On this delightful tour, it is so easy to blend the enjoyment of local foods and culture in a World Heritage Site with some truly exceptional birding! Time in Oaxaca City is memorable and yet nature is just a short drive away—the city is surrounded by mountains with varied habitats that we can easily access at different elevations. Many of the specialty birds can be found at such significant archeological sites like Monte Alban and Yagul, both stunning sites to take in history and find the birds. We spend four nights in city accommodations from which we explore the greater Oaxaca Valley and northern mountains, and then we venture to the southern side of the valley and up into the mountains to stay three nights in cozy cabins (with fireplaces!) in pine forests where hummingbirds and higher elevation species abound. The arts and crafts in the region are amazing and abundant—a good reason to come in early, or stay on post-tour, if you want to see artisans’ work in detail.

Surrounding the Oaxaca Valley are two mountain ranges that come together—the southern end of the Sierra Madre Oriental meets the Sierra Madre Sur creating an area rich in biodiversity. Oaxaca Valley has a lovely climate as it lies at an elevation of over 6,000 feet. Some of our birding is in lush forests at 9000 feet, where fresh air and cool temperatures abound. The elevational gradient holds a great array of habitats where we have a grand time looking for 12 bird species endemic to southern Mexico such as Oaxaca and Bridled Sparrows, Ocellated Thrasher, Pileated Flycatcher, Dwarf and Slaty Vireos, White-throated Towhee, and Boucard’s Wren. These are residents so they are present year-round.

Our guide and host this year is Eric Martinez, resident of the Oaxaca Valley at Teotitlan, a village famous for rug weaving. Eric is a fabulous all-around naturalist, keen birder and avid conservationist. He interprets the landscapes, knows the butterflies (of which there are many!) and, as a resident, his knowledge of where to find the birds is unsurpassed. Oaxaca is also famous for its food and hospitality … dining is a big part of our fun!

  • “Great trip for adventure, birding, nature, culture and sites! Archeological sites were such a learning opportunity…The weaving destination and lecture was fascinating. We gained so much new knowledge, just fabulous! Eric Martinez was the best birding guide we’ve ever experienced. His expertise, bird identification, bird calls, bird captures on scopes, etc. was outstanding. His humanity, enthusiasm, warmth, support and kindness were very appreciated.” — Kathy & Al Hirschler, 2023 Travelers
  • “Interesting ecology and culture, very talented guide, skilled driver, gorgeous birds and butterflies as promised. Fantastic diversity — gorgeous!” — 2023 Traveler
  • “A great itinerary! We spent enough time at several overnight locations to be somewhat settled in and explore the surroundings, but we also were able to sample a wide range of Oaxaca habitats. My number one highlight was seeing a diversity of hummingbirds, especially around San Jose del Pacifico.” — John Wiens, 2023 Traveler
  • “Outstanding. The destination and itinerary far exceeded my expectations. Highlights: the expertise and overall excellence of the guide; the beauty of landscape and birds and butterflies; and our tour of the carpet weaving studio and Monte Alban.” 2023 Traveler

Tour Highlights

  • Enjoy outstanding birding in and around the Oaxaca Valley
  • Sample flavorful and customary Oaxacan and Mexican foods
  • Visit the famous Zapotec ruins of Monte Alban and local museums
  • Examine an array of habitats on an elevation gradient from Oaxaca’s valley to surrounding mountains
  • Explore the city’s botanical gardens and shop handmade crafts

Trip Itinerary

Itineraries are guidelines; variations in itinerary may occur to account for weather, road conditions, closures, etc. and to maximize your experience.

Sun., Dec. 1: Welcome to Oaxaca City!


Welcome to Mexico! Please plan to arrive in Oaxaca City no later than 6:00 PM today. Please note that our cultural and shopping fans may wish to arrive early to explore a bit on their own. It’s easy to walk around historic parts of the city, replete with artisan shops and crafts. And the city parks can have some nice birding— Gray Silky Flycatcher and Rufous-backed Robin may be found in the town’s plazas.

Meet your guides and fellow travelers at a welcome dinner tonight, and savor your first sample of Oaxacan cuisine! Afterwards, we have a brief orientation to go over information about the birding and week ahead.
Accommodations at Hotel Misión de los Ángeles, Oaxaca City (D)

Mon., Dec. 2: La Cumbre | Ixtepeji | Yagul


What can be better than birding in fresh mountain air with marvelous views back down to the Oaxaca Valley. We start early to head up through the vegetation zones that adorn the mountains, passing from scrub up to oak woodland and into lush humid pine oak forest located about 45 minutes north of Oaxaca City near the town of Ixtepeji, known to birders as La Cumbre. We explore on trails and quiet roads, moving slowly at a birder’s pace since we are at 9,000 feet elevation. This lush forest is the upper part of the Benito Juarez National Park and home to the striking Red Warbler, Dwarf Jay, Collared Towhee, Mountain Trogon, Chestnut-sided Shrike Vireo, possible Russet Nightingale-Thrush, and other species. Mixed flocks are common here, often signaled by noisy flocks of Gray-barred Wren; with any luck Dwarf Jay might be with them. Mexican Chickadee, Crescent-chested Warbler, Slate-colored Redstart, and Red Crossbill are likely finds today as well.

