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Privately Guided: Highlights of the Yucatan


XPF12C
12 NIGHTS
FROM £2,295
International flights quoted separately
This privately guided tour of the Yucatan Peninsula allows you to combine swimming with whale sharks at Holbox Island, with exploring several significant Mayan archaelogical sites, before relaxing independently on the beautiful Riviera Maya, with its crystal clear turquoise waters and magnificent coral reefs.  English speaking guide, all transfers & excursions included.
Tour of Yucatan Peninsula Mexico Guide Holbox Whale Sharks Photo
• 
Cancun
• 
Holbox Ferry
• 
Whale Sharks
• 
Izamal
• 
Merida
• 
Celestun Biosphere Reserve
• 
Campeche
• 
Uxmal Mayan Ruins
• 
Chichen Itza
• 
Riviera Maya beaches
• 
Cancun
• 
Holbox Ferry
• 
Whale Sharks
• 
Izamal
• 
Merida
• 
Celestun Biosphere Reserve
• 
Campeche
• 
Uxmal Mayan Ruins
• 
Chichen Itza
• 
Riviera Maya beaches
Day 1
You will be met at Cancun Airport and transferred to your hotel.
 
Situated on the northeast coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, this popular holiday city is the gateway to the Caribbean resorts of the Riviera Maya. Check in, settle in and relax in this tropical paradise.
Day 2
This morning you will be collected from your Cancun hotel by your driver/guide, who will introduce you to the culture and history of the Yucatán Peninsula, as you drive 2-hours to the ferry to the small fishing island of Holbox.
 
Along the way we visit the quieter Mayan Ruins at Ek Balam where, if you are relatively fit, you can climb to the top of a Mayan pyramid with amazing views.
 
On arrival at Puerto Chiquila, board the 20-minute ferry to Holbox, where you will be met and transferred by golf cart to your hotel, as there are virtually no cars on this island.
Day 3
Meaning "Black Hole", beautiful Holbox Island is only 25 miles (42 km) long and less than 1-mile (1.5 km) wide. It is separated from the mainland by a shallow lagoon that is home to flamingos, pelicans and other rich birdlife.
 
During the summer season, depart from the docks around 07.30 for the opportunity to swim and snorkel close to huge Whale Sharks. You may also be fortunate enough to see dolphins, turtles and mantas. After swimming for 2-hours, the boat continues to the coral reefs around Cabo Catoche where the Gulf of Mexico meets the Caribbean Sea. Here you can snorkel among colourful reef fish and enjoy a delicious ceviche (traditional seafood dish), before returning to the docks around 2pm.
 
Afternoon is at leisure to relax on Holbox Island.
Day 4
This morning transfer to the docks for the Holbox ferry back to the mainland.
 
Here you will be met by your driver/guide and taken to the yellow city of Izamal to vist its ruins. It is also known as the city of hills, although most of these are probably the remains of ancient temple pyramids.
 
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 5
Today we visit Celestun Biosphere Reserve, a huge coastland wetland sanctuary that covers over 146,000 acres.
 
Meaning "painted stone", Celestun is a tranquil fishing village with some wonderfully secluded beaches. The nature reserve is shallow, overgrown with vegetation and dotted with lagoons, salt flats and cenotes (underwater sinkholes) and is one of the largest mangrove swamps in the Gulf of Mexico.
 
This wonderful sanctuary is famous for its pink flamingos, best seen in the morning when the waters are calmer, but it is also home to many other species of water birds. Enjoy a boat ride on the Ria Celestun, before we return to Merida.
Day 6
We explore the back roads of Mexico today, as we drive 4-hours from Merida to Campeche, along the Route of theThree Cenotes.
 
A "Cenote" is a natural limestone sinkhole with exposed groundwater underneath. They are full of legend, as the Mayan people regarded them as the gateways to the world of the dead and used them for rain, life, death, rebirth and fertility rituals, as well as for sacrificial offerings.
 
We also visit a village where lightweight brimmed straw Jipijapa (Panama) hats are made from the plaited leaves of a palm-like plant.
 
We continue to the colonial city of 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 7
We travel 4.5-hours from Campeche to Uxmal today.
 
Along the way we stop at the Mayan ruins at Kabah, the second largest site in the Puuc region after Uxmal. This is a very large site, of which only a small portion has been excavated. The most famous structure here is the "Palace of the Masks", which is elaborately decorated with stone masks of long-nosed rain god Chaac. After you climb the first monument, you realise that there are massive pyramids poking out of the jungle all around you. The main site is very interesting and differs from other sites in the region. Crossing over the road brings you to a large arch which is thought to have been the main entrance to the city.
 
We continue to Uxmal (meaning 'built in three stages') and check into our hotel in this 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.
Day 8
Today we leave Uxmal and travel 3-hours to Chichen Itza in the lowlands.
 
Along the way we stop at the Cenote Ikil - a natural limestone sinkhole, with included picnic lunch.
 
We continue to Chichen Itza (meaning 'Entrance to the Witches Well') and home to the most famous 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.
Day 9
Today transfer 3-hours from Chichen Itza to your beach resort on the spectacular Riviera Maya.
 
Along the way visit the ruins at Coba, where bicycle hire is included. We also visit Tulum National Park where you will find a 13th-century walled Mayan archaeological site that overlooks the sea. It incorporates a clifftop 'Castillo' (built as a watchtower) and the 'Templo de las Pinturas' with a partially restored mural.
 
On arrival check into your hotel and 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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