Your day-by-day itinerary
Welcome to the Mexican Riviera
As you descend into Cancun’s airport you’ll see the long stretches of golden sands spread out below you. You’ll be transferred to nearby Playa del Carmen where you’ll spend two nights in a cosy, central hotel with a pool perfect for a refreshing dip. It may not be ‘authentic Mexico’ but it’s a good place to acclimatise to the tropical heat, and to meet our local partners to run through the adventure ahead. There are plenty of shops, bars and restaurants here, and miles of soft sandy beaches to relax on.
The Mayan Route to Chichen Itza
Over the next few days, you’ll journey from the Caribbean coast across the Yucatan peninsula to Campeche, on the Gulf of Mexico. Your first stop is the ancient city of Chichen Itza – a spellbinding look back into the past, and a peek into the life of Mayan civilisation. Your hotel is a pleasant hacienda not far from the site, where you can while away the afternoon beside the pool, before getting up early the next morning to visit these amazing ruins before the crowds or the heat gets too intense.
Next, you’ll travel by bus to the city of Merida, around 3 hours away. You’ll be spending 2 nights in this charming colonial gem, with its host of great eateries, bars, markets and live music. On your second day in the city, you’ll be picked up after breakfast for a trip to explore one of Yucatan’s natural wonders, cenotes. These are natural pits or sinkholes which have appeared, creating an underground grotto which provides an unforgettable spot for swimming.
The next morning, you’ll take the bus for around 3 hours to Campeche – a former pirate city on the Gulf of Mexico, with a UNESCO listed walled centre packed with colonial buildings and narrow streets. Your hotel is within the old centre, close to the major historical sites, as well as some great bars and restaurants. There’s nothing planned for your time here, so you can explore at will and enjoy this final stop on your journey across the Yucatan.
Passage to Palenque
Arriving in Palenque, you’ll check into your comfy hotel, with a pool to escape the jungle heat. The town itself is fairly unremarkable, but it’s within reach of something which is really quite remarkable. The following morning you’ll be taken to the nearby Palenque Mayan ruins, surrounded by thick jungle, widely considered some of the best in Mexico. You’ll have time to explore these spectacular ruins at your own pace, before you head to the nearby Roberto Barrios waterfall where you can cool off before heading back to relax at your hotel.
Colourful Markets & Indian Villages - San Cristobal
San Cristobal is the capital of Mexican Indian culture, nestled in a gorgeous highland valley surrounded by pine forests. You’ll stay in a colourful posada with beautifully decorated rooms located in the winding streets of the old town. The following day you’ll meet a local guide to head to the mountain village of San Juan Chamula. The Chamulans are a fiercely independent Tzotzil group and together with a local guide, you’ll learn about the rituals and inhabitants and really get to understand the culture of the Tzotzil Indians.
Volcanic Peaks of Lake Atitlan - Guatemala
You’ll arrive in Panajachel, a town in the Guatemalan Highlands and the shores of one of the most beautiful lakes in the world: Lake Atitlan. You’ll be here for a couple of nights so will have plenty of time to explore, and on your second day you’ll have a local guide to show you around – you can choose to take a boat trip over the lake, hike through the volcano trails or visit nearby villages. In the evenings, the sky turns over Lake Atitlan and makes the water shine in beautiful colours. We recommend sitting somewhere with a drink in your hand, watching the beautiful views over Lake Atitlan… pure bliss!
Amble Through Antigua - Guatemala
Antigua is one of Guatemala’s most beautiful cities, and you’ll spend two nights in a colonial posada where you’ll have beautiful views of the surrounding volcanoes from the roof terrace. You can wander through the cobblestone streets, explore the churches, monasteries and museums or perhaps climb the volcano. The time here is yours to explore the city, and if you want to cycle, ride a horse or walk to villages in the highlands then we can extend your time here.
Temples of Tikal - Guatemala
Today you’ll head to the quiet, picturesque town of Flores, located on an island in Lake Peten. You’ll spend two nights in a hotel by the water, with a terrace on the top floor overlooking the lake. It’s a perfect base for your visit to the largest Mayan ruin of Latin America, Tikal. There’s a bit of admin to do locally, and it’s a steep, early climb, but the view from the top of the temple step, looking out over the rainforest and ruins with the jungle as your soundtrack, makes it all worth it.
Chill Out on Caye Caulker - Belize
Belize brings a completely different vibe to Mexico, with a more Caribbean atmosphere. They also speak English here as a national language. You’ll be staying in a simple hotel in Caye Caulker, a lush island with small hotels, snorkel shops and a relaxed feel to it. This is a wonderful place to do nothing more than relax on the beach with a good book, take a dip in the water and get used to a little Caribbean island life.
On your second day, you’ll head out on a snorkelling trip to see the underwater life. You’ll swim between rays and sister sharks, and spot turtles amongst the coral as you visit some of the best spots in the area. Afterwards, you’ll crawl back on deck where local snacks are prepared for you. With a rum punch in your hand, you’ll sail back to your tropical island during sunset.
The Lagoon of Seven Colours
You’ll settle down for an evening by the shores of Laguna Bacalar – an idyllic, bright blue freshwater lake surrounded by lush forest. You’ll be staying in a small, eco-friendly hotel just a short stroll from the water, where you can relax with the sounds of nature around you, explore the grounds or take a dip in the lake. The next morning you’ll be up before dawn, and a local guide will take you out onto the water by kayak. As the sun comes up, you’ll paddle across the crystal-clear water and through the mangrove forest, spotting wildlife as it wakes up around the shores of the lake.
Tulum: Mayan Ruins on Palm Beach
Soft sandy beaches, turquoise waters and coastline dotted with Mayan ruins await in Tulum. This is the perfect place to spend a few days relaxing before heading to the airport to fly home. You’ll stay in a boutique hotel with a pool in the town of Tulum Pueblo, close to a variety of restaurants, shops and bars. The white sand beach is a short taxi ride away, or about 20 mins by bike, which you can rent locally. Explore the Tulum ruins perched on top of the cliffs or go further north to discover one of the oldest Maya cities, Cobá, hidden deep in the jungle.
P.S. beachfront hotels are more expensive of course, but if you’d rather spend a little extra to finish your trip closer to the sea, then have a chat to your Travel Specialist about an upgrade!