Chiapas’ Civilizations: An Archaeological Dive in Southern Mexico

Study the archaeological wealth that lives in Chiapas through ancient site explorations, meeting locals, venturing to important museums and immersing yourself in indigenous culture.
Rating (4.5)
Program No. 23356RJ
10 days
Starts at

At a Glance

Though many may think the Maya and other native groups have long disappeared, those in Chiapas know the opposite to be true. Deep in the southernmost region of Mexico, an estimated 950,000 people speak an indigenous language. Out of Chiapas’ 111 municipalities, 99 of them have a significant indigenous population. Here, it’s no secret: Native cultures are alive in every aspect of life. Alongside expert instructors, discover the fascinating traditions and rich history of the Maya, Tzotzils, Tzeltals and more in their indigenous communities. Explore important archaeological sites and meet locals with centuries of stories to share, providing a window into the past and an opportunity to preserve the history of Mexico’s founding people.
Activity Level
Let's Go!
Walking up to two miles a day on a combination of cobblestone streets and dirt paths. Getting on and off of a motorcoach. Navigating high curbs, uneven steps, and stairs without railings. Travel in a tropical climate.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 10 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Explore the incredible Palenque archaeological site – an ancient Maya city and Chiapas’ capital from 600–900 AD.
  • Experience the Sumidero Canyon with our experts to learn about the geology, the formation and the wildlife of this impressive canyon.
  • Join local experts at the Hacienda de Cacao La Luz to learn about the modern and ancient Maya ways of harvesting cacao seeds.
Featured Expert
All Experts
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Arturo Vertiz
Arturo Vertiz knew from an early age that he wanted to work in the travel industry, focusing on learning English and French in school. Graduating with a degree in tourism and business administration, he worked in the hotel industry before founding his own travel agency. Arturo’s greatest honor was being chosen to manage the housing complex for athletes participating in the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara. As a Group Leader and a Mexican national, Arturo loves interacting with visitors in search of learning experiences.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

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Arturo Vertiz
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Haydee de Hoyos
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Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Indigenous Rulers: An Ethnohistory of Town Government in Colonial Cuernavaca
by Haskett, Robert Stephen
The Aztecs, Maya and their Predecessors: Archaeology of Mesoamerica
by Weaver, Muriel Porter
The Course of Mexican History 5th Edition
by Meyer, Michael C. and William L Sherman
The Maya: Palaces and Pyramids of the Rainforest
by Henri Stierlin
The book retraces the development and magnificent flowering of Mayan architecture in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and Belize over the period 300 B.C.-A.D. 1500
Mexico: From the Olmecs to the Aztecs
by Coe, Michael
Women of Chiapas Making History in Times of Struggle and Hope
by Christine Eber
This book presents the concerns, visions, and struggles of women in Chiapas, Mexico in the context of the uprising of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN). The book is organized around three issues that have taken center stage in women's recent struggles-structural violence and armed conflict; religion and empowerment and women's organizing. Also includes maps.
1986 Letters from Mexico
by Cortes, Hernam
Bordering on chaos
by Andrés Oppenheimer
Written like a fast-paced narrative, with exclusive interviews from key players - including President Zedillo, former president Salinas, and Subcommander Marcos, the Zapatista guerrilla leader - Bordering on Chaos gives us the inside story of the dramatic events that have shaken Mexico in recent years.

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