One of the main things I wanted to put on the list of things to see during our trip to Mexico City was the ancient ruins that you can tour outside the city. In one of my history classes we learned about Mesoamerica along with the Aztecs before everything was colonized. These people have such a rich history and I wanted nothing more than to see it up close.
After spending a couple days in Mexico City a tour guide approached us, and he told us about the private tour he offers to the Teotihuacán ruins that are about an hour’s drive outside of Mexico City. We were definitely very interested in going to the ruins at that point, but we weren’t sure if we wanted to go with him because we weren’t sure exactly how safe a private tour would be.
Either way we couldn’t find his card later when we wanted to book a tour, so we found a tour online that was cheaper and it wasn’t private. We booked it that night, and the next morning we had to be up by 8 am to catch the tour bus leaving to the Teotihuacán ruins.
If you look online to book your tour there are many different options depending on what time of day you want to be there, how long you want your tour to be, and what you want it to include like food, gift shops, or tequila/mezcal tastings. The tour prices vary at anywhere from $35 up to $185. Some of the more expensive tours can get you a ride in a hot-air balloon for a tour of the ruins.
Our tour stopped at a gas station halfway there for a bathroom break, water, and snacks. I would recommend stocking up on water especially if you are visiting Mexico during a really warm part of the year. I would also recommend taking an early tour if you can manage it. It won’t be as hot, there won’t be as many people, and there won’t be lines.
We were there in February last year, and the weather was really nice and there weren’t any lines. I did just see someone post photos from Teotihuacán showing how the line to climb the pyramids was wrapping around the pyramid base, so definitely arrive as early as you can during the high travel season.
When we arrived at the excavation site the two tour guides split us into two groups. Our tour guide was an archeologist who studied a few of the large native civilizations from Central America. One of the main peoples that he was the most interested in studying were the Mayans. If I remember correctly he was even learning their codex and writing system. He was so enthusiastic about the archeological work being done at Teotihuacán, and it showed through his knowledge and energy.
He taught us about the ancient calendar that the people who lived there used with the animals and elements of the world around them. The pyramids have faded carvings of the different animals that they worshiped cascading down the sides.
They actually don’t know much about the civilization of Teotihuacán because the people didn’t develop a textual writing system. The archaeologists also have never been able to find evidence of the Teotihuacán people discovering the wheel, which would mean they build these pyramids without the help of carts or anything. Our tour guide noted that if they had wheels made of wood they also wouldn’t know because wood deteriorates faster than stone would.
Opposite of the pyramids there are ruins of possible dwellings that some of their population resided in. All the knowledge of the tour guides and the sites allow you to imagine what life might have been like for these people.
After we toured the smaller ruins the tour guide told us about the first pyramid on your right as you walk down the Avenue of the Dead. The pyramid of the Sun is one of the largest structures in Mesoamerica. The name was given to the pyramid when the city was discovered by the Aztecs years after Teotihuacán had been abandoned.
The tour guide gave us time to climb the stairs of the Sun Pyramid, which gives you a beautiful view of Teotihuacán all the way from the Ciudadela to the Pyramid of the Moon. The surrounding mountains create a picturesque landscape that is amazing to view from the top of these pyramids.
After the tour they take you to a small shop where you can purchase water, snacks, and popsicles. I will warn you that we did get food poisoning after we got back from the tour this day. It was definitely our fault because we did everything you’re not supposed to do. I think one of the possibilities were the popsicles we had, so don’t do it no matter how hot it is or how good they look.
After the tour of the ruins is over they take you to the gift shop where they first teach you how tequila and mezcal are made. You will learn what the difference is between the distilling processes. They also bring out a few different bottles of mezcal and tequila for you to taste test, so you can taste the difference. Once they finish you’ll have time to look around and purchase any keepsakes you’d like. You can also buy any of the tequilas or mezcals that you taste.
Then you’ll head across the street to the restaurant where they have drinks and a buffet. The restaurant also has a menu that you can order from. The food was great, but after the experience with food poisoning we read that it could have been from the buffet. I recommend ordering from the menu just in case. With the food we also order margaritas blended with ice, which makes that the third thing we did that is really not suggested to do in Mexico to avoid food poisoning.
This excursion was really fun to go do for the day. I learned a lot about this ancient civilization from the amazingly knowledgeable tour guides. It was great to meet the people who are there researching this ancient civilization. They are doing important work to make sure the history of these ancient civilizations is not lost.