The Mayan Trail - 22 days
Take an exhilarating 22 day journey of discovery through Mexico, Guatemala and Belize. Explore the incredible Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza, Palenque and Tikal, travel through vibrant colonial towns and breathtaking landscapes, soak up the scenery on beautiful Lake Atitlan and relax in idyllic Caye Caulker.
Saturday. Cancun - Playa del Carmen. Welcome to Mexico! Arrive into Cancun International Airport where you will be met and transferred to your hotel in Playa del Carmen. The rest of the day is free for you to explore this popular beach resort. Perhaps take a walk along the soft white sand and enjoy a swim in the crystal clear sea. Or enjoy refreshing cocktails and delicious Mexican food at the Quinta Avenida, in the heart of Playa del Carmen.
Overnight: Playa del Carmen
Playa del Carmen - Chichen Itza - Merida. This morning meet your guide and head to vibrant Valladolid. During a guided walking tour of the city, see beautiful colonial buildings as well as the cathedral Iglesia de San Servacio. Afterwards we travel on to explore 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). Then we travel on to Merida, which is the largest city of Yucatan and called 'the white city' due to its numerous magnificent buildings.
Overnight: Merida | Breakfast
Free time in Merida
There are no activities planned for today so you can choose to independently explore Merida or enjoy one of the optional activities which are offered. You can go diving in the mysterious and beautiful cenotes of Cuzama, or take a day tour to Celestun National Park, home to many spectacular tropical birds. There is so much to discover!
Overnight: Merida | Breakfast
Merida - Campeche. Today we leave Merida and travel onto the colonial city of Campeche. As you walk through the narrow streets of the old town, you will discover the fascinating stories and legends of pirates, conquistadors and the indigenous Maya. The city has conserved its huge bastions and ramparts which were formerly the city’s major defence from pirate attacks!
Overnight: Campeche | Breakfast
Campeche - Palenque. This morning we drive to Palenque and enjoy an informative guided tour of the Palenque Ruins in the afternoon. Surrounded by lush Chiapas jungle, Palenque represents tremendous achievements in Mayan art and urban design, and the ruins include a series of hilltop temples, towers, tombs and pyramids including the fascinating Temple of Inscriptions.
Overnight: Palenque | Breakfast
Palenque - Agua Azul - San Cristobal. Today we visit the waterfalls Agua Azul and Misol Ha, two of the most beautiful waterfalls in all of Mexico. After a refreshing swim in a natural pool, we continue to the highland town of San Cristobal de las Casas, surrounded by traditional villages. San Cristobal is at the heart of one of the most indigenous areas in Mexico and this is reflected in the art and culture throughout this fascinating town.
The following day we visit the village of San Juan Chamula which is one of several Tzotzil communities in the area. Here we learn more about ancient Mayan traditions and observe cultural rituals.
Overnight: San Cristobal | Breakfast x 2
San Cristobal - Panjachel (Guatemala). On day 8 we bid farewell to Mexico and travel into Guatemala. The journey takes us through spectacular scenery as we travel through the beautiful Guatemalan highlands towards the Pan American Highway and down to Panajachel on the northern shore of enchanting Lake Atitlan, enjoying breathtaking views of the lake and its three volcanoes, San Pedro, Atitlan and Toliman.
The following day we take a boat across Lake Atitlan to San Juan La Laguna. This town is much quieter than many of the other ones around the lake so it’s the perfect place to relax and enjoy the spectacular scenery or wander through the streets and shop for local handicrafts. In the evening we return to Panajachel.
Overnight: Panajachel | Breakfast x 2
Panajachel - Antigua. On day 10 we travel to Antigua, which was the cultural, economic, religious, political and educational centre for the entire region until the capital was moved. The afternoon and day 11 are free to explore this picturesque colonial city, which cannot fail to enchant, with its cobbled streets, parks and plazas, 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.
Overnight: Antigua | Breakfast x 2
Antigua - Rio Dulce. We enjoy scenic views of a tropical river as we travel from Antigua to the town of Rio Dulce on day 12. Rio Dulce (“Sweet River”) is located in the northeast region of Izabel and it's part of the much larger Izabal lake. A bridge connects Rio Dulce with a town called El Rellenos. We take a short, tranquil boat ride to our lodge, where we spend the next two nights in cabins on the water.
The next day is free to participate in optional activities. We recommend visiting the impressive citadel Castillo San Felipe, the ancient Mayan Ruins of Quirigua, the beautiful Finca Paraiso Hotspring- Waterfall and the Rio Dulce National Park.
Overnight: Rio Dulce | Breakfast x 2
Rio Dulce - Flores. Today we’re off to Flores, a beautiful island-town which is located in the centre of Lake Peten Itza. The afternoon is free to participate in optional activities like a visit to the Las Guacamayas Biological Station, the Mayan Ruins of Uaxactun, Ixpanpajul Nature Park, a round trip to Tzimin Chac to see the sunset, or just relax with a walk around the enchanting town.
