From the relentless energy of Mexico City – at 2,240 metres one of the world’s highest capitals – you’ll find the ultimate contrast in the stillness and timelessness of the Monte Alban and Mitla archaeological sites at Oaxaca.
The next surprise out of the Mexican hat is Merida with its huge flocks of pink flamingos and Mayan sites of Uxmal and Kabah – rivalled only by the mighty Chichen Itza. Then there’s Playa del Carmen offering you the ultimate relaxation of white beach, blue sea and a 200 mile long coral reef.
Arrive in Mexico in the early evening. After checking into your hotel you can set about discovering the exuberant, cultured, energetic life of Mexico City. The pavement cafés and cantinas all call you in; the markets and boutiques, pyramids and monuments, galleries and museums also beckon.
The following day set off on a private excursion to the south of Mexico City. Your first stop is San Angel with its charming cobbled streets, large colourful houses and historic central Plaza. You’ll continue to Coyoacan, which is followed by a visit to Frida Kahlo’s Blue House. Time permitting, you will also take in the Museum of Dolores with its impressive art, figurine and sculpture collection.
Stay: Two nights in a deluxe room at Hotel Las Alcobas – bed & breakfast.
A short domestic flight takes you to a completely different Mexico. At Oaxaca – the Jade City – you’ll meet the direct descendants of the ancient Zapotec and Mixtec peoples and immerse yourself in their colourful Saturday market selling hand-embroidered clothing, black clay pottery and fabulous jewellery. On day five a private guide will take you to explore Monte Alban and Mitla, two of the region’s most fascinating archaeological sites. Also included is a visit to the tree at Tule, believed to be at least 2,000 years old.
Stay: Three nights in a double room at Casa Oaxaca – bed & breakfast
After Oaxaca you fly to Merida for another complete change of scenery. Here you’ll find yourself amongst red mangroves, alligators and great colonies of pink flamingos at the Celestun Flamingo Reserve. The next day will see you travelling on to the mighty Mayan sites of Uxmal and Kabah where you’ll be met by huge walls, elaborate stucco and detailed facades. The entwined serpents of Nun’s Courtyard, the masks of Chac the rain god, the Governor’s Palace and the temples of the Magician and the Turtles all take you back in time and give a deep insight into the Mayan culture. Merida – built in 1542 – stands on the site of an ancient Mayan town.
Stay: Three nights in a patio room at the Casa Lecanda – bed & breakfast
Your journey now takes you to Vallodolid, stopping en route at Izamal. Thought to be one of the oldest cities in Yucatan, Izamal was first established back in the 4th century by ltzamna – leader of the Mayan people. It’s known as the “City of three Cultures”, with elements of pre-Hispanic, colonial and contemporary eras.
Stay: One night in the perfumery suite at Coqui Coqui – bed & breakfast
Playa del Carmen
The theme of ancient history is continued this morning with an excursion to Chichen Itza – originally a Mayan city that became the capital of the Toltec Empire in the 12th century AD. Today it is still a marvel of temples, statues and magnificent pyramids, built in differing architectural styles. The Chichen Itza Pyramid is one of the last and greatest built by the Mayans.
After taking in the Pyramid of Kukulkan, the Hall of 1000 Pillars, the Playing Field of the Prisoners and the Temple of Chac Mool you’ll set off for some well earned relaxation. At Playa del Carmen you’ll have about two miles of usually deserted beach to amble along. White sand, whispering palms and blue skies complete the picture of castaway utopia; but you can also take a guided tour to the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve and go kayaking and hiking. A 200 mile reef offers you endless potential for snorkelling and diving, watching multi-coloured fish and marine creatures. You can even plunge into freshwater cenotes or inland caverns.
Stay: Four nights in a garden view room at Esencia – bed & breakfast
Today you’ll be driven to Cancun airport for your flight back home.