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Tulum Family Travel Guide

I first heard about Tulum, Mexico in fashion and culture magazine W over a decade ago. Then in Conde Nast, followed by Travel + Leisure, and today it seems that every travel media outlet in the world has sent a writer to this bohemian beach town south of Mexico’s Riviera Maya.

map of tulum

Well, like many of these writers, I fell in love with Tulum the minute I set foot on that white, sandy beach.

And while Tulum has certainly grown in terms of name recognition and popularity, it remains an offbeat gem of a destination. You’ll find backpackers wandering around, heading to a yoga class or in search of a juice bar, as well as plenty of families from around the world relaxing by the beach.

If you’re looking for a vacation away from crowded beaches, busy cities and mega, all-inclusive resorts, be sure to consider Tulum, Mexico. And this Tulum family travel guide will point you in the right direction.

Top Things to See and Do in Tulum

The Sian Ka’an Biosphere near Tulum is a fabulous day trip excursion. Best known as home to 23 archaeological sites, 336 unique species of birdlife including a large number of migratory birds, and some of the most pristine and untouched beaches on the Mexican Caribbean coast. Here’s what you need to know if you’re planning on visiting for the day.

And once you get to the Sian Ka’an Biosphere, be sure to stick around to enjoy Mexico’s best hidden beach! Here’s how you find it. 

Don’t miss the famous Tulum Mayan Ruins. An easy bike or taxi ride from any hotel in Tulum, these well-preserved ruins are interesting, easy to get around on foot, and can be explored in about an hour making them perfect for kiddos. Learn about the Tulum Ruins as well as others in the area in this Mexico Mayan Ruins guide. 

Tulum Family Travel Tips

Once you get to Tulum, how are you going to get around? Getting around Tulum is pretty easy. Here are your options. 

Family Friendly Accommodation in Tulum

If you’re interested in practicing yoga while on your beach family vacation, consider booking into one of these hotels in Tulum. And there are quite a few to choose from! Some hotels have yoga on the beach, some in the spa and some partner with local instructors, but start with this list to find family friendly and yoga friendly hotels in Tulum.

Want more? Not sure where you’ll be traveling in Mexico? Check out my Riviera Maya Family Travel Guide here for more great Mexico travel tips!

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cancun vs playa del carmen

Cancun vs Playa del Carmen: Where Should You Stay?

Deciding where to stay in Mexico is an ongoing battle, and today we take the showdown to Cancun vs Playa del Carmen.

Mexico’s Riviera Maya is one of my favorite beach destinations in the world. Easily accessible from most of North America, miles of beautiful white sandy beaches, plenty to do and a wide range of places to stay make the Riviera Maya a perfect beach destination.

However, because the destination has so much to offer to a wide range of travelers, researching and planning travel to the Riviera Maya can be overwhelming.

One way to make it easier to plan the perfect vacation to Mexico’s Riviera Maya is to narrow down your search by general location. First, start by determining where you want to stay, Cancun vs Playa del Carmen. Then you’ll be better able to organize the perfect beach vacation from there.

Where to stay in Mexico: Cancun vs Playa del Carmen!

Beach-front hotel in Cancun Mexico

The Cancun resort area is actually an island located just off the coast of Mexico, connected to the mainland via two short bridges. Here you’ll find mostly large, all-inclusive resorts spread out along the northern and eastern sides of this island.  Alternate accommodation options that let you save money and offer flexibility for your trip are Cancun timeshares.

Even during the busiest months between February – April, you’ll find plenty of room to spread out and enjoy these world-class beaches. The ocean-side beaches are by far the most popular, and most of the hotels in Cancun face the ocean. The lagoon-side is more often used for water sports like jet skiing and kayaking.

Here are few reasons why you might want to stay in Cancun vs Playa del Carmen on your beach vacation:

Cancun Offers Easy Access from the International Airport

Most of the resorts in Cancun are only a few miles from the main Cancun International airport. Especially if you are sneaking to Mexico for a quick weekend getaway, this might be reason enough to select a place to stay right in Cancun. Minutes after landing, you will be sipping your welcome cocktail while checking into your resort.

