Many private individual guides offer tours. Among the most highly recommended is English-fluent Juan Montes Lara (Prol. de Eucaliptos 303, Colonia Reforma, tel./fax 951/513-0126, jmonteslara [at] yahoo [dot] com), backed up by his wife Karin Schutte. Besides cultural sensitivity and extensive local knowledge, they can also provide comfortable transportation in a GMC Suburban wagon for $25/hour.
Moreover, satisfied customers give guide Sebastiañn Chino Peñ (tel. 044-951/508-1220, fax 951/562-1405, sebastian_oaxaca [at] hotmail [dot] com) rave reviews for his guided tours ($20/hour) anywhere you would like in the city or Valley of Oaxaca.
Another promising guide option is to go with Judith Reyes López (tel./fax 951/514-9126, judithreyes37 [at] hotmail [dot] com or reservations [at] oaxacaollin [dot] com, www.oaxacaollin.com ), who operates through her Art and Tradition tours. Judith offers alternatives ranging from half-day city tours and whole-day Valley of Oaxaca  archaeological and crafts-village outings to farther-reaching explorations of the art and architecture of venerable Dominican churches in the Mixteca. Contact her at her bed-and-breakfast, Oaxaca Ollin (Quintana Roo 213), a block north and a block east of the Centro Cultural de Santo Domingo .
On the other hand, folks interested in the exceedingly diverse natural world of Oaxaca might appreciate a tour led by biologist Fredy Carrizal Rosales (tel. 951/515-3305, in-town cell 045-951/164-1897, long-distance out-of-town cell 951/164-1897, ecologiaoaxaca [at] yahoo [dot] com [dot] mx), owner-operator of Tourism Service in Ecosystems. Fredy offers customized explorations of many Oaxaca locations—pine-oak woodlands, coastal mangrove wetlands, semi-desert highlands, lush coastal foothill forest coffee plantations—viewing and identifying plants and animals and enjoying nature in general.
Customized explorations of Oaxaca’s indigenous communities, traditions, and natural treasures are the specialty of native Zapotec guide Florencio Moreno, who operates Academic Tours in Oaxaca (Nieve 208A, Colonia Reforma, home tel./fax 951/518-4728, in-town cell 044-951/510-2244, long-distance out-of-town tel. 951/134-4189, info [at] academictoursoaxaca [dot] com, www.academictoursoaxaca.com ).
Florencio’s tours reflect his broad qualifications: fluency in native dialects, historical knowledge, cultural sensitivity, personal connections with indigenous crafts communities, and expertise in wildlife-viewing and identification. His excursions can be designed to last a day or a week and include any region of Oaxaca, exploring anything from folk art and hidden archaeological sites to the colorful indigenous markets and festivals of the Mixteca or the Isthmus.
For more guide recommendations, ask at the state tourist information office (Murguia 206, tel. 951/516-0123, info [at] aoaxaca [dot] com, www.oaxaca.travel , 8 a.m.–8 p.m. daily), between Cinco de Mayo and Reforma, two blocks north and a block and a half east of the rear of the cathedral.
Higher up the economic scale, commercial guided tours also provide a hassle-free means of exploring the Valley of Oaxaca . Travel agencies, such as Viajes Turisticos Mitla, Viajes Xochitlán, and others listed here  offer such tours.