Oaxaca with Lisa Donovan

Sept 25 - Oct 1, 2022 | One Exclusive Departure

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Oaxaca Heart & Soul

Cuisine and culture, art and mezcal—the ultimate Oaxaca adventure with Chef Lisa Donovan

Sept 25 – Oct 1, 2022

One exclusive departure—reserve your spot!

7 Day, 6 Nights

Best of Oaxaca City, Monte Alban

Price from


Per person
Based on double occupancy

Questions? Text or call us
+1 (855) 219-8018

Another bite won’t hurt. Let alone two or three. You’re marveling at the farm-to-table feast before you on the long table—one you helped create alongside an incredible chef. You take in the sights and the sounds, and wash it down with a bit of mezcal and toast to everything ahead: Zapotec culture, modern art and design, the traditional flavors of roasted ground chiles, handmade tamales and spicy moles. This is Oaxaca, a place where traditions are handed down through the centuries—and there’s nothing comparable.

Your travel companion is Chef Lisa Donovan, one of the South’s most talented pastry chefs and a James Beard award-winning author who draws inspiration from her Indigenous-Mexican heritage. A self-described panadería-stalker who always knows when the bolillos are fresh from the oven, this trip is a chance for Lisa to reconnect with her roots and immerse herself in Mexico’s culinary culture—and, of course, to celebrate the heart and joyful soul of Oaxaca with us.

If you want a feast for all the senses, this trip is for you. Wander colorful markets and gorge yourself on pineapple tamales and fried grasshoppers. Learn the finer points of mezcal from a fourth-generation producer. Connect with ceramicists and chefs, shamans and weavers. This journey will teach you, delight you—and leave you hungry for more.


Oaxaca’s colorful markets, agave farms, artist workshops and ancient pyramids


Traditional specialties from smoky mezcals to fragrant moles to savory street tacos


Traditional weavers and sculptors, local chefs, modern artists and shaman healers


Oaxacan traditions, its vibrant art scene and culture, alongside Chef Lisa Donovan

3 Reasons to Travel with Lisa Donovan

Lisa is one of the South's top pastry chefs, and her show-stopping desserts have drawn crowds to some of Nashville’s hottest restaurants. Mexican roots means she is equally passionate about Oaxaca's cuisine and culture: “I am so excited to show people the real warmth of Oaxaca, the generosity of the people... to the true fundamentals of food and generosity.”

Back to Basics

For Lisa, good cooking doesn’t have to be fancy—a nod she takes from her Zuni-Mexican grandmother’s cooking. “Use what you have and think creatively. You can make a beautiful and generous meal with dried pinto beans and corn meal. And hot sauce on the table, of course.”

Passion Meets Purpose

Lisa is a vocal advocate for women's rights, inspired by the many strong women in her family. Her award-winning memoir delves into her Mexican-Zuni heritage, and how it influences her life from cooking to parenting.

Traveler at Heart

“Sometimes travel means solitude; sometimes it means showing people things I've discovered; sometimes it means being shown things I don't know. Travel makes me better, more understanding, compassionate, empathetic.”

Your Experience

“A reintroduction to corn is so important, if you care about food. Corn in Oaxaca is a revolutionary education.”
Lisa Donovan

Oaxaca City, Monte Alban

“I feel most comfortable when I'm being challenged, learning something different and new.”
Lisa Donovan

Day by Day

Day 1

Bienvenidos a Mexico! We’ll meet up with Lisa start the day off with a tour of one of Latin America’s great colonial wonders: Oaxaca City. Snacking our way through the cobblestone markets, we’ll sample grilled tlayudas (toasted tortillas topped with Oaxacan string cheese and thin-grilled meats), chapulines (roasted grasshoppers), and rich, sugar-coated pan de yema egg bread stacked in woven baskets.

In the evening, we’ll toast the start of our adventure with local mezcal—of course—then have terrace seats overlooking Oaxaca’s flood-lit cathedral domes for an inspired, open-air dinner together.

Day 1 Highlights

  • Welcome cocktails
  • City markets tour & tastings
  • Welcome dinner
  • Stay at El Callejón in Oaxaca

Day 2

Today we head back into the mountains, where villages devoted to arts and crafts lurk in valley shadows. We’ll stop at the Zapotec village of Teotitlan del Valle, a weaving village with about 5,000 people (and 2,000 looms). We’ll meet a local Zapotec weaving family, who’ll demonstrate their intricate craft using natural fibers for dyes (and even a grounded insect for the bright reds), just as they have for the past 14 generations. A hands-on and home-cooked Zapotec lunch awaits us, where we’ll learn the hows and whys behind Nixtamalization.