All-Inclusive Resorts Dominate Cancun

If you’re looking for pure rest and relaxation at an all-inclusive resort during your Mexican beach vacation, Cancun has a variety of options at a range of price points. There are more than 170 all-inclusive resorts in Cancun, and most of them are located on what is actually an island; The Island of Cancun.

You’ll find familiar brands like Club Med, Iberostar and Riu, as well as some recent new additions including Nizuc, Temptation and Dreams.

Women enjoying the hotel pool in Cancun Mexico

For the best beaches, select a resort on the east, or ocean side of the island. For easy access to the shopping malls, bars, restaurants and water sports, select a resort on the lagoon side.

Cancun’s White Sandy Beaches Don’t Disappoint

Cancun was founded in the 1970’s. That’s right. The city of Cancun, now with a population of over 700,000 people, didn’t even exist fifty years ago. And the main reason for it’s rapid growth? The amazing natural beaches. These white sandy carpets of Caribbean bliss were the original draw for tourism to be developed in this beautiful land, and remains the main draw today.

If you prefer laying on the beach instead of pool side, you can’t go wrong with Cancun.

Sunbathing on the beach in Cancun

Some of the best of the best beaches in Cancun include Playa Caracol and Playa Nizuc. Located right in the middle of the hotel zone, Playa Caracol is popular among families with small children thanks to its clear, shallow water and a sandy (not rocky!) bottom. (Tip: Consider bringing water shoes for the rocky beaches!)

Playa Nizuc, located at the southern tip of the main hotel zone in Cancun, is set away from the large crowds and the biggest hotels and is a great, less-busy option. But be sure to pack your own water, food, and umbrella as there are no public facilities available in the area.

But what about Playa del Carmen?

Ocean pier in Play del Carmen

Playa del Carmen is located about an hour south of Cancun. The city spreads outwards around the main public beach and the main ferry docks for transport to the island of Cozumel and where day-tip cruise traffic parks. The main beach in Playa del Carmen starts at the ferry docks and runs to Calle 14 and Gran Porto Real.

And here are some of the reasons you may want to consider staying in Playa del Carmen on your beach vacation.

Discover Authentic Mexican Culture in Playa del Carmen

Speaking of growing cities, Playa del Carmen’s roots are as a sleepy, bohemian beach town on the Riviera Maya, about one hour south of Cancun. And while this city has grown rapidly over the years, it maintains the heart and soul of this palapa-and-hammocks beach town.

The Mayan Riviera has somewhat of a quirky “show” culture, and Playa del Carmen is perhaps the epicenter of that culture. On any given night you can find fire dancers on the beach, live music in the many bars and restaurants, and the intimate Playa del Carmen resorts offer a range of shows and entertainment featuring local performers.

Toddler on the beach in Playa del Carmen

But perhaps most interestingly, you’ll see locals walking to school, doing their shopping and on the weekends enjoying their own beaches. Playa del Carmen is a growing city with lots of locals out and about as well. While Cancun has mostly tourists, here in Playa del Carmen you’ll have the opportunity to interact with locals.

Playa del Carmen is a Walkable City

Built around the pedestrian-only zone of 5th Avenue, Playa del Carmen is super easy to get around on foot. The main area of the city where you will find most of the bars, restaurants and hotels, is only about 10 blocks long. Wander through the street to find amazing authentic local food (hello street tacos!), stock up at the grocery store, or wander the length of the beach.

Gift shops on the streets of Playa del Carmen

If you’re keen to venture a bit further or explore the town a bit more, consider renting a bike during your stay. You don’t need a rental car unless you plan on exploring beyond Playa del Carmen. There are a number of trustworthy, high quality transfer companies that can get you from the airport in Cancun to Playa del Carmen.

You can even walk to your nighttime entertainment, such as the popular Coco Bongo show. Or stay at Hotel Deseo, which is less than one block away, as a perfect home base between beach and the town.

(Tech Tip for the Digital Nomads: Whether at Cancun or Playa del Carmen, use your virtual pc in the cloud through CloudDesktopOnline and collaborate and share using SharePoint through Apps4rent. You can access your work from anywhere with iOS/Android mobile devices as well as PCs and Macs.)

There’s a Wide Range of Accommodation Options in Playa del Carmen

Where Cancun is the land of the all-inclusive resort, many more options abound in Playa del Carmen.

