Tours

Mexico-Maya-Chichen-Itza
CancunEk BalamChichen ItzaCeramic skulls, Chichen ItzaChichen ItzaUxmalUxmal, YucatanPalace of the masks, KabahLabna PalaceCampeche CathedralCampeche CityCalakmulCalakmulRuins of the ancient city of BecanPalenqueStreet food market, San Cristobel de Las CasasCathedral in San Cristobel de Las CasasMayan Clothes, San Cristobel de Las Casas

Maya Mexico

It is the blend, and sometimes the clash, of native and European heritages that makes Mexico such a fascinating place. Although Maya civilizations have perished, the unique culture and traditions are still ever present throughout the region – allowing us to take a journey through a land which oozes history.

December 1 – 14, 2018 (14 Days)
$6,995 (£5,595) – exc. international airfare
Single supp: $1,150 (£920)
Deposit: $250 (£200)
All meals included

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Tour Description

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

  • Encounter incredible sites, including the ruins of Calakmul, also known as the “Kingdom of the Snake” situated in thick jungle.
  • Take a picturesque river trip on the Río Usumacinta, surrounded by a forest of trees draped with vines and orchids.

  • Discover Uxmal, the most spectacular ancient Maya city in the Yucatán peninsular.
  • Be on the look-out for colorful parrots and macaws flying overhead and monkeys scampering through the trees of the nature reserves we pass through.

LED BY

Dec 2018
Prof William Saturno

2018 ITINERARY

DAY 1: CANCÚN
We make our way to the seaside city of Cancún, a place known to its Mayan inhabitants as Nizuc – a word which translates to “promontory” or “point of grass”. These days the area is famed for its sandy beaches and azure seas. There is time to explore or relax in the city this afternoon, before the group comes together for a fantastic first night’s dinner.
Hotel: Fiesta Americana Condensa, Cancún.

DAY 2: CANCÚN
Our second day begins with an engaging lecture from our Guide Scholar, followed by a trip to the Museo Maya de Cancún. This brilliant museum holds a priceless collection of Yucatán artifacts, including ceramics and jewelry, as well as exhibits on the modern-day Mayan community.

From here we head to the ruins of Ek’ Balam, a once flourishing Mayan kingdom swathed in jungle, where we find a selection of stelae and reliefs, as well as a towering acropolis. As the day draws to a close we arrive at our comfortable hotel near Chichén Itzá, in preparation for tomorrow’s extraordinary adventures…
Hotel: Hotel Mayaland, Chichén.

DAY 3: CHICHÉN ITZÁ
We divide one of the world’s greatest wonders into New Chichén and Old Chichén today, for a fully immersive encounter with this remarkably well-preserved Mayan complex. This morning it’s in with the new, as we tour buildings dating from the Toltec period of 1000-1200 AD, while the afternoon sees us exploring the older Classic structures.

Together we wander skull-carved platforms, admire iconic pyramids, peer into the sacred cenote, and listen to tales of Chichén Itzá’s thrilling, extensive, and sometimes bloody past; a perfect opportunity to connect with the heart of Mexico’s most prized archaeological site.
Hotel: Hotel Lodge, Uxmal.

DAY 4: UXMAL
Following breakfast we venture into the jungle for a full day’s encounter with Uxmal, a late-Mayan World Heritage site famed for its Temple of the Magician, an imposing yet graceful structure with an origin story shrouded in mystery. At the height of its influence, Uxmal was home to around 25,000 inhabitants. It was also allied with Chichén Itzá, making it the most powerful site in all of western Yucatán. Here we discover a host of pre-Hispanic ruins, carefully laid out in accordance with astronomical phenomena. Don’t miss the House of Turtles or the beautifully-carved Governor’s Palace; a unique and significant destination.
Hotel: Hotel Lodge, Uxmal.

December 5: KABAH
This morning we pay a visit to Kabah, a settlement connected to Uxmal by a sacred road. Kabah is best known for its Palace of the Masks, an awesome structure decorated with masks of the rain god Chaac. Though the site was inhabited as far back as the 3rd century BC, the buildings here date mainly from the 9th century AD, at which time the city reached the apex of its powers.

After lunch we make our way to Labna, a Mesoamerican ceremonial center situated in the forests of the Puuc hills. More carvings of the hook-nosed god Chaac can be found here, along with the remains of both a two-storey palace and a decorated archway.

Later today we drive to Campeche, a city which was founded by the Spanish in 1540. Surrounded by old fortifications, and brimming with colorful colonial architecture, Campeche makes for an excellent stop-off point for dinner and a comfortable night’s stay.
Hotel: Hotel Castelmar, Campeche.

