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).