If you’re looking for an all-inclusive resort in Playa del Carmen, The Royal is the best option. Located on a beautiful beach right in the middle of town, you can easily walk down the beach or one block into town to hit the pedestrian only 5th Avenue.

However, if all-inclusive resorts aren’t your thing, you’ll be spoiled for choice in Playa del Carmen. You’ll find plenty of boutique hotels both on and off the beach, as well as thousands of vacation rentals. I love companies like Vacatia and Loco Gringo for narrowing down the options when it come to vacation rentals.

You’ll find plenty of condos on the beach that are new, tastefully decorated and include pools and other family-friendly amenities. Plus, most vacation rentals come with parking, if you do opt to rent a car and explore activities throughout the Riviera Maya.

Looking for more Mexico travel information? Have a look at the complete Riviera Maya family travel guide here!

So what do you think? Have you been to either of these Riviera Maya cities? How would you compare Cancun vs Playa del Carmen?



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tulum yoga hotels

The Ultimate Guide to Tulum Yoga Hotels

Mexico first stole my heart nearly a decade ago and the Tulum yoga offerings have kept it ever since. Between the miles of white sandy beach, intriguing jungle and a unique, laid-back culture, we fell in love with this beautiful corner of the world. Over the years a lot has changed in Tulum, but even as more hotels and restaurants have been built and the secret of this magical beach has gotten out, Tulum has retained its intimate and authentic charm.

One of the best things about Tulum is that hotels on the beach are right on the beach. You wake to the light of the sun rising over the ocean and the sound of the waves lapping at the sand literally only a few feet from your bed.

More recently, Tulum has absolutely a destination that has become well known as a special place to practice yoga. But why? I’m always interested why certain destinations become know for yoga.

Of course Tulum has amazing weather, pristine white sandy beaches and a bit of a counter culture happening. But, as one of the hotels I spoke with for this article put it, “Tulum is indeed a perfect place to unwind and soak in the beauty of this ancient Mayan place with its pristine beaches and its healing energy.” Ahh, the magic words: healing energy.

I guess you’ll have to visit Tulum, practice yoga at one of these Tulum hotels listed below, and experience that healing energy for yourself! If you prefer to bring your own mat, I recommend checking out this compact travel variation.

Nearly every day, travelers find this travel blog by searching for hotels in Tulum that offer yoga. I regularly answer questions on email and social media about the best hotels in Tulum for yoga. So, I decided to finally get all of the information down in one place!

Here, in alphabetical order, is every Tulum Yoga hotel on the beach:

Ahau Tulum: Constructed almost entirely of natural materials, Ahau Tulum is a quintessential casual beachfront Tulum hotel. Rates are very reasonable for Tulum, ranging from a $249 to $409 per night. All cabanas are under massive thatch roofing, and there is a restaurant on site serving up dishes made from natural and local ingredients. Ahau offers a full schedule of daily classes, with a focus on Vinyasa flow. You’ll also find Silk Ariel and Capoiera from time to time!

Ahau Tulum offers scheduled daily yoga classes, currently happening at 8am and 10am, along with sunrise meditation and a few other classes throughout the week. All scheduled yoga classes are held in their beautiful oceanfront yoga studio. The Wednesday night candlelight yoga even includes wine and chocolate! Yum!

Ahau Hotel in Tulum Mexico

Amansala: Amansala was one of the first Tulum yoga hotels to offer classes and retreats. This eco-chic resort is immediately recognizable for the bright orange and pink colors covering beach loungers, the bright pink and orange chairs and colors of the hotel. These days the rooms at Amansala (priced from only $285 per night including breakfast) are joined by Casa de Miel (Amansala Chica), just one minute walk from Amansala Grande.

At Amansala it’s all about health and wellness; the restaurant serves fresh fish, local produce and an extensive vegetarian menu. But after all this is the beach, so don’t miss Amansala’s famous mango margaritas! Join a scheduled retreat or book individually and enjoy daily yoga, and other wellness activities, on site.

Amansala Yoga Hotel in Tulum, Mexico

Amoreira: Amoreira is a classic Tulum yoga eco-resort with the unique twist of all rooms being perched at “canopy level,” or on stilts. Enjoy the cool ocean breeze from the basic, clean rooms. There is no bar or restaurant on site, but you only need to walk few steps up the beach to neighboring Le Zebra. This Tulum hotel has a lovely large yoga studio with walls open to the jungle where guests can organize classes upon request with this well-known teacher of Tulum yoga.

