Mexico Tour: The Ancient Olmecs

Olmec Tour: Travel to the remote sites of San Lorenzo, Chalcatzingo and Malinalco.

With Professor F. Kent Reilly III



March 10 – 19, 2017


10 Days


$7,995.00 inc. air

Why Take this Olmec Tour of Mexico?

  • Led by Dr. F. Kent Reilly III, renowned Olmec expert
  • Explore the important sites of La Venta, San Lorenzo and Tres Zapotes
  • Venture into the remote sites of Chalcatzingo and Malinalco
  • Limited to 14 participants


(click to enlarge)

Daily Itinerary

Day 1: Depart the USA.
Day 2: Parque Museo La Venta. Carlos Pellicer Museum.
Day 3: La Venta.
Day 4: San Lorenzo Tenochtitlan. El Azuzul.
Day 5: Tres Zapotes. Santiago Tuxtla.
Day 6: Anthropology Museum of Xalapa. Puebla city tour.
Day 7: Chalcatzingo.
Day 8: Malinalco.
Day 9: Anthropology Museum of Mexico City.
Day 10: Fly back to the USA.

La Venta tour Olmec tour Kent Reilly tour The Olmec civilization dates back to the 2nd century BC. Favorable environmental conditions allowed the society to thrive. This high productivity encouraged population growth from which an elite class developed and, accordingly, so did demand for objects of creative expression. During this trip we visit the birthplaces of this art, where the colossal heads and finely carved sculptures emblematic of the Olmec style were found.

This extraordinary expedition will take us into truly remote areas to explore some of the more elusive Olmec sites.  See La Venta, San Lorenzo, and Tres Zapotes, where the first of the Olmec colossal heads were found in 1862.  Climb the mighty cleft volcanic mountain to see the beautifully inscribed boulders at remote Chalcatzingo. Visit museums housing major collections of Olmec art including the vast open-air museum of Parque-Museo La Venta, the Carlos Pellicer Museum and the Xalapa Anthropology Museum, not only filled with exquisite works of art, but also presenting one of the loveliest edifices in Mexico. Also view the Olmec objects on display at the National Museum of Anthropology, housed in a unrivaled award-winning structure in Mexico City. The true highlight, of course, is traveling with Professor Kent Reilly, renowned Olmec specialist!

Won’t you join Far Horizons and only 13 others on this very special 10-day journey to the world of the ancient Olmecs?

Tour Leader

Kent ReillyKent Reilly III received his Ph.D. in Latin American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin under Dr. Linda Schele. He is the Director, Center for the Study of Arts and Symbolism of Ancient America, and a professor at Texas State University, San Marcos. Professor Reilly’s interests are centered around the religion, art, and visual validation of elite authority in New World chiefdoms, especially that of the ancient Olmec and Classic Maya. He has been the invited speaker of conferences throughout the world and is the author or editor on many books and articles including Sacred Bindings of the Cosmos: Ritual Acts of Bundling and Wrapping In Ancient Mesoamerica.  In 1995 he was a guest curator and a catalog contributor to the Princeton University exhibition The Olmec World: Ritual and Rulership. Professor Reilly has been the recipient of a multitude of awards including the Golden Apple Award (for the third time) for Excellence in Teaching, the Presidential Award for Excellence in Scholarship (five times in ten years), and the Alpha Chi National Honor Society’s Favorite Professor Award.


Tour Itinerary

(B) breakfast, (L) lunch, (D) dinner


La Venta Archaeological ParkOlmec tour Kent Reilly tourDay 1: Fly to Villahermosa, Mexico and immediately transfer to the Hilton Hotel for a light supper. Overnight for two nights. (D)

Day 2: This morning, walk the pathways within the Parque-Museo La Venta, a vast open air museum where many of the stone monuments from the site of La Venta have been relocated.  As we stroll along the trails, agouti and coatimundi can be seen scurrying through the underbrush and vibrant tropical birds fly through the jungle setting.  This is where we see the first of the massive stone heads that are emblematic of the Olmec culture. In the afternoon, the Carlos Pellicer Museum, Tabasco’s main regional museum for archaeology and anthropology, will be our destination. Housed within a dazzling recently-constructed architectural masterpiece, it focuses on Olmec and Maya art and artifacts. Tonight dinner is on our own. (B/L)

Lake CatemacoDay 3: In a large area cut by the Coatzalcoalcos River system, the Olmec heartland is home to many impressive sites, and the excavations at La Venta formed the foundation for the archaeology of this ancient civilization. Although the site has been damaged by oil exploration in the area, and none of the signature colossal stone heads remain, on an island rising above the surrounding swamp, the remains of the massive earthen mound that was the focus of the ceremonial complex can still be seen. One of the earliest pyramids known in Mesoamerica, the Great Pyramid is 110 feet high. After our explorations here, we continue to Lake Catemaco and overnight for two nights at the lakeside La Finca Hotel. (B/L/D)

Day 4: By no later than 1200 BC, San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán had emerged as the most prominent Olmec center and largest city in Mesoamerica. Without city walls for protection, San Lorenzo may have been largely a ceremonial complex. Archaeologists have uncovered numerous monuments here, including ten colossal heads. After spending the morning here, return to Lake Catemaco with time for a boat ride on the lagoon. (B/L/D)

