Note: The information presented here is an abbreviated version of our formal General Information for Tours to Mexico: The Lacandon Rainforest and Maya Ruins. Its sole purpose is to give readers a sense of what might be involved if they take this tour. Although we do our best to make sure that what follows here is completely accurate, it should not be used as a replacement for the formal document which will be sent to all tour registrants, and whose contents supersedes any information contained here.
ENTERING MEXICO: U.S. citizens traveling to and from Mexico must have a passport, valid for at least six months after the date the tour ends, or another secure, accepted document to re-enter the United States. Citizens of other countries may need a visa and should check their nearest Mexican embassy.
COUNTRY INFORMATION: You can review the U.S. Department of State Country Specific Travel Information at http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/country/mexico.html , and the CIA World Factbook background notes on Mexico at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/mx.html.
PACE OF THE TOUR: We will try to be in the field at dawn or shortly afterward. Most birding sites are about 30 to 60 minutes from the hotels; the longest day is our drive from Tehuantepec to Oaxaca City, which takes most of the day (with birding stops and lunch en route). Most or all breakfasts will be picnic-style in the field. Some lunches will be picnic and some will be in restaurants. All dinners, except perhaps one when we go owling in the mountains near Oaxaca City, will be in restaurants. On several days we plan an afternoon break (siesta) after lunch, when it will be too hot for enjoyable or productive birding.
Birding in and around the Valley of Oaxaca is at 5,000 feet elevation and, other than uneven ground and a few narrow, scrubby trails, the walking presents no particular problem. We will also venture up to 8,000 – 9,000 feet in the mountains of Chiapas and Oaxaca, where we will be birding on dirt roads and not in any rush. Near Tehuantepec and Arriaga we may be on narrow trails in thorn forest (one quite steep, but we take our time), and at El Sumidero we will be birding mostly from a paved road. Near Arriaga, some may wish to venture onto the sandy mud-flats, which could involve getting wet feet.
HEALTH: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all travelers be up to date on routine vaccinations. These include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot.
They further recommend that most travelers have protection against Hepatitis A and Typhoid. Please contact your doctor well in advance of your tour’s departure as some medications must be initiated weeks before the period of possible exposure.
The most current information about travelers’ health recommendations for Mexico can be found on the CDC’s Travel Health website at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/mexico?s_cid=ncezid-dgmq-travel-single-001
Malaria: It is the opinion of the Centers for Disease Control that travelers to the Mexican states of Oaxaca and Chiapas are at low risk for malaria. You should consult further with your doctor about the CDC’s recommendation and what action you should take.
Altitude: We reach maximum elevations of about 9,000 feet in the mountains of Chiapas and Oaxaca. The Valley of Oaxaca is everywhere about 5,000 feet.
Smoking: Smoking is prohibited in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists, etc.
Miscellaneous: Insects and arachnids are seldom a major nuisance although chiggers and biting gnats can be locally numerous. Careful application of repellent provides good protection and the leader will advise you when it will be necessary.
We have found that with careful eating habits, intestinal problems can be largely avoided. In most of Mexico, it is unwise to drink untreated water. Bottled water and soft drinks are reliable and widely available. Imodium or Pepto Bismol in tablet form can be recommended as the best treatment for occasional traveler’s diarrhea.
CLIMATE: Overall the weather should be warm (70s to 80s F.) and dry (inland) to humid (near the coast), although possibly cool (40s F.) in the early mornings, especially around Oaxaca City. We rarely encounter rain except at El Ocote (which is rain forest), but light rain or mist is possible in some areas, especially at Cerro San Felipe.
ACCOMMODATIONS: We stay in comfortable hotels throughout the tour, with private bathroom facilities and restaurants. Wi-fi is available at all hotels but is often intermittent and, when it does work, not very fast, so it shouldn’t be relied upon for important communications.
FOOD: Food is of good quality with standard “Mexican” fare.
Food Allergies / Requirements: We cannot guarantee that all food allergies can be accommodated at every destination. Participants with significant food allergies or special dietary requirements should bring appropriate foods with them for those times when their needs cannot be met. Announced meal times are always approximate depending on how the day unfolds. Participants who need to eat according to a fixed schedule should bring supplemental food. Please contact the WINGS office if you have any questions.
TRANSPORTATION: Transportation is by 12-passenger or 15-passenger vans. Those who suffer from motion sickness should bring their preferred medication, as some drives involve distinctly winding roads. Tour participants should be able to ride in any seat in our tour vehicle(s).
Updated: 15 April 2015