Past Trips

Past Trips

The Maya Society of Minnesota offers regular trips to archaeological sites throughout Mesoamerica led by world-class experts, typically with special lectures and tours by the archaeologists directing research at the cities we visit. See details on the upcoming trip.

Itineraries of and photos from previous MSM trips


January 3-16, 2020: Central Mexico

Join the Maya Society of Minnesota on a tour to Mexico in January 2020! Explore 5,000 years of Mexican art and history from Chalcatzingo’s early sculptures through the great artists of Teotihuacan, the Aztecs, and twentieth century artists including Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Walk in the footsteps of the Spanish military and religious leaders as you trace their incursion and settlement in central Mexico. Enjoy the varied cuisine in areas famous for their moles, cemitas, chapulines, and other delicious regional specialties. The tour starts and ends in Mexico City.

Archaeological Sites

Templo Mayor
Cacaxtla and Xochitecatl


Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso
Palacio Nacional
Palacio de las Bellas Artes
Franz Mayer Museum
National Museum of Anthropology
Frida Kahlo House and Museum
Leon Trotsky Museum
Diego Rivera House and Studio Musem
Diego Rivera Anahuacalli Museum
Dolores Olmedo Museum
Augustine Convent in Malinalco
Tepotzlan Convent
Cuauhnahuac Regional Museum
Amparo Museum
Puebla Regional Museum
Ex-Convent of Huejotzingo
Tlaxcala’s Palacio del Gobierno
Regional Museum of Tlaxcala


Metropolitan cathedral
La Conchita Chapel
San Juan Bautista Church
Santa María Tonantzintla
Capilla del Rosario
Puebla Cathedral

Other Activities

Performance of the Ballet Folklórico
Behind-the-scenes tour of murals at Teotihuacan
Tom’s Notes

March 6-14, 2019: Guatemala

Guatemala, known as “the land of eternal spring,” is a small nation packed with thousands of years of history spread around its highly variable geography and climate. Dozens of Maya groups built cities and kingdoms in its dense northern jungles, high volcanic basins, and rift valleys, while their neighbors on the Pacific coast created some of the earliest towns and pyramids in the Americas. After the long and drawn out Spanish conquest which lasted hundreds of years longer than in Mexico, with kingdoms like the Lakandon and Itza resisting Spanish control until the end of the seventeenth century, colonial authorities in Antigua Guatemala and Guatemala City governed nearly the entirety of Central America and much of southern Mexico, leaving behind impressive administrative centers that are major tourist attractions and museums today. In this year’s trip, Maya Society of Minnesota members can choose to visit the Guatemalan highlands and Pacific Coast (March 6-16) and/or the Maya lowlands in the northern part of the country (March 16-24) with Guatemalan archaeologist Francisco Castañeda, the Maya Society’s own Dr. Brent Woodfill, and Julia Miller (Three Stone Travel).

Archaeological and Historical Sites

El Perú-Wak’a
El Mirador
Takalik Abaj
Naranjo (in the Valley of Guatemala)
Naranjo (in the Peten)
Antigua Guatemala

Other Attractions

The National Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography
Coffee tour on the Guatemalan piedmont
Chichicastenango market
Lake Atitlan
Macaw Biosphere
The Island of Flores
Capuchinas Nunnery
Tom’s Notes

January 10-26, 2018: Chiapas, Mexico

Chiapas is one of the great undiscovered regions of Mexico full of archaeology, history, and ethnography. This year, the Maya Society of Mexico will explore massive archaeological sites in the Chiapan forests, stay in chilly colonial towns way up in the Chiapan highlands, and attend contemporary Maya festivals in vibrant Indigenous towns. Join other MSM members and tour guide Julia Miller (Three Stones Travel) for this unforgettable experience.

Archaeological Sites 

La Venta
Tenam Puente
Chiapa de Corzo

Other Attractions

Las Guacamayas Eco-Lodge
San Cristóbal de las Casas
Na Balom Research Institute
Museum of Traditional Dress
El Camino de los Altos Weaving Cooperative
Zinacantan Town
Textile Museum
San Sebastián Festival at San Juan Chamula
Amber Museum
Tuxtla Museum
Soconusca Archaeological Museum

