Mayan Empires - 22 days
FROM USD $2,149
Take an exhilarating 22 day journey of discovery through Mexico, Guatemala and Belize. Kicking off in Cancun – Mexico’s famous beach resort, explore the incredible Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza, Palenque and Tikal, travel through vibrant colonial towns and breathtaking landscapes, soak up the scenery at beautiful Lake Atitlan, relax on Belize’s idyllic Caye Caulker island, enjoy some retail therapy at the colourful Chichi markets!
Day 1: Cancun
Hola Cancun! Make your own way to our joining hotel in Cancun and spend the remains of the day at leisure. Cancun is Mexico's prime holiday destination, attracting over 2 million visitors a year to its beautiful beaches and azure waters. Overnight - Cancun
Days 2 - 3: Chichen Itza
Cancun - Merida. Our Mexican exploration begins on day 2 with a tour of the famous Chichen Itza archaeological site - one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Chichen Itza was constructed between the 7th and the 10th Century AD and these incredible ruins are the best examples of Mayan architecture ever excavated. The highlight of our guided tour is the iconic El Castillo pyramid (aka the Pyramid of Kukulcan), which was dedicated to the feathered serpent god Kukulcan and built with such staggering precision that during the equinox the sunlight falls on the steps in such a way that a series of shadows form the shape of a serpents body which joins the stone-carved serpent's head at the bottom of the pyramid. Other sites of interest include the sacred cenote where treasures and the remains of human sacrifices have been discovered and a ball court where the captain of the winning team was beheaded!
Departing Chichen Itza we travel on to Merida, the capital of the Yucatan state. Known as the 'White City' Merida is an attractive town with colonial buildings, plazas and colourful markets which offer a wonderful array of handicrafts. Spend the next day at leisure exploring the town or choose from an exciting range of optional excursions including a free city tour, a hop on hop off bus tour and a Sound and Light show at the beautiful Mayan ruins of Uxmal.
Overnight - Merida
Mayan Empires - 22 days Go Guide
: :Check out the go guide for details of the tour, info on visas, climate, money, what to bring and more!
Days 4 - 5: Palenque Ruins
Merida - Palenque. On day 4 we travel south to Palenque in the state of Chiapas, where we spend the next two nights. Surrounded by the lush and colourful Chiapas jungle, Palenque is home to one of Mexico's most beautiful and important Mayan sites. The Palenque ruins include a series of hilltop temples, towers, tombs and pyramids and Palenque is famous for the discovery of tombs filled with treasure in honour of Lord Pakal and the Red Queen. Palenque highlights include the Temple of the Inscriptions, the Crypt, the Palace complex, the Temple of the Cross, the Temple of the Foliated Cross, and the Temple of the Sun which date back to 400-700 AD. Paths through the jungle will lead you to various temples.
Whilst in Palenque there is also an optional excursion to the beautiful Agua Azul Nature Reserve with its myriad of waterfalls, and the spectacular Misol-Ha waterfall with a 30 metre drop. Overnight - Palenque
Days 6 - 8: San Cristobal
Merida - San Cristobal. Ascending into the mountainous Chiapas region, in the heart of the highlands we arrive at the charming colonial city of San Cristobal de las Casas. San Cristobal is surrounded by 21 indigenous villages, each with their own distinct dress, customs and languages. Our 3 night stay here provides a fascinating insight into Mexico's indigenous culture. Brightly coloured red tiled houses dominate the city and there are several interesting museums to visit.
On day 7 enjoy a guided tour of the nearby villages where you can buy beautifully made local handicrafts and get a true feel for how modern descendents of the ancient Maya people live today and learn about their pre-Colombian beliefs and daily struggles.
Whilst in San Cristobal you can also opt to visit the stunning Sumidero Canyon, where you can spot sun-bathing crocodiles and other wildlife on a guided speedboat tour along the Grijalva river to the hydro-electric dam. Overnight - San Cristobal
Days 9 - 11: Panajachel
San Cristobal - Panajachel. Bidding farewell to Mexico on day 9 we cross the border into Guatemala at Ciudad Cuauhtemoc, en route to Panajachel. The journey takes us through spectacular scenery as we travel through the beautiful Guatemalan highlands towards the Pan American Highway and head down to Panajachel on the shores of Lake Atitlán, enjoying breathtaking views of the lake and its three volcanoes, San Pedro, Atitlán and Toliman.