Overnight: Flores | Breakfast
Flores - San Ignacio (Belize). This morning look forward to a guided tour of the breathtaking Tikal Ruins. Nestled deep in the jungle, this complex is one of the largest Maya sites discovered. It was excavated in 1956 and 1969 and much of the site is yet to be unearthed. Tikal was once the capital of a conquest state and one of the most powerful kingdoms of the ancient Maya. The temples, residences and religious monuments decorated in hieroglyphic inscriptions provide a long list of ruling dynasties with many tombs of the once-ruling kings.
This afternoon we bid farewell to Guatemala and cross the border into beautiful Belize, where we spend the next two nights in San Ignacio. Nestled between Guatemala, Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea, Belize is a constitutional monarchy that was originally called British Honduras. Blessed with beautiful beaches and lush rainforests as well as a thrilling colonial history and significant cultural diversity, Belize is sure to captivate you.
Overnight: San Ignacio | Breakfast
San Ignacio, or Cayo as it's called by the locals, is the adventure capital of Belize. There is nothing planned for today so you can partake in some of the many optional activities available here. San Ignacio is very close to Belize's famous Mayan ruins and offers plenty of exciting outdoor activities including caving, hiking, kayaking, horseback riding, and more!
Overnight: San Ignacio | Breakfast
San Ignacio - Caye Caulker. Today we travel to Belize´s capital where we take a water taxi to the small island of Caye Caulker. Belize is renowned for its laid back and relaxed pace of life and on the beautiful island of Caye Caulker, where their motto is "go Slow", we kick off our shoes and enjoy some R&R.
Make the most of the following day on the island, there are many things to do. You could visit one of the other Cayes or take a snorkelling trip to the stunning corals where you can see tropical fish, nurse sharks and manta rays to name a few. Another recommended excursion is to the Hol Chan Marine Reserve where you will find the incredible world famous Blue Hole and the world's second longest barrier reef. Caye Caulker is excellent for manatee spotting, a popular activity seeing these passive creatures. If exploring is not your thing you can just relax by the beautiful turquoise waters. Snorkel tours and dive boats leave daily for full or half day tours to the reef. There are also plenty of places to shop and to try the local food.
Overnight: Caye Caulker | Breakfast x 2
Caye Caulker - Laguna Bacalar. After breakfast we take a scenic boat ride to the Mexican Chetumal before continuing by bus to the beautiful Laguna Bacalar, the second largest lake in Mexico. The rest of the afternoon is yours to relax and explore the seven cenotes that feed into the lake.
Overnight: Laguna Bacalar | Breakfast
Playa del Carmen
Laguna Bacalar - Tulum - Playa del Carmen. After breakfast on day 20 we make our way to Playa del Carmen stopping off at the beautiful Cliffside Mayan city of Tulum where we have a chance to visit the famous ruins and immerse ourselves in the archaeological and colonial importance this city has to offer. We then continue our journey to Playa del Carmen, where you can spend some time at the beach or exploring the local area.
The next day is free to enjoy the white sand beach of Playa del Carmen, take a day tour, or just go shopping on 5th avenue. Enjoy your last full day, soaking up the vibrant Mexican atmosphere!
Overnight: Playa del Carmen | Breakfast x 2
Playa del Carmen
Saturday. Our tour comes to an end today and it’s time to return home. Arrangements end after breakfast and hotel check out. We can book a transfer to Cancun Airport upon request or some extra nights if you still do not want to leave!
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 and needs to be added to the 'Twin/Double' price.Read More
The hotels listed below are ones which we frequently use on this tour. We reserve the right to substitute these hotels to ones of a similar standard when necessary.
Hotel Playa del Carmen by H&A, Playa del Carmen
Just minutes from the beach is Hotel Playa del Carmen. Combining modern comforts with a typical Mexican atmosphere, the hotel features several balconies overlooking a large inner courtyard and swimming pool. Each air-conditioned guestroom provides a private bathroom and kitchenette, with a microwave and coffee maker. You can dine on traditional Mexican or tasty international cuisine in the hotel restaurant, or enjoy a refreshing cocktail at the poolside bar. And there’s no shortage of evening activities, with Spanish lessons, salsa classes, movie nights and more to keep you entertained.
Hotel Dolores Alba Merida, Merida
Set in a colonial mansion in the historical district of Merida, is the charming Hotel Dolores Alba. Its guestrooms overlook a central courtyard and swimming pool, whilst its delightful corridors are filled with masterpieces by Frida Kahlo. Once inside, each comfortable guestroom offers air conditioning, a private bathroom and a TV. A buffet breakfast is served al fresco, with traditional Mexican cuisine on offer for lunch and dinner. And the friendly staff are always on hand to help you during your stay.
