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Best of Mexico


Raise a margarita glass to the beauty and culture of Mexico on this in-depth 15-day adventure. Discover Maya history at the incredible Chichen Itza ruins and visit indigenous communities near the charming San Cristobal de las Casas. Indulge in a traditional Pibil feast with a Maya family and learn about Zapotec culture over lunch in a local home. Stroll the charming streets of Merida, be charmed by the alebrijes of Oaxaca and chill out on the beaches of Playa del Carmen. From museums and ruins to canyons and waterfalls, this journey will give you a taste of Mexico’s best.

15 days, from

$3,933

per person

GROUP SIZE

12 people max

ACTIVITY LEVEL

 
2
Trip code: QVKD
Style: Comfort
Theme: Explorer

Details

Countries Visited:  Mexico
Accommodation: Hotel (14 nights)
Transportation: Private vehicle
Included Meals:

  • 14 breakfasts
  • 3 lunches
  • 1 dinners

Group size: Minimum 1, Max 12

  • This is one of our most comprehensive adventures in Mexico, covering historical and cultural highlights from Mexico City through to the Caribbean coast.

  • Take a step way way back during enlightening guided tours through the ancient ruins of Chichen Itza, Teotihuacan, Palenque and Mitla.

  • Get a taste of Maya culture during a homecooked Pibil lunch with a local family, sampling this traditional method of cooking which involves barbecuing food underground.

  • Explore the Maya communities surrounding San Cristobal de las Casas and learn about local culture, religion and the traditional way of life retained in the highlands.

  • Discover the mighty Sumidero Canyon on board a guided boat tour, cruising below the canyon’s towering walls and spotting wildlife along the way.

Itinerary

Show Full Itinerary

Day 1: Mexico City

Bienvenidos, welcome to Mexico City! On arrival, take a complimentary transfer from the airport to your hotel. If you have time, perhaps take a stroll to get a feel for this vibrant and rapidly growing capital where the ancient and modern collide. You'll meet your leader and other members of your group this evening for a welcome meeting at 6pm – until then, the day is yours. After the welcome meeting you may like to head out with your leader for an optional group dinner, an opportunity to get stuck straight into the many local culinary delights!

Day 2: Mexico City

Get to know Mexico City during a guided tour with your leader. Visit the Metropolitan Cathedral, the largest and one of the oldest cathedrals in Latin America. You’ll also explore Zocalo, the city’s main square, and the sprawling National Palace, where you can check out murals by famous Mexican painter Diego Rivera. Your tour also includes a visit to the Museum of Anthropology, home to an impressive collection of 600,000 pieces of Mexican art and artifacts. After the tour, the day is yours to spend as you please. The Leon Trotsky and Frida Kahlo (La Casa Azul) museums are two popular sights worth checking out as an optional activity. Trotsky, having come off second-best to Stalin in the race to the helm during the Soviet era, was expelled and found refuge in Mexico City where he was eventually murdered, while Frida Kahlo is perhaps the most renowned Mexican artist in history. Otherwise, just outside of the city, a visit to the colourful floating gardens of Xochimilco makes for an enjoyable afternoon.

Day 3: Puebla

Depart Mexico City this morning and visit the ancient Teotihuacan ruins, once one of the biggest cities in the world. Meet with a local guide and discover the amazing ruins known as the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon which dominate the skyline. Stroll down ‘The Avenue of the Dead’ and see the clues to what life was like here nearly 2000 years ago. Continue to the city of Puebla, learning some useful Spanish phrases from your leader on the way. On arrival to Puebla, join your leader for an orientation walk to get your bearings and explore the beautifully preserved city centre. Puebla is known for its delicious food scene and your leader will have tips on the best places to dine on local specialties this evening.

Day 4: Oaxaca

Say adios to Puebla and carry on to Oaxaca. This beautiful city is known for its colonial architecture, cuisine and lively art scene, but it's also a great place to browse for traditional Mexican handicrafts, with descendants of the Zapotec and Mixtec selling an array of bright woven blankets and shawls. Upon arrival, your leader will take you on a short walk to help orientate you, and to point out useful services such as bus stops or ATMs.

Day 5: Oaxaca

Recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Oaxaca has so much to offer travellers, and you’ll spend the whole day exploring the city and its surrounds. Set off with your leader this morning, first stopping at the Mitla archaeological ruins, once the religious centre for the Zapotec people. Next up is a visit to the famous Tule Tree, a 1500-year-old Montezuma cypress with a 36-metre circumference, making it one of the widest in the world. Lunch today will be at the home of a local Zapotecan family where you’ll have the chance to try traditional dishes and learn about the culture of the indigenous Zapotec people. Returning to the hotel this evening – you may like to head out to enjoy Oaxaca’s nightlife.

