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HomeTours to Central and South AmericaMexicoHighlights of Mexico & Guatemala
21 days

Highlights of Mexico & Guatemala

This tour combines Mexico and Guatemala and offers incredible Mayan ruins in the lush jungle, indigenous communities and colonial cities and rounds off with a beach holiday in Playa del Carmen.

We support sustainability development in Latin America. For every tour booked with us, we plant 10 trees in Brazil. Read more about the sustainability project here.

Highlights of Mexico & Guatemala Highlights of Mexico & Guatemala
21 days

Highlights of Mexico & Guatemala

This tour combines Mexico and Guatemala and offers incredible Mayan ruins in the lush jungle, indigenous communities and colonial cities and rounds off with a beach holiday in Playa del Carmen.

We support sustainability development in Latin America. For every tour booked with us, we plant 10 trees in Brazil. Read more about the sustainability project here.

What is included in the price?
This package includes the following
  • Flights from the UK to Mexico City and return from Cancún (enquire regarding direct flights)
  • 1 domestic flight in Guatemala: Guatemala City – Flores
  • Transfers from and to airports (in small international groups)
  • First-class coach travel: Mexico City – Oaxaca
  • 1 night’s accommodation in first-class coach: Oaxaca – Tuxtla Gutiérrez
  • Coach travel: San Cristóbal de las Casas– Panajachel – Antigua // Flores – Palenque
  • First-class coach travel: Palenque – Mérida
  • Coach travel: Mérida – Playa del Carmen
  • 18 nights’ accommodation in good hotels incl. breakfast
  • 2 x lunch (days 13, 18)
  • Individual tour, however, all excursions are in small international groups with local English speaking guides
  • Emergency hotline staffed 24/7 throughout your trip
  • ATOL certificate included
  • Departure guarantee – the tour will take place regardless of the number of participants
  • Possibility of daily departure

Comprehensive package of excursions:

  • Visit to the temple city of Teotihuacán, Guadalupe church and Three Cultures Square
  • Guided tour of Mexico City, incl. visit to the museum of anthropology
  • Visit to the archaeological region of Monte Albán
  • Guided tour of Oaxaca
  • Sailing trip in Sumidero Canyon
  • Trip to the Indian villages of San Juan Chamula and Zinacantán
  • Trip to Santiago de Atitlán, incl. visit to one of the oldest churches in the country
  • Guided tour of Antigua, incl. visit to a jade factory
  • Visit to Tikal National Park with its Mayan pyramids
  • Visit to the Mayan complex of Palenque
  • Visit to the Aguas Azul and Misol-Há waterfalls
  • Visit to Chichen Itza, one of the wonders of the modern world
  • Admission tickets to the attractions mentioned

The tour in short

Mexico and Guatemala are countries blessed with magnificent countryside, fascinating culture and exciting history. On this tour, you will experience the absolute highlights of both countries, taking in the pulsating capital of Mexico, small Indian communities, charming colonial towns and world-famous Mayan ruins. You will also experience the idyllic countryside including a visit to stunning turquoise waterfalls, a sailing trip along the Sumidero Canyon and two nights’ hotel accommodation next to one of the most beautiful lakes in the world – with a view of the surrounding volcanoes. The trip concludes with time to relax and unwind by the bright white sandy beaches and turquoise waters of Playa del Carmen.

Why choose this tour

  • Combine Mexico and Guatemala – two fantastical destinations with lovely nature, rich native culture and well-preserved Maya ruins
  • Go on a beautiful boat trip on Lake Atitlán and experience exciting Maya culture in the city of Santiago de Atitlán
  • Take a walk down Antigua’s charming cobblestone streets with colourful colonial houses and the cone-shaped Agua Volcano as a beautiful backdrop
  • Finish your tour on the Yucatán Peninsula by the Maya ruin of Chichen Itza and relax on the beach in the popular holiday town of Playa del Carmen

Our prices always include

  • All international and domestic flights
  • All destination transfers
  • All specified excursions and activities
  • All accommodations
See all pictures
Detailed Itinerary
Day 1: Departure from the UK and arrival in Mexico City

Departure day, where you will fly to Mexico City, with connecting flights along the way. At Mexico City airport, you will be met by a driver who will accompany you to your hotel.

Possible upgrades:
Day 2: Teotihuacán, Basilica and Three Cultures Square

Your first full day here will take you to the biggest ruin complex in Latin America: the temple city of Teotihuacán, which means The place where people became gods. As you walk along the 3-km-long Avenida de los Muertos (Avenue of the Dead), you can admire the enormous temples and pyramids that date all the way back to the year 200 BC, but which were constructed over a very long period of time. Of particular interest are the Quetzalcoatl temple, where the remains of more than 200 sacrificed prisoners of war have been found, the Quetzalpapalotl palace, The Pyramid of the Moon (60 m) and the Pyramid of the Sun (70 m), which are built on top of a 100-metre-long cave, where it is said that the human race was created.

The tour then continues to the church called Basilica de Nuestra de Guadalupe, which can hold a congregation of 10,000 people and attracts around 20 million pilgrims each year. The church is named after Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patron saint of Mexico – and, indeed, of the whole of Central America.

The last stop on the itinerary for the day is the Plaza de las Tres Culturas (Three Cultures Square), which symbolises the three periods of Mexican history. Take the time to admire the remains of the pre-Columbian Aztec ruins, a Spanish church from the colonial age, and the Mexican mestizos’ modern building that now houses the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Day 3: Mexico City

On the agenda for today: a tour of Mexico City, one of the biggest cities in the world. It is surrounded by volcanoes and located at an altitude of 2,240 metres above sea level, making it one of the most elevated capital cities in the world. The tour includes a visit to the colonial centre of the city, where you will see Zocalo, the central square. Attractions here include the national palace, featuring fantastic murals of scenes from the history of Mexico by the famous artist Diego Rivera, Templo Mayor – the ruins of the former Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan – and the biggest cathedral in Mexico, an impressive building constructed using stones from Aztec temples.

