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Mexico City + San Cristobel to Yucatan overland


XPA14C
12 NIGHTS
FROM £2,795
Per person sharing
International flights quoted separately
This private tour explores the archaelogical treasures of Mexico City and the Yucatan Peninsula, travelling from San Christobal via Palenque and Campeche to the Riviera Maya. Visit Mayan villages and several key archaeological sites, including Chichen Itza, before relaxing on the turquoise beaches of the Riviera Maya. English speaking guide, all transfers & excursions included.
Private tours to Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula including San Cristobal in Chiapas, Campeche and Riviera Maya
• 
Texla
• 
Sumidero Canyon
• 
San Cristobal
• 
Mayan Villages
• 
Palenque Temple Ruins
• 
Campeche
• 
Chichen Itza
• 
Tulum
• 
Riviera Maya beaches
• 
Xplore Adventure Park
• 
Texla
• 
Sumidero Canyon
• 
San Cristobal
• 
Mayan Villages
• 
Palenque Temple Ruins
• 
Campeche
• 
Chichen Itza
• 
Tulum
• 
Riviera Maya beaches
• 
Xplore Adventure Park
Day 1
Arrive at Mexico City Airport where you will be met and transferred to this high altitude city, that is the oldest capital in the Americas and one of the largest cities in the world.
 
Check into your hotel and embrace this colourful and vibrant city, originally established by the Aztec Indians (the 'Mexica').
Day 2
Today enjoy a half day tour of the highlights of Mexico City.
 
At the heart of the city is the Zócalo (or Plaza de la Constitución), a huge central square built by the conquering Spanish over the ceremonial centre of the vanquished Aztec city of Tenochtitlán. Ruins of the 13th century Templo Mayor can be seen here, as well as the baroque Metropolitan Cathedral built by the Spanish and the National Palace, which houses historic murals by the famous Mexican painter Diego Rivera. There is a dense concentration of museums and art galleries in this area.
 
West of the Zócalo the historic centre stretches through the main commercial district, past the National Art Museum to the Tower of Latin America skyscaper and the Palace of Fine Arts, with its magnificent Art Deco interior. Both overlook Alameda Central Park, which is the oldest public park in Mexico.
Day 3
This morning we travel 1-hour to the mysterious Teotihuacan Pyramids, ancient archaelogical ruins that are a UNESCO World Heritate site. This enormous city was built in 300 BC but was inexplicably abandoned centuries before the arrival of the Aztecs, who called it the Birthplace of the Gods. This is one of the most impressive archaeological sites in the Americas and includes the third largest pyramid in the world, constructed according to precise astronomical measurements and filled with sacrificial victims.
 
You can climb the magnificent Pyramids of the Sun and Moon and view the Butterflies Temple, the Avenue of the Dead and Temple of Quetzalcoatl. Admire the majestic plazas and stone temples, covered with stone statues and faded murals
 
On our way back to Mexico City, we visit the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe - one of the most important Catholic pilgrimage sites on the American continent. Lunch is included today.
 
Note: There is the option of an early morning hot air balloon ride over the pyramids, but this must be pre-booked. Try and avoid visiting the pyramids on a Sunday, as it is free for locals so very crowded.
Day 4
At leisure to independently explore the sights of colourful Mexico City.
 
The world class National Museum of Anthropology in Chapultepac Park is not to be missed, with its many ancient Olmec, Aztec, Mayan and other pre-Colombian artefacts - including the Stone of the Sun (the Aztec calendar stone) and the statue of Xochipilli. Chapultepec Castle is nearby.
 
The Palace of Fine Arts with its magnificent dome is well worth a visit, as well as the historic Frida Kahlo Art Museum (or Blue House) dedicated to her work. With its numerous world class museums, dramatic art murals, thriving music scene and exploding culinary scene, in Mexico City you will be spoilt for choice.
 
You can also enjoy a boat ride on a colourful 'trajinera' through the canals of Xochimilco, a small village south of the city. These canals are all that is left of the lake on which Mexico City was originally built, and will give you an interesting cultural glimpse into modern urban life.
 
Note: Try and avoid visiting museums on a Sunday, as they are free for locals so very crowded.
Day 5
Transfer to Mexico City Airport for your onward flight.

You will be met at Tuxtla Gutiérrez Airport and transferred 1.5-hours to San Cristobal, one of Mexico's oldest colonial cities situated in the Central Highlands.
 
Along the way we stop at Sumidero Canyon and enjoy a boat ride on the dam, where you may see crocodiles, monkeys and abundant birdlife.
 
We continue to San Cristobal, which is also known by its native name of Jovel. Nestled in a small valley surrounded by hills, it is the cultural capital of the state of Chiapas.
Day 6
This morning we explore the charming colonial city of San Cristobal de la Casas, which has a local market where hundreds of indigenous people sell their textiles and handicrafts. We admire the beautiful baroque Santo Domingo church, founded in 1547 and view the red-tiled houses and narrow winding streets.
 
We then head to two indigenous towns nearby. In San Juan Chamula we visit a church where the blending of pre-Hispanic traditions and Catholicism is evident in its rituals and where ceremonies are held to counter the influence of paganism.
 
The village of San Lorenzo Zinacantán is known for its traditional textiles and indigenous population. The men wear pink/red jackets with embroidery and tassels, and the women wear vivid pale-blue shawls and navy skirts. Every day at midday, the women prepare a communal meal that the men eat in shifts.
 
In these villages you can see back-strap weaving, the making of tortilla and many other aspects of village life. You can enjoy a simple but tasty meal cooked on a hotplate over an open fire and sample local tortilla. If you are adventurous also try a shot of 'pox' - a very strong local alcohol made from sugarcane flavoured with cinnamon and hibiscus flower.
 