Lunch is with the birds at a delightful local restaurant that has hummingbird feeders on its patio. Hot soup and warm tortillas may be most welcome in the cool mountain air. Blue-throated Mountain-gem may be at arm’s length. Rufous-capped Brushfinch and the olive morph of Spotted Towhee may be active in the gardens. And Acorn Woodpecker is quite common in tall pines just off the deck.

We head down the mountain, and if time allows we visit the beautiful archaeological site of Yagul. The setting is enchanting with fine views of the mountains. Columnar cacti on the entrance road are a good spot to find Beautiful Hummingbird visiting flowers, along with Grey-breasted Woodpecker, Dusky Hummingbird, and more.
Returning to the city we pick out a wonderful spot for dinner, tally up our species list, and recount the day.
Accommodations at the Misión de los Ángeles, Oaxaca City (B,L,D)

Tues., Dec. 3: Teotitlán | Piedra Azul Reservoir | Local Weaving


Eric, our guide is from the village of Teotitlán and is proud of their Zapotec heritage. A quieter village than the city but rich with artisans, we weave our way through a mix of habitats starting with some arid-scrub around town and moving up to Piedra Azul Reservoir just above the town on the road that winds into the mountains. We scan for Least Grebe, Green Kingfisher, and any water birds and shore birds that are present.

Birding in Teotitlan del Valle, located about 45 minutes east from Oaxaca City, at about 5200 feet elevation, is known to birders as a great place to scan scrub vegetation for Mexican endemic and specialty species in the area that include Bridled Sparrow, Boucard’s Wren, Dusky Hummingbird, Gray-Breasted Woodpecker, White-throated Towhee, White-striped Woodcreeper, and Collared Towhee.

Going into the foothills we have a chance for two often vocal but hard to find species, Dwarf Vireo and Slaty Vireo. Blue Mockingbird may be present, Rose-throated Becard is always nice to see, as well as Streak-backed Oriole. We keep an eye peeled for Lesser Roadrunner. Enjoy a local lunch at one of Eric’s favorite restaurants.

If there is interest we can visit a local weaver and learn more about the rich colors and patterns of Zapotec rugs made with natural dyes. On the way back, we try for the valley’s namesake Oaxaca Sparrow, and watch the sky for raptors above the agricultural fields that rim the village.

Back in Oaxaca City, we have another fine meal, tally up our list, and prep for another good field day tomorrow.
Accommodations at the Misión de los Ángeles, Oaxaca City (B,L,D)

Wed. Dec. 4: Las Guacamayas | Oaxaca City


Today we head northwest on Highway 190, sampling our way through a mix of habitats. We focus much of our time in scrub vegetation and the mixed shrub arroyos that cut through them. We work our way up to oak woodland at a mid-elevation site (about 6000 ft.) good for endemic Ocellated Thrasher, Oaxaca Sparrow, and another chance to find Slaty Vireo. The vegetation mix is fascinating, with plants showing adaptations to arid conditions. This is a good area for butterflies. Elegant Euphonia occurs here, Nutting’s Flycatcher, White-throated Towhee, Black-vented Oriole, and we could find the often elusive Blue Mockingbird.

We enjoy lunch along the way and return in time for a break, and then go into the historic section of the city with time to explore a bit ahead of dinner.
Accommodations at the Misión de los Ángeles, Oaxaca City (B,L,D)

Thurs., Dec. 5: Morning at Monte Albán | Drive to San Jose del Pacifico


This morning’s highlight is to visit the striking archaeological site of Monte Albán, the largest and most important pre-Columbian site in the state, starting around 500 BC. Intricate and fanciful carvings adorn buildings, many depicting animals. The ruins are situated around an open plaza.

We bird our way there, as the entrance road has nice views and vegetation, then we park and walk through the historic site. Monte Albán has some interesting species of birds such as Rock Wren, Cassin’s Kingbird, Vermilion Flycatcher, and perhaps some lower elevation mixed flocks that may include Golden Vireo. After birding and enjoying the history of the site we find a local place for lunch and then have a travel afternoon, with a scenic four-hour drive to the town of San Jose del Pacifico for three nights.

We arrive at our cozy lodge in time to check out the hummingbird feeders; with luck we may find Rivoli’s, White-eared, or Garnet-throated. At night we listen for songs of Mexican Whip-poor-will.
Accommodations at the La Puesta del Sol, San Jose del Pacifico (B,L,D)

Fri., Dec. 6: San Jose del Pacifico


Cool and comfortable while birding in San Jose at 8,000 feet elevation, today we can have a nice-relaxed pace morning as our lodge grounds have wonderful plantings, trees, and birds. We may hear or, with luck, see Long-tailed Wood-Partridge. Some species possible include Gray-Silky Flycatcher, Cinnamon-bellied Flowerpiercer, and more chances for Red Warbler, Yellow-eyed Junco, Flame-colored Tanager, and other highland species.

In the afternoon we check out the hummingbird feeders for activity and we may venture down the winding highway to a quiet road that descends to a village. The forest here is draped with bromeliads and mosses, a magical realm to enjoy.

