We begin with exploring the fascinating sights of Mexico City, including Teotihuacán, site of the renowned pyramids of the Sun and the Moon, before flying south to the 16th century colonial city of Oaxaca to see the monumental Zapotec ruins at Monte Alban and Mitla.
We continue to the Chiapas Highlands and, after a boat ride on the Rio Grijalva to the spectacular Sumidero Canyon, we arrive at the attractive and well-preserved colonial town of San Cristóbal de las Casas where we explore some of the ancient Indian villages in the surrounding countryside. We visit, Palenque, a 7th century Mayan city-state, which has some of the finest archaeological remains in Mexico and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We finally arrive in the city of Merida, with its impressive colonial architecture, and magnificent Mayan remains at Uxmal and Kabah, as well as the vast Loltun Caves and the spectacular Celestun Biosphere Reserve where pink flamingo nest in their thousands. The tour ends with a visit to Chichen Itza, one of the Yucatan’s greatest archaeological sites.
London / Mexico City
Depart London Heathrow on a British Airways early afternoon flight to Mexico City. On arrival transfer to the comfortable 4-star Galeria Plaza Reforma, situated in a perfect location in the heart of the city, where three nights are spent. Dinner at the hotel.
Morning visit to the ruins of Teotihuacan, the site of the world renowned Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon. During its peak, this ancient city was home to approximately 26,000 people, and was the capital of Mexico’s largest pre-Hispanic empire. The city was divided into quarters by two great avenues that met near the so-called Ciudadela.
Visit the fascinating Avenue of the Dead where the buildings and tombs have been preserved. Lunch at a local restaurant. Return to Mexico City and visit Chapultepec Park, which is classed as one of the world’s great urban parks along with Bois de Boulogne in Paris, the Imperial Gardens in Tokyo and Central Park in New York City. Dinner at a local restaurant.
Morning tour of Mexico City including the Zocalo, the main square in the heart of the historic centre of Mexico City, and also the National Palace, Metropolitan Cathedral and the Palace of Fine Arts. Lunch at a local restaurant. Afternoon visit to the Frida Kahlo Museum – the “blue house” which was the birthplace of the painter Frida Kahlo (1907 – 1954) and where she lived with her husband Diego Rivera from 1929 until her death. Evening visit to Amalia Hernandez’s Balleto Folklorico. Dinner at a local restaurant.
Mexico City / Oaxaca
Transfer to Mexico City airport for a morning domestic flight to Oaxaca. On arrival transfer to Hotel Azul de Oaxaca a boutique hotel located in the centre of Oaxaca just 350 yards from the Santa Domingo Church and where two nights are spent. Oaxaca, known as the ‘Jade City’, was founded in 1529, and was the birthplace of Benito Juarez, one of Mexico’s most important political leaders. Its inhabitants are direct descendants of the Zapotecs and Mixtecs. Lunch at the hotel.
Afternoon tour of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Monte Alban, meaning “White Mountain,” which was the capital of the Zapotec civilisation from 500 BC to 800 AD, and has a spectacular mountain top location overlooking the valleys of Oaxaca. Dinner under own arrangements.
Morning tour of Oaxaca including the Santo Domingo Church and Monastery, now a museum, which was founded by the Dominican Order in 1572. The museum includes an important collection of pre-Columbian artefacts, including artefacts from Monte Alban. The former monastery garden is now an ethno-botanical garden, containing a large collection of plants native to the region.
Lunch at a local restaurant. Afternoon visit to the 2,000 year old tree at El Tule and the ruins of Mitla, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Mitla was once an important Zapotec religious and ceremonial centre where a series of structures and patios are adorned in stonework mosaics. Dinner at the hotel.
Oaxaca / San Cristobal de Las Casas
-Transfer to Oaxaca airport for a morning domestic flight to Tuxtla Gutierrez. On arrival transfer to San Cristobal de las Casas stopping off for a boat ride en route along the Grijalva River to the Sumidero Canyon where the wildlife is spectacular. Lunch at a local restaurant. Continue to San Cristobal de las Casas, a colonial town of white stucco walls and red-tile roofs with cobblestone streets and narrow sidewalks, graceful arcades and open plazas.
