Academic Trips & Language Classes
For Spanish-language instruction, IMAC (tel. 866/306-5040; www.spanish-school.com.mx) offers programs in Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta, and Playa del Carmen. The Spanish Institute is affiliated with intensive Spanish language schools in Puebla (tel. 800/554-2951; http://sipuebla.com) and Mérida (tel. 800/539-9710; http://simerida.com).
To explore your inner Frida or Diego while in Mexico, look into Mexico Art Tours, 9323 E. Lupine Ave, Scottsdale, AZ 85260 (tel. 888/783-1331 or 480/730-1764; www.mexicanarttours.com). Typically led by Jean Grimm, a specialist in the arts and cultures of Mexico, these unique tours feature compelling speakers who are themselves respected scholars and artists. Itineraries include visits to Chiapas, Guadalajara, Guanajuato, Puebla, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico City, San Miguel de Allende, and Veracruz -- and other cities. Special tours involve archaeology, architecture, interior design, and culture -- such as a Day of the Dead tour.
ATC Tours and Travel, Av. 16 de Septiembre 16, 29200 San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chis. (tel. 967/678-2550, -2557; fax 967/678-3145; www.atctours.com), a Mexico-based tour operator with an excellent reputation, offers specialist-led trips, primarily in southern Mexico. In addition to trips to the ruins of Palenque and Yaxchilán (extending into Belize and Guatemala by river, plane, and bus if desired), ATC runs horseback tours to Chamula or Zinacantán, and day trips to the ruins of Toniná around San Cristóbal de las Casas; birding in the rainforests of Chiapas and Guatemala (including in the El Triunfo Reserve of Chiapas); hikes to the shops and homes of textile artists of the Chiapas highlands; and walks from the Lagos de Montebello in the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve, with camping and canoeing. The company can also prepare custom itineraries.
Mexico Sagaz (Asociación Mexicana de Turismo de Aventura y Ecoturismo) is an active association of ecotourism and adventure tour operators. It publishes an annual catalog of participating firms and their offerings, all of which must meet certain criteria for security, quality, and training of the guides, as well as for sustainability of natural and cultural environments. For more information, contact (tel. 800/654-4452 toll-free in Mexico or 55/5544-7567; www.mexicosagaz.org).
The California Native, 6701 W. 87th Place, Los Angeles, CA 90045 (tel. 800/926-1140 or 310/642-1140; www.calnative.com), offers small-group deluxe 7-, 8-, 11-, and 14-day escorted tours through the Riviera Maya, the Yucatán, and Chiapas.
Trek America, 16/17 Grange Mills, Weir Road, London, SW12 0NE, UK (tel. 800/873-5872 in the U.S.; 0844/576-1400 in the UK; www.trekamerica.com); organizes lengthy, active trips that combine trekking, hiking, van transportation, and camping along the Mayan Route and across the Yucatán.
Food & Wine Trips
If you're looking to eat your way through Mexico, sign up with Culinary Adventures, 6023 Reid Dr. NW, Gig Harbor, WA 98335 (tel. 253/851-7676; fax 253/851-9532; www.marilyntausend.com). It runs a short but select list of cooking tours in Mexico. Culinary Adventures features well-known cooks, with travel to regions known for excellent cuisine. Destinations vary each year, though often include the Yucatán. The owner, Marilyn Tausend, is the author of Cocinas de la Familia (Family Kitchens), Savoring Mexico, and Mexican, and co-author of Mexico the Beautiful Cookbook.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.