Note: Please be aware it is regarded as very disrespectful to take photographs of indigenous people without their permission. They are particularly sensitive to inappropriate dress, so don’t wear shorts or revealing clothing. In Chamula you are not allowed to take photos inside the church.
Day 7
Today we leave San Christobal and drive 5-hours along a mountain road to Palenque, the largest Mayan city ever discovered in Mexico with some of the countries best Mayan temples.
 
Along the way we stop at the Agua Azul Waterfall (or 'Blue Water Fall'), with its turquoise waters and crystal clear swimming pools, where a boxed lunch is included. Here you can swim in its bright blue waters.
 
We continue to Palenque situated deep in the dense jungle far from the outside world, giving it a wonderful atmosphere.
 
Note: Agua Azul Waterfall is closed from September to November, when you will visit the Toniná Archeological site instead.
Day 8
This morning we visit the famous Palenque Ruins enclosed by the Chiapanecan jungle, before driving 5-hours to the colonial city of Campeche.
 
Palenque is a relatively small archaelogical site dating from around 226 BC to 799 AD, but it contains some of the finest architecture, sculpture, roof comb and bas-relief carvings that the Mayans ever produced and much of their history has been reconstructed from reading the hieroglyphic inscriptions on these monuments. The most famous ruler of Palenque was Pakal the Great, whose tomb containing his astonishing jade green death mask has been excavated in the Temple of the Inscriptions. Less than 10% of this ancient city has been excavated so far, leaving over a thousand structures still to be discovered.  
 
Afterwards we drive through the pretty fishing village of Sabancuy to Campeche, with its captivating port filled with naval history, baroque Spanish architecture and aging beauty. After nearly a century of invasion by French, Dutch and English pirates, this city was fortified by the Spanish in 1686 and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site with over 1,000 buildings of historical significance. It is one of the most photogenic cities in Mexico.
Day 9
This morning we leave Campeche and travel 4-hours to Mérida, the cultural capital of the Yucatán Peninsula since the Spanish conquest.
 
Along the way we stop at Uxmal (meaning 'built in three stages'), an ancient Mayan city known for its rounded architecture, intricate latticework and palaces arranged around patios and courtyards. These homes are richly sculptured and decorated with thousands of small polished stones, set in geometric mosaics. The key buildings on this archaeological site include the Fortune Teller’s Pyramid, the Governor’s Palace and the Quadrangle of the Nuns.
 
We continue to Mérida - today known as the 'White City'. This is a town steeped in history with narrow streets, broad central plazas, thriving markets and the region’s best museums. It has colonial houses as well as homes that date back to the beginning of the last century in Arabic, French and Italian styles, thanks to the wealth generated from the sisal trade.
Day 10
This morning enjoy a half day private tour of the historical centre of Mérida.
 
From the Zócalo (main square) you can admire some of the city’s most important buildings - the Cathedral, Government Palace, Municipal Palace and Francisco Montejo’s House.
 
Don’t miss the 'Monument to the Homeland', a wonderful sculpture that tells the story of the Yucatan and the country on its carved stone surfaces, before heading down El Paseo de Montejo, a beautiful wide avenue modelled on the Champs Elysees in Paris, with many grand colonial buildings.
Day 11
Today we leave Merida and drive 4.5-hours to Tulum on the spectacular Mayan Riviera.
 
 Along the way we visit Mexico's most well known archaeological site - famous Chichen Itza (meaning 'Entrance to the Witches Well'). The focal point of the Northern Mayan lowlands empire from AD 600 until AD 1200, this city had the most diverse population in all the Mayan world. Therefore there are a wide variety of architectural styles at this site.
 
The most spectacular structure is El Castillo Pyramid (or Kukulcán Temple) with its rich cosmological symbolism - it has 365 steps (number of days in a solar year), 52 rectangles (years in a Mayan century) and 18 terraces (months of their religious calendar). During the spring and autumn equinox, its ingenious structure results in the sun creating the illusion of a serpent crawling down the steps of the pyramid - making it one of the great wonders of the ancient world. Other structures include the enormous Ball Court, the Observatory, Temple of a Thousand Columns, Warrior’s Temple, Convent of the Nuns, El Mercado (market place) and the Sacred Cenote (pool) where human sacrifices were carried out.
 
Afterwards we continue to your beach resort at Tulum, where you will be dropped off at your hotel. Check in and relax on the shores of the Caribbean Sea with its warm turquoise waters, sandy beaches and wonderful snorkelling and diving.
Day 12
At leisure to relax at your tropical resort on the spectacular Mayan Riviera, lapped by the crystal clear turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea.
 
The Great Mayan Reef (Mesoamerican Barrier Reef) stretches from the tip of the Yucatán Peninsula to the islands off the coast of Honduras and is the largest coral reef in the northern hemisphere. Hundreds of species of fish and many endangered and protected marine animals are found here – including Loggerhead, Leatherback, Green, Hawksbill and Olive Ridley sea turtles, and West Indian manatees – making this a paradise for snorkelling and diving. It is possible to swim with Whale sharks from April to September.
 
There are many optional activities in this holiday town, including day visits to snorkel at Xel-Ha waterpark (the largest natural aquarium in the world); zip lining at Xplor adventure park; visits to the famous archaeological sites at Tulum, Chichen Itza or Coba; the Mayan caves in Aktun Chen; Sian Ka'anor biosphere reserve and the Xcaret cultural theme park.
 
Try a Mayan spa treatment or simply stroll along the beach and absorb the holiday atmosphere of this town with its wide variety of bars, restaurants and shops.
Day 13
Transfer 2-hours to Cancun Airport for your flight home.
 
Note: Your driver will be Spanish-speaking.

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