Exploring Mexico's Silver Road
& Her Fight for Independence
Our La Puerta del Camino Real tour is an historical exploration of an area once known as The Door of the Royal Interior Road. This course extended from the Valley of Mexico to the Rocky Mountains and was Spain's most important trade route for almost 300 years.
Our journey will carry us to the birthplace of the Mexican Revolution and a cluster of towns that were integral to these two overlapping paths before delivering us to the sandy beaches of Zihuatanejo.
Where there is Abundant Grass
We will land in Zacatecas and spend two days exploring this elegant UNESCO historical city. Activities include a guided tour of the Mina el Eden mine shaft & fossil museum, a spectacular gondola ride across the city to La Bufa, which has historical relevance to the birth of the silver road, not to mention some superb views of the city. The Rafael Coronel Mask Collection is housed in the enchanting ruins of the San Francisco De Almoloyan y De Asis convent. Archaeology enthusiasts will be excited to visit La Quemada, which is a small but impressive site just outside of the city - while wine lovers will be pleased to tour the Tierra Adentro vineyard.
Real de Catorce
The Royal Fourteen
Traversing the 2 KM Ogarrio Tunnel is akin to traveling through a time-warp that delivers you to the ruins of a crumbling ghost town where time has stood still for hundreds of years. Seated at an altitude of 8950 feet, Real de Catorce is hunched-up against the side of a mountain with sensational vistas to the valley's below. This experience will leave you feeling as though you have arrived at the end of the world - and considering the Ogarrio Tunnel is the only way back to reality, it's fair to say this stunning village is truly beyond the edge of time. We will investigate the ruins of Puebla Fantasma, the bull ring, Palenque Theatre, an 18th century Church & cemetery and the spiritual Huichol birthplace of the sun.
The Cry of Dolores
La Ruta del la Libertad
The Cry of Dolores rung out at 5 AM on September 16, 1810 when the parish priest Hidalgo beckoned his followers to take up arms against the Spanish Gapuchines - or overlords. This sparked the beginnings of the Mexican Revolution, a war that spilled blood across Mexico, including the villages and cities of Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato, Morelia - and eventually Chihuahua where Hidalgo met his demise. The Silver Road intercepts La Ruta del la Libertad in Guanajuato City, where we will enjoy this overlap of history. With three nights in the opulent city of Guanajuato and two nights spent in the ghost town of Mineral de Pozos, we will also visit Dolores Hidalgo, the phenomenal Sanctuary of Atotonilco, and San Miguel de Allende
Prior to the Mexican Revolution, Morelia was known as Valladolid. Morelia is named after Jose Maria Morelos, who was a hero of the revolution. The battle of independence arrived in Morelia about one year after the Cry of Dolores, and the siege of this city resulted in the end of slavery, though it took another ten years before independence was achieved.
First time visitors to the Aristocrat City will enjoy the 100 Baroque and Romantic era structures that were built from pink cantera stone. Your guide will offer you a half-day walking tour. As we arrive in Morelia late our first night, we will spend two nights here. Lupe will cook us a fabulous feast for our tour conclusion.
We will depart Casona Rosa B&B at 9:45 AM, making one last important stop for those of you who love your Morelia pilgrimage to Costco. We will arrive in Zihuatanejo around 3:30 PM.
GENERAL HISTORICAL OVERVIEW
Between 1598 and 1882 (284 years), the most significant Spanish trade route in the Americas was called El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro - which translates as Royal Road of the Interior Land. This 2560 KM (1600 Mile) route from Mexico City to San Juan Pueblo, New Mexico, was originally established by indigenous groups, extending from the Valley of Mexico to the Rocky Mountains due to a thriving trade route based on turquoise, obsidian, salt and feathers. After the Spanish conquest, this trade route was utilized as a means for transporting exploits of Mexico's silver mines - a route that has since been called "The Silver Road."
As of 2010, there are 55 sites and 5 World Heritage Sites protected by UNESCO in Mexico - 646 KM's (404 Miles) of the route is protected under the National Park Service in the United States. We will explore a very tiny portion of this route - an area that was known historically as La Puerta de Tierra Adentra - or The Door to the (Royal Road) of the Interior Land.
ZACATECAS TO ZIHUATANEJO* - 14 NIGHTS / 15 DAYS
This tour is specifically designed for clients who are staying in Zihuatanejo for an extended period, but would like to explore interior areas of Mexico that are a little more on the adventurous side. Guests will fly from Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo International Airport to General Leobardo C. Ruiz International Airport in Zacatecas Mexico on Tuesday, February 26th. West Jet offers a flight departing Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo at 12:45 PM, arriving in Zacatecas at 5:55 PM. Average price for economy fair is about $127 US.