Tonight we go into town to try a fun local Italian restaurant.
Accommodations at the La Puesta del Sol, San Jose del Pacifico (B,L,D)

Sat., Dec. 7: Pluma Hidalgo | La Puesta del Sol


Today we continue south on the highway, eventually dropping down in elevation to deciduous forest at a place with fine views all the way to the ocean. Birding in the upper vicinity of Pluma Hidalgo lets us get into new habitat with a strong tropical influence. Bird species today may include the Oaxacan endemic Blue-capped Hummingbird, Northern Emerald-Toucanet, Red-headed Tanager, Golden Vireo, and more. We have lunch at a family-run coffee finca where we can sample shade grown coffee, and do some more birding in the area, looking for Ferruginous Pygmy Owl, Happy Wren, Greenish Elaenia, White-tipped Dove, and Red-legged Honeycreeper. This area is superb for butterflies too.

We arrive back in time to see what’s patrolling the gardens and feeders. Then, we have time to tally up our findings and enjoy another nice dinner.
Accommodations at the La Puesta del Sol, San Jose del Pacifico (B,L,D)

Sun., Dec. 8: Local Birding | Return to Oaxaca City


This morning we bird the gardens and enjoy some casual birding near the town of San Jose del Pacifico before starting the drive back to Oaxaca City. We break up the drive with some scenic and birding stops. Watch for Crested Caracara and other birds of prey. We end with a farewell dinner, perhaps at a rooftop restaurant watching sunset over the city. We share highlights of the trip and compare notes for our next adventure!
Accommodations in Oaxaca City (B,L,D)

Mon., Dec. 9: Departures


It is time for our flock to disperse. Depart today at leisure. (B)

  • Birding Mexico, Bird watching Mexico, Oaxaca, Mexico, North American Birds, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot

    Oaxaca City

  • Birding Mexico, Bird watching Mexico, Oaxaca, Mexico, North American Birds, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot

    Oaxaca Streets by Priscilla Erickson

  • Laughing Falcon, Birding Mexico, Bird watching Mexico, Oaxaca, Mexico, North American Birds, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot

    Laughing Falcon

  • Birding Mexico, Bird watching Mexico, Oaxaca, Mexico, North American Birds, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot

    Donkey by Peg Abbott

  • Birding Mexico, Bird watching Mexico, Oaxaca, Mexico, North American Birds, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot

    Welcome Birders Sign by Peg Abbott

  • Birding Mexico, Bird watching Mexico, Oaxaca, Mexico, North American Birds, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot

    Group Birding Puesto del Sol by Peg Abbott

  • Birding Mexico, Bird watching Mexico, Oaxaca, Mexico, North American Birds, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot

    Hummingbird Mural by Priscilla Erickson

  • Birding Mexico, Bird watching Mexico, Oaxaca, Mexico, North American Birds, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot

    Yellow Flowers by Priscilla Erickson

  • Birding Mexico, Bird watching Mexico, Oaxaca, Mexico, North American Birds, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot

    Santo Domingo Church, Oaxaca

  • Birding Mexico, Bird watching Mexico, Oaxaca, Mexico, North American Birds, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot

    Cockatoo Art, Oaxaca

  • Pale-billed Woodpecker, Birding Mexico, Bird watching Mexico, Oaxaca, Mexico, North American Birds, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot

    Pale-billed Woodpecker

  • Birding Mexico, Bird watching Mexico, Oaxaca, Mexico, North American Birds, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot

    Hummingbird Art, Oaxaca

  • Birding Mexico, Bird watching Mexico, Oaxaca, Mexico, North American Birds, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot

    Oaxaca Streets

  • Birding Mexico, Bird watching Mexico, Oaxaca, Mexico, North American Birds, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot

    Colorful Textiles, Oaxaca

  • Birding Mexico, Bird watching Mexico, Oaxaca, Mexico, North American Birds, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot

    Oaxaca Streets by Priscilla Erickson

Cost of the Journey

The cost of the tour is per person based on occupancy: $3790 DBL / $4285 SGL, from Oaxaca City. The tour cost includes: all accommodations; all meals as stated in the itinerary; group airport transfers; ground transportation; professional guide services; park, preserve, and other activity fees; and miscellaneous program expenses. The tour cost does not include: roundtrip airfare to and from Oaxaca City or items of a personal nature such as laundry, porterage, telephone charges, alcoholic beverages, or guide gratuities.

Travel Details

Please plan to make air travel plans only after the minimum group size has been met. We will send you a confirmation email as soon as the trip has been confirmed.

Arrival and Departure Airport: Oaxaca International Airport (OAX)

Arrival Details:  Plan to arrive December 1, no later than 6:00 PM

Departure Details:  Plan flight departures on December 9, at your leisure

Travel Tips:  Oaxaca is renowned for food, colorful architecture, and street life. We recommend you come in early and enjoy it! A hotel we recommend in the heart of the historic area is Hotel de la Parra  Hotel de la Parra. It’s close to museums, shops, and restaurants. There are other hotels in this area and we can pick you up at the one of your choice on the tour start date. If you’re looking for things to do in Oaxaca, there are plenty of options! One of the most important archaeological sites in Latin America is right outside Oaxaca. Zona Arqueológica de Monte Albán was inhabited over a period of 1,500 years and has a lot to explore. If you’re into museums, the Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca shouldn’t be missed. It’s located in a sprawling former monastery and has displays on regional history and culture including 14th century Mixtec artifacts. Does shopping and checking out local food sound more appealing? Then you should visit one of the many markets in Oaxaca. Mercado Benito Juárez is one of the more popular markets and located right in the historic area. Any attractions not within walking distance can be reached via taxi.

Entry Requirements: See "Essential Information" section under the "Know Before You Go" tab.

