Horseback riding in Mexico

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Equestrian tours in Mexico

Mexico Mini Guide
   Source: World Travel Guide

Overview

'¡Viva Mexico!' was how Miguel Hidalgo rallied his fellow Mexicanos to the struggle against colonialism, and it is a cry that is repeated by the president and echoed throughout the land every 15 September - Independence Day. As slogans go, it could not be more apt; Mexico is bursting with life

While many nations live to work, Mexico does the opposite. The people are vivacious lovers of free time and socialising, and work will never have the importance that friends and family do. The mother, giver of life, is honoured and respected, and all children, whether belonging to locals or visitors, are doted upon.

The country's past seems to live at one with its present. In Mexico City, the Plaza de las Tres Culturas celebrates the three major cultures that have shaped Mexico: there are Aztec ruins, the 17th-century colonial church of San Diego and several late 20th-century buildings. Even the dead are alive here, at least once a year; on the Day of the Dead, the living bring gifts to their dearly departed and spend the night in their company, remembering and celebrating how things used to be.

Where the Caribbean Sea meets the Yucatan Peninsula, coral reefs come alive, with sea creatures, great and small. The Pacific coast attracts elephant seals and spectacular grey whales, who choose Mexico to breed and give birth, year after year. 

Nor is the desert a barrier to life - it is home to agave, the mother of all tequilas. The blue plant has a lot to answer for in Acapulco and Cancún, where humans come ashore after a day in the surf to flirt in bars and nightclubs.

The biggest mass of teeming life in the whole of Mexico, is of course, its capital, where 20 million people (a fifth of the whole population) squeeze in together to work and play, live and love, die... and come back to life.

 

Passport/Visa

Passport Required?

British

Yes

Australian

Yes

Canadian

Yes

USA

Yes

Other EU

Yes

Visa Required?

British

No

Australian

No

Canadian

No

USA

No

Other EU

No

Return Ticket Required?

British

Yes

Australian

Yes

Canadian

Yes

USA

Yes

Other EU

Yes

 

Passports

A valid passport is required by nationals referred to in the chart above; however, it is highly advisable that your passport is valid for at least six months after the date of entry to Mexico as immigration officials and airlines may apply different criteria than those stated by official sources.

Visas

Visas are not required by nationals referred to in the chart above travelling for touristic or business purposes. You should obtain a landing card valid for 180 days from your airline on direct flights or at any port of entry. You may be asked to show a return/onward ticket and proof of financial means. You must keep your landing card throughout your stay as you will have to present it when you leave.

Visa Note

Nationals not referred to in the chart are advised to contact the embassy to check visa requirements for Mexico.

Tourist visa: £24.38.

Money

Currency

Mexican Peso (MXN; symbol M$) = 100 centavos. Notes are in denominations of M$1,000, 500, 200, 100, 50 and 20. Coins are in denominations of M$100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1, and 50, 20, 10 and 5 centavos. 

Note: The M$1,000 note is difficult to change and often not accepted. The M$100 and M$50 coins are rarely seen.

Currency Exchange

Currency exchange houses give a preferable rate of exchange to hotels and a much quicker service than banks. The exchange rate of the Mexican peso has been relatively stable recently.

Credit/Debit Cards and ATMs

Credit cards are not as widely accepted as in Europe or the USA. MasterCard and Visa are the two most widely accepted cards. American Express and Diners Club are accepted on a smaller scale. Some companies make an extra charge of around 5% on such transactions. There are ATMs in cities and most major tourist destinations nationwide, although not all debit cards are accepted, so check before leaving.

Traveller's Cheques

ATMs and credit cards mean traveller's cheques are less necessary as a means of carrying money. However, traveller's cheques issued by well-known brands can be cashed in exchange houses, which again give a better rate than hotels and a quicker service than banks. Traveller's cheques in Pounds Sterling and Euros are now as readily accepted as those in US Dollars.

Currency Restrictions

Restrictions apply.

