Note: The information presented here is an abbreviated version of our formal General Information for Tours to Mexico: Oaxaca. Its purpose is solely 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.
IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT THE CANCELLATION AND REFUND POLICY FOR THIS TOUR: WINGS tours are normally confirmed and the tour cost is non-refundable 70 days prior to departure. Because of the difficulty of getting Christmastime flights to Oaxaca, WINGS will confirm this tour and the full tour cost becomes non-refundable 90 days prior to departure.
ENTERING MEXICO: Mexico is now requiring a valid passport for entry by U.S. citizens. Citizens of other countries may need a visa and should check their nearest Mexican embassy. Your passport, as a general rule, should be valid for at least six months after the date the tour ends. Tourist cards are required and are obtained upon entry at the border customs.
MAPS AND COUNTRY INFORMATION: You can view maps of Mexico in the University of Texas series here. You can review the U.S. Department of State Country Specific Travel Information here, and the CIA World Factbook background notes on Mexico here.
HEALTH: No specific inoculations are necessary, although up-to-date tetanus protection is always a good idea. Bottled water is now widely available in motels, restaurants and even the simplest stores. You can review the latest CDC advisories here.
PACE OF THE TOUR: As with all tours in the tropics, we will try to be in the field at dawn. Mercifully, this does not entail a 4:30 departure as in some other regions. Most birding sites are about 30 to 60 minutes from the hotels, except the drive to and from Tuxtepec, which is a day-long trip (with birding stops) on a not especially well-maintained road. Breakfasts will be picnic-style in the field. Some lunches will be picnic and some will be in restaurants. With the exception of one or possibly two picnic dinners, all dinners will be in restaurants. Birding in and around the Valley of Oaxaca is from 5,00 to 6,000 feet in elevation, and other than uneven ground, and a narrow, scrubby, thorny trail at Monte Alban (where skirts and dresses are not recommended), the walking presents no particular problem. The sun can be intense, so have a hat and sunblock lotion. On Cerro San Felipe above Oaxaca City, we will be birding on dirt roads at about 9,000-9,900 feet. Of course, we will be walking slowly, and any steepness would present a problem only for those with bad knees or hips.
CLIMATE: We will encounter a variety of climates. Near Oaxaca City early morning temperatures may be in the 30s (F), although by an hour or two after sunrise the temperatures usually become quite comfortable. Midday temperatures usually are warm to hot. We rarely encounter heavy rain, but light rain or mist is possible in some areas, especially on our trip to Tuxtepec. At the higher elevations, it can remain cold, damp and windy all day if a powerful cold front is moving through.
ACCOMMODATIONS: Two hotels are used during the tour. Our hotel in Oaxaca City is a large, modern, multi-story facility with a good restaurant. There are amenities including functional elevators, room service, and a small swimming pool. From the hotel, it takes about 15-20 minutes to walk to the square and shopping areas. As in many Mexican hotels, the rooms are connected by ceiling ducts and you may hear children, music, etc., from guests some distance down the hall. Our hotel in Tuxtepec is smaller but comfortable. Rooms have air conditioners.
FOOD: Breakfasts will be picnic-style in the field, generally consisting of standard cold fare, with yoghurt, cereal, fruit, etc. Most lunches will be picnics in the field consisting of sandwiches, fruit, snacks, and cold drinks, although some will be in restaurants. All dinners will be in local restaurants, with the exception of one picnic dinner. In general, the food in Oaxaca is excellent, and is often regarded as the pinnacle of Mexican cuisine. Rich sauces, or moles, and local vegetables and side dishes are consistently raved about during the tour.
DRESS: Informal throughout.
TRANSPORTATION: Transportation during the Oaxaca Valley portion of the tour is by 12-passenger vans.
SMOKING: We request that you not smoke in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists, etc. If you are sharing a room with a non-smoker, please do not smoke in the room. If you smoke in the field, do so well away and downwind from the group. If any location where the group is gathered has a stricter policy than the WINGS policy, that stricter policy will prevail.
TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF WINGS TOURS: Please take a moment to read the About WINGS Tours. This section contains important information about how we conduct tours, e.g., what is included in the tour price, refund and cancellation policies, pace of the tours, and other information that will help you prepare for the tour.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: A more complete General Information for Tours to Oaxaca at Christmastime will be sent to each registrant on receipt of their booking. Final information with instructions for meeting the group, hotel addresses, etc., will be mailed about three weeks before trip departure. Other news will be communicated as necessary. If you have any questions, please let us know.
Updated: June 2013