Browse below for trip reports and species lists from past versions of this and other tours from this destination.

Mexico

Alamos

Butterflies & Birds

Oaxaca

Sea of Cortés

Veracruz

  • James P. Smith

    James brings some twenty five years of guiding experience to Naturalist Journeys. Originally from Sheffield in the United Kingdom, he discovered a love for guiding in Israel in 1995 where he helped establish the Kibbutz Lotan Center for Birdwatching in the Southern Arava Valley. Since then, he’s led hundreds of tours throughout the Northern Hemisphere for a number of UK-based tour companies. His trips to Israel and North America are especially close to his heart but he’s also led or co-led tours to Mexico (Veracruz), The Gambia, Kenya, Iceland, Scottish Highlands, Spanish Pyrenees, Central/Southern France, Greece (Lesvos), and India (Goa). An accomplished illustrator, James placed runner-up in the British Birds “Bird Illustrator of the Year” competition in 1992 and went on to have his work published in numerous birding magazines and journals. He also co-authored the two volume set A Guide to the Birding Hotspots of Israel (Published in 2000 by the Israel Ornithological Center and the S.P.N.I.). He returns to Israel every year to lead trips and remains an active member of the Israel Rarities and Distribution Committee. When not leading tours he can be found at home in Western Massachusetts with his wife Susannah and their young son Matan.

    Other trips with James P. Smith

Map for Oaxaca Valley: Birds, Culture & Crafts

Essential Information +

This information is important for being prepared for your journey; we want you to have Read more

This information is important for being prepared for your journey; we want you to have the best experience possible. If you only read one section, this one is key!

Ahead of Your Tour

  • At the time of writing, U.S. citizens must have a passport that is in good condition and at minimum is valid at the time of entry through your scheduled return to the U.S. We suggest at least 3 months validity beyond the end of the tour to allow for unexpected delays in return travel.
  • U.S. citizens carrying a tourist passport do not need a visa to enter Mexico. We advise having at least one blank passport page per entry stamp.
  • Please check current CDC recommendations for travel to Mexico and consult with your doctor about general travel vaccinations you should have as precaution for travel. See the “General Health and Inoculations” section below.
  • Travel insurance in case of serious medical emergency is strongly recommended. Full health coverage and repatriation is available through Allianz Travel Insurance.
  • Plan your flight reservations arriving into Oaxaca Airport (OAX), departing Huatulco International Airport (HUX). Send a copy of your itinerary to the Naturalist Journeys office please.
  • Soft sided luggage/duffel bags are easiest for packing the vans. Pack essential medications in your carry-on luggage, as well as one day of clothing and optics in case of luggage delay.

Arrival in Oaxaca, Mexico (OAX)

The arrival airport for this tour is the Oaxaca International Airport (OAX). Upon arrival at the airport, you will pass through immigration and customs and exit to the main terminal area. Your emergency contact sheet will be helpful at Immigration when they ask where you are going. At the airport, there are ATMs to withdraw money and change desks where US Dollars can be changed for Pesos. Please plan your arrival no later than 6:00PM.

Closer to arrival once we have all travelers information, we will send out meetup information about what to expect when you arrive in Oaxaca.

Please check the Travel Details tabof this tour for additional information and updates.

Departure from Oaxaca, Mexico (OAX)

Depart at your leisure on the last day of your tour.

Please check the Travel Details tabof this tour for additional information and updates.

Passports, Visas & Documents

Guidelines and regulations can change. It is always advisable to double-check the country’s documentation requirements 60-90 days ahead of traveling. nformation for U.S. citizens can be found at travel.state.gov for Mexico. If you are from another country, please contact the Embassy of Mexico website for guidelines.

Passport: At the time of writing, U.S. citizens must have a passport that is in good condition and at minimum is valid at the time of entry through your scheduled return to the U.S. However, we suggest at least 3 months validity beyond the end of the tour to allow for unexpected delays in return travel. Please check that expiration date! Your passport should have at least one blank page per entry stamp. The blank pages need to say “Visas” at the top. Pages marked “Amendments and Endorsements” will not be accepted. 

Visa: At the time of writing, a tourist visa is not required for stays of this tour's duration. You will need proof of a return ticket. The necessary documents will be distributed by your airline while in flight or provided for you upon arrival. We advise that you bring your eContact list of hotels for use at immigration as well.

As a precaution for lost or misplaced documents you carry on your person during travel, we highly recommend you keep hard and digital backup copies on your phone (either photo or PDF scan), as well as a hard copy left with your emergency contact at home. The recommended important documents to copy include, but are not limited to; your passport ID page, travel visa, the front and back of your credit card(s), the airline barcode on your luggage. This will greatly expedite getting new ones if necessary – we hope everyone will always keep travel documents close so that losing them will not be an issue.

General Health & Inoculations Information - Be Prepared!

Health requirements for entry to any country can change. It is always advisable to double-check the country’s health requirements and recommendations 60-90 days ahead of traveling. A helpful website for planning is the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) webpage for Mexico or by phone (800) CDC-INFO or (800) 232-4636.

Vaccinations: Bring copies of your up-to-date vaccination records with you. The CDC recommends that all travelers be up to date with routine vaccinations  (such as measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, varicella (chickenpox), polio and your yearly flu shot) and basic travel vaccines (such as Hepatitis A and Typhoid) before traveling to any destination. Please check with your doctor for recommendations at least 4-6 weeks before departing on your trip. 