DAY 6: CAMPECHE
We spend the morning at Campeche’s Archaeological Museum. Located in an 18th-century fortress beside the Gulf of Mexico, within the museum’s majestic walls we discover an array of discoveries from regional excavations, and relics from Calakmul, including two impressive jade death masks.

We bid farewell to the city and make the long but scenic drive inland to Calakmul itself. Tomorrow we explore all that this exceptional site has to offer.
Hotel: Hotel Puerta, Calakmal.

DAY 7: CALAKMUL
As promised, this morning we take in the ruins of Calakmul, also known as the “Kingdom of the Snake”. Situated in thick jungle near the Guatemalan border, Calakmul was once one of the largest Mayan lowland cities in Mexico, and covered an area of around 27 square miles. In its prime it also governed settlements up to 90 miles away. Today the core of the site is just under one square mile in size, yet contains approximately 1,000 structures. Highlights include Yucatán’s tallest pyramid, and an amazing array of stelae and murals.

Following lunch we go wild on a tour of the Calakmul Reserve, one of Mexico’s largest swathes of protected land. This is our chance to spot native fauna such as toucans and howler monkeys; or perhaps, if we’re extremely lucky, a roaming jaguar.
Hotel: Hotel Puerta, Calakmal.

DAY 8: BECÁN
Our first destination today is Becán, a pre-Columbian site that was rediscovered in the 1930s. Occupied from around 550 BC until the 1200s, Becán has a long history as a ceremonial center and holds some of the oldest defenses in Mexico. We explore it all, not forgetting the site’s two lofty pyramids, from which we enjoy superb views of the surrounding jungle.

The nearby Xpuhil is our second and final stop of the day. Though less well-known than Becán and Calakmul, it too enjoyed a long period of occupation, and features ruins of elaborate structures, such as the three-towered Structure I. Xpuhil is also another great place to look for some of this area’s protected animal species.
Hotel: Hotel Puerta, Calakmal.

DAY 9: BALAMKÚ
We begin this morning at Balamkú, a small site which contains the longest surviving Mayan frieze in the world: over 16 meters of painted stone reliefs depicting the surface of the earth. This epic sight dates back as far as the 6th century, and lay undiscovered until the 1990s.

We depart the area and drive south to Palenque in preparation for our next two days of archaeological adventures.
Hotel: Ciudad Real Hotel, Palenque.

DAY 10: BONAMPAK
Our action-packed day begins at Bonampak, an Early Classic site famed for the richly-decorated interiors of its temple. View vibrant murals showing ritual scenes, performances, and gory representations of death.

From here we make our way to Frontera, where we board a boat to take us up the Usumacinta River, once an important trade route for the Mayan civilization. Cruising through the tropical forest, we arrive at Yaxchilan, the ancient city which once dominated this region, and dealt in dyes and resin. Celebrated for its remarkable stone lintels and freestanding stelae, the site also presents some of the earliest surviving depictions of violence and conflict in the Mayan world.
Hotel: Ciudad Real Hotel, Palenque.

DAY 11: PALENQUE
Today is all about Palenque, one of the most outstanding ceremonial centers we will see during our trip. Rising out of the jungle, Palenque’s fine set of ruins includes a stately observation tower, as well as the tomb of King Pacal the Great, who ruled these lands for an incredible 68 years from the start of the 7th century. It is estimated that much of the site still lies beneath the surrounding vegetation. What has so far been revealed serves as a jaw-dropping testament to the former might of the Maya.

The site yields more to us this afternoon by way of the Palenque Museum, which displays statues, reliefs, an ancient throne, and a copy of the lid of King Pacal’s sarcophagus.
Hotel: Ciudad Real Hotel, Palenque.

DAY 12: SAN CRISTÓBAL DE LAS CASAS
We leave Palenque this morning, embarking on a journey to the Central Highlands, and San Cristóbal de Las Casas. En route we stop at the Classical period site of Toniná, where we admire groupings of pyramids and monuments bearing evidence of the city’s previous status as a rival to Palenque. Its tallest structure – a complex of temples and staircases – easily dwarves the majority of its contemporaries, and peaks at an astonishing 74 meters.

In the afternoon we arrive at the gleaming colonial city of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, and enjoy a leisurely walking tour of its historic center. San Cristóbal is a gathering place for the region’s many indigenous cultures, and there is much here to keep us all wandering in wonder.

