Visit three Central American countries in search of the most incredible Mayan sites as well as a few hidden treasures along the way. Each destination includes a visit to a different Mayan archaeological site, which have been hand-picked to provide you with an insight into the regional variations in settlements throughout the Yucatan peninsula.
A fabulous group tour taking in the fascination Yucatan Peninsula. This tour is ideal if you want to gain a deeper understanding of the Mayan history, culture and architecture so synonymous with the Yucatan region.
- Tulum ruins
- Tikal National Park, Guatemala
- Pre-Hispanic city of Palenque
- Ancient city of Uxmal
- Chichen Itza
- Cultural capital Merida
- Welcome dinner
Itinerary in Brief
- Tulum: 1 night
- Chetumal: 1 night
- Tikal National Park: 2 nights
- Palenque: 1 night
- Campeche: 1 night
- Merida: 1 night
- Optional Cancun/Riviera Maya Beach: 1-7 or more nights
Day 1: Tulum Your discovery of Central America’s Mayan past begins with a night on the breathtaking Tulum coast. Stay: Dreams Tulum (All Incl).
Day 2: Tulum to Chetumal This morning you will visit the first of the Mayan archaeological sites, the stunning coastal ruins of a former port city at Tulum. The combination of dramatic coastal landscapes, well preserved ruins and the turquoise waters of the Caribbean make this one of the most picturesque and popular attractions in Mexico. During a tour of the ruins you will witness the three most famous structures – the Temple of the Frescoes, the Temple of the Descending God and El Castillo – as well as smaller ruins of interest such as watch towers, gateways and some remains of the city wall. Continue on to the city of Chetumal, which sits close to the border between Mexico and Belize, and visit the Museum of Mayan Culture to gain a basic understanding of Mayan life which you will build on during the tour. This evening’s welcome dinner at a local restaurant provides the perfect opportunity to get to know your fellow travellers. (154 miles/approx. 5 hours travelling time). Stay: Capital Plaza Hotel Chetumal or similar. (B, D).
Day 3: Chetumal to Tikal National Park From Chetumal the group will cross the border into Belize and travel through this small nation’s interior towards border with Guatemala, where you will visit the Mayan site of Xunantunich. To reach this former ceremonial spot you will take a hand cranked ferry across the Mopan River, a charming way to begin a tour of one of the smaller Mayan sites you will visit. From the top of the main pyramid, El Castillo – which is reached by a 130 foot climb – you will be able to enjoy views over the jungle landscapes of Belize and neighbouring Guatemala. Following the border crossing the journey continues to your hotel for two nights, the Camino Real Tikal which sits on the northern shore of Lake Peten Itza. (Total 218 miles/approx. 7 hours travelling time). Stay: Camino Real Tikal or similar (B).
Day 4: Tikal National Park Today you will spend a full day at one of the America’s largest Mayan sites – the UNESCO-listed Tikal – one of the standout highlights of this tour. Set deep within the jungle of the Tikal National Park, this is an expansive site with approximately 3000 buildings, including temples and palaces, which are set out over 6 square miles. A knowledgeable guide will enlighten you as to how it developed from a small village into one of the most important pre-Columbian cities and home to an estimated 90,000 Mayan Indians in the 8th and 9th Centuries. Stay: Camino Real Tikal or similar (B, L).
Day 5: Tikal National Park to Palenque This morning you will travel west to reach the riverside archaeological site of Yaxchilan, which is today’s Mayan site. To reach the ruins you will take a 30 minute narrow-boat ride along the Usumacinta River, which marks the border between Guatemala and Mexico. Once the border crossing procedures are completed you will be able to explore this beautiful site, which has a real off-the-beaten-track quality. Yaxchilan means ‘green rocks’ and these mosscovered structures appear to be have swallowed up by the jungle. With a guide you will explore the complex of plazas and temples which boast beautifully preserved stone lintels, relief carvings and hieroglyphs. Upon leaving the ruins by boat you will continue by road to the town of Palenque (total 190 miles/approx. 7 hours travelling time). Stay: Hotel Mision Palenque or similar (B).
Day 6: Palenque to Campeche A visit to the pre-Hispanic city of Palanque is the focus today. Another set of ruins seemingly engulfed by the Central American jungle, Palanque dates back to the 3rd Century BC and reached its height in the late 8th Century AD when it was then completely abandoned to the encroaching jungle in the 10th Century. Although not as expansive as the site at Tikal these ruins are some of the most beautiful and elegant that you will see on the journey through Mexico, Belize and Guatemala. During the guided tour there will be a visit to the astronomic observatory, which it is believed was once used for stargazing and making astronomic predictions. This afternoon the tour will continue on to the west coast of the Yucatan Peninsula and the fortified port town of Campeche (223 miles/approx. 5 hours travelling time). Stay: Ocean View Hotel or similar (B).
Day 7: Campeche to Merida This morning the group will begin the journey to Merida, visiting the pre- Hispanic Town of Uxmal en route. Here you will witness a different style of architecture than you have seen so far on the tour. Discover the late-Mayan, ‘Puuc’ style buildings with their smooth, almost rounded walls, as well as a number of other fascinating and beautiful structures. This evening will be spent at leisure in the region’s cultural capital of Merida, exploring the enchanting historic colonial centre, discovering fantastic restaurants and bars and soaking up the atmosphere in the city’s main square (total 140 miles/ approx. 4 hours travelling time). Stay: Casa del Balam Hotel or similar (B).
Day 8: Merida to Cancun The tour comes to a close at the most famous and popular Mayan sites of them all – Chichen Itza. Believed by many to be the most important of the region’s pre-Hispanic cities, this is a fitting end to your exploration of the relics of the Mayan civilisation. Spend the morning discovering the ruins of this breathtaking sight, perhaps scaling the Pyramid of Kukulcan for the best views over the ruins. This afternoon you will travel onward to Cancun where the tour concludes. (B).
There is the option to fly via the USA and stop in Vegas, New York, Miami for example. We can also twin this with Mexico City.
We can also add nights before the start or at the end of the tour in Cancun or along the Riviera Maya.
Need to Know
- 4 ½ Star hotel in Tulum
- 3 Star hotels elsewhere
- International flights and transfers
- A local English-speaking tour guide
- A welcome dinner in Chetumal
- Entrance fees
- Meals as indicated (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner, ALL=All inclusive).
- For guests over the age of 16
- A maximum of 16 passengers.
This tour will only operate with a minimum number of participants, please speak to a Personal Travel Expert for details
Prices do not include border crossings. Approx. US$65 per person will be collected at the start of the tour.