Footsteps of the Mayans - 13 days
From the beautiful beaches of Playa del Carmen and the legendary Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza and Palenque, to the Guatemalan Highlands and vibrant Chichi markets. Take a memorable 13 day journey through Mexico and Guatemala, culminating in colonial Antigua – one of Central America’s most enchanting cities.
Cancun to Playa del Carmen
Welcome to Mexico! Arrival transfer from Cancun airport to Playa del Carmen, a beachside paradise only one hour south of Cancun. The first day of the tour is simply an arrival day with no pre-organised activities. We recommend booking extra nights to enjoy the paradise beaches as well as the optional activities including the Maya ruins at Tulum.
Overnight: Playa del Carmen
Playa del Carmen - Merida. We begin our journey on day 2 with a tour of the legendary 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. Chichen Itza's crowning glory is the towering 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!
After exploring the ancient ruins of 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. The next day is free to wander around 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 | Breakfast x 1
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 | Breakfast x 2
Palenque - San Cristobal. We travel up into the highlands on day 6 to the colonial city of San Cristobal de las Casas in the mountainous region of Chiapas. Around San Cristobal there are several fascinating and unique 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.
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 | Breakfast x 3
San Cristobal - Panajachel. On day 9 we cross the border into Guatemala at Ciudad Cuauhtemoc, en route to Panajachel. The scenery is breathtaking 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 incredible 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. We enjoy free time relaxing in Panajachel. Take a dip 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 | Breakfast x 3
Panajachel - Antigua. On the morning of day 12 we visit Chichicastenango - Guatemala's vibrant 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! There's the opportunity to barter for some last minute souvenirs and enjoy the lively atmosphere before continuing our journey to Antigua, the final stop on our adventure.
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 some free time exploring Guatemala's most captivating city.
Sadly our exciting journey through Mexico and Guatemala comes to an end of day 13 after hotel check out. If you'd like to explore Antigua consider extending your stay with some post tour accommodation.
Breakfast x 2
Prices & Dates
Prices shown are per person travelling. 'Twin/Double' prices per person apply when there are 2 people travelling, sharing a room. The 'Single supplement' applies for single travellers who require their own room and needs to be added to the 'Twin/Double' price. If you are happy to be paired up with another single traveller of the same sex on your tour, this can be arranged, thus avoiding the single person supplement.Read More
The tour and our guide were FANTASTIC. I have traveled around the world and this was one of my best tours ever! I understand that you have an award for the best tour guide and Lisa gets my vote. Every restaurant she chose (and I am a picky eater) and every excursion she told us about was great. Thank you so much for a wonderful needed holiday and the next time I travel with a tour I would definitely look into your company first. Happy holidays!”