This experience is available year round, and the pricing shown is subject to variations based on the number of guests in the tour.
This tour invites you to a deep immersion into the Mayan culture, including sacred cenote swims, Mayan sites, local towns, big cities -both ancient and modern-, and haciendas. The tour will take you on a comprehensive, full circle around the peninsula, reaching from Cancun to Palenque, returning to Cancun and the Mayan Riviera via Campeche and Uxmal. Be prepared for some serious Mayan site visiting; we will not omit the most visited ones, like Chichen Itza and Tulum, but we will also cover some of the less visited, but equally striking ones, such as Becan and Kohunlich.
Arrival into Cancun international airport, reception, and transfer to the hotel in Tulum.
After breakfast, we will start our journey by driving south to the walled city of Tulum, showing us perhaps the most stunning views in any Mayan site, as the main temple sits on a cliff overlooking the Mexican Caribbean waters. Among stone walls and turquoise blues, we will visit the site guided by our host, and get a few minutes to enjoy at leisure. We will then journey into mainland, for a visit to the archaeological site of Coba, where we will learn about Mayan number, calendar and counting systems on Mayan stelae (engraved rock slabs). We will take a short bike ride to the main temple in the site, which at 42 meters (~138 feet) is one of the highest in the Mayan world.
After our first encounter with Mayan sites, today we see the stunningly beautiful Bacalar lagoon. After breakfast, we will drive south until we reach the “7 color lagoon”, where we will enjoy some amazing views and take a boat tour. Today is an easier day; we will drop you off at your hotel early, so you can enjoy the afternoon and evening by the water. Make sure to catch a nice spot by the lagoon to watch the sunset.
Our journey today heads inland, away from the coast, and into the Mayan jungle. The day will not be long, so you will have the opportunity to linger a bit more in Bacalar. The first stop today is the archaeological site of Kohunlich, a remarkably interesting Mayan complex most famous for its masks – originally 8 colorful masks were constructed, but only five remain. After our guided visit to the site, we will continue west inland to visit yet another marvelous Mayan site: Chicanna – which name means “in the house of the serpent mouth”, a name given because of the fassade of one of the structures, which has a mask representing the monster of Earth.
Get ready this morning for the second longest drive we will have during this tour, as we journey further west into mainland, until we reach the state of Chiapas. So get up and get a filling breakfast, as before the road trip begins, we will visit the archaeological site of Becan; a less visited but equally interesting Mayan site receiving its name from the most outstanding feature in the site: a large pit that surrounds the main buildings. After our visit to the site, we will then journey westward by road, eventually reaching the town of Palenque, where the archaeological site of the same name lies. We will spend three nights here.
After the long drive, if not in distance for sure in driving time, that we had yesterday, today we will visit nearby sites. After breakfast, we will visit the archaeological site of Palenque, an iconic Mayan site surrounded by the jungle of Chiapas. Some of the structures may still be touched and climbed upon, but unfortunately the tomb of the great king Pakal is not open for visitors anymore. To appreciate the tomb and learn more about it, we will visit the site museum, which will allow for a richer understanding of the site. We will then go back to our hotel for lunch and refreshing, to then continue to visit one of the many nearby waterfalls. Feel free to dive in if you feel like it! Today we go back to Palenque for the night; be sure to get a good rest, as there is a long day ahead of us tomorrow.
Today we wake up early as we have a long but rewarding day ahead: we will travel south to the border between Mexico and Guatemala, and take a boat ride to Yaxchilan, deep in the Mexican jungle. As the journey is long, we will get up before the hotel restaurant opens and head into the road – we will then make a stop to have breakfast at a small, local restaurant. On to the town of Corozal, which sits on the banks of the Usumacinta, the longest river in Central America, which serves as a natural border between Mexico and Guatemala, and which name roughly translates to “place of monkeys”, because of the large howler monkey populations in the area. We will take a boat ride until we find the archaeological site of Yaxchilan, in the Mexico side of the river. One of the most stunning of all Mayan sites and a favorite of the Authentic Mexico Tours team, Yaxchilan boasts several buildings, numerous reliefs depicting leaders and writings and engraved lintels, all surrounded by the lush Mayan jungle. After a visit to the site, we will take the boat back to Corozal to enjoy lunch, then head back to Palenque.
Get ready to witness a lesser known natural spectacle in Mexico, as after breakfast we head north to the town of Isla Aguada in Campeche, to take a boat tour in the Terminos lagoon. Sitting in the Gulf of Mexico, the lagoon is home to a large population of dolphins, which we hope to be able to see during our boat tour. Our journey will then continue to the walled city of Campeche, a city full of history and architecture designed to protect the town from incoming pirate attacks. We will spend two nights in a centrally located hotel in this city.
Today we will visit the archaeological site of Edzna, once a regional capital city of the Maya, and particularly notable for its pluvial system, which collected, stored, and discarded rainfall. After the comprehensive visit to the ancient city, we will head back into Campeche for a city tour, where will learn more about its remarkable history and visit a fort of the walled city. Don’t forget to get a good taste of the sea food influenced gastronomy in this World Heritage City.
Our journey today takes us away from the coast and into mainland. We will head north east, passing the White City of Merida, until we reach the small town of Dzidzantun, where will spend two nights in accommodations as authentic as it gets: a renovated 18th century hacienda with immense grounds growing tropical fruit trees will host us in our journey. Breakfasts here are a delicacy, as they include locally grown, produced and harvested eggs, milk, and fruit. On our way to the hacienda, we will visit the archaeological site of Uxmal, unique among all Mayan sites for being a great exposition of the Puuc architecture style.
Really enjoy that breakfast today, as good and natural as can be. We will immediately afterwards head back towards Merida, the White City. We will have a guided city tour, where we will visit the traditional main square, the cathedral and the city hall, as well as the Paseo de Montejo, often called the Champs Elysees of Merida, and which is flanked by ancient mansions of the wealthiest Yucatecans. We will then continue eastward, until we reach one of Mexico’s Magical Towns, Izamal, famous for its bright yellow colors, and having a monastery with the second largest open atrium in the world. We will then head back to the hacienda for the second overnight.
Today we depart the hacienda and take our final boat ride of this tour, into the Rio Lagartos estuary. Quite an experience, this early morning tour allows us to see a wide variety of birds, crocodiles and, if we are lucky, monkeys and flamingoes. We will continue to the town of Valladolid; considered one of Mexico’s Magical Towns, or Pueblos Magicos, this little town bustles with history and delicious native gastronomy. It is also home to the biggest private collection of Mexican folk art, which we will visit upon arrival. Afterwards, we will have a short city tour to learn more about the small town. We will spend our last night at a hotel adjacent the archaeological site of Chichen Itza.
Today we rise before sunrise, and get ready to visit Chichen Itza, a World Heritage Site, way before people – even before the sun- gets in. Sunrise at Chichen Itza is a great experience that is limited for a few people every day, and we get to count ourselves among them. Before leaving the hotel, we will enjoy some coffee and biscuits, and will get a proper breakfast at the hotel after the visit. Our journey continues back eastward, and the next stop will be the Ikkil cenote. Usually crowded, our early arrival ensures we can enjoy the visit to the maximum. Our journey ends with a drop off at either a hotel or the airport in Cancun.
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