From here, you continue on to Alameda park, site of the national theatre (Palácio de Bellas Artes), which stages operas, ballets, plays and concerts. You will then follow the beautiful La Reforma Avenue to Chapultepec Park, which is home to the impressive Museum of Anthropology that provides fascinating insight into the history and numerous cultures of Mexico.

Day 4: Mexico City – Oaxaca

It is now time to head for the colonial gem that is Oaxaca, a coach trip of around 6.5 hours.

Day 5: Monte Albán

The day starts with a half-day excursion to the archaeological area of Monte Albán, which is located on a hill top 400 metres above the city of Oaxaca. Monte Albán was constructed over a period of 2000 years, after work was begun around the year 900 BC by the Zapotec people. The amazing sights here include playing fields where Mesoamerican ball games were once played, pyramids and burial sites for the rulers. Your guide will tell you all about the site and explain the mysteries of the ‘dancers’ stones’. You will return to the hotel in the afternoon.

Day 6: Guided tour of Oaxaca

The day is given over to a tour of the city. You will visit Zocalo, the central square, which is famed for its charming atmosphere and numerous Marimba bands. A few streets from here stands Santa Domingo, the most famous Baroque church in Mexico. Right next door stands a museum of the same name, showcasing many of the finds from the giant archaeological area of Monte Albán.

In the evening, you will take the overnight bus to Tuxtla Gutierrez, where you will arrive the following morning.

Day 7: Tuxtla Gutierrez – Sumidero Canyon – San Cristóbal de las Casas

The bus arrives at the bus station in Tuxtla Gutierrez early in the morning. You have a couple of hours to go out for breakfast before being picked up for your tour to the Sumidero Canyon.

The Sumidero Canyon is 13 km long, and you will experience the deep canyon and beautiful scenery by speedboat on a 2-hour trip. If you are lucky, you might see vultures, monkeys and crocodiles.

After the sailing trip, you will continue on to San Cristóbal de las Casas, which is located at an altitude of 2,100 metres. The town was originally just called ‘San Cristóbal’; ‘de las Casas’ was added subsequently in honour of the Spanish priest Bartolomé de las Casas, who fought for the rights of the indigenous Indians. It is one of the most beautiful and charming colonial towns in Mexico. Here, you will feel and experience the Mayan culture, which adds a very special atmosphere to the town.

Please note there is no English-speaking guide on this day (nor is one needed).

Day 8: Excursion to Indian villages

The day is given over to a trip to visit the two Indian villages of San Juan Chamula and Zinacantán. San Juan Chamula is home to 50,000 descendants from the Mayans, primarily Tzotzil and Tzeltals. The Mayans place great emphasis on retaining their distinguishing features and cultural heritage, which is reflected, for example, in their own special language and in the fact that the town has its own regulations and own police force.

You will have the chance to visit Chamula’s distinctive church, which is located on the central square. The church is a good example of how the original Mayan beliefs gradually merged with the Catholic faith. The Indians pray to the Mayan god or saint relevant to the illness or wish that forms the basis for their visit. There are no pews in the church, so visitors have to kneel and pray on the floor among the numerous lighted candles. The air is thick with incense, and the walls are lined with wooden figures of the local saints and of John the Baptist, who is the guardian angel of the town.

Zinacantán is also home to a population of descendants from the Mayans, primarily Tzotzil. Both San Juan Chamula and Zinacantán are well-known for their weaving techniques, and each village has its own special costumes featuring carefully composed patterns and colours. At the markets, Indian traders in colourful clothes sell ceramic items and clothing made of wool and cotton.

Day 9: San Cristóbal de las Casas – Panajachel

Today, you will leave Mexico and head for Guatemala, a trip of around 10 hours. So lean back and enjoy the varied landscape you drive past. You arrive at your hotel in Panajachel in the evening.

Panajachel is located by Lake Atitlán, surrounded by volcanoes and Mayan villages. The view over the lake is absolutely enchanting.

Day 10: Lago Atitlán

A half-day excursion has been booked for today. You start by sailing to the town of Santiago de Atitlán, the biggest town on the shores of the lake. The trip takes around 45 minutes. This is a wonderful place to experience the local life and culture, and to meet the local people – direct descendants of the Tzutujil Mayans – in their colourful clothes. You will also have the chance to visit one of the oldest churches in Mexico, which presents a fascinating blend of the Christian faith and the Mayan culture.

Day 11: Panajachel – Antigua

The time has now come to head for Antigua, a journey of around 2.5 hours. Antigua was once the capital of Guatemala. Following an earthquake that destroyed more than 3,000 buildings, the capital was moved to Guatemala City. Antigua is a beautiful, charming city with cobbled streets and old, colourful colonial buildings. It also enjoys a magnificent location, with views out over the surrounding volcanoes.

After your arrival, you will be given a guided tour of the city and your guide will talk about the history of Guatemala during the colonial age. The tour includes a visit to the magnificent cathedral, the Capuchin monastery – a fine example of colonial architecture – and the San Francisco el Grande church, which is one of the best preserved churches in the city. It is the final resting place of Hermano Pedro, the first saint from Central America. From the town hall, there is a wonderful view out over the city squares and the Agua volcano. The trip ends at a jade factory, where you can find out how the Mayans worked this precious stone – and how the work is done today.

Day 12: Antigua – Flores

You will be driven to the airport in Guatemala City to catch your flight to Flores in northern Guatemala – the gateway to Tikal National Park. When you arrive in Flores, you will be met at the