Prescriptions: It is a good idea to pack any meds you take regularly in your carry-on luggage.  Bring an extra pair of glasses or contact lenses. Bring an adequate supply of any prescription medications you use, a copy of the prescription and a list of generic names of your medicines as “back-up” in case it is necessary to purchase drugs while abroad. You’ll want to keep medications in their original, labeled containers. 

Allergies: To be prepared for environmental triggers to allergies or breathing difficulties, please bring your allergy and/or asthma medication(s).  If you have severe allergies talk to your doctor about carrying an EPI pen and notify your guides. It is also recommended to carry with you an up-to-date record of known allergies, chronic medical problems and Medic Alerts so that, if necessary, emergency treatment can be carried out without endangering your health.

Common Ailments: We recommend that you bring a travel-sized first aid kit and a supply of standard over-the-counter medications for prevention or treatment of common ailments (such as diarrhea, constipation, stomach upset, cough, congestion, head or body aches, insect bites and sunburn); as well as ointments, moisturizer, sunscreen, oral rehydration salts, band-aids, moleskin for blisters, cotton swabs, nail clippers, and tweezers, etc.

Altitude illness: According to the CDC's website, day trips to high-elevation destinations less than 8000 ft. with an evening return to a lower elevation are much less stressful on the body, depending on the time provided for your body to adjust. However, overnights at higher altitudes may have more adverse affects on your body and you should be informed about altitude illness and Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) (see https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2024/environmental-hazards-risks/high-elevation-travel-and-altitude-illness). The most general symptoms are headache and occasionally fatigue and dizziness. You’ll want to take it easy, particularly at first. The likelihood of these symptoms can be reduced by resting, drinking plenty of water, avoiding alcohol, taking aspirin and optimize acclimatization by adjusting itineraries to avoid going “too high too fast." If you have worries about the altitude, ask your physician about medications (such as Diamox) that may be right for you. 

Altitudes of your destinations:

  • Puesto del Sol: 8202 ft (2500m)
  • Tiotitlan: 5500 ft (1670m)
  • Monte Albán: 6400 ft (1940m)
  • Pluma Hidalgo: 5000 ft (1350m)

Weather & Climate

The Oaxaca region of Mexico generally has comfortable summers ranging from 60°- mid 80s°.  It rains but not abundantly as is in a mountain-protected valley. Come prepared with layers of clothing, including a rain-jacket that can double as a windbreaker, and an umbrella. Bring walking boots for use in the day and more comfortable shoes for meals and relaxing.

Food & Drinks

Meals are varied and delicious, and reflect regional specialties. 

Bottled water will be available for field trips and drinking water is provided for you to refill a bottle. One of the many ways we strive to do our part for the environment is by trying to reduce our consumption of plastics; if convenient we appreciate if you can bring reusable water bottles. Your guide will let you know when bottled water is preferable.

Packing, Clothing & Laundry

Dress is very informal. Some people will change for dinner; it is usually just to a drier or cleaner version of what they wore during the day. Again, the climate is warm to hot, so you will be comfortable in lightweight clothing.

Please, pack light. We are serious about this – we move around a lot; you just do not need much to cope with tropical life! Please do not bring anything more than you must. Lay out your hopeful things to take and then do a serious paring down. 

TRAVEL TIP: Imagine NOT getting your suitcase. Wear your most important shoes for the field and have one day’s clothing change (including a change of underwear!). And please DO NOT pack any essential medications, or your vital optics, in your checked luggage!

Laundry services can be arranged at some of our hotels, those where you have multiple nights. But it is most convenient if you are content with hand laundry.

Spending Money

The official currency in Mexico is the Mexican Peso. We advise you carry a mix of different types of payments, such as cash, an ATM card, and a credit card. For the current exchange rate, please refer to an online converter tool like www.xe.com, or your bank. U.S. dollars in good condition (no rips or tears) are taken as a form of payment but shopping for smaller handicrafts may necessitate using local currency.

When using the ATM to withdrawal cash, keep in mind it might only accept cards from local banks or not allow cash advances on credit cards. Many U.S. banks charge a fee of $1 - $5 each time you use a foreign ATM. Others may charge you a percentage of the amount you withdraw. Check with your bank before departure. You must become familiar with how to use your ATM card and PIN number ahead of the journey. If you plan to exchange cash in country, bring large U.S. bill ($50 or $100) in good condition that will give you the better rate when exchanging to local currency.

We suggest you have more than one card available, if possible. You may want to bring more than one brand of card (VISA and Mastercard are commonly accepted; American Express is less common). You can use credit cards at lodges to pay your bar and gift tabs. Not every shop will accept every card. Some smaller shops and restaurants, or taxis require cash, so it is always a good idea to ask before making a purchase. Also, we recommend that you advise your bank or credit card company that you will be traveling abroad to avoid questions, card freezes, or charges. If you have a choice of cards, bring one with no foreign exchange fees.

Traveler’s checks are not widely accepted. They can be difficult to exchange. We do not advise you use them.

Gratuities

Expect the normal tipping protocol to apply for your hotel maids and bar service. If at the end of the tour, you would like to show our appreciation to your guides, tipping is entirely appropriate but at your discretion. We hope that you will be pleased with all professional services. Gratuities for group meals are included. For your birding tour guide, we suggest $10-$15 per day per guest. Note that if there is more than one guide, this can be split among them.