Lake Atitlan is arguably one of the world's most beautiful lakes and the laid back lakeside town of Panajachel is an idyllic place for us to relax and enjoy the spectacular scenery. Spend your time at leisure in Panajachel. Go for a swim in the lake, enjoy lakeside sunset drinks, sample the towns many bars and restaurants or take an optional boat tour to some of the many surrounding villages. Overnight - Panajachel
Days 12 - 13: Antigua
Panajachel - Antigua. In the morning on day 12 we visit Chichicastenango - Guatemala's most famous market town. On market day, the local indigenous people, mostly descendents of the K'iche' Maya people, come down from the nearby hills in their masses to sell everything from kitchenware and handicrafts to jumpers and live turkeys! Here we can shop for souvenirs and enjoy the lively atmosphere before continuing our journey to Antigua.
The picturesque colonial town of Antigua cannot fail to enchant, with its cobbled streets, parks and plazas, convents, ornate churches and colourful street markets, all set against a spectacular backdrop of awe inspiring volcanoes. Here, the local indigenous people dressed in their colourful costumes can be found selling their crafts and textiles and as the cultural centre of Guatemala, Antigua is an ideal place to experience the traditional music, architecture and art of the country. Enjoy free time exploring Guatemala's most captivating city. Overnight - Antigua
Day 14: Rio Dulce
Antigua - Rio Dulce. We depart Antigua by mini van and drive to the riverside town of Rio Dulce where we overnight in cabins right on the water. In the afternoon we take a boat trip to Livingston, one of the most scenic areas of Guatemala. Livingston is a vibrant little town which is inhabited by the Garifuna people and has a uniquely Caribbean atmosphere. Overnight - Rio Dulce
Day 15: Tikal
Rio Dulce - Flores. Today we journey to the charming island-town of Flores which is located in the centre of Lake Peten Itza. From Flores we explore Tikal - the greatest city of the Maya world. Nestled deep in the jungle, this complex is one of the largest Maya sites discovered. Enjoy the remains of the day exploring this remarkable archaeological site and learning about the flora, fauna and Mayan history with our knowledgeable local guide. Overnight - Flores
Days 16 - 17: San Ignacio
Flores - San Ignacio. On day 16 we travel over the border into Belize, one of the smallest and most diverse countries in Central America. Our first port of call is San Ignacio, known as "Cayo" by the locals. San Ignacio is the adventure and nature capital of Belize and it's also the centre of agricultural. Surrounded by lush, wildlife rich jungle, waterfalls, rivers and caves, there's no shortage of optional activities to enjoy in Cayo, from canoeing downriver and tubing through caves, to visiting the famous caves Actun Tunichil Muknal. Overnight - San Ignacio
Days 18 - 19: Caye Caulker
San Ignacio - Caye Caulker. On day 18 we take a local bus through the centre of Belize to Belize City, where we catch a water taxi out to the Cayes (mangrove islands). Belize is renowned for it's laid back and relaxed pace of life and on the beautiful island of Caye Caulker we kick off our shoes and enjoy some R&R. Spend the evenings wandering the sand filled streets, spend the evenings eating seafood, drinking cocktails, and listening to reggae music in one of the bars.
On day 19, do as little or as much as you please. A range of optional activities are available from snorkelling and diving excursion
to taking a bike around the island, or enjoying a spot of fishing. Overnight - Caye Caulker
Day 20: Playa del Carmen
Caye Caulker - Playa del Carmen. Departing the island of Caye Caulker we take the ferry back to the mainland, cross back into Mexico and travel up the coast to the beautiful beach resort of Playa del Carmen, arriving late afternoon. Overnight - Playa del Carmen
Days 21 - 22: Cancun
Playa del Carmen - Cancun. Spend the morning at leisure in Playa del Carmen. Relax on a white sand beach or take advantage of one of the several interesting optional activities available in the area such as visiting the island of Cozumel or the amazingly located Maya/Toltec ruins of Tulúm. There are also many 'cenotes' in the area. Cenotes (se-note-tays) are fresh water swimming holes connected to underground limestone cave systems once sacred to the ancient Maya.
From Playa del Carmen it's only a one hour bus journey to Cancún where we spend our final night. On day 22 our adventure of a lifetime comes to an end. Cancun (1)