Guests will be delivered to Zihuatanejo by van - allowing you to shop for precious cargo. We have even included a Costco run in our itinerary, as we know many of you like to stock up on supplies when you are in the city!
* If you would like to join us from a different part of Mexico, we can arrange return transport for you from either Guanajuato or Morelia. There are ample flights connecting Mexico City to Zacatecas for your arrival, and lots of options for getting you home.
TRIP COSTS - WHAT'S INCLUDED/NOT INCLUDED
Single Person: $45,000 Pesos
Couples: $62,000 Pesos
If you are single friends or a family who would like to share a room between 3-4 people, please contact us for a price quote
as shared accommodations will bring prices down per person!
Accommodations in mid-range hotels
Van transport from Zacatecas to Zihuatanejo (including tolls)
Museum Entry Fees listed in Itinerary
Communal cooler with ice for beverages during the day
Refillable Water Bottles (please return at trips end)
Air Transport to Zacatecas
Horseback Riding Tours in Real de Catorce
Meals & Beverages
BASIC ITINERARY (DETAILS BELOW)
3 Nights in Zacatecas
3 Nights in Real de Catorce
1 Night in San Luis Potosi
3 Nights in Guanajuato
2 Nights in Mineral de Pozos
2 Nights in Morelia
Return to Zihuatanejo
Zacatecas is a Nahua word that loosely translates as "where there is abundant grass (zacate)." It was here, on September 8, 1546 near Cerro de la Bufa, Chichimeca men presented Spaniard Juan de Tolosa with several pieces of silver-rich ore. The Chichimeca peoples consisted of 8 different semi-nomadic tribes in an area that stretched between Guadalajara, Durango, Guanajuato and Zacatecas - an area known as the Bajio. Due to their reliance on hunting and gathering, the Chichimeca were strong in their resistance against the Spanish conquest for silver that followed the events of September 1546. In 1550, the Spanish launched an assault on the Chichimeca peoples - triggering a 40 year war that ended when the Spanish ultimately opted to pay the Chichimeca peoples for peace with food, clothing, lands and red-haired women from sea-side villages. These women were offered for the specific return of gold and silver that had been seized during the 40 year conflict.
Founded in 1548, Zacatecas played a prominent role in the economic riches of Mexico due to her abundance of minerals and development of the Silver Road, which was mainly supported by the mines of Guanajuato, Zacatecas and San Luis Potosi. Mining is still an important industry in Zacatecas, with the state boasting two of the worlds largest silver mines. The state continues mining about 17% of the worlds supply of silver today.
THREE NIGHTS IN ZACATECAS
TUESDAY FEB 26, 2019
Everyone arrives in Zacatecas around 6 PM. We will check into the hotel and head for dinner.
WEDNESDAY FEB 27, 2019
Today we meet for breakfast at 8:30 prior to heading out on the town! Our first stop will be Mina el Eden, which is now a fascinating museum in the top level of the mine, with views to lower levels of the mine that were flooded with water. This museum has two parts - one that includes a tour through the mine-shaft, and the other that is a fascinating collection of fossils. From inside the mine, we will take an elevator up to the Gondola for a sensational ride to La Bufa. After lunch, our day will conclude at the Museo Rafael Coronel - which houses an extensive and fascinating collection of masks from around Mexico.
THURSDAY FEB 28, 2019
Today we will meet for breakfast at 8:30 before driving south to the ancient ruins of La Quemada. The name of this site refers to the city being burned - which the archaeological record confirms. After our half-day tour, we will visit Vinedos Campo Real Winery!
INTRODUCING REAL DE CATORCE
Located in the Sierra de Catorce mountain range, the small ghost town of Real de Catorce lies hunched-up against a mountainside. Once boasting a population of 40,000 people, Real's population has decreased to just over 1000 residents today. It has remained an important pilgrimage site for Catholics and indigenous Huichol, whose territory covers regions of San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas, Durango, Jalisco and Nayarit.
Sources are conflicted about the name of the town - which means "Royal Fourteen." Some claim the name was originally "Real de Álamos de la Purísima Concepción de los Catorce" (Real de Alamos of the Immaculate Conception of the Fourteen), while the generally accepted history is that the town was named after 14 Spaniards who were ambushed and killed by Chichimeca warriors.
Though a town had long been established in Real de Catorce, it wasn't until 1772 when silver was discovered - leading to the founding of an official village in 1779. The Parish Church was constructed between 1790 and 1817, and other important buildings were later added - including a bull ring and a cock-fighting theater. Real de Catorce reached its heyday in the late 19th century, until it was abruptly abandoned when the value of silver plummeted. Few people remained in this isolated village, and the ones who did earned their meager living sifting through the tailings from the abandoned mine.