Afterwards we return to the city, where the afternoon is yours to explore. We’ll reconvene at one of Oaxaca’s culinary icons, Chef Rodolfo Castellanos’ Origen, for an unforgettable dinner of uniquely Oaxacan cuisine.

Day 2 Highlights

  • Zapotec Weaving Village
  • Home-cooked Zapotec Lunch
  • Authentic Dinner
  • Stay at El Callejón in Oaxaca

Day 3

In the morning, we’ll wind our way past rows of agave plants to meet up with a fourth-generation mezcalero in Santa Catarina Minas. We’ll learn firsthand how these passed-down, timeless techniques turn agave hearts into mezcal, the smoky cousin-spirit of tequila and one of Oaxaca’s famed exports. We’ll learn firsthand how the piña (heart) of agave are harvested and smoked in underground pits, fermented in large vats, and distilled in copper or clay stills based on traditions that date back hundreds of years.

Next, we’ll head to the village of St. Martin for a succulent feast of barbecue meats, prepared in the traditional way and cooked in the ground. 

Afterwards, we return to the city, where the evening is ours to explore Oaxaca’s irresistible food and nightlife: world-class restaurants open for dinner and taco stands set up along the lit-up zócalo, just a few blocks from our hotel.

Day 3 Highlights

  • Mezcalero Experience 
  • Traditional Barbecue 
  • Stay at El Callejón in Oaxaca

Day 4

We begin this epic day at the hilltop ruin of Monte Albán, a vast complex of pyramids and shrines dating from 500 BC—and easily one of Mesoamerica’s grandest sites. We’ll explore its monumental scale and the intricate carvings of bas relief sculptures as one of Mexico’s great colonial cities sprawls below us.

We’ll carry that history with us when we stop for lunch just outside the city at one of Oaxaca’s most unique restaurants; we’ll feast family-style on local mezcal and octopus tacos as chickens patrol the backyard.

The afternoon is a time to recharge at the hotel or explore on your own. Just don’t wander too far as we’ll gather for an imitable tlayuda dinner—think gourmet pizza, but with an-only-in-Oaxaca twist.

Day 4 Highlights

  • Visit Monte Albán temple complex
  • Traditional lunch
  • Tlayuda dinner
  • Stay at El Callejón in Oaxaca

Day 5

Today is ours to revitalize the spirits. We’ll meet with a local shaman, who’ll share the secrets of a cleansing ritual that’s been in practice here for thousands of years, using smoked copal to bid farewell to negative energies.

We’ll leave feeling electric and magical as we make our way to the home studio of a master artisan of Oaxacan folk art. After a demonstration and private pottery tour, she’ll host us for a homemade lunch featuring one of the region’s famed seven moles.

Once back in Oaxaca, you’ll have the evening to yourself. Organize a taco crawl on the zócalo, relax in one of our hotel’s many garden spaces or wander towards those sublime notes of live folk guitar.

Day 5 Highlights

  • Meet Master Potter 
  • Local Shaman Experience
  • Stay at El Callejón in Oaxaca

Day 6

After a leisurely morning at the hotel, we leave for the pinnacle of our journey, a total Oaxacan farm-to-table experience. Our destination is a renown and locally-beloved ranch on the outskirts of the city. Once arrived, we’ll break into small groups and take turns making mole, Oaxacan cheese and ice cream and gain a hands-on understanding of the flavors and ingredients which make these dishes so unique.  In addition, we’ll learn the art of tamale making from a local master chef.

For dinner, we savor the al fresco feast, including a special dish dreamt up by Lisa, and enjoy all the local delicacies we had a hand in preparing. This farewell dinner will be a true celebration of our time spent in Oaxaca. The food, the music, the singing—all of it an ode to handed-down traditions and the true flavors of region.

Day 6 Highlights

  • Hands-on cooking classes
  • Private farewell dinner at local ranch
  • Stay at El Callejón in Oaxaca

Day 7

All great things must come to an end, but as we enjoy a final breakfast of hot chocolate, fresh hand-made tortillas, and fried eggs in rich mole sauce, we’ll understand like never before the wisdom of the Mexican proverb Barriga llena, corazón contento. Full stomach, happy heart. Until next time. Buen viaje!

Day 7 Highlights

  • Transfer to airport

Where We Sleep

A calming retreat in Oaxaca City, our accommodations are small-scale and boutique, the ideal way to get acquainted with Oaxaca life.

