Indigenous communities in the mountains and valleys of Oaxaca have been developing their ecotourism potential since the 1990s, when a cabins programme was established. These small, self-contained cabañas ecoturísticas were designed to bring income to the villages while minimizing the disruptive effects of tourism. These days many villages organize tours (hiking, coffee farms, biking, adventure sports and agrotourism) and some sort of “community lodging”, from homestays to simple but comfy cabins, usually arranged through a local Comité de Ecoturismo. Either type of accommodation makes a convenient and economical base for exploring the villages and archeological sites of Oaxaca state. Many communities have particular handicraft traditions, such as carpet-weaving, wickerwork or pottery; others have museums devoted to local archeological finds and the life of the villagers.
The best place for information and reservations – ideally made a few days in advance, especially for the more accessible sites – is Oaxaca’s state tourist office at Juárez 703 (951 502 1200), though be warned that individual staff may know little about this, that their information may be out of date, and that even where they do make a reservation it may take a while to seek out the key locally when you arrive. Oaxaca’s lending library, at at Pino Suárez 519, is a great resource for rentals. For the Sierra Norte and the Pueblos Mancomunados contact Expediciones Sierra Norte, which coordinates all the local community programmes in that area. For Ixtlán contact Ecoturixtlán (951 553 6075) directly, based at 16 de Septiembre in Ixtlán de Juárez.