Azulik: Azulik is also one of the original hotels in Tulum. This eco-resort is perched high up on a rocky outcrop above the ocean quite near the main T intersection along the main beach road in Tulum. Azulik offers yoga at the hotel right on the beach in Tulum. While there are no scheduled classes, simply organize with the friendly staff at check-in for ether a private lesson ($50 per person) or group lesson ($12/per person for 3 or more people).

If you would like to take a scheduled class, simply walk next door to neighboring hotel Papaya Playa Project. Here you’ll find Tulum yoga classes every day at 8am (a different style each day). Scroll down for more about the Papaya Playa Project.

Azulik hotel in Tulum, Mexico

Be Tulum: Be Tulum is one of the newest, and one of the most luxurious, hotels in Tulum. Each of the 20 suites includes a secluded terrace and a private pool, a very unique amenity for Tulum yoga. The property also has a beach club, which is open to the public fro 8am until 10am daily.

Yoga at this Tulum hotel takes place at the neighboring Yoga Shala where guests can practice every day at 10 am. Classes vary each day, but include Vinyasa and Hatha styles of yoga.

Pool at the Be Tulum Hotel in Tulum

Casa de las Olas: Owned and managed with a very personal touch (very quick and friendly response to my questions via email!), Casa de las Olas is a private Tulum villa with only four rooms. Breakfast and snacks are served on site, but there are plenty of restaurants nearby for lunch and diners. You can easily organize private lessons on site at the villa, and Casa del las Olas also provides plenty of yoga mats for guest use if you wish to join one of the regularly scheduled yoga classes at another hotel or in town. They are also currently promoting a small yoga retreat and run a series of sustainable food workshops (aptly named Eat Retreats!)

This is an ideal home base for a larger family group or a girlfriend getaway for Tulum yoga.

Casa Violeta: The rooms at this simple, eco resort in Tulum are whitewashed and clean with dark wood accents. You’ll find hammocks draped all over the property, which adds to the relaxed and laid-back charm. Casa Violeta has recently completed a brand new yoga pavilion on site, and offer a full schedule of classes as well as private lessons on request. They currently hold a class open to the public daily at 8:30am and the cost is US$15 per person.

Yoga Class at the Casa Violeta hotel in Tulum, Mexico

Cenote Encantado: Cenote Encantado is unique; an “experiment” in the words of the proprietors. Accommodations here are a Camping Village, where you’ll find tents equipped with beds, sheets, a rug and bedside table. All have electricity and a fan inside. This Tulum hotel has yoga on site, including yoga dance and acro yoga. All classes can be booked with management, and run with a minimum of 2 people. And not to be missed is their private Cenote, a magical and transformative experience.

Coco Tulum: Here at Coco Tulum (the sister hotel of the former Playa Azul Hotel) you can choose between regular and tower rooms, which have a 360-degree view of Tulum’s almost endless beach and the Yucatan jungle as far as the eye can see. The rooms are white washed, light and airy.

The restaurant on site serves up some of the best Italian food in the Yucatan peninsula. Enjoy pizza fresh out of a brick oven, lasagna, gnocchi and ravioli.

They have a small yoga space, called the Zen Zone, on site that can accommodate a maximum of three people at a time. Classes are available from Friday to Tuesday at 4pm and can be organized by the front desk and cost $20 for a one-hour class.

The beach view at the Coco Tulum Hotel in Tulum Mexico


Dos Ceibas: In addition to dance, energy circles, anniversary celebrations, Dos Ceibas holds Tulum yoga classes every morning on a terrace facing the sea. This is also a hotel full of music, and it’s not uncommon to find musicians playing drums, guitars, harps and violins during evenings at Dos Ceibas.

El Pez: Part of the Colibri Collection, El Pez offers simple, eco-chic rooms with ceiling fans and beds draped with mosquito netting. While the immediate beach is a bit rocky, it’s only a short walk around the bay to the wide-open beach. A new on-site Latin Fusion restaurant has just opened to rave reviews.

The Tulum yoga hotel provides plenty of yoga mats available free of charge and can also arrange a yoga instructor for private or group lessons (beginners to advanced) at an additional charge.