Plaza Colonial, Campeche
This bright colonial-style hotel is set in the historic centre of Campeche, within walking distance of the Cathedral, X’much-haltún Botanical Gardens and the Malecon. Each of the guestrooms feature colourful modern interiors, with modern amenities including air conditioning, a flat screen TV and wireless internet. Alongside its ideal location, the hotel also boasts a vibrant inner courtyard with an outdoor pool. Spend an afternoon lounging in the sun here, then head out to explore in the evening - you’ll find plenty of bars and restaurants close by.
Hotel Tulija Express, Palenque
Set next to Chulavista Square, the Tulija Express offers an excellent location in Palenque close to the Mayan ruins. Its guestrooms are comfortable and air-conditioned, with a private bathroom and coffee maker. To keep you entertained there’s a games room and an outside pool with a sundeck, where you can lounge and spend an afternoon soaking up the rays. The on-site restaurant also serves a mix of traditional Mexican and American dishes, so you can look forward to a delightful meal after a day's exploring.
Hotel Santo Tomas, San Cristobal
Set in Cuxtitali district of San Cristobal, Hotel Santo Tomas offers rustic guestrooms set around a pretty green lawn. Each room is comfortable and spacious, featuring a work desk, fireplace, private bathroom and views out to the garden. The hotel’s location just out of the centre ensures a peaceful stay, whilst attractions such as the Central Plaza and San Cristobal Cathedral are still within walking distance. And if you need any assistance during your visit, you can rely on the hotel's friendly staff to help you out.
Hotel Kamol Bey, Panajachel
The perfect base to explore Lake Atitlan, Hotel Kamol Bey offers a quiet yet central location within Panajachel. Guestrooms are spread over two levels, facing a landscaped garden with lush greenery and colourful flower baskets. You’ll find the rooms to be clean and comfortable, featuring a TV and private bathroom with hot water. Relax in the gardens or spend an evening on the hotel’s roof terrace, you’re bound to enjoy the cool evening breeze and wonderful views over the lake.
Los Búcaros, Antigua
Set in a quiet area of pretty cobbled streets, Los Búcaros oozes colonial charm. Converted from a 150-year-old residence, the hotel presents three inner courtyards complete with its namesake – los Búcaros. These bright semi-circular fountains are set into the walls and surrounded by tropical plants, creating a lush oasis where you can relax to the sound of the flowing water. Inside, the guestrooms feature pastel walls and high wood-beam ceilings. Complete with private bathrooms, a TV and free WiFi, you’ll find everything you need for a comfortable stay.
Hacienda Tijax, Rio Dulce
The perfect accommodation for nature lovers, Hacienda Tijax features a marina and wood cabins set amongst lush jungle. Connected by wooden pathways and bridges over a river, many of the cabins stand on stilts in the water. Once inside, the rooms are simple yet comfortable, featuring hot water showers. Guests can relax by the pool or check out the on-site restaurant. With a mix of tasty vegetarian, Italian and seafood dishes, there’s something for everyone. Two bars also offer a variety of refreshing cocktails to sip on as you admire this unique jungle setting.
Hotel Casona de la Isla, Flores
With a stunning lakeside setting on Flores Island, Casona de La Isla boasts some of the best sunsets in Guatemala. Its air-conditioned guestrooms offer views of the hotel patio, pool or lake, and feature private bathrooms, a TV and free WiFi. Enjoy the pleasant atmosphere of the hotel’s bar and restaurant, which serves a tasty continental breakfast. And after a day's travelling, there's nothing better than relaxing in the outdoor pool or Jacuzzi and soaking up those views in the sunshine.
Hotel Midas Resort, San Ignacio
Surrounded by lush rainforest, this pretty resort complex is set on a 7-acre garden by the Macal River. Accommodation is arranged in charming cabins, with each villa and suite featuring bright decor and a terrace. Guests can enjoy a dip in the outdoor pool and hot tub, or take a visit to the nearby caves and Mayan ruins. Take time to enjoy the lush natural surrounds during your stay, the gardens are a resting place for tropical birds such as the iconic Toucan.
Hotel Enjoy, Caye Caulker
Centrally located on Caye Caulker, Hotel Enjoy boasts a great location within walking distance of the island’s shops and restaurants. Its air-conditioned guestrooms feature all the amenities needed to enjoy your stay, including a flat-screen TV, free WiFi and private bathroom. There are also BBQ grills available and a 24-hour front desk, where you can always expect a friendly greeting from the hotel's helpful team of staff.
Villas Ecotucan, Laguna Bacalar
Set on the shores of Laguna Bacalar, Villas Ecotucan provides eco-friendly accommodation in the form of private thatch-roofed cabins. Made from local materials, each cabin features a private bathroom, mosquito nets and views of the forest. They are also powered by solar panels. Guests can enjoy a regional buffet for breakfast or dine on tasty Caribbean cuisine for dinner. Activities include hiking the two-kilometre jungle trail or climbing the bird watching tower, which offers fantastic views over the lagoon. Down by the water are hammocks and a BBQ, but if you head there early enough you'll also catch a beautiful sunrise.