Mexico and its Yucatan Peninsula are an incredible destination choice; visitors are offered an exciting overload of sights, sounds and tastes as well as total relaxation. Our Riviera Maya Beach and Culture Break showcases the best the Yucatan Peninsula has to offer, with our Latin America experts providing you with the perfect combination of cultural discoveries and beach relaxation.
Day 1 Depart London Gatwick for your direct flight to Cancun. Evening arrival, spend 1 night in this exciting beach destination; the gateway to the treasures of the Yucatan Peninsula.
Day 2 Transfer today from Cancun to Merida. 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, the next 3 nights will be spent in the city, ideal as a base to explore nearby historic and natural attractions. Merida is famous for showcasing its local Yucatecan cuisine so be sure to try some regional dishes such as cochinita pibil and sopa de lima. While bursting with colonial history, Merida is also a modern cosmopolitan city filled with museums, art galleries and restaurants. On a private city tour today, take in the city's highlights.
Day 3 Visit the impressive archaeological site of Uxmal, a world heritage site, 80km south of the city. Characterised by low horizontal palaces set around courtyards, Uxmal is decorated in symbolic motifs and sculptures depicting Chaac, the rain god. It is considered one of the best examples of Mayan 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. After, continue on to Kabah, whereby the Palace of Masks features nearly 300 masks of Chaac.
Day 4 Today drive to the quaint fishing village of Celestun, located 90km west of Merida. The Celestun Biosphere Reserve is home to 587 plant species, 42 of which are endemic. The fauna found in the reserve include 304 bird species, including the Mexican pink flamingo, least tern, jabiru, king vulture and greater white-fronted goose. There are also 75 mammal and 64 reptile species. Take a boat ride through the estuaries to observe the beautiful pink flamingo colonies and other birds. Make a stop at fresh water springs where the water is crystal clear and perfect for a refreshing swim. A delicious seafood lunch is included in today's tour.
Day 5 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 5 night relaxing stay on one of the most beautiful beaches in the country.
Day 6 Four 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 10 Transfer to the airport for your direct flight to London.
This trip has no fixed departures but restrictions may apply - check operator website
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