Nat’s Travels – Seeing The Sights With West Adventures
As much as I love the freedom that planning my travels by myself gives me, I still sometimes like to hop on an arranged tour. They’re a great way to see new people and tick off some of the main sights. So when I found out about a new tour by West Adventures in Mexico, called “Hello Mexico” I decided to give it a go.
A Minor Issue
The Hello Mexico tour would tick off quite a few places on my list, so seemed like a good option. The tour starts in Mexico City and finishes in Playa del Carmen, ticking off lots of sights along the way. This includes some big obvious ones, such as Chichen Itza, but also some smaller destinations such as Agua Azul. With all the transport included it would mean I could really enjoy the trip without having to think about too much. A nice break after the Day of the Dead celebrations.
Unfortunately, the trip started in Mexico City on the 30th October, when I would be in Patzcuaro getting ready for Dia de los Muertos. Luckily I was able to join the trip a few days late. It was arranged that I would meet the tour group at Tuxtla airport on the 4th November and join them for the final seven days of the trip.
Ticking Places Of The List
Meeting up with West Adventures was a smooth procedure. And once introduced to the group it felt like I’d always been there. The group was small, there were five of us in total, but small group tours are always good. The maximum group size for West Adventures is 16, but the average is 8-12. A nice amount if you ask me, means that you can get to know each other properly and make some good friends.
The seven days with West Adventures ticked off three items on my massive list, and even took me to some places that weren’t on the list but definitely deserved to be on there.
The main one to be ticked off was Chichen Itza. One of the Seven Wonders of the World, it was guaranteed to be crowded. But on the day to this site Becky made sure we were on the road nice and early. It meant we arrived before it opened; the queue to get in had already started to form, but we were near the front. When we entered our guide, Guillermo, took us straight to the main pyramid, El Castillo, showed us the best viewpoint and told us to get that picture we had come for before he would start the tour properly.
It was well worth it. After we got our pictures we went to the Ball Court, where he told us about the game that was played. Guillermo told us that a team was sacrificed after the game, but it is not sure whether it was the losing team or the winning team. You can see this in the carvings around the ball court, as there are players and one is being sacrificed. We weren’t there for too long, but by the time we’d got out to the main pyramid again people had swarmed it. There’s no way we could have got a picture of it!
The main thing I loved about West Adventures was the use of local guides. We had our tour leader, Becky, but at every place we visited we had a local guide. These guides really knew their stuff, were engaging and happy to answer all questions.
My favourite guide was Salvo at Palenque. He was a really fun guy who showed us more than he had to. He took us into the jungle, to the Forgotten Temple, pointing out numerous things on the way. He told us about the Mayans not having true arches, as they had no Keystone, pointed out strangler figs and let us enter caves full of bats. And all this before he took us to the Palenque ruins, perfectly timed for opening.
Personally, I think it’s important to use local guides. It helps to give back to the community you are visiting and means you get some real local knowledge.