|Starts||Mexico City, Mexico|
|Ends||Playa del Carmen, Mexico, Mexico|
|Region||South America & Central America|
Day 1 - Starting: Mexico City & Finishing: Mexico City
Arrive at Mexico City’s Benito Juarez International Airport, where you'll be transferred to your hotel. You'll be staying in the heart of the downtown area. In the evening (usually around 7 pm) you will meet your tour leader and the other members of your group for a pre-tour briefing. The exact time and place of the meeting can be found at hotel reception. This meeting is generally followed by an optional group dinner at a nearby restaurant.
Day 2 - Starting: Mexico City & Finishing: Mexico City
Enjoy a city tour of Mexico City. You'll visit the Metropolitan Cathedral, Zocalo, National Palace and Museum of Anthropology. After that, the day is yours to spend as you please. You'll discover that Mexico City is an exciting mix of modern cosmopolitan glamour with remnants from both its ancient and colonial history. Ask your leader about where to find Aztec ruins in the city centre, explore another of the city's numerous museums, or perhaps ride the subway right through to one of the temples. If you prefer to get out of the city and escape the crowds, take a trip to the canals and gardens of Xochimilco.
Day 3 - Starting: Teotihuacan – Puebla & Finishing: Teotihuacan – Puebla
Travel by private minivan towards Puebla. En route you'll stop at Teotihuacan, which is about 50 kilometres northeast of Mexico City. Here you'll discover the extraordinary Aztec ruins known as the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon which dominate the skyline. This was once one of the country's biggest ancient cities and the Aztec capital. With the help of a local guide, you'll have time to stroll down ‘The Avenue of the Dead’ to see fascinating clues to what life here was like nearly 2,000 years ago. Continue to Puebla, a town of palpable colonial heritage despite rapid development. You will spend time exploring the city on a walking tour, taking in the incredibly beautiful gilded interior of the Santo Domingo Church and Rosary Chapel. To finish off a busy day, perhaps refuel with the local specialty, mole Poblano, a dish famous across Mexico. You may prefer to learn how to cook this famed dish for yourself at an optional cooking class.
Day 4 - Starting: Oaxaca & Finishing: Oaxaca
Take a minibus to the colonial city of Oaxaca, a lovely city renowned for its cuisine and vibrant art scene. It's also an excellent place to browse for traditional Mexican handicrafts, as descendants of the Zapotec and Mixtec Indians sell an array of bright woven blankets and shawls here. Take in the relaxed atmosphere as you explore the streets, perhaps sampling some regional delicacies along the way. From ‘mole’ sauces and banana-leaf-wrapped ‘tomales’, to the baked chilli and lime grasshoppers, there's no shortage of unique and delicious food here, usually sold by the charming old ladies of the markets.
Day 5 - Starting: Monte Alban – Oaxaca & Finishing: Monte Alban – Oaxaca
Today you will drive the short distance up a nearby hill to the ancient Zapotec ruins of Monte Alban, which looks out across the three legs of the valley of Oaxaca. The peaks of three mountain ranges converge in this valley, and the Zapotec civilisation began construction of this city around 200 BC, with the city estimated to reach a peak population of 25,000. With the help of your local guide, you will have plenty of time to explore the remnants of plazas, tombs, palaces and temples that make up this fascinating site. Return to Oaxaca for the afternoon and enjoy some free time to perhaps take in a folkloric ballet performance or visit the cultural centre.
Day 6 - Starting: Tehuantepec & Finishing: Tehuantepec
Drive south towards the Pacific coast on your way to Tehuantepec. Along the way you will stop to see the Tule Tree (an impressively large Montezuma cypress tree), a Mezcal factory and the ruins at Mitla. The latter, meaning 'underworld' in Nahuatl, is an important Zapotec archaeological site and was the main religious centre for the Zapotec people. It was originally built as a gateway between the world of the living and the world of the dead. You'll spend the night in the town of Tehuantepec.
Day 7 - Starting: San Cristobal de las Casas & Finishing: San Cristobal de las Casas
Continue driving east into the state of Chiapas. On the way you will visit Sumidero Canyon, an 800-metre deep canyon carved out by the Sumidero River and dating from the same time as the Grand Canyon. Then continue on to San Cristobal de las Casas. Take in the distinctive old-world feel here, which comes from the Spanish colonial architecture and pretty, cobbled streets.