Hemingway: Hemmingway Tulum is all about the romance. Rooms are authentically Mexican, with brightly colored décor in all of the four different styles of bungalows on offer. Join one of the group classes held in the spa daily at 8:30, 10:00 and 11:30 for $15 per lesson per person.

Jashita: Located in Soliman Bay, one of the most protected and secluded bays in the Riviera Maya, Jashita hotel underwent a massive refurbishment in 2010 and is now one of the most luxe Tulum yoga hotels. They can organize private and group yoga classes on request.

Interior of the Jashita Hotel in Tulum Mexico

La Luna: Cabanas La Luna consists of 9 unique suites largely built with natural materials. The 2-story Captain Dale’s quarters remind me of something of Robinson Crusoe’s island! This Tulum hotel can be rented on exclusive use as well). La Luna offers yoga teacher training retreats, so if you’re looking for much more intense Tulum yoga experience, this may be right for you.

La Zebra: La Zebra is one of the original hotels on Tulum’s beach strip and also offers yoga. Rooms are quaint little rondavals dotted around the property. Their beachside cantina and beach bar are always busy and La Zebra is super family friendly as well. There is a super fun bar and dancing stage (salsa lessons on Thursday!) and Tulum yoga can be organized on request.

Las Ranitas: This Tulum yoga hotel has one of the more beautiful yoga studios on the Tulum strip complete with beautiful wood floors, stained glass windows and the ubiquitas natural thatch roof. At Las Ranitas you’ll find five room types, all bright, light and airy. Yoga can be organized on request.

Los Lirios: This Tulum yoga hotel is an affordable option in a great location. The rooms are basic and there is a small pool on site. Los Lirios includes daily group lessons included in the rate of the room and can also organize private lessons at an extra charge.

Luv Tulum: With only 12 rooms, this small hotel is also a good affordable option in Tulum, Mexico. The rooms are clean yet warm, with white wall, dark wood accents and splashes of color from pillows and chairs. Luv Tulum hosts yoga retreats in association with nearby Yoga Shala throughout the year.

Maya Tulum Retreat: This Tulum yoga retreats and wellness resort hosts near-weekly yoga events and retreats, with 50 on the schedule for the upcoming year. Maya Tulum Retreat is a great option if you’re looking to join a formal retreat or group or if you are traveling solo. You’ll find a wide range of yoga on offer throughout the year.

The hotel is on the larger side for Tulum, with 49 rooms.

Mezzanine: A small, nine-room adults-only Tulum yoga hotel, Mezzanine is perfect for a quick romantic getaway. Rooms are well-appointed, with a small pool snaking throughout the property. Lounge and dance music play throughout the day and into the night, and here at the restaurant you’ll also find the perfect Pad Thai (who knew in Mexico?!). Also part of the Colibri Collection, private yoga classes can be organized at Mezzanine or one of their sister properties.

Beach at the Mezzanine Hotel in Tulum Mexico

Mi Amor Boutique Hotel: This is part of the American-owned Colibri Hotel Collection, including El Pez, La Zebra, Messanine and Yemaya. Tulum yoga hotel Mi Amor is the newest addition to the collection, and is all about sensual relaxation. The words chic and adventurous are used to describe this Tulum yoga experience. Yoga can be organized upon request.

My Way Luxury Resort: With only 7 suites, My Way Luxury Resort in Tulum is an intimate and relaxing place to stay. You’ll find fresh, natural and healthy food at the restaurant on site. This Tulum yoga hotel offers yoga through the lovely Richelle Morgan over at the Yoga Dicha yoga studio in Tulum town.

Papaya Playa Project: The Papaya Playa Project hotel consists of 2 sections, an older group of small and basic huts in the back, and a group of newer, more modern rooms near the front. If you’re looking for an affordable hotel in Tulum, the older rooms here will do the trick.

Yoga class at the Papaya Playa Project in Tulum

The Papaya Playa Project hotel offers daily yoga classes (the style and instructors change daily) as well as a series of yoga events throughout the year. Enjoy a fabulous and reasonably priced restaurant on site where you can watch the kite surfers float over the ocean fro sunrise to sunset.

Pico Beach: Pico Beach includes rustic beachfront cabins and one large exclusive-use beach house in Tulum. Yoga retreats are offered through their beach club next door, Akiin Tulum.

