On this vibrant tour take in the highlights of Mexico City, explore the heartlands in the Chiapas region and visit all the most famous Mayan sites including Palenque, Uxmal and Kabah and the famous Chichen Itza. End this spectacular tour with a few days relaxing on the white sandy beaches of Tulum. Marvellous Mexico provides the diserning traveller with a unique blend of culture, history, delicious local food and stunning powdery beaches.
Day 1 Depart London Heathrow on your direct flight to Mexico City with British Airways arriving early evening. On arrival, transfer to the Hotel Barcelo Mexico Reforma for 2 nights.
Day 2 Soak up the culture and history of Mexico City on a private tour. Built on top of the ruins of the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan, the city's main square and centre point is the Zocalo, one of the largest public squares in the world. Flanked by some of the city's most important buildings, stop by the Metropolitan Cathedral (the largest church in Latin America) and the Palacio Nacional (closed on Monday); home to a series of murals by Diego Riviera depicting the country's complex history. Drive along the famous boulevard; Paseo de la Reforma; Mexico City's main thoroughfare which once connected the Zocalo with the castle of Chapultepec; once home to Emperor Maximilian during his short-lived reign. This afternoon, visit one of the most highly regarded museums within the Americas; the National Museum of Anthropology and get lost in the treasures of the Aztec culture.
Day 3 Fly to Tuxtla Gutierrez this morning. Upon arrival, visit the magnificent Sumidero Canyon. Aboard a motorboat; navigate one of Mexico's most spectacular natural wonders. Formed 36 million years ago, its sheer rock walls reach more than 1000m. In the afternoon, arrive to the charming town of San Cristobal de las Casas, found in a highland valley surrounded by lush pine forest. Spend the next two nights here.
Day 4 San Cristobal de las Casas is an absolute pleasure to explore, with its picturesque cobbled streets and markets, its relaxed, welcoming ambience and wonderfully clear highland light. Explore the colonial centre on foot on a private tour, visiting the cathedral with its lavish interior and gold-encrusted pulpit as well as the impressive 16th-century Santo Domingo temple. A 10km drive into the highlands lie the Tzotzil Indian villages of San Juan Chamula and Zinacantan. Descending from the ancient Maya these local people maintain many unique customs, costumes and beliefs. Visit the beautiful church in San Juan Chamula and the nearby village of Zinacantan and its local handicraft market.
Day 5 Travel to Palenque, stopping along the way at Agua Azul, some of the most beautiful waterfalls in the country. Surrounded by rainforest, over 500 cascades create aquamarine coloured rock pools. A refreshing dip provides relief from the heat and humidity of the lowlands. Continue onto Palenque where you will be staying at the Chan-Kah hotel for 1 night, perfectly located for your visit to Palenque archaeological site in the morning.
Day 6 This morning take a guided tour of the archaeological site of Palenque. Hidden within the jungle, these temples are a fantastic example of Mayan architecture in Mexico. Wander through the 500 buildings spread throughout the jungle, exploring the Temple of the Inscriptions; the tallest of the buildings, the Temple of the Sun; crowned with a prominent roof comb and The Palace with its maze of corridors and rooms. In the afternoon, fly to Merida, the capital of the Yucatan Peninsula.
Day 7 Though a bustling city, Merida's historic centre retains its colonial charm and its laid-back tempo is a delight for visitors. Featuring a large, leafy main plaza and impressive European-style mansion houses painted in warm pastel shades. Enjoy a city tour taking in all the city's highlights and visit the archaeological sites of Uxmal and Kabah. Uxmal, a world heritage site, is characterised by low horizontal palaces set around courtyards and for its symbolic motifs and sculptures depicting Chaac, the rain god. It is considered one of the best examples of Puuc architecture in the region. Visit the House of the Magician, which dominates the site as well as the House of Turtles and the Nunnery. At Kabah, marvel at the Palace of Masks featuring nearly 300 masks of Chaac.
Day 8 From Merida transfer to the most famous Mayan city of them all, Chichen Itza, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. Chichen Itza meaning 'Mouth of the well of the water-sorcerer' is the best restored Yucatan Mayan site and dates back to late Classic times, AD600 - 900. The major buildings in the north display a Toltec influence and is dominated by El Castillo, the most iconic image of this site. Continue onwards to Tulum for a 3 night relaxing stay on one of the most beautiful beaches in the country.
Day 9 Two free days to relax by the beach or explore the local area. For those still seeking to explore Mayan sites; Rainbow Tours recommends visiting nearby Tulum. Dating back to the 12th century, the site commands a spectacular position overlooking the beautiful beach. Being a limestone peninsula, the Yucatan is covered in cenotes (sinkholes), for those seeking some adventure Rainbow Tours recommends one of the many cenotes in the region. Said to be the ancient Mayan means of communication to the underworld, these sinkholes, often surrounded by lush jungle are a wonder to swim, snorkel and dive in.
Day 11 Transfer to Cancun airport for your direct flight to London.
This trip has no fixed departures but restrictions may apply - check operator website
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