Cell Phones & Internet Service

Your guide is well connected and can help if any urgent communication need arises. However, it is highly recommended that you travel with a cell phone, if only as a precaution for the unfortunate occurrence of a medical emergency during an outing and needing swift accessibility to critical personal or medical contacts. 

Please check with your wireless provider to see if your phone and service will work in your destination country. Options include activating international roaming, purchasing a local SIM card at the airport (newer phones may not accept SIM cards), or simply turning off cellular service and relying on Wi-Fi to make calls and access the internet. If your phone can connect to Wi-Fi, you may be able to make voice and video calls free of charge. Another option if you have access to Wi-Fi is to use smartphone apps like Skype, WhatsApp, or Viber to send text messages, and make voice calls, or video calls. Many smartphones, tablets, or laptops come with one of these apps pre-installed or you can download for free.

Your hotels and most local restaurants provide Wi-Fi at least in their common areas. Although it is generally a reliable service, it can be affected by adverse weather conditions due to the remote location.

Make sure if you do NOT want to use your cell phone that you turn off your cellular data. You could incur huge charges if you are not on Wi-Fi. Putting your phone in airplane mode if you mainly use it for photos will save the battery as well. 

Please refrain from taking or making cell phone calls in the vehicles when traveling with other passengers, unless it appears to be an emergency. This disrupts other guests, plan on cell phone call use on your own time.

Electricity

Mexico uses Standard Voltage, same as the northern European standards, so the voltage is 230V, higher than in the United States (120V), with a frequency of 50 Hz. Electrical sockets (outlets) are primarily "Type F" and accept the standard continental European dual round-pronged plugs.

You will most likely need to bring a power plug adapter, and a voltage converter to use appliances or devices from the U.S. that do not automatically detect and convert voltages. To be sure, check the label on your appliance. More information is available at https://www.power-plugs-sockets.com/us/mexico/.

Time

The Oaxaca region of Mexico is in the Central Time Zone, which is 1 hours behind New York (Eastern Daylight Time). Mexico does observe Summertime (or Daylight Savings Time). A great website if you want to tell someone to check ahead of calling you is www.timeanddate.com.

Questions?

Please contact Naturalist Journeys by email at clientservices@naturalistjourneys or telephone at our office: (520) 558-1146 or toll free: (866) 900-1146 if you have any questions. Many thanks for traveling with us and we hope you enjoy your journey!

 

Pace & Protocols +

Pace of the Tour & What to Expect You will receive a Schedule-at-a-Glance and list of Read more

Pace of the Tour & What to Expect

You will receive a Schedule-at-a-Glance and list of hotels (our eContact List) a few weeks before your departure. This will serve as an outline for each day and alert you to any recent changes made in the schedule or to our hotels, if needed.

Our journeys are set up to follow the rhythm of nature. Our focus is on birding and nature; we offer full, well-planned field days and often get up early for that magical time around dawn. We generally follow the published itinerary, but we stay flexible to the weather, wildlife opportunities and the interests of the group. Your guide will keep you apprised of the next day’s schedule at each evening meal, noting what to bring and what to prepare for. Questions and/or concerns are welcome.

The pace of our Naturalist Journeys tours is moderate; to fully participate you should be able to get in and out of vehicles several times a day, and walk 1-3 miles over uneven terrain. It is important to participate with a flexible attitude as adjustments may be made in our schedule to make the most of our time in the field or for other purposes at your guide's discretion. We are not a “listing” bird company that drills down on target species, but at times we do wait for those special species unique to the places we visit. During the day, we take time to stop for photos and for educational opportunities to learn about conservation projects, landscapes, and geology. We appreciate other taxa as well as birds, with mammals often the biggest draw but plants and butterflies are also very popular. Our clients often lend their own expertise to the mix.

We like to make meals a fun and memorable part of the experience, too. Breakfasts are often at hotels, and we carry snacks, fruit, and water in the vans each day. Lunches are a mix of picnics in the field (weather dependent) and a chance to dine with locals at small cafes and restaurants. For dinner, we pride ourselves in our homework to keep up with the best choices for dining, choosing restaurants with atmosphere that specialize in local foods. On occasion we keep dinner simple to go back out in the field for sunset wildlife viewing or night walks. In some remote locations, our choices are limited. If you are tired, room service for dinner may be an option you can choose.

Naturalist Journeys International Trips: Guide Role

Naturalist Journeys supports ecotourism and the development of excellent local guides. Once we know our international partners and guides well, we can send out small groups working directly with these trusted partners, adding a Naturalist Journeys guide to assist the local expert when we have a group of 6-7 or more. This helps us keep your costs down while retaining tour quality. The local guide is your main guide. You can expect your Naturalist Journeys guide to be well-researched and often they are experienced in the destination, but their role is not to be primary, it is to help to organize logistics, help you find birds, mammals, and interesting other species in the field, keep reports, help facilitate group interactions, and to keep the trip within Naturalist Journeys' style. Local guides live in the countries we travel to, know the destinations intimately, and are often the strongest force for conservation in their countries. They open many doors for us to have a rich experience.

Smoking

Smoking is not permitted in any vehicle or in any situation where the group is participating in an activity together, such as a vehicle excursion or a guided walk. Please respect all designated smoking areas at hotels and restaurants.