Real de Catorce was the second village in Mexico to be granted Pueblo Magico status - and honor it earned in 2001. As a village that is less frequented by foreigners, this charming town has managed to retain a sense of having traveled back in time. The government of San Luis Potosi is currently constructing two major parking lots on the entrance side of the Ogarrio Tunnel to manage the high traffic that arrives with the thousands of pilgrims arriving for the feast day of St. Francis of Assissi on October 4th. Real de Catorce is also of major significance to the Huichol peoples, who make an annual pilgrimage by foot across Nayarit, Jalisco, Durango and Zacatecas enroute to Cerro Quemado, which is the birth place of their "tatewari" - which translates as "grandfather fire." Tourists who are intrigued by the Huichol and their shamanism are often drawn to Real de Catorce in order to visit the shamanic temple and partake in a cleansing ceremony.
Arriving in Real de Catorce is an other-worldy experience that involves passing through a 2 KM tunnel that was completed in 1882. After 5 minutes of driving through darkness, past countless mine-shaft openings, you will exit the tunnel feeling as though you have traversed a time warp to arrive at the end of the world - and considering the Ogarrio Tunnel is the only way back to reality - it's fair to say Real de Catorce truly is a realm beyond the edge of the time.
THREE NIGHTS IN REAL DE CATORCE
FRIDAY MARCH 4, 2019
We will depart Zacatecas at 9:30 AM and make our way to Real de Catorce. Upon arriving at the tunnel, guests have the option of being transported through by van, or walking through. The tunnel is lit, so walking through can be quite an experience. Once we are on the other side, we will check into our hotel and enjoy a leisurely afternoon. The altitude in Real de Catorce is the highest you will experience on this journey, so some guests may prefer to acclimatize to the altitude. We will enjoy our first night's meal at the Meson de la Abundancia.
SATURDAY MARCH 2, 2019
This morning we will meet for breakfast at 9 AM. At 10:30, guests who would like to visit the incredible Puebla Fantasma will depart up the mountain by horseback with trusted guide Omar Covarrubias Coronado and his team. This tour takes about 2 hours, which involves 1/2 and hour each way on horseback. Though the mountain is steep, the path is a series of switch-backs. This tour is fine for beginners, though riders should be aware that some places may feel steep! For those of you who have ridden at the butterflies, please be warned there are no platforms here; however, Omar will assist you in mounting and dismounting. Guests who do not wish to horseback ride may simply want to wander the many picturesque streets, and enjoy a coffee at "Real Bucks." If you are an avid hiker and would feel comfortable climbing at 9000 feet, there are many adventurers who have climbed to Puebla Fantasma on foot.
When we return from our tour, we will have lunch before heading out to visit the ruins of an old bull ring, the cemetery and beautiful Church that is dedicated to San Francisco and Our Lady Guadalupe, and Palenque Theatre, where men once congregated for cock-fights.
SUNDAY MARCH 4, 2019
For those of you who are now experts on horseback, this day offers another great opportunity to travel to the Huichol spiritual birthplace of Cerro del Quemado, also known as Wirikuta. Though this journey is steep and arduous, it can also be accomplished on foot if you are comfortable climbing at high altitudes.
INTRODUCING SAN LUIS POTOSI
Originally called "San Luis de Mezquitique," San Luis was named in honor of King Louis IX of France. In 1592, the discovery of gold and silver inspired Spaniards with grandiose dreams to change the name to San Luis Potosi, in hopes of harvesting similar riches of the Potosi mine in Bolivia. Though the mines of San Luis Potosi never matched that of the Potosi mine, it certainly rose as a city of prominence along the Real Camino de la adentura.
San Luis Potosi is a beautiful city of many plazas and incredible churches. With a growing tourism industry and higher number of expats moving into the area, it is one of the cities expected to flourish in the near future.
ONE NIGHT IN SAN LUIS POTOSI
MONDAY MARCH 5, 2019
This morning we depart Real de Catorce at 9:30 AM for lunch-time arrival in San Luis Potosi. We will check into the Hotel Concordia, which is right in the heart of the city, next to the Plaza de Armas. Highlights of San Luis Potosi can be visited in one day, including the National Museum of Masks, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Regional Museum. The Plaza de Armas, Plaza del Carmen and some key car-free areas make this a fairly safe and straight-forward city to navigate on foot.