Day 8 - Starting: San Cristobal de las Casas & Finishing: San Cristobal de las Casas
Embark on a tour to the Mayan villages of San Juan Chamula and Zinacantan today. These villages, nestled in the highlands, serve as marketplaces and religious ceremonial centres for the indigenous people who live in the surrounding hills. The local people have retained their traditional way of life and are often seen dressed in their own distinctive colourful costumes. You will explore these villages with a guide and learn more about the culture and history of these mainly Mayan communities.
Day 9 - Starting: Palenque & Finishing: Palenque
You will depart San Cristobal de Las Casas and head for Palenque today. Enjoy some free time exploring the town when you arrive. Notes: Due to increased activity by the Zapatista movement in the region around Palenque, some changes to your itinerary may be necessary for your safety. The Zapatistas have recently been targeting tourists in order to draw attention to their cause. As a result, some transport to and from Palenque may need to be rerouted, which means longer travel times of up to 9 hours. Some activities, including visits to the Misol-Ha and Agua Azul waterfalls, will be unavailable until this situation is resolved. Alternative activities will be organised as required and explained to you by your tour leader at the welcome meeting. Currently there are no safety issues within the city of Palenque itself, or at the nearby Mayan archaeological site. We’re constantly monitoring this situation to ensure the safety of our passengers and leaders.
Day 10 - Starting: Palenque & Finishing: Palenque
Today you will visit the ruins of Palenque. These are situated on a hilltop in an area of hot jungle and are some of the most incredible Mayan ruins in the region, dating back as far as AD 600. Listen for the eerie calls of howler monkeys as they echo through the jungle while you're wandering around the site. Some ruins remain unexcavated and are hidden in the surrounding forest.
Day 11 - Starting: Campeche & Finishing: Campeche
Pack your swimsuit today as you drive north towards the Gulf of Mexico. On the way there you'll be stopping at the beach, so take this opportunity for a refreshing dip. Continue to Campeche, where you'll spend the night. Enjoy an orientation tour of the city and also visit the San Miguel Fort and museum. Campeche is a typical Spanish colonial harbour town, a UNESCO World Heritage site complete with walls and fortifications. Many of the town's buildings have been restored, and as a result it is one of the most picturesque towns in Mexico.
Day 12 - Starting: Merida & Finishing: Merida
Head for the ancient ruins of Uxmal this morning. Here you'll visit the amazing Palace of the Governors, considered by many to be the finest example of classic Mayan architecture, and the mystical Pyramid of the Magician, which consists of five super-imposed temples. Continue to Merida and take a tour of this 'white city'. Take in the splendour of its many colonial buildings and learn more about the Mayan heritage of the town.
Day 13 - Starting: Merida & Finishing: Merida
There will be plenty of time to explore the many sights of Merida and your guide will be able to recommend some good options, including the impressive Regional Anthropology Museum of the Yucatan and the shady Plaza Grande. At the latter you will find the 16th-century cathedral, City Hall, State Government Palace and Casa Mantejo. The outdoor market is another essential visit, with an array of hammocks and Mayan replicas for sale, plus a selection of enticing local cuisine, including the dish cochinita pibil ('little pig').
Day 14 - Starting: Chichen Itza – Playa del Carmen & Finishing: Chichen Itza – Playa del Carmen
Chichen Itza is your first stop today. This is arguably the most famous Mayan site in Mexico. Witness the magnificent Temple of Kukulkan which stands over the ruins. Not far from the temple is the ‘ball court’, where it is believed many disputes were settled in a game with combatants hitting a ball by using only their elbows, hips and wrists. You'll notice stone carvings depicting the violence of the play around the ball court walls, which suggest it was not such a casual sport. Following a guided tour of the site, continue to the resort town of Playa del Carmen. Here you can spend your time snorkelling among the mangroves, diving in underground caverns or strolling along the white sands. In the evenings, kick back and watch the waves with a margarita. For optional adventures further afield from here, take a ferry across the turquoise seas to Cozumel, an island famous for its reef diving.
Day 15 - Starting: Playa del Carmen & Finishing: Playa del Carmen
Your trip comes to an end after breakfast today.View Dates