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Wonders of the Maya


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Wonders of the Maya

 Mexico

08 days from £1349 pp  Including flight from LHR
Now £1300pp Save £49pp

In addition to its beautiful beaches, Yucatan boasts an impressive cultural and historical heritage as the repository of treasures of Maya civilisation such as Palenque, Tulum, Chichen Itza and Uxmal.

At a Glance

  • Take a mangroves boat trip in Ria Lagartos
  • View the magical sunrise over Chichen Itza
  • Visit ruins at Uxmal, the UNESCO Heritage Site
  • Visit Becan, the ancient city of Maya
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In addition to its beautiful beaches, Yucatan boasts an impressive cultural and historical heritage as the repository of treasures of Maya civilization such as Palenque, Tulum, Chichen Itza, and Uxmal. Travel back in time to appreciate the everlasting greatness of these ancient cities reclaimed from the jungle and discover the beauty of the colorful colonial towns of Izamal and Merida. Join this memorable eight-day tour and see a mesmerizing part of impressive Mexico.

Short Itinerary

Day 01 : Depart London Heathrow and Arrival Cancun

Day 02 : Cancun – Ria Lagartos – Cenote – Chichen Itza

Day 03 : Chichen Itza – Izamal – Merida

Day 04 : Merida – Uxmal – Campeche

Day 05 : Campeche – Palenque

Day 06 : Palenque – Waterfall – Palenque

Day 07 : Palenque – Becan – Chetumal

Day 08 : Chetumal – Bacalar – Tulum – Depart Cancun

Tour Ends

 

 Day 01 : Depart London Heathrow and Arrival Cancun
Today you will board for the flight to Cancun. Arrive at Cancun International Airport. Our representative will meet and greet you, and then transfer you to the hotel in Cancun. Have the rest of the day at leisure. Overnight in Cancun.
 Day 02 : Cancun – Ria Lagartos – Cenote – Chichen Itza
Today’s adventure starts with a visit to Ria Lagartos Biosphere Reserve on the northern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, home to the largest flocks of pink flamingos in Mexico, in addition to the almost 400 birds species that have been identified here. Take a boat trip lasting around two hours through the mangroves in the reserve’s estuary to observe flamingos, other birdlife, and crocodiles. The trip also includes a visit to the feeding areas, a stop for a Mayan mud bath with the mineral-rich white mud, and a dip in the salt-rich waters of the lagoon. We then visit a cenote, a natural sinkhole, for some time to cool off and have a swim. After the visit, continue to the hotel in Chichen Itza. Overnight in Chichen Itza
 Day 03 : Chichen Itza – Izamal – Merida
Perhaps one of the most magical moments you can experience in Mexico is viewing the sunrise over Chichen Itza. Today we make an early start in this enigmatic location, one of the most important archaeological sites of the Maya. Observe the mesmerizing quiet surroundings, as you arrive before the grounds are open to the general public. Learn about the Maya and their civilization and admire the scale and detail of this ancient city that has been laboriously reclaimed from the jungle. Behold the geometric perfection of the 25-meter-tall Temple of Kukulkan, popularly known as El Castillo (‘the Castle’), which was built both as a representation of the mystical Maya calendar and to reflect the optical illusion of a serpent snaking its way up or down the pyramid during the spring and autumn equinoxes. Admire the Great Ball Court, the largest of 13 discovered at the site, see the haunting Skull Platform, where the heads of human sacrifice victims and prisoners of war were impaled, and catch sight of the Sacred Cenote, where sacrifice victims were dumped. In addition, extremely well-preserved are the Temple of the Warriors, the Ossuary, the Nunnery and adjacent Church, and the large observatory known as the Snail. After this lovely morning, return to the hotel for breakfast. Next, we make our way to the Mayan town of Izamal, known as ‘the city of the three cultures’, combining remnants of its pre-Hispanic past, the colonial period, and the present. Izamal is one of Mexico’s ‘magical towns’, a designation awarded to selected locations famed for their cultural and historical heritage. Here you can see the Convent of St Anthony of Padua, which stands on a former Maya pyramid. Have lunch in Izamal and continue to the ‘White City’ of Merida, the capital of Yucatan, to enjoy a tour of the historic downtown. Explore the Paseo de Montejo, where you will find a series of beautiful villas and palaces built in the 19th century. See the splendid Plaza Grande, home of the cathedral and the Casa de Los Montejo, built in the 16th century in the plateresque style. Admire its beautiful façade which is now a symbol of the city. Also visit the Government Palace and City Hall, before enjoying some free time to discover the city on your own. Lunch is not included. Overnight in Merida.
 Day 04 : Merida – Uxmal – Campeche
The tasty breakfast at the hotel is followed by a morning exploring the ruins of another former Maya city clawed back from vegetation. Arrive at Uxmal and enjoy a guided tour of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, which as you approach, comes into view as it rises above the canopy of the jungle. Unlike other Mayan cities, Uxmal was devoured by the rainforest after the Spaniards had arrived. The most famous structure is the 35-meter-tall Pyramid of the Magician, towering over the remarkably well-preserved Nunnery Quadrangle with its ornately carved interior and exterior walls. Across the central plaza, just beyond the ballgame court, is the Governor’s Palace with its elaborately decorated roof. At the southern end of the main complex is the Great Pyramid, of which only one side has been excavated with the other three still unclaimed from the bush. After this experience will you visit a Cacao Museum where the plant and its importance for the ancient Mayans will be explained. Continue to Campeche to your hotel for check-in. Overnight in Campeche.
 Day 05 : Campeche – Palenque
After breakfast at the hotel, set out to see Campeche on a panoramic tour of this historic coastal city, driving through the heart of the picturesque old town, with its pastel-colored colonial houses, colonnaded arcades, and bell-gabled churches. Continue exploring by foot and seeing sights such as ramparts of the old city walls and St Francis’ Cathedral. The state of preservation and quality of its architecture earned it the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and you can see why as you explore. Continue the journey to Palenque, a bastion of the Ch'ol Maya people, in the state of Chiapas. We are now in Mexico’s ‘deep south’, where the colorfully dressed descendants of the Maya can be seen everywhere, and their languages frequently heard on the streets and in the marketplaces. Check into your hotel, getting ready for a new exciting day. Overnight in Palenque.
 Day 06 : Palenque – Waterfall – Palenque
For thousands of years, the Maya’s writ stretched across what are now the five southern Mexican states as well as all of Belize and Guatemala, and the eastern parts of both El Salvador and Honduras – until their civilization mysteriously collapsed in the eighth and ninth centuries. It was during this period that the now ruined city of Palenque (or B'aakal as the ancient Maya called it) began its decline and was devoured by the jungle until it was encountered by Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century. In its heyday, Palenque was a sprawling city-state that spanned nearly 60 square kilometers but archaeologists estimate that they have excavated only 5-10% of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. So far, more than 200 structures have been unearthed, with the Temple of the Inscriptions, the Palace, the Temple of the Count, and the Temple of the Cross being the most prominent. Enjoy exploring this ancient site on a guided tour before we set out on a visit to an incredible waterfall where you can appreciate Mexico’s natural beauty. Overnight in Palenque.
 Day 07 : Palenque – Becan – Chetumal
Depart Palenque after a delightful breakfast. Head east, arriving at the archaeological site of Becan, an interesting ceremonial center, and city of the ancient Maya. Despite archaeologist efforts, this place is still full of mysteries - even the original name of the site is unknown. Take the opportunity to admire the site’s main structures before we continue our trip, arriving in the capital of the state of Quintana Roo, Chetumal, where we check in to the hotel. Overnight in Chetumal.
 Day 08 : Chetumal – Bacalar – Tulum – Depart Cancun
After breakfast, you will visit near Chetumal the small town and lagoon of Bacalar, commonly known as the ‘Lagoon of Seven Colours’ due to the distinct shades of blue in the water. Be amazed by its beauty as we make a quick photo-stop before continuing north to the archaeological site of Tulum, one of the last cities built and inhabited by the Mayans. Tulum is perhaps one of the most visually impactful sites in Mexico, as it juxtaposes ancient ruins next to aqua-colored waters and white sand beaches. Continue to Cancun with drop-off at your selected extension hotel in Riviera Maya or Cancun or Drop off at Airport Cancun. Late drop off at the airport. Guests that have the return flight on this day, will be earliest at 16:00 at the airport (do not book a flight before 19:00 hrs).