Inhabited from ancient times by the Chupicuaro and later the Chichimeca, Guanajuato was colonized by the Spanish starting in the 1520's. Guanajuato is located in the Trans-Mexico Volcanic Belt and Mexican Plateau, and the discovery of minerals near the city of Guanajuato saw the construction of a lavish and opulent city built from the riches of the mines. Though the city of Guanajuato was founded in 1548, it wasn't until 1883 when a solution was finally found to ward off the annual flooding of the Guanajuato River. An incredible series of tunnels were thus constructed to divert the waters, with additional tunnels being constructed as late as the 1960's and 1990's. Eventually, due to the damning of the river, need for these tunnels subsided at a time when a new problem had emerged - traffic. The tunnels provided the perfect solution - and are now the foundation of Guanajuato's road system. Some of these tunnels are long, and their numbers are many. Though they are safe to walk through, the traffic fumes are quite unpleasant.
Our journey will take us through another important historical route known as La Ruta del la Libertad. This route follows the journey of the founding father of Mexico's Independence - a priest by the name of Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla. It is said that at 5 AM on September 16, 1810, the church bells rang out much earlier than usual. Called "The Cry of Dolores," it was Hidalgo beckoning his congregation to enlist in a movement against the gapuchines - a term referring to the Spanish overlords who ruled Mexico at that time. In neighboring San Miguel de Allende, Ignacio Allende joined Hidalgo despite personal differences, as he too believed in a need for Mexican Independence. It wasn't long before the citizens of Guanajuato City had joined this call to arms, helping to temporarily seize the city from the Spanish loyalists. Unfortunately for them, once the Spaniards regained control, a gruesome punishment was administered upon the public. Known as "The Lottery of Death," this sentence involved drawing random names of the forlorn "winners," who were then tortured before being hanged. La Ruta del la Libertad also includes Morelia, where Hidalgo arrived one year after his call to arms. Hidalgo and his rebels were successful in overtaking the city, which was known then as Valladolid. This siege ended slavery in Mexico, and the city was later renamed Morelia after Mexican Independence hero Jose Maria Morelos y Pavon. Tragically, Hidalgo did eventually meet his demise in the city of Chihuahua. Intending to purchase arms and employ mercenaries from the United States, Hidalgo's mission failed when he and his men were captured in 1811. After being executed by firing squad, their heads were sent to Guanajuato City where they were strung up in cages on the Alhóndiga de Granaditas. Revered as martyrs, the execution and voyeuristic exhibition of Hidalgo, Allende, Aldama and Jiminez only fueled the rage of their followers. Ten years later the loyalists were defeated - and the Declaration of Independence was signed on September 28, 1821 in Mexico City.
To this day, each year on the eve of Independence Day, the Cry of Dolores is re-enacted by the President, using the very bell Hidalgo used.
THREE NIGHTS IN GUANAJUATO CITY
TUESDAY MARCH 6, 2019
This morning we will depart San Luis Potosi at 1 PM following lunch. Along the way is the small town of Jaral de Berrios, where stands the impressive Hacienda of Jaral de Berrios. It is said the owners of this Haciendas were among the wealthiest of the world in their time. From there, we will make our way to Guanajuato to check in and have dinner.
WEDNESDAY MARCH 7, 2019
This morning we will meet for breakfast at 8:30, then head out to explore the city. Our explorations will take us around the historical city centro, through the Alhondiga de Granaditas art & history museum, up the funicular to the statue of El Pipila, and over to the Hidalgo Mercado. We also plan on attending the theatre this night, though it will depend on availability.
THURSDAY MARCH 8, 2019
This morning we will start with breakfast at 8:30 before heading over to the Mummy Museum. After our time at the museum, we will break away for free time so guests can rest, shop or further explore.
TWO NIGHTS IN MINERAL DE POZOS
FRIDAY MARCH 9, 2019
This morning we will say farewell to Guanajuato City by 8:30 AM, heading first to the Pueblo Magico and historically significant town of Dolores Hidalgo. Here we will visit the church famous for Hidalgo's Cry of Dolores. We depart Dolores Hidalgo after a brief visit, stopping next at the Sanctuary of Atotonilco - an astonishing church reputed as Mexico's own Sistine Chapel. We will arrive in San Miguel de Allende no later than 12:30 for lunch at Lavanda Cafe. From there we will have some free time to explore the Plaza and amazing Parroquia de San Migel Arcangel. We depart San Miguel by 4:30 to arrive in Mineral de Pozos on time for dinner at Restaurante 325.
SATURDAY MARCH 10, 2019
This morning we will head out for our last mine experience - visiting Mina de Santa Brigada and Mina Cinco Senores. These ruins are quite well preserved for how long they have been abandoned, though it is important to watch your step, as there are open mine shafts devoid of barriers. We will end today's excursion with lunch and well-deserved pampering at Club Spa Las Minas for those who wish us to book an appointment.