Mexico holidays - holidays in Mexico -Tulum

Escorted Tour: San Cristobal + Palenque to Yucatan


FYC12M
12 NIGHTS
FROM £1,795
International flights quoted separately
This small group tour starts with the highlights of Mexico City, before flying to Tuxla for an overland tour across the Yucatan Peninsula, travelling from San Cristobal in the highlands to the Caribbean beaches of the Riviera Maya. Visit colonial cities, Indian villages and spectacular Mayan ruins, including Palenque & Chichen Itza. 2 departures a month, with dual language Spanish or Italian/English guide.
Palenque Mexico Group Tours Yucatan Chichen Itza Merida
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Mexico City
• 
Teotihuacan Pyramids
• 
San Cristobal
• 
Indian Villages
• 
Palenque Ruins
• 
Campeche
• 
Uxmal
• 
Merida
• 
Chichen Itza
• 
Riviera Maya
• 
Mexico City
• 
Teotihuacan Pyramids
• 
San Cristobal
• 
Indian Villages
• 
Palenque Ruins
• 
Campeche
• 
Uxmal
• 
Merida
• 
Chichen Itza
• 
Riviera Maya
Day 1
Arrive at Mexico City Airport where you will be met and transferred to this high altitude city, that is the oldest capital in the Americas and one of the largest cities in the world.
 
Check into your hotel and embrace this colourful and vibrant city, originally established by the Aztec Indians (the 'Mexica').
Day 2
At leisure to independently explore the sights of colourful Mexico City, before joining your tour.
 
The world class National Museum of Anthropology in Chapultepac Park is not to be missed, with its many ancient Olmec, Aztec, Mayan and other pre-Colombian artefacts - including the Stone of the Sun (the Aztec calendar stone) and the statue of Xochipilli. Chapultepec Castle is nearby.
 
The Palace of Fine Arts with its magnificent dome is well worth a visit, as well as the historic Frida Kahlo Art Museum (or Blue House) dedicated to her work. With its numerous world class museums, dramatic art murals, thriving music scene and exploding culinary scene, in Mexico City you will be spoilt for choice.
 
Note: Try and avoid visiting museums on a Sunday, as they are free for locals so very crowded.
Day 3
Today your small group tour begins with a full day escorted tour of the highlights of Mexico City.
 
At the heart of the city is the Zócalo (or Plaza de la Constitución), a huge central square built by the conquering Spanish over the ceremonial centre of the vanquished Aztec city of Tenochtitlán. Ruins of the 13th century Templo Mayor can be seen here, as well as the baroque Metropolitan Cathedral built by the Spanish and the National Palace, which houses historic murals by the famous Mexican painter Diego Rivera. There is a dense concentration of museums and art galleries in this area.
 
West of the Zócalo the historic centre stretches through the main commercial district, past the National Art Museum to the Tower of Latin America skyscaper and the Palace of Fine Arts, with its magnificent Art Deco interior. Both overlook Alameda Central Park, which is the oldest public park in Mexico.
 
Leaving the city, we make a brief stop at the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe - one of the most important Catholic pilgrimage sites on the American continent.
 
After an included lunch, we continue 1-hour to the mysterious Teotihuacan Pyramids, ancient archaelogical ruins that are a UNESCO World Heritate site. This enormous city was built in 300 BC but was inexplicably abandoned centuries before the arrival of the Aztecs, who called it the Birthplace of the Gods. This is one of the most impressive archaeological sites in the Americas and includes the third largest pyramid in the world, constructed according to precise astronomical measurements and filled with sacrificial victims.
 
You can climb the magnificent Pyramids of the Sun and Moon and view the Butterflies Temple, the Avenue of the Dead and Temple of Quetzalcoatl. Admire the majestic plazas and stone temples, covered with stone statues and faded murals, before returning to Mexico City.
Day 4
This morning we fly from Mexico City Airport to the state capital of Tuxtla Gutiérrez. Here you will be met and transferred 1.5-hours to San Cristobal, one of Mexico's oldest colonial cities situated in the Central Highlands.
 
Along the way we stop at Sumidero Canyon and enjoy a boat ride on the dam, where you may see crocodiles, monkeys and abundant birdlife. Lunch at a local restaurant is included today.
 
We continue to San Cristobal, which is also known by its native name of Jovel. Nestled in a small valley surrounded by hills, it is the cultural capital of the state of Chiapas.
Day 5
This morning we explore the charming colonial city of San Cristobal on foot, including visiting at a typical local market, where hundreds of indigenous people sell their handmade products.
 
We admire the beautiful baroque Santo Domingo church, founded in 1547, and meet its indigenous communities. The San Juan Chamula community is particularly linked to this church, as ceremonies are held here to counter the great influence of paganism. The indigenous Zinacantan population, on the other hand, are very loyal to the catholic faith.
 