What's included

  • Return economy flight from London Heathrow
  • TOUR GUIDE: Operated with English, Spanish Dutch and French-speaking licensed guide on a shared basis
  • ACCOMMODATION: Seven nights as indicated on board basis selected, including local taxes
  • MEALS: Seven breakfasts
  • TRANSPORT: Air-conditioned transportation with pickup/drop-off as indicated in the itinerary on a shared basis
  • ENTRANCE FEES AND ACTIVITIES: All entrance fees and activities mentioned in the itinerary: Ria Lagartos boat tour, entrance to cenote, Chichen Itza, Izamal, Merida city tour, Uxmal, Campeche tour, Palenque, Becan, Chetumal photo stop

What's not included

  • Expenditures of a personal nature, drinks and meals if not stated explicitly in the programme
  • Optional tours
  • Mexican visa fees and local taxes
  • Gratuities for drivers and guides.

ACCOMMODATION OPTIONS

Day 2 Cancun: Standard Hotel Category = La Quinta, Adhara Hacienda or similar 3*

Day 3 Chichen Itza: Standard Hotel Category = Villas Arqueologicas or similar 3*

Day 4 Merida: Standard Hotel Category = Mision Merida Panamericana, El Castellano or similar 4*

Day 5 Campeche: Standard Hotel Category = Plaza Campeche, Tucan Siho Playa or similar 4*

Day 6-7 Palenque: Standard Hotel Category =Misión Palenque or similar 4*

Day 8 Chetumal: Standard Hotel Category = Capital Plaza, Fiesta Inn or similar 4*

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

Ría Lagartos: 395 species of birds reside in this biosphere reserve where you can observe the flamboyance of flamingos and crocodiles roaming the mangroves.

Chichen Itza: Uncover the mysteries of Maya civilisation at this ancient archaeological site dominated by the imposing Temple of Kukulkan.

Izamal: This ‘magical town’ is known as the ‘city of hills’ because of its numerous ruins of Maya pyramids.

Uxmal: The Pyramid of the Magician in this UNESCO World Heritage Site rises above the jungle canopy.

Merida: Yucatan’s ‘White City’, Merida, is famed for the elegant tree-lined boulevards from the 19th century.

Tulum: The charming city of Tulum offers direct sea views and a great history, as it was one of the most important trade cities of the Mayas.

Palenque: Visit Palenque and see a rich example of Mayan architecture, sculpture, roof comb and bas-relief carvings.

Please note

  • Late drop off at the airport. Guests that have the return flight on this day, will be earliest at 16:00 at the airport (do not book flight before 19:00 hrs).
  • Local conditions prevalent at the time of travel may result in modifications to the tour contents without prior notice.

What do I need to bring?

Comfortable and light clothing is the most suitable for travelling in Mexico. Visitors should not wear sleeveless shirts, shorts, short skirts or skimpy clothing when visiting temples, religious or official buildings. Sun protection, sunglasses, a hat and mosquito repellent can be very useful during your stay.

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