Later we come together again for a lively farewell dinner as a group.
Hotel: Casa Del Alma, San Crisóbel de Las Casas

DAY 13: SAN JUAN CHAMULA
The final full day of our tour sees us traveling to San Juan Chamula, a Tzotzil Maya town famed for its unusual church: a place carpeted with pine needles, that glows in the light of hundreds of colorful candles. Animal sacrifices take place here to this day. We also pay a visit to the charming town of Zinacantán, another modern-day indigenous settlement, where Catholic and Mayan traditions both show their influence.

We return to San Cristóbal de Las Casas in the afternoon, where we use our free time to explore the city at our own pace. Peruse local handicrafts at the market, marvel at the 18th-century cathedral, or delve into the Maya Medicine Museum, to learn more about the history and practice of its healers.
Hotel: Casa Del Alma, San Crisóbel de Las Casas

DAY 14: HOME
An early start brings us to Tuxtla Gutiérrez, the capital of Chiapas: a thoroughly modern city. From here we catch our flight, and make our return journey home.

MAP

Mexico 


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Additional Information

Scholar

Bill Saturno

Calendar Year

2017, 2018

Reservation Form

Accommodation

Accommodation

 

Fiesta Americana Condesa, CancúnFiesta-Americana-Condensa

White sands, sapphire seas and traditional Mexican culture; if you’re thinking of an idyllic tropical beach-resort you won’t be wrong, Fiesta Americana Condesa is just that! The beachfront hotel is just one shady palm tree away from the out-stretched beaches and crystal-clear waters of the some of the most beautiful beaches in the city, so close you can hear the waves gently roll up the Caribbean shore. This hotel certainly makes the most of its idyllic location with a 4th-floor panoramic viewing lounge overlooking the Nichupte Lagoon and palapas covered pontoons to enjoy a morning coffee.

 

Hotel Mayaland, ChichénHotel-Mayaland,-Chichén

The resort is built within the ancient site. The resort is set in gardens which stretch around it, with wild jungle and manicured grounds to wander and enjoy… not to mention the miles of trails, if you haven’t finished exploring for the day! If you want to put your feet up,  you can relax in the jacuzzi. Here, you’ll wake up to the sounds of wildlife as you enjoy breakfast served on your terrace with a view across to the Observatory.

 

Hotel Lodge, UxmalHotel-Lodge,-Uxmal

This stunning lodge perfectly blends in with its surroundings, set in the middle of the jungle in short distances of Mayan Villages and Archaeological Parks. The lodge is designed in traditional Mayan architecture, all built with material from the local area. You’re able to slow down for the evening and absorb the peaceful atmosphere on the Veranda in one of the hammocks or in the pool.

 

 

Hotel Castelmar, CampecheHotel-Castelmar,-Campeche

We arrive in this colourful town of Campeche. The traditional buildings designed in colonial style are painted in an array of bright and bold colours, you’ll find it hard to resist the charm of this traditional town. Our hotel, Hotel Castelmar, was former barracks before being converted into the first hotel in Campeche. Today, with beautifully arched balconies, pool and tilted floors this will be a stay to continue the tour in a wonderfully Mexican style.

 

Hotel Puerta, CalakmalHotel-Puerta,-Calakmal

Walking through the jungle trees and vines you’ll hardly notice this eco-lodge, set in the centre of a UNESCO nature reserve. The wooden exterior with thatched roof allow these lodge to blend in perfectly with their surroundings – but don’t panic these environment loving lodges are still luxury! They don’t scrimp on modern amenities plus there is access to the resorts bar & restaurant and swimming pool. In the evenings, if you’ve still got some adventure left in you the reserve has so much to offer on an evening stroll; spot toucans, howler monkeys and tapirs, not to mention the exotic flora.

 

Ciudad Real Hotel, Palenque Ciudad Real Hotel, Palenque

Built in a mix of traditional Mexican & Caribbean styles this hotel is surrounded by rainforest and beautiful gardens. The rooms are spacious and airy with tiled floors and outside hammocks hang between the palm trees beside the pool. Watch out for the peacocks wandering the gardens too!

 

 

 

Casa Del Alma, San Crisóbel de Las Casascasa-del-alma-hotel-boutique

Packed with Mexican art, crafts and furnishings, this hotel brings the Mexican culture to life. The bedrooms have wooden beams across the ceiling and are decorated in warm beige and oranges which make a comfortable place to relax and unwind. The hotel has a courtyard and gardens to spend the evenings or maybe you’d prefer a stroll down the cobbled streets to the town centre.