Banking Hours

Mon-Fri 0900-1600; some banks are open longer hours and others are open on Saturday afternoon.

Exchange Rate Indicators

Date

June 2016 

£1.00=

M$26.77

$1.00=

M$18.46

€1.00=

M$20.55

 

Health

Vaccinations

 

Special Precautions

Diphtheria

Sometimes*

Hepatitis A

Yes

Malaria

No

Rabies

Sometimes*

Tetanus

Yes

Typhoid

Yes

Yellow Fever

No

Inoculation regulations can change at short notice. Please take medical advice in the case of doubt. Where 'Sometimes' appears in the table above, precautions may be required, depending on the season and region visited.

 

* Potentially required if travelling for extended periods or in certain rural areas.

Food and Drink

Water supplied in bottles and from taps marked ‘drinking/sterilised water' in hotels can be drunk without precautions. All other water used for drinking, brushing teeth or making ice should have first been boiled or otherwise sterilised. Milk in major cities, hotels and resorts is pasteurised. Otherwise, milk is unpasteurised and should first be boiled. Powdered or tinned milk is available and is advised. Only eat well-cooked meat and fish. Vegetables should be cooked and fruit peeled.

Other Risks

Diarrhoea affects some travellers. Hepatitis E occurs. Dengue fever is predominant in the northern border states. Rabies is present. If bitten, seek medical advice without delay. Owing to the high altitude and level of smog in Mexico City, visitors may take some time to acclimatise.

Health Care

Comprehensive health insurance is recommended. Medical facilities are both private and state-organised and generally good. Medicines are often available without prescriptions, and pharmacists can diagnose and treat minor ailments.

Getting There

Getting There by Air

Mexico's main airlines are Aeroméxico (AM) (website: www.aeromexico.com) and Mexicana (MX) (website: www.mexicana.com).

Approximate Flight Times

From London to Mexico City is 11 hours 40 minutes; from New York is 4 hours 40 minutes. From London to Cancun is 10 hours 40 minutes; from New York is 3 hours 45 minutes.

Main Airports

Guadalajara Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla International Airport Airport Code: GDL

Mexico City Benito Juárez International Airport Airport Code: MEX

Monterrey General Mariano Escobedo International Airport  Airport Code: MTY

Cancún International Airport  Airport Code: CUN

Acapulco International Airport Airport Code: ACA

Mexico's national carrier is Aeroméxico (www.aeromexico.com). Some of Mexico's domestic airlines serve US destinations, including VivaAerobus (www.vivaerobus.com) and Volaris (www.volaris.mx). Aeroméxico and British Airways (www.ba.com) both operate direct flights to Mexico City from the UK. British Airways and Virgin Atlantic (www.virgin-atlantic.com) offer non-stop flights from London to Cancun.

Departure Tax

Around US$48 depending on the exchange rate. Usually included in the air fare, otherwise payable at the airport.

Getting There by Water

Main ports: Acapulco, Cabo San Lucas (website: www.bajaport.com), Cozumel (website: www.apiqroo.com.mx), Manzanillo (website: www.apimanzanillo.com.mx), Mazatlán (website: www.apimazatlan.com.mx), Puerto Vallarta (website: www.apivta.com), Tampico (website: www.puertodetampico.com.mx) and Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa.

Regular passenger ships run from the USA and South America. A huge number of companies operate cruise services to Mexico. There are also riverboat services from Flores and Tikal (Guatemala) to Palenque, Chiapas in Mexico; enquire locally for details.

Cruise ships:

A huge number of companies operate cruise services from the USA to both Pacific and Caribbean Mexico, including Carnival (www.carnival.com) and Royal Caribbean (www.royalcaribbean.com).


Getting There by Rail

Amtrak provides railway connections to various points along the Mexican border from cities in the USA or Canada (tel: +1 800 872 7245, in the USA; website: www.amtrak.com). In Mexico, federal subsidies to the intercity passenger services were removed in 2000 and almost all long-distance passenger services were discontinued.