The city owes part of its name to the 16th-century cleric Fray Bartolomé de las Casas, who was the town’s first bishop and a famous political campaigner for the rights of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. Check into Casa Mexicana, centrally located and within walking distance from many historical sites, where two nights are spent. Dinner at the hotel.
San Cristobal de Las Casas
Morning tour of the city followed by a visit to the indigenous villages of San Juan Chamula and Zinacantan. These small and seldom visited villages are famous for the exquisite colours of their embroidery. Visit the church of San Juan Chamula where ancient rites are still practised by the Tzotzil-speaking indigenous people. Lunch at a local restaurant. Afternoon at leisure. Dinner under own arrangements.
San Cristobal de las Casas / Palenque
Drive to Palenque with a visit en route to the beautiful waterfalls of Misol Ha which has a small walkway leading behind a curtain of water to some hidden caves. Lunch at a local restaurant. Continue to Palenque and check in to the Chan Kah Resort, located just a few kilometres from the Palenque archaeological ruins, where one night is spent. Dinner at the hotel.
Palenque / Merida
Morning tour of Palenque, located in the Palenque National Park in the northern Chiapas highlands, and one of the grandest of all classical Mayan sites. Wonder from one structure to another amongst waterfalls and jungle, taking in the marvels of this ancient settlement, which was in its prime from 500 – 700 AD and is all the more remarkable for having been constructed without the aid of metal tools, the wheel or pack animals.
Highlights are the Palace and the Temple of Inscriptions. Packed lunch en route to Villa Hermosa airport for an afternoon domestic flight to Merida. On arrival transfer to the Hotel Casa del Balam, one of the few original Art Deco houses in the colonial city of Merida, where three nights are spent. Dinner at the hotel.
Morning tour of Merida including Uxmal, meaning ‘thrice-built’ in the Mayan language, which is one of the most famous Mayan cities and dates from 10 AD. It is considered one of the most complex and beautiful examples of Puuc architecture, characterised by low horizontal palaces set around courtyards, and decorated with rich sculptural details.
Continue to the ruins of Kabah, famous for the ‘Palace of Chaac Masks’, the ruins of Sayil, meaning ‘the place of the ants’ which dates back to 800 – 1000 AD, and Labna, which means ‘old house’, and dates back to 750 – 1000 AD and inhabited about 1,500 to 2,500 people. Finally visit the Loltun Caves which are located within the Puuc Hills and contains paintings attributed to the Maya civilization from the late Pre-Classic era. The name transliterates from the Mayan words for “Flower Stone” (“Lol-Tun”). Lunch at a local restaurant. Afternoon at leisure. Dinner under own arrangements.
Morning visit to the Celestun Biosphere where more than 350 species of wildlife have been identified including its famous beautiful flamingo colonies. Lunch at a local restaurant. Afternoon at leisure. Dinner at a local restaurant.
Merida & Chichen Itza
Drive to Chichen Itza, the most famous Mayan temple city, which was the capital of the Toltec Empire in the 12th century before it was reclaimed by the Mayans in the 13th century. The result is a fascinating blend of Mayan and Toltec architecture, visible in its many fine temples and pyramids. Stop at Ikkil Cenote for an optional refreshing swim. Lunch at a local restaurant. Afternoon at leisure. Farewell dinner at a local restaurant.
Merida / Mexico City
Morning visit to a local hacienda. Transfer to Merida airport for a domestic flight to Mexico City. Lunch at a local restaurant in Mexico City. Transfer to the airport for an evening British Airways flight to London.
Arrive London Heathrow early afternoon. Please let us know if you would like to extend your stay with a few days relaxing on one of Mexico’s beautiful white sand Caribbean beaches or see the Monarch Butterflies, one of the World’s greatest natural sights.