Day 6: Oaxaca

Today is a free day to explore Oaxaca at your own pace, with a range of optional activities to consider. You may like to dig into Oaxaca’s celebrated cuisine during a hands-on cooking class. Or perhaps pay a visit to the archaeological site of Monte Alban. The Zapotec civilisation began construction of this city around 200 BC, and Olmecs and Mixtecs have inhabited it at different times. Have your camera ready to go, because up here you can get an amazing view across the three legs of the valley of Oaxaca. Otherwise, enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of the streets and take the opportunity to feast on some regional delicacies. Season depending, a folkloric ballet performance is also a great optional activity. The Santo Domingo Cultural Centre is also well worth a visit.

Day 7: Salina Cruz

Today is a travel day, so buckle up and enjoy the ever-changing scenery of the Oaxaca region. Your destination is Salina Cruz, a city on the Pacific coast. Your journey will be broken up with stops so you can pick up local fruit and snacks along the way. On arrival to Salina Cruz, you may like to stretch your legs with a walk along the beach.

Day 8: San Cristobal de las Casas

Your journey continues as you drive to the Sumidero Canyon, a gigantic natural canyon with walls reaching as high as 1,000 metres. Here you’ll hop aboard a boat for an up close and personal tour of this remarkable landscape. Be sure to keep an eye (or an ear) out for howler monkeys along the way! After your boat tour, drive to the charming city of San Cristobal de las Casas. Once in 'San Cris', as it's known, take a walk and soak up the strong old-world atmosphere of this town, which is due in no small part to the grand Spanish colonial architecture, prominent indigenous cultures and winding cobblestone streets. Your leader will help orientate you with a walk around the hotel, then you are free to venture further into the city.

Day 9: San Cristobal de las Casas

This morning, your leader will take you on a walking tour of the city, passing impressive cathedrals, green plazas and countless museums. Next, head to the nearby Maya village of San Juan Chamula. Nestled in the highlands, this village serves as a marketplace and religious ceremonial centre for the indigenous communities who live in the surrounding hills. The local people have retained their traditional way of life and can often be seen wearing their own distinctive, colourful clothes. Make the short drive to the next town of Zincantan. As you explore with your leader, you'll learn more about these mostly Maya communities. Later, during free time back in San Cris, perhaps rent a bike to explore the town further.

Day 10: Palenque

Say goodbye to San Cristobal de Las Casas as you head for Palenque and its surrounding jungle. It will be an early start to minimise the chance of hitting road closures common in the area. There will be a stop or two to stretch your legs, before arriving at the low and wide Agua Azul Waterfalls, which flow slowly over limestone rocks. There's time for lunch and a quick dip, so remember to pack your swimsuit! Otherwise, enjoy a scenic stroll around the beautiful surroundings, before continuing to Palenque. A group dinner is included tonight.

Day 11: Palenque

Set out this morning to the archaeological site of Palenque. Located on a hilltop in an area of hot jungle, these are some of the most astounding Maya ruins in the region, dating back as far as AD600. Some of the ruins remain unexcavated and are hidden in the surrounding forest. Enjoy a guided tour of the site and listen out for the calls of howler monkeys as you explore this lost city. After your tour, head back to your hotel in the more modern city of Palenque and perhaps spend the afternoon relaxing by the pool.

Day 12: Merida

Settle in for another driving day as you travel from Palenque to the historic city of Merida. Founded in 1542, Merida is the capital of the Yucatan state and has retained much of its old-world charm. After the drive, stretch your legs with an orientation walk with your leader where you’ll have the chance to check out the city’s colonial buildings and learn about its Maya heritage.

Day 13: Merida

Today is a free day to explore the many sights of Merida. Perhaps visit some of the museums, including the impressive Regional Anthropology Museum of the Yucatan, and stroll the city streets which are alive with art and culture. Hang out in the green and shady Plaza Grande, with the 16th-century cathedral on one side and City Hall, State Government Palace and Casa Mantejo on the other. 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') or the incredibly spicy El Yucateco hot sauce. If you can't visit enough Maya sites, you may want to head for the ancient ruins of Uxmal. Here you'll visit the amazing Palace of the Governors, considered by many to be the best example of classic Maya architecture. You may choose to travel west out to the coast to take a boat ride and visit the Celestun Bird Sanctuary and Biosphere Reserve. Here, near extensive beaches lined with coconut trees, you'll see a variety of coastal birds. Depending on the season (usually November to March), you may be able to witness the magnificent sight of thousands of flamingos painting a pink streak across the landscape.

Day 14: Playa del Carmen

Your first stop today is Chichen Itza, possibly the most famous Maya site in Mexico. You'll see the marvellous Temple of Kukulkan standing over the ruins and not far from the temple is the ‘ball court’, where many disputes are known to have been settled by way of a ball game that employed only the elbows, hips and wrists. Stone carvings depicting violence suggest it was not such a casual sport. Following a guided tour of the site, enjoy a special lunch with a local family in the town of Piste. Tuck into a traditional Pibil feast, a Maya style of cooking that involves barbecuing underground, which the family have perfected over generations. Finally, continue to the popular seaside town of Playa del Carmen, where you may like to join your group for a final dinner together.

Day 15: Playa del Carmen

With no activities planned for today, you are free to leave the accommodation at any time. If you wish to spend more time in Playa del Carmen, we'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).