Transportation

As a courtesy to each other, we ask that all travelers please rotate seating. On international trips we may all be in one small bus, on some trips we are in vans, particularly the roomy Sprinter Vans when available. Some areas require us to be in smaller 4-wheel drive or safari vehicles. Rotation allows you to sit with different drivers and alternate front and back seating.

Photo Release & Sharing

We take many group photos and will share photos with the group. And after your tour, we will organize a chance to share photos via Dropbox or Google Photos. Please note that this is our policy and if you prefer to be excluded, we need to know ahead of your tour.

By registering for this tour, you agree to grant to Naturalist Journeys and its authorized representatives’ permission to record on photography film and/or video, pictures of my participation in the tour. You further agree that any or all of the material photographed may be used, in any form, as part of any future publications, brochure, or other printed materials used to promote Naturalist Journeys, and further that such use shall be without payment of fees, royalties, special credit or other compensation.

Travel Insurance

You are traveling in remote areas. Naturalist Journeys strongly recommends you have full medical and evacuation insurance from a company such as Allianz, for all international travel. If you do not have medical coverage or evacuation coverage on your existing travel insurance policy or for some reason elected not to take that out, we advise getting an evacuation plan with Global RescueWorld Nomads, Medjet, Allianz (they can do evacuation only) or a similar company. These plans are typically $300-$400 for a year for multiple destinations. This coverage may be a part of a larger Travel Insurance policy but can also be purchased on its own.

Questions?

Please contact Naturalist Journeys by email at clientservices@naturalistjourneys.com or telephone our office: (520) 558-1146 or toll free: (866) 900-1146 if you have any questions. Many thanks for traveling with us and we hope you enjoy your journey.

 

Packing List +

Please pack light! Soft luggage is much easier for us to pack than a more rigid Read more

Please pack light!

Soft luggage is much easier for us to pack than a more rigid hard sided piece, so if you have the choice, please use your soft luggage. Be sure to have your name and address on the inside of the bag, as well as on the luggage tag on the handle. It is our hope that you can pack in one checked suitcase that does not exceed 45 pounds. Be sure to pack your personal medication, airline tickets, passport, binoculars, camera, and other essential items in your carry-on bag. You will want a day pack for field trips, so this is an ideal carry-on. Please reconfirm your airline’s baggage weight and size restrictions about a week or so before departure.

Temperatures will have highs in the 80s°F and lows near 60°F. There is some chance of rain and we have rain gear on the list just in case.

Dress is comfortable and informal throughout the trip. Dressing in layers is the best way to be comfortable. Lightweight long sleeve shirts and long pants make ideal field clothing as they are more protective from sun and vegetation. But if you like to wear them, by all means bring some shorts. Also, choose clothing you don’t mind getting dirty or muddy and things that are comfortable and easy.

There will be laundry services available at some (but not all) of the tour’s hotels. You may wish to pack clothing that is easy to hand wash and fast drying for washing in your room.

Note on clothing colors and insect repellent: We recommend muted colors of tan, brown, khaki, grey or green, as they are spotted less easily than white or bright colors. Camouflage clothing is NOT recommended. It is possible to purchase field clothing permeated with insect repellent such as the Craghoppers Insect Shield collection. Another approach is to purchase Permethrin spray (online or from REI) to treat your field clothing and socks before your departure.

Clothing & Gear

  • Lightweight or convertible hiking pants, 1-2 pair
  • Lightweight long-sleeved shirts, 2-3
  • Shorts (optional, not generally recommended)
  • T-shirts, sleeveless and short-sleeved or equivalent, 2-3
  • Comfortable clothes for evening (a cleaner version of your field clothes)
  • Personal underclothing (consider what dries quickly if you plan to do laundry)
  • Socks – lightweight, easy to wash and dry
  • Comfortable walking shoes (such as tennis shoes)
  • Lightweight hiking boots - bring shoes with good support and firm grip tread
  • Sandals for evenings, travel days (optional)
  • Lightweight jacket: fleece fabric is ideal, or a pullover/sweater
  • Lightweight raincoat or poncho
  • Hat with broad brim
  • Bandana (optional, great for cooling off when hot and sweaty)
  • Bathing suit (optional)
  • Field vest (optional), a great source is Big Pockets

Equipment & Miscellaneous

  • E-ticket confirmation
  • Passport, visa (if required), travel insurance info, money & credit cards.
  • A secure pouch to carry the items above on your person at all times (such as a secure, under-clothing document pouch)
  • As a backup: copies of all the above (phone and/or paper) packed in a separate location than on your person, plus a set given to your emergency contact at home as a backup. For passport, copy of the  ID and entry stamp pages.
  • Small daypack or fanny pack for carrying your field gear
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Binoculars (a hotel shower cap is great to cover these when it is raining)
  • Spotting scope and tripod (optional – guide will have them)
  • Camera and extra batteries/chargers, memory cards, lens cleaning supplies, instruction manual.
  • Tablet or laptop for personal use and/or transferring photos, USB cord and charger (optional)
  • Rechargeable power bank (optional)
  • Umbrella (optional - compact, not brightly colored!)
  • Walking sticks (optional, but recommended if you usually use them when hiking)
  • Flashlight and/or headlamp with fresh batteries. Please note that if you like to read at night, lighting in other countries is often poor in the rooms, and you may want to bring a booklight, headlamp, or flashlight.
  • Alarm clock, or use your cell phone
  • Sunscreen/lip balm with SPF
  • Sunglasses with neck strap
  • Insect repellent (containing at least 20% DEET)
  • Toiletry articles
  • Earplugs (if hotel noise or roommates snoring may bother you; these are optional)
  • Water bottle (can easily be bought in the airport and refilled daily)
  • Notebook or journal and pen (optional)
  • Field guides (optional)
  • Spanish phrase dictionary (optional)
  • 3 to 2 prong outlet adaptor
  • Rechargeable power bank (optional)

 

WE DO NOT RECOMMEND TRAVELING WITH PRECIOUS OR VALUABLE JEWELRY – don’t tempt anyone and don’t bring things you’d regret losing - your mind will be at ease!