January 4-15, 2017: Northern Yucatán

This will be a very interesting trip to the Northern Lowlands. This area demonstrated important Early Pre-Classic development; the Early Classic period in the region showed modest demographics compared to the Southern Lowlands; while the Late Classic and Terminal Classic showed a cultural florescence. In part because it is the driest area of the Maya world, the northern area has unique archaeology and ecology. It stands as a remarkable reflection to the Classic Period Southern Lowlands. It tells a story of regional population disruptions and migrations. The large contemporary Maya population stands in contrast tot he abandonment of the Southern Lowlands. It is also a measure of cultural resilience.
You will spend time revisiting the Conquest and Colonial periods. In the historic and modern city of Mérida you will have glimpsed into the incredible wealth generated by sisal production. You will visit the oldest cathedral on the American continent (excluding the Caribbean). We will learn about Yucatec cuisine and culture. And we will take advantage of the opportunity to spend time with members of the archaeology faculty at the Autonomous University of the Yucatan.
In Izamal you will visit the convent where Fray Diego de Landa lived. In Maní you will see where he enacted the infamous auto de fe. You will also visit the Puuc Hills region and Uxmal. Our guide will be Dr. Tomás Gallareta Negrón. Tomás has worked at many of the sites we will visit. You will enjoy Tomás, as he is a very kind and thoughtful person.

Trip Highlights

Mérida (forensics, astronomy)
Mérida (ceramics lab, cathedral)
Chichen Itza
Ek Balam
Escalera Kiuic
Santa Rosa Xtampak
Los Ceibos
Tom’s Notes

2016: Eastern Maya Regional Tour

Join the Maya Society of Minnesota on a tour to Mexico and Belize in January 2016! Explore the
principal Rio Bec and Chenes sites along with many of the most important sites in Campeche,
Quintana Roo, and Belize. Led by Julia Miller (Three Stones Travel)  

Tour highlights

Rio Bec
Cahal Pech
Altun Ha

Other Activities:
The Bat Cave
Medicine Trail
Coffee Plantation
Cave Tour
Maya Museum of Cancun

Tom’s Notes

2015: Palenque Region

Welcome to Catherwood Travels, the extraordinary point of departure that opens your eyes, your
mind—maybe even your spirit—to more than three millennia of living Maya culture. Catherwood
adventures take you off the beaten track and into direct contact with people and places only the
luckiest travelers reach. Our bespoke experiences combine expert knowledge, modern comforts and
refined travel in the Grand Manner, and visitors emerge enriched, exhilarated … amazed at what
they’ve seen and learned. Our experts, the top guides anywhere in the region, lead you to
adventure, history, culture—yet always make time for fun in the sun, the shade and in crystal-clear
waters. You’ll see exuberant flora and fauna—and get ready to dine on cuisine that’s truly a feast for
the senses. Whether you’re relaxing at haciendas, hiking nature reserves, exploring ancient ruins or
learning about today’s vibrant Maya culture, there’s nothing else like Catherwood in the Yucatán.
And quite possibly anywhere else on the planet.

Trip Highlights

Plan de Ayutla
Piedras Negras

Tom’s Notes

2014: Guatemala Tour

Join the Maya Society of Minnesota and long-time member Dr. Brent Woodfill on a trip through the history of Guatemala. From spectacular well-known sites like Tikal and Copan to relatively unknown treasures like the Candelaria Caves and Salinas de los Nueve Cerros, we will travel through through lowland jungles and mountain valleys.

Trip Highlights

  • Salinas de los Nueve Cerros
  • Tikal
  • Waka’
  • Uaxactun
  • Candelaria Caves
  • Copan
  • Quirigua
  • Aguateca
  • Tayasal
  • Cancuen

Tom’s Notes

2012: Kiuic Region Tour

The Puuc ruins of Yucatán are the subject of this seminar tour, with special emphasis on the
archaeological sites of Kiuic (, Huntichmul, Labna, and Xocnaceh where George
Bey (Millsaps College), William Ringle (Davidson College) and Tomás Gallareta Negrón
(INAH, Yucatán, Mexico) have conducted archaeological research in the past decade. Gallareta
Negrón has also conducted field work in other sites that we will visit as Uxmal, Sayil, and
Xkichmook. Many of these sites are described in the book “Incidents of Travel in Yucatán” by
John Stphens and illustrarted by Frederick Catherwood, (particularly informative are the
journeys to Uxmal, Kabah, Sayil, Labná and Kiuic). During the Late and Terminal Classic
Periods (600-1000 a.D.) the region reached a peak development and a particular architectural
style developed in the Hill Country of Yucatan. Harry D. Pollock recorded this magnificent
architecture in his book “The Puuc, a Survey of the Hill Country of Yucatan” a very important
source of architectural data listing most sites in the region. There are also listed, as suggested readings, several specialized articles or book chapters related with topics of the seminar and the archaeological sites we will visit.

Trip Highlights

  • Chacmultun
  • Xkichmook
  • Xocnaceh
  • Uxmal
  • Labna
  • Sayil
  • Stairway to Heaven
  • Huntichmul
  • Kiuic
  • Kabah

Tom’s Notes