Beyond her beautiful beaches, the Yucatan boasts an impressive cultural and historical heritage as the repository of treasures of Maya civilisation such as Chichen Itza, Xcambo and Uxmal. Journey back in time to appreciate the everlasting greatness of these ancient cities reclaimed from the jungle and discover the beauty of the colourful colonial towns of Izamal, Merida and Valladolid. Accommodation is in atmospheric historic haciendas, which enhances the trip’s magical experience. Groups vary in size but are typically made up of about four to 10 travellers.
Pitahaya: Savour this yellow or pink-skinned sweet fruit, which is low in calories and rich in vitamins
Cenote: Bathing in one of these natural pools is one of the ultimate experiences of any visit to Yucatan
Tequila: Pop into a tequilería and taste the many varieties of the national spirit and its close cousin, mezcal
A wide range of optional excursions and pre and post-programme extensions are available on request. Please ask tour designer Melanie Goldbecker for rates and conditions
Chichen Itza: Uncover the mysteries of Maya civilisation at this ancient archaeological site dominated by the imposing Temple of Kukulkan
Izamal: This ‘magical town’ is known as the ‘city of hills’ because of its numerous ruins of Maya pyramids
Xcambo: A curious combination of peculiar Mayan ruins bordered by wetlands often inhabited by brightly coloured flamingos
Merida: Yucatan’s ‘White City’ is famed for the elegant tree-lined boulevards from the 19th century
Uxmal: The enormous Pyramid of the Magician found in this UNESCO World Heritage Site majestically rises above the jungle canopy
Sotuta de Peon: Live Hacienda is the restoration project of a landmark located in the heart of the ancient agave production zone in the Yucatan
Valladolid: Visit the Hubiku cenote in the outskirts of this historic colonial city and enjoy free time to explore this ‘magical town’
Depart Cancun and head deep into the rainforests of the Yucatan peninsula in search of the legendary Maya city of Chichen Itza, which has been laboriously reclaimed from the jungle. Learn about the Maya and their civilisation as you admire the scale and detail of this ancient city. Behold the geometric perfection of the 25-metre-tall Temple of Kukulkan, popularly known as El Castillo (‘the Castle’), which was built both as a representation of the mystical Maya calendar and to reflect the optical illusion of a serpent snaking its way up or down the pyramid during the spring and autumn equinoxes. Admire the Great Ball Court, the largest of 13 discovered at the site, see the haunting Skull Platform, where the heads of human sacrifice victims and prisoners of war were impaled, and also the Sacred Cenote, where sacrifice victims were dumped. Also extremely well-preserved are the Temple of the Warriors, the Ossuary, the Nunnery and adjacent Church, and the large observatory known as the Snail.
Next, make your way to the Mayan town of Izamal (one of Mexico’s ‘magical towns’, a designation awarded to select locations famed for their cultural and historical heritage), whose Mayan name means ‘Heavenly Dew’, where you can see the Convent of St Anthony of Padua, which stands on a former Maya pyramid. After lunch, we proceed to Dzidzantun to stay in traditional but luxurious Mayan-inspired bungalows at Hacienda San Francisco, which was formerly dedicated to salt production due to its proximity to the sea. Enjoy its history-filled facilities that once housed a hospital, or take part in the one of the several activities on offer at this beautiful place.
We start the day with a delicious breakfast and then continue to Dzilam de Bravo for a boat tour through the mangroves and the gulf, where we can observe wildlife and even take a swim in a cenote. With a little luck, spot some flamingos in their natural habitat. Continue to Merida along the scenic road by the north coast of Yucatan, where on route we stop at Xcambo archaeological site for a visit of a lesser-known yet equally rich Mayan delight. Our guide invites us to enjoy a typical coconut sweet typical of the area. Enjoy lunch and continue on to Merida. Visit of the white city of Merida in the afternoon where we see the Government Palace, City Hall, the Cathedral, Casa de Montejo and a typical market. Dinner at a spectacular thematic restaurant.
After breakfast, we will start our day with a visit to the impressive archaeological site of Uxmal and enjoy a guided tour of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, which as you approach it comes into view as it rises above the canopy of the jungle. Unlike other Mayan cities, Uxmal was devoured by the rainforest after the Spaniards had arrived. The most famous structure is the 35-metre-tall Pyramid of the Magician, which towers over the remarkably well-preserved Nunnery Quadrangle with its ornately carved interior and exterior walls. Across the central plaza, just beyond the ballgame court, is the Governor’s Palace with its elaborately decorated roof. At the southern end of the main complex is the Great Pyramid, of which only one side has been excavated with the other three still unclaimed from the bush. Continue to the Hacienda Sotuta de Peon, built in the late 19th century in Tecoh, Yucatan. After lunch, we take a tour through the active hacienda where the Mexican agave plant is still harvested and hear an explanation of the production process. The tour ends with a ride on a mule-drawn wagon through the agave plantation and a refreshing dip in a cenote. After, enjoy leisure time to wander the hacienda or relax at the pool.
Departure from Sotuta de Peon at approximately 11:00 am where we continue to the picturesque city of Valladolid, another of Mexico’s ‘magical towns’, which was founded in 1543 and showcases beautiful architecture. Have lunch, then continue to the Riviera Maya for drop-off at your selected hotel.