To get into Mexico by train, the only option is on luxurious private services like the Sierra Madre Express (tel: +1 520 747 0346 or 800 666 0346, in the USA; website: www.sierramadreexpress.com) operating between Tuscon, Arizona and Mexico's Copper Canyon. Mexlist (website: www.mexlist.com) maintains a list of similar luxury services, most of which have pullman sleepers, restaurant cars, lounge observation and club cars.

Getting There by Road

The main points of entry from the USA are Mexicali from San Diego; Nogales from Phoenix/Tucson; El Paso/Ciudad Juárez from Tucson and Alberquerque; Eagle Pass/Piedras Negras from Del Río, San Angelo and El Paso; Laredo/Nuevo Laredo from Houston, San Antonia and Del Río; and Brownsville/Matamoros from Houston and Galveston. 

From Guatemala, there are two main roads into Mexico. The Pan American Highway crosses into Mexico from Guatemala and continues through Central America and South America. There is also a road border crossing point from Belize near Chetumal and Corozal.

Drivers crossing the border in private cars or US hire cars must present originals and photocopies of current car registration and a valid driving licence to obtain a 180-day automobile permit. The cost of this should be charged to a credit card to avoid leaving a large cash deposit. Mexican car insurance is also compulsory - extensions to US policies are not valid. Insurance can be purchased at the border but better deals are available through online brokers.

Coach: Autobuses Americanos (tel: 01 800 507 5500 or +1 214 337 0010, in the USA; website: www.autobusesamericanos.com.mx) connects several locations in the southern US states to a wide variety of Mexican towns and cities. Autotransportes Tufesa (tel: 01 800 737 8883 or +1 602 415 9900, in the USA; website: www.tufesa.com.mx) runs from Phoenix and Tucson to northern Mexico, and Transportes Intercalifornias (tel: (664) 683 6281 or +1 213 629 4885, in the USA; website: www.transportesintercalifornias.com) connects California to Tijuana and Mexacali. Various coach operators run from Guatemala and Belize to Mexico.

 Climate

On the high central plateau, in cities like Mexico City and Guadalajara, the weather is mild throughout the year, though a little cooler from December through to March. The wettest months on the plateau are the summer months, where there will typically be an hour of two of rain per day. Inland, northern Mexico is mostly desert, hot in the day, and cold in the night. In southern Mexico, the mountainous regions blow hot and cold with pleasant climates lower down. Baja California, Mexico's pacific peninsula gets very little rain throughout the year. Winters are comfortable, and summers are very hot, though resorts like Cabo San Lucas benefit from a sea breeze. The country's central pacific coast, home to resorts such as Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco is hot, sunny and humid almost throughout the year, but the coast and comfortable climate, but in the late summer months, heavy rains come with the hurricanes. The beach resorts of the Yucatán Peninsula, including Cancún, enjoy similar summers to Acapulco, but suffer even more from hurricanes.

Required Clothing

This varies from area to area. Natural fibres are best in the heat, but have a sweater on hand as the nights are generally cooler. A sun hat will help to avoid dehydration. In the mountains, heavier clothing will be required. In general Mexicans are casual about dress, but for visits to churches, long sleeves and long skirts or trousers are required, while theatres and upmarket restaurants may have specific dress codes.

 Contacts

Embassies and tourist offices

Mexican Embassy in the USA
Telephone: (202) 728 1600. Website: http://embamex.sre.gob.mx/eua Opening times: Mon-Fri 0900-1800.
Mexican Embassy in the UK
Telephone: (020) 7499 8586. Website: http://embamex.sre.gob.mx/reinounido Opening times: Mon-Fri 0900-1300.
British Embassy in Mexico
Telephone: (55) 1670 3200. Website: http://www.gov.uk/government/world/organisations/british-embassy-mexico-city Opening times: Mon-Thurs 0800-1630; Fri 0800-1400.

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