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Mexico City may be a sprawling metropolis of 21 million, but on its edge is an oasis of green unlike any other in the world. Known as Xochimilco, it is the last part of the city that preserves an ancient system of canals and farms first built by the Aztecs when the area was on the edge of a long-gone lake.
On this weekend walk, we’ll explore the UNESCO heritage site to learn more about its culture and food and meet the people who maintain its one-of-a-kind agricultural system, called chinampas, referring the island plots of farmland between the canals.
Our day-long tour starts at Xochimilco’s colorful market, where we try different pre-Columbian dishes such as tlacoyos (oval-shaped corn-meal patties filled with fava beans, cheese, refried beans, spinach, potatoes and more) handmade by local women who set up shop every morning at one of the aisles; banana leaf-wrapped tamales – the best of the city – made by Don Lupe and his wife, an older couple native to the area; and chileatole, an ancient drink made with corn, herbs and peppers. As we explore the market we’ll learn about the different kinds of produce that are grown locally – often organically – on the chinampas.
A few blocks away from the market we’ll also visit a pulquería, which serves a slightly fermented drink made from agave sap and flavored with different natural ingredients. In business since the 1970’s, the pulqueria is run by a family who have been in the pulque trade for more than 100 years.
At the end of the tour, we’ll ride our own trajinera – a festively-decorated flat-bottom boat used by locals to traverse the canals – through part of the ecological reserve that is particularly rich in flora and fauna. As the boat glides through the canals that connect the chinampas, we’ll learn about the thousand-years-old local agricultural method that’s still used to feed nearby Mexico City today.
Am I going to get sick from eating Mexican food?
Mild discomfort is common for people who aren’t used to eating Mexican spices. However, all the food stops on each of our tours have been personally tested by our founders, as well as each of our guides. We stand by their quality and cleanliness and would never include them if there was any doubt.
Can you pick me up from my hotel? How will I return once the tour is over?
Our tour prices don’t include transportation to and from the meeting point, but it does to the town of Xochimilio. If you book a tour, you’re responsible for arriving to the pre-arranged meeting spot on your own. If you book a private tour, we can arrange for the transportation to leave from your hotel. Once the tour is over, we will help you get an authorized, safe taxi to your hotel from the original meeting point, or provide directions on public transportation, if you’re interested in that.
Is English spoken?
All of our walks are conducted in English unless otherwise specified. Our guides are locals who speak fluent English.
Can vegetarians or vegans take this tour?
This tour can definitely accommodate vegetarians and pescaterians and we will do our best to accommodate vegans, though they will have to skip some stops. Our tours also work for anyone with cheese, nut and wheat allergies. Please do mention all dietary restrictions in your booking.
What should I wear?
Comfortable, closed-toed shoes (no flip-flops please), pants, and shirts in layers — it can be cooler in the morning and warmer in the afternoon. Please bring an umbrella if you’re traveling in Mexico City’s rainy season, from June-September.
How much walking is involved?
This is a full day including comfortable transportation to and from Xochimilco and a boat ride along with walking around this historic town. The walk is on fairly flat and easy terrain but the sidewalks are not always easy or stroller-friendly.
How much food will I get to try?
This is really up to you. We generally taste around a dozen items on each tour, but the price includes as much food as you’re open to trying. We offer a suggested portion size at each stop and you can take our recommendation if you’d like. Our goal is to have you end the tour pleasantly stuffed, not so full you can barely walk. That said, everyone’s appetite is different and we welcome all varieties!
What if it rains?
Our tours are conducted rain or shine.
Can I bring my children on this tour?
This walk is children-friendly and a wonderful way to see another part of the city that children particularly love. Please note that we do not have car-seats in the transportation, that is your responsibility and the walk is not always stroller-friendly. Children 6 and under are free of charge and children 7-12 are 50% off. Teenagers 13 and over often eat more than their parents and are full price.
What is your cancellation policy?
The entire reservation can be cancelled with 100% refunded minus credit card processing fees if cancelled more than 1 week in advance. Cancellations of more than 3 days, are refundable at 50% and less than 72 hours are not refundable
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