Afterwards you can taste a delicious 'tortilla' made by yourself and enjoy a shot of 'pox', an ancient Mayan drink. Lunch is for your own account today.
Day 6
Today we leave San Christobal and drive 5-hours along a mountain road to Palenque, the largest Mayan city ever discovered in Mexico, with some of the countries best Mayan temples.
 
Along the way we stop at the Agua Azul Waterfall (or 'Blue Water Fall'), with its turquoise waters and crystal clear swimming pools for a refreshing break. A boxed lunch is included today.
 
We continue to Palenque situated deep in the dense jungle far from the outside world, giving it a wonderful atmosphere.
Day 7
This morning we visit the famous Palenque Ruins enclosed by the Chiapanecan jungle, before driving 5-hours to the colonial city of Campeche.
 
Palenque is a relatively small archaelogical site dating from around 226 BC to 799 AD, but it contains some of the finest architecture, sculpture, roof comb and bas-relief carvings that the Mayans ever produced and much of their history has been reconstructed from reading the hieroglyphic inscriptions on these monuments. The most famous ruler of Palenque was Pakal the Great, whose tomb containing his astonishing jade green death mask has been excavated in the Temple of the Inscriptions. Less than 10% of this ancient city has been excavated so far, leaving over a thousand structures still to be discovered.
 
Afterwards we drive through the pretty fishing village of Sabancuy, with an included restaurant lunch en route.
 
We continue to Campeche with its captivating port filled with naval history, baroque Spanish architecture and aging beauty. After nearly a century of invasion by French, Dutch and English pirates, this city was fortified by the Spanish in 1686 and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site with over 1,000 buildings of historical significance. It is one of the most photogenic cities in Mexico.
Day 8
This morning we leave Campeche and travel 4-hours to Mérida, the cultural capital of the Yucatán Peninsula since the Spanish conquest.
 
Along the way we stop at Uxmal (meaning 'built in three stages'), an ancient Mayan city renowned for its palaces arranged around patios and courtyards. These homes are richly sculptured and decorated with thousands of small polished stones, set in geometric mosaics. The key buildings at this archaelogical site are the Fortune Teller’s Pyramid, the Governor’s Palace and the Quadrangle of the Nuns.
 
After an included lunch at a local restaurant, we continue to Mérida - known as the 'White City' - the cultural capital of the Yucatán Peninsula since the Spanish conquest. This is a town steeped in history with narrow streets, broad central plazas, thriving markets and the region’s best museums. It has colonial houses as well as houses that date back to the beginning of the last century in Arabic, French and Italian styles, thanks to wealth generated from the sisal trade. From Mérida’s Zócalo you can admire the city’s main monuments - the Cathedral, Government Palace, Municipal Palace and Francisco Montejo’s House.
Day 9
Today we leave Merida and drive 2-hours to historic Chichen Itza in the lowlands.
 
Chichen Itza (meaning 'Entrance to the Witches Well') is home to the most visited Mayan ruins in Mexico. The focal point of the Northern Mayan lowlands empire from AD 600 until AD 1200, this city had the most diverse population in all the Mayan world. Therefore there are a wide variety of architectural styles at this site.
 
The most spectacular pyramid is El Castillo with its rich cosmological symbolism - all four sides have 365 steps (number of days in a solar year), 52 rectangles (years in a Mayan century) and 18 terraces (months of their religious calendar). Other structures include the enormous Ballcourt, the Observatory, Temple of a Thousand Columns, Kukulcán Temple, Warrior’s Temple, Convent of the Nuns, El Mercado (market place) and the Sacred Cenote (pool) where human sacrifices were carried out.
 
After an included lunch at Chichen Itza, we drive 3-hours to your beach resort on the spectacular Riviera Maya, stopping along the way at the Cenote Saamal for a refreshing swim.
 
You will then be dropped off at your hotel to relax on the shores of the Caribbean Sea with its warm turquoise waters, sandy beaches and wonderful snorkelling and diving.
Days 10 To 12
At leisure to relax at your tropical resort on the spectacular Riviera Maya, lapped by the crystal clear turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea.
 
The Great Mayan Reef (Mesoamerican Barrier Reef) stretches from the tip of the Yucatán Peninsula to the islands off the coast of Honduras and is the largest coral reef in the northern hemisphere. Hundreds of species of fish and many endangered and protected marine animals are found here – including Loggerhead, Leatherback, Green, Hawksbill and Olive Ridley sea turtles, Whale sharks and West Indian manatees – making this a paradise for snorkelling and diving.
 
There are many optional activities in this holiday area, including snorkelling at Xel-Ha waterpark (the largest natural aquarium in the world); zip lining at Xplor adventure park; day visits to the famous archaeological sites at Chichen Itza or Tulum; the Mayan caves in Aktun Chen; Sian Ka'anor biosphere reserve and Xcaret cultural theme park.
 
Try a Mayan spa treatment or simply stroll along Fifth Avenue and absorb the holiday atmosphere of Playa del Carmen with its wide variety of bars, restaurants and shops.
Day 13
Transfer 1.5-hours to Cancun Airport for your flight home.

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