Tag Archives: Zapotec sites

Monte Alban

Monte Alban, a UNESCO world heritage site, is easily accessible from Oaxaca. If you have this on your itinerary then ensure you do not opt for the tours offered in town as they will cost you up to 4 times the bus fare.

We were lucky enough to befriend some travellers in the morning who had been advised that there is a local bus service running directly to the ruins, so naturally we tagged along!

The site itself is located about 20 mins away and you should allow a couple of hours to fully see it. A word of advice though, try to go early as there is very little shade at the site and it gets very hot.

Monte Alban main plaza:

Monte Alban

Monte Alban was one of our favourite sites mainly due to its location. It is set high up on a mountain top and you are rewarded with beautiful views of the region from its vantage point.

Views of Monte Alban

Views of Monte Alban

The ruins themselves are also mostly accessible allowing you to really explore and climb the site to your heart’s content. It is also relatively quiet in terms of visitors, creating a very relaxed feel about the place.

Monte Alban:

Monte Alban

One of the aspects we particularly liked was the abundance of hieroglyphs still clearly visible on the outside of the temples as well as stone slabs dotted around the ruins. This, for us, helped to give the site more character and a deeper insight into its previous occupants.


Monte Alban Hieroglyphs

The museum on site is a little gem in itself, showcasing not only almost intact pottery found at the site but also an array of skulls and bones from sacrifices carried out in the past.

From the museum:

Monte Alban Museum

This is definitely a recommended site and a good morning out!

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Posted by on March 23, 2012 in Uncategorized


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El Tule, Mitla and Hierve el Aqua

El Tule, Mitla and Hierve el Aqua were the key sites that made up the day tour we took, whilst in Oaxaca. The Mezcal and textile factory tours, which felt like add-ons to the tour, were nice to visit but had a very commercial spin to them.

El Tule is worth visiting, and as it is only a short bus ride away I would recommend it as a morning outing. The site itself is not big but the sight that awaits you is truly unbelievable.

El Tule

At present the tree is over 2,000 years old and has a trunk diameter of over 42m, which makes it the world’s largest tree. It lives in a church yard and is fed water daily to sustain it.

Mitla is a small zapotec site with palaces. One of which is still very much intact and gives you a very good idea of how the rest of the site would have looked. However, this is not a day out site as it is small enough to comfortably do in 2 hours.

Mitla Palace

Hierve el Aqua, the furthest of the sites we visited, is located about an hour and a half away. Our guide books did not prepare us for this place. We expected to find some sort of waterfall with stalactites but instead found this…

Hierve el Aqua waterfalls

Apart from the amazing petrified waterfalls, which we unfortunately did not have time to trek to the bottom of due to the time restrictions in the tour, are these amazing natural pools of water which form at different areas of the rock tops.

The water itself is filled with minerals and these give it the wonderful colours, but also make it an amazing place to go for a swim in, and you really can’t beat the view!

Hierve el Aqua pool

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Posted by on March 4, 2012 in Uncategorized


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A 6 hour coach journey from Mexico City took us to the picturesque Oaxaca. A city filled with colourful markets, breath-taking churches and pretty streets.

Oaxaca, Mexico

Oaxaca, though calmer than Mexico City, is definitely not a sleepy place. The streets buzz with life day and night and people seem to naturally gravitate towards the center of the city, specifically the Cathedral and the surrounding zocalo, with its park and shops.

Although the Cathedral is an impressive size with intricate interiors it manages to pale in comparison to Santo Domingo. This beautiful baroque style church with a gold leaf interior has to be seen to be believed.

Santo Domingo church interior

As you approach the church you come face to face with a crowd of clay statues of differing heights and colours. This exhibition was created by a multitude of people from the city to represent the 2501 migrants that left Oaxaca to go to USA in search of work.

Migrants Exhibition, Santo Domingo church

Oaxaca has numerous attractions and everywhere you turn there is something that calls out to be photographed. One of the main benefits of staying in the city is the access it provides.

From Oaxaca you can take a number of tours to nearby sites and natural wonders such as Monte Alban, the former zapotec capital, Mitla, a beautiful zapotec ruin with tombs you can still visit, el Tule the home of the world’s largest tree and Hierve el Agua, a natural wonder of petrified waterfalls with pre-Hispanic irrigation systems.

For Monte Alban, do not take the tours offered, instead there is a bus that takes you there and back for a fraction of the price. We were lucky enough to stumble upon this as otherwise the tour would have been 4 times the price.

A word of warning, we were short on time and opted for a day tour to the other sites; Mitla, el Tule, a Mezcal and textile factory,and Hierve el Aqua and regretted it. If you have the time to hop from bus to bus and split the tour over a couple of days, then opt for that.

We found the tour to be too much of a squeeze with no more than an hour allowed for each site, and trust me you want to spend an afternoon not an hour at Hierve el Agua!

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Posted by on March 4, 2012 in Uncategorized


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