El Callejón

Oaxaca City

Located just a few blocks off the bustling zocalo, a street gate opens to a beautiful oasis that’s our Oaxaca City home: a boutique hotel built from traditional adobe whose spacious rooms blend the city’s distinctive aesthetic styles. Serenity reigns in its thoughtful garden spaces, covered walkways, and palm tree-fringed outdoor bar.

I loved eating goat just after it was lifted from the pit, sipping on a mezcal.
Diana C.
This is more than just a trip. It’s authentic and joyful, and a powerful reminder of why we travel.
Scott M.
The meals made for us in local homes were just heavenly.
Andrew B.

Book Oaxaca with Lisa Donovan

Number of Travelers



Per person
Based on double occupancy

Can't travel on these dates?
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+1 (855) 219-8018


That’s OK, we have answers. Read our FAQs below. Or text or call us at +1 (855) 219-8018 to speak with a Modern Adventure Trip Specialist.

  1. What does the price include?

    Six nights at unique, 4-star boutique accommodations; private travel for all day trips and excursions; departure airport transfer; private tours with local guides and cultural experts; exclusive VIP access and tastings; guided activities, adventures and expeditions; entrance fees; daily breakfasts, most lunches and dinners; local beverages with meals.

  2. What does the price not include?

    International roundtrip airfare; travel insurance; transportation to the trip’s starting point; activities not included in the trip itinerary; hotel incidentals including room service, laundry service and hotel bar tabs; food and beverages not included in itinerary; gratuity for tour leader.

  3. Where does the trip start and end?

    Our adventure begins and ends at the El Callejón Hotel in Oaxaca, Mexico. The closest airport is Oaxaca International Airport (OAX). On our final day, Modern Adventure will organize a complimentary transfer to OAX for all guests who’s flight home departs at 1pm or later from OAX airport.

  4. What travel documents are needed?

    US citizens are not required to have a visa for tourist visits to Mexico, but are required to show a valid US passport. It is recommended that your passport is valid for six months after your travels are over. On arrival in the airport, you will be issued a visitor’s permit, known as a FMM (Forma Migratoria Multiple). For citizens of other countries, please check with the Mexico Embassy or Consulate for information and requirements.

  5. Do I need to pay a solo traveler supplement?

    For solo travelers, there is a $2,000 single-supplement fee—paid at the time of booking to secure a private room.

  6. Who is going on this trip?

    Our adventures typically have between 10 and 20 guests, and our Modern Adventure Team. Our experiences are fun and inclusive and you can expect to be joined by a diverse group in terms of age, background and interests—including solo travelers, couples and friends traveling together. This adventure is for travelers age 18 and above.

  7. Who is leading this trip?

    This trip is led by an expert Modern Adventure trip leader. They’re an experienced travel guide, a representative of Modern Adventure and your go-to person for questions or concerns on the trip. We’ll be joined throughout our adventure by local, expert guides who are deeply knowledgeable with respect to local cultures, customs and history and are passionate about sharing that with us.

  8. What is the cancellation policy?

    You may cancel on or before May 28, 2022, and receive a full refund minus a $500 per-person service fee. If you cancel on or after May 29, 2022, there is a 50% cancellation fee. On or after July 27, 2022 there is a 100% cancellation fee. We highly recommend purchasing travel insurance as we are not able to make exceptions to this policy in cases of family/medical emergency or cases of the trip being canceled (see our Terms and Conditions for full details).

  9. Do I need Travel Insurance?

    We highly recommend purchasing travel insurance. Travel insurance allows you to seek reimbursement for your trip costs; if your trip plans change for unforeseeable reasons, or if you need to get medical help, emergency transport, and for theft, loss or damage of items while traveling. For best coverage, always insure the full trip cost within two weeks of your initial trip deposit and note that most ‘Cancel For Any Reason’ policies must be purchased on the date of your initial deposit.

MO/AD News


For the second year running, Modern Adventure is recognized as one of the top travel operators in the world by ​Condé Nast Traveller’s​ annual Readers’ Choice Awards, the most prestigious in the travel industry.

Modern Adventure makes the Fast Company list of the world's most innovative travel companies in 2020.

“I’d had Oaxacan food before, but few restaurants served meals like this—'celebration food' worth the effort only for births and weddings. And, apparently, for Modern Adventure.”

“Modern Adventure is curating a slew of foodie getaways, each spearheaded by the world’s most prolific culinary influencers. Who wouldn’t want to venture to faraway lands... eating really, really good food?”