Olmec tour Kent Reilly tour San Lorenzo Day 5: This morning takes us to the site of Tres Zapotes where the first of the Olmec colossal heads was found in 1862. In the nearby town of Santiago Tuxtla, view several Olmec monuments standing in the central plaza. After lunch here, drive on to Veracruz, Mexico’s Gulf Coast port. Veracruz is a very special laid-back town and its charm can be felt by simply spending an evening sitting in the sidewalk cafés sipping lechero while listening to the music of the festive danzón and spontaneous dance performances. With its crumbling historic buildings, we may be reminded of old Havana. Overnight in the Hotel Emporio, overlooking the harbor of Veracruz.  (B/L/D)Olmec tour Kent Reilly tour

Day 6: Drive to Xalapa, the capital of Veracruz, to visit the Anthropology Museum, certainly one of the most spectacular in Mexico.  Huge, airy rooms pour down the side of a hill, each room home to artifacts of different ancient Mexican civilization.  Spend a leisurely day examining the exciting display of ancient art. In the late afternoon, drive to Puebla and, time permitting, enjoy a short walking tour of the historic area, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Overnight for two nights at the La Purificadora Hotel. Dinner is on our own tonight. (B/L)

chalcatzingo tour olmect tour Kent Reilly tourmalinalco tour olmec tour Kent Reilly tour Day 7: This morning’s drive takes us to Chalcatzingo.  Rising dramatically from the expansive plains of Morelos is the spectacular cleft volcanic mountain upon which the site is situated.  In ancient cosmology, the cleft mountain represents the emerging place, and Chalcatzingo was the earliest mountain of creation. Its magnificent Olmec bas-reliefs carved on the talus slopes are the iconographic foundations for all later Mesoamerican mythology and we will hike up a massive outcrop to see them. Move on to Cuernavaca and overnight for two nights at the Camino Real Hotel. (B/L/D)

Day 8: Today we visit the town of Malinalco and explore the Cuauhtinchan Archaeological Zone located on the Cerro de los Idolos or Hill of the Idols. This important Aztec site dates back to the 15th century and is the location of the stunning Cuauhcalli or House of the Eagles, carved out of the side of the mountain. Serving as a sanctuary for the Eagle Warriors, various ceremonies took place here, including initiation rites. (B/L/D)

mexico-city MUSEUM tour Kent Reilly tour Olmec tourmexico-city MUSEUM tour Kent Reilly tour Olmec tourDay 9: Transfer to Mexico City and the Museo Nacional de Antropología, Mexico’s National Museum of Anthropology, not just the finest museum in the country, but among the greatest in the world. After time for an early lunch on our own within the museum grounds, spend the rest of the day viewing the museum’s great collection, with special emphasis on the Olmec Civilization. Overnight in charming Historico Central Hotel. (B/D)

Day 10: After breakfast at the hotel, spend the morning transfer to the Mexico City International Airport for our return flight to the USA. (B)




Olmec tour Kent Reilly tour La VentaTour Cost

$7,995.00 (per person, double occupancy) includes international airfare into Villahermosa and out of Mexico City; all hotels; meals as noted; ground transportation; entry fees; and gratuities.

Single Supplement: $595.00.  Should a roommate be requested and one not be available, the single supplement will be charged.

Cost does not include: a separate $150.00 (per person) donation check; passport or visa fees; airport or departure taxes; beverages or food not included on regular menus; laundry; excess baggage charges; personal tips; gratuities to guides and drivers; email, telephone and fax charges; or other items of a personal nature.

Fuel Surcharges: Far Horizons must pass on price increases when additional fuel charges are levied.

Donation Checks: As a tour company that benefits from the cultural and natural riches of our destinations, we have a policy of donating to the scientific and cultural projects and museums we visit. This has created a bond between Far Horizons and the academic and local communities that has helped us establish an extensive list of lecturers and contacts in each of our destinations. We ask that each participant write a check to the noteworthy project we designate. The donation amount is $150.00 per person.

Olmce tour Kent Reilly tourRegistration

A deposit of $500.00 is required along with your registration form. Final payment is due 90 days before departure. Upon receipt of your deposit and completed registration form, you will be sent a reading list and a tour bulletin containing travel information. Prior to the trip, we will send links to various websites of pertinent interest. Click here to download our Registration Form.

Cancellations and Refunds

Cancellations received in writing at least 90 days before departure will receive a refund less a $300.00 administrative fee. Cancellations received less than 90 days before the departure date will not receive a refund. If for any reason you are unable to complete the trip, Far Horizons will not reimburse any fees. Registrants are strongly advised to buy travel insurance that includes trip cancellation.

Air Ticketing

If you do not fly on the group flight, you are responsible for all flight arrangements and transportation (including airport transfers) to join the group.  If Far Horizons must change the trip dates or cancel the trip for any reason, Far Horizons is not responsible for any air ticket you may have purchased.  If you issue your own international flight, please send the complete schedule as soon as you have it.

Private Tours of Archaeological Sites

The private tours of archaeological sites and talks by specialists are scheduled in advance and include a donation to each. Specialists working at these sites are excited about showing their work to interested enthusiasts. However, please be aware that there may be times when the director or a member of the staff may not be on site when our groups arrive due to other commitments.

Note about Travel in Mexico

This trip is for the hardy! Long walks may be required to reach some areas, including walks over steep gradients and over poorly maintained paths, Chalcaltzingo is an example. At Malinalco, climbing hundreds of stairs up a hillside is required to reach the site. Participants must be able to walk unassisted for a mile or more each day. If you have questions about your ability to handle this sort of challenge, please call us.

This Archaeological Tour to Mexico is limited to 14 participants