Oaxaca area day trip guides

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I'll be travelling with a friend to Oaxaca in February/March 2018. We'd like to explore towns in the surrounding area, with emphasis on experiencing and learning about mezcal, local folk art, textiles, markets, food. Would appreciate any recommendations on the best way to do this (guided or self-guided?) and any local driver/guides that do either private or small group day trips. Info on the content, quality, and price would be helpful. Thanks in advance!

Oaxaca city is easy enough to tour on your own with the help of a decent guidebook. It is a marvelous, picturesque city. However, to see the nearby important archaeological sites of Mitla and Monte Alban, you will need transportation. Also, an experienced guide's commentary will allow you to get the most from your visit. You can undoubtedly pick up one or more group tours on the Viator website. But, in case you are interested in tours with a private guide. I can make a recommendation. Victor Miguel Jimenez Cruz (miguel.mezcanauta@gmail.com) was the program director for the Grand Circle Travel tour, "Mexico's Ancient and Colonial Heritage" that I took in January 2017. He lives in Oaxaca, and he does private tours as well as contracted tours for leading providers like GCT. He was an excellent and informed guide with a friendly personality. He can take you to the archaeological sites as well as markets, folk art museums, family based craft shops, and mezcal distilleries. For suggestions about things to do and see in the Oaxaca area, you may wish to read my article, "Discovering the Colonial heritage - and pre-Hispanic gems - of Mexico", on page 32 of the October 2017 issue of ITN.

Betsy McNair of My Mexico Tours (betsy@mymexicotours) is a wonderful source for Mexico. I did a Oaxaca tour with her a few years ago and it was excellent. That was one of her personally lead small group (no more than 10) tours. I have done several tours with her since then to other parts of Mexico. She also plans tours for individuals like you who want to be independent. She has a beautiful website (www.mymexicotours.com) where you can read about her and see what she offers. (Sorry I'm so late responding, but this request appeared the day I left for South America and I'm just now catching up with things.)