Medical & First Aid Items

  • Heath insurance and vaccination records (kept in personal pouch with other travel documents)
  • Personal medication (and copy of vital prescriptions, including glasses)
  • Personal first aid kit including medications for general and stomach ailments (Imodium or Lomotil, antihistamine cream or tablets, eye drops, etc.)
  • Motion sickness preventatives if likely to be needed on van, etc.
  • Extra pair of eyeglasses or contacts
  • Band-Aids, moleskin to protect against blisters
  • Hand Sanitizer

 

Suggested Reading List +

There are many titles of interest for Oaxaca; the following are a few that we Read more

There are many titles of interest for Oaxaca; the following are a few that we have enjoyed that can get you started. 

Top Picks

A Guide to the Birds of Mexico and Northern Central America

Merlin App – Mexico: Oaxaca and Chiapas Pack. A phone-based birding app from Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology. Before departing the U.S., download the app for free, then from within the app, download the “pack” for Mexico: Oaxaca and Chiapas.

Mexico - Culture Smart! The Essential Guide to Customs

Field Guides

Birds of Mexico and Central America

A Bird-Finding Guide to Mexico

A Field Guide to the Birds of Mexico and Adjacent Areas

A Swift Guide to Butterflies of Mexico and Central America

Flowering Plants of the Neotropics

Travelers’ Wildlife Guides Southern Mexico

Natural History

A Naturalist’s Mexico

Wildlife Ecology and Management in Mexico

History & Culture

A Concise History of Mexico

Days of Death, Days of Life: Ritual in the Popular Culture of Oaxaca

The Complete Illustrated History of the Aztec & Maya

Distant Neighbors: A Portrait of the Mexicans

Defending the Land of the Jaguar: A History of Conservation in Mexico

The Mexico Reader: History Culture, Politics

Easy Spanish Phase Book: Over 700 Phrases for Everyday Use

Your guide will also have a selection of reference books and materials for participants to share. As an Amazon Associate, Naturalist Journeys earns from qualifying purchases, and may get commissions for purchases made through links on this page at no added cost to you.

 

Useful Links +

Learn more about your destination at these external websites, carefully researched for you. Read more

General

Oaxaca – Encyclopedic Overview

Oaxaca City

Printable Maps of Oaxaca

Ixtepeji

Pluma Hidalgo

Nature, Wildlife & Biology

Oaxaca Sightings – eBird.org

La Cumbre Sightings – eBird.org

Birding Oaxaca Overview

Natural Wonders of Oaxaca

Oaxaca’s Ethnobotanical Garden

Marine and Coastal Biodiversity of Oaxaca

Conservation, Parks & Reserves

Benito Juarez National Park

ProNatura IBA

“Wild Oaxaca: A Conservation Success Story” – Article, Wildcoast.org

PlasticOceans.org in Oaxaca, Mex

Oaxaca Sea Turtle Conservation

Geology & Geography

Geology of Oaxaca

Geography of Oaxaca

Mixteca Alta, Oaxaca (UNESCO site)

History & Culture

Oaxaca History and Culture

Teotitlán del Valle

Museums of Oaxaca

Monte Albán

Helpful Travel Websites

Oaxaca International Airport (OAX)

Homeland Security Real ID Act

Transportation Security Administration (TSA)

National Passport Information Center

U.S. Department of State International Travel Information – Mexico

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - Mexico

Canada Travel Advice and Advisories - Mexico

Travel Health Pro (UK) - Mexico

ATM Locator

Foreign Exchange Rates

Electricity and Plugs - Mexico

Date, Time, and Holidays - Mexico


Photo credits: BANNERS: Crested Caracara (NJ Stock), Colorful Textile Yarn (Peg Abbott), Monte Alban (Priscilla Erickson), Red-legged Honeycreeper (NJ Stock), Emerald Toucanet (Peg Abbott), Scenic (Peg Abbott), Green Violetear (Sandy Sorkin), Acorn Woodpeckers (Terry Peterson) THUMBNAILS: Green Jay (NJ Stock), Altamira Oriole (NJ Stock), Lesser Roadrunner (NJ Stock), Great Kiskadee (NJ Stock), Elegant Trogon (NJ Stock), Golden Vireo (NJ Stock), Blue Mockingbird (NJ Stock), Black-vented Oriole (NJ Stock), ITINERARY: Butterfly (Priscilla Erickson), Colorful Textiles (NJ Stock), On the road to Las Guacamayas (Peg Abbott), Monte Alban (NJ Stock), Red-legged Honeycreeper (NJ Stock)

×

Like what we do?

Sign up for our weekly eNews to stay up to date!

Get to know our favorite destinations each week. We promise no spam.

No Thanks