable once paid. Substitutions are allowed and while we will attempt to find them in case of cancellation, we cannot guarantee the outcome. We will offer a waitlist to facilitate substitutions.

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 or partial refunds in case of cancellation or changes due to circumstances beyond our control, for example adverse weather, natural disasters, border-entry denial, mechanical difficulties or an accident impacting continuation of the trip. The program and the choice of hotels may be modified if required. We remind all participants that Pilot in Command of an aircraft is directly responsible for, and is the final authority as to, the operation of the aircraft.