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Duration: 10 days and 9 nights
Description: A taste of Mexico quite literally – experience what the city has to offer in terms of sights, sounds and not to mention culinary delights.
Arrival at Cancun: Bienvenidos a Mexico! Your journey begins with a warm greeting at the airport from a local representative and a complimentary private transfer to the hotel. You will gather at the hotel at 6 p.m. to meet your Tour Director and fellow travellers at a Welcome Reception.
Cancun – Ek Balam – Valladolid – Merida (2 Nights)
Begin your exploration of the Yucatan with a visit to the great Maya acropolis at Ek Balam. Still largely unexcavated, the ruins here provide a window into the Mayan soul, with elaborate statues and grand architecture surrounded by a luxuriant jungle. Then it’s on to Valladolid – the Yucatan’s first capital – for a Highlight Lunch at a typical restaurant and a stroll around its convivial central square. End your day at leisure in “The White City” of Merida, one of Mexico’s loveliest colonial cities.
Merida Sightseeing & Free Time
Immerse yourself in the history and passion of colonial Mexico in historic Merida. Stroll along the Paseo de Montejo, modeled after the Champs Elysees in Paris and lined with beautiful Spanish mansions. Then see the glories of the city from its Central Plaza: the ornate Casa Montejo, the massive cathedral and the Palacio Nacional with its remarkable collection of murals. Enjoy some leisure time in the afternoon and explore the city on your own before gathering for a ‘Be My Guest’ experience at the beautiful colonial home of David Sterling, master chef and owner of Los Dos Cooking School. Chef Sterling will teach you how to create such Yucatecan classics as smoked pork with spicy achiote salsa and how to mix the perfect Margarita. Then, enjoy the fruits of your labor!
Merida – Celestun – Campeche
Depart Merida for the Celestun UNESCO Biosphere Reserve where you’ll travel by small boats through the lagoons and canals into protected wetlands to spot the local colony of pink flamingoes. Relax at a Highlight Lunch under the palm-thatched roof of a local beach restaurant before continuing to the fort city of Campeche. Stroll from the magnificent Puerta de Tierra — the main entrance to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Campeche’s fortified old city — to the Puerta del Mar, which opens onto the Caribbean Sea. The evening is at leisure to enjoy one of the local restaurants.
Campeche – Edzna – Uxmal
Today, you’ll travel to La Ruta Puuc for a further taste of Maya history and culture. Inhabited as early as 400 BC, the abandoned city of Edzna now reveals its secrets to modern-day visitors. Your Tour Director’s intimate knowledge of its fascinating history brings the ruins to life. A special treat awaits you at a Highlight Lunch: Yucatecan specialties of pollo and cochinita pibil (chicken and pork wrapped in banana leaves and smoked underground).
End the day at your stylish hacienda with a refreshing dip in the pool and some time to relax. In the evening, learn all about tequila, Mexico’s national drink, and taste various types of this spirit, reputed to reflect the Mexican people’s strength and passion. Salud!
Uxmal – Sotuta De Peon – Izamal – Chichen Itza (2 Nights)
Few sites reflect the glories of Maya architecture better than the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Uxmal. From the Governor’s Palace to the majestic Pyramid of the Magician, you’ll be guided through one of the best-preserved ceremonial centers of any Maya city in the world. At the living history museum of Hacienda Sotuta de Peon, step back in time to the age of the haciendas. Learn about the production of henequen (sisal fiber), the green gold of the Yucatan during the colonial era. Visit the main house and the still-active processing plant; then ride a picturesque mule-drawn rail carts out to one of the cenotes (natural wells) that dot the Yucatan countryside. After a traditional Highlight Lunch, visit the colonial jewel of Izamal with its yellow buildings glowing in the tropical sun. You’ll visit the famous Franciscan monastery before visiting a local Maya community to learn about the Maya way of life. Then, travel to your hotel, ideally situated next to Chichen Itza, the most famous Maya archaeological site. Relax on the shaded terrace or cool off in one of the pools and perhaps attend the Light and Sound Show at the archaeological site.
Chichen Itza Sightseeing & Free Time
Rise early and be the first visitors as you take advantage of your hotel’s own private entrance to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Chichen Itza. Under the expert guidance of your Tour Director, explore the imposing El Castillo (the castle), flanked by the Temple of the Warriors and the great Ball Court, the largest of its kind in Central America. This afternoon, enjoy some leisure time by one of the hotel’s pools or continue your journey through Maya history to the ancient ruins of Coba, also a UNESCO site, where you ride through the jungle on a pedicab to view the towering pyramids – some of the tallest in Mexico. Tonight, celebrate your Yucatan adventure at a lively Farewell Dinner.
Chichen Itza – Cancun – Riviera Maya (2 Nights)
Travel on to your oceanfront resort on the idyllic Riviera May.
Riviera Maya Free Time
Enjoy a leisurely day at the resort on the shores of the sparkling Caribbean Sea. Relax on the white sand beach, swim in the warm turquoise sea or the sparkling pool, and dive in to a host of resort activities. Or, you can join an optional visit to the Maya site of Tulum, perched dramatically on a cliff overlooking the sea, or simply stroll along the shops and cafes along charming Quinta Avenida.
Riviera Maya – Depart Cancun
This morning is at leisure until your complimentary transfer to Cancun International Airport to board your flight back home.