Playa Kin Ha: This is a very basic beach hotel at reasonable rates. Yoga is offered through their sister hotel in Tulum town, a few miles or a 15-minute bike ride away (link to getting around).

Retiro Maya: This hotel is a lovely example of a soft footprint eco hotel in Tulum. While this hotel runs a number of private retreats throughout the year, it is also possible to organize private and group lessons for guests. This is a great option if you’re looking to join a group retreat. You’ll find a delicious kitchen on site with an ample vegetarian menu.

The exterior of the Retiro Maya hotel in Tulum

Sanara Tulum: One of the newest luxury hotels in Tulum, Sanara literally means “you will heal” in Spanish. They are actively marketing the property to retreat leaders, so expect to see lots of yoga retreat groups here year-round. If you are not part of a scheduled retreat, not to worry. Sanara Tulum holds at least six yoga and meditation related activities every day.

Shambala Petit Hotel: Colorful images of Indian deities are painted on the stucco walls of the 10 freestanding rooms. When there is not a scheduled retreat in progress, vigorous Ashtanga-style classes are offered at 8 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. in the seaside studio. This hotel is all about yoga. One of the things I love here is you can do Spanish lessons and cooking classes too, in addition to your yoga! The best way to know what yoga retreats are happening at the moment is to reach out to them directly.

Suenos Tulum: Dubbed an “art boutique hotel’ this place is all about art and design. Suenos Tulum has a lovely pool (a rarity in Tulum).  Suenoe runs a series of retreats throughout the year which accommodate all levels of yogis, from beginner to advanced. With only 13 suites, this property is intimate and private. There is a Mexican restaurant on site which is open to guests only.

Jungle outside the Suenos hotel in Tulum Mexico

The Beach Tulum (sister property to Hotel Cabanas Tulum): This funky, adults only Tulum hotel has a fun 2nd story yoga palapa studio and offer Yoga classes for guests every Tuesday and Thursday at 10:30am. Classes are one hour and fifteen minutes and cost $15 per person. Be sure to connect with The Beach Tulum via social media to keep in the loop on schedule changes and the latest yoga information. The hotel currently has certified Teachers for Hatha, Vinyasa and Iynegar.

Woman doing a forearm stand at The Beach Tulum yoga hotel


Uno Astro Lodge: I love this Tulum hotel’s branding and overall unique design and atmosphere. Uno Astro Lodge has a full schedule of activities including several yoga classes held daily.

Utopia Guest House: Christina Thomas, an American who has been part of the Tulum yoga scene for over a decade, has lovingly restored this cozy and charming beachfront house into one of the newest Tulum hotels. This before and after blog post shares her story of how Utopia Guest House came to be. Utopia Guest House can organize private or group lessons for you. Everything is custom here so be sure to ask and craft your own Tulum yoga adventure!

Yoga Shala: As you can probably guess by the name, this hotel is all about yoga. But you won’t find competition or pretention here. If you’re coming to Tulum to further develop your yoga practice, Yoga Shala is a great option. They offer more styles and classes than any other studio in Tulum including Hatha, Ashtanga and Kundalini, among other styles.

Here you’ll find yoga classes scheduled daily, Monday through Friday at 9am, weekends at 10am plus a 5:30pm class every day of the week.

Accommodations are basic, including room options with private and shared bathrooms starting as low as $49 per night it’s one of the cheapest hotel options in Tulum.

Yoga class at the Shala Yoga Hotel in Tulum Mexico

Zen Serenity Resort: This Tulum hotel is all about wellness and holistic health. The rooms and spa at Zen Serenity Resort are all finished in pristine white décor and open right onto the white sandy beach. Kundalini, Ashtanga, Maja and Hatha yoga classes are all included in the rate, but the schedule changes all the time so be sure to ask when you arrive or email a few days in advance for the latest schedule.

I hope this directory of hotels in Tulum that offer yoga has been helpful to you! Click here to read up on the best way to get around Tulum. I will strive to keep this Tulum yoga guide as up-to-date as possible. If you have an update or correction to this list, of if you are a hotel, operate Tulum yoga retreats and want to be added to the list simply email me at [email protected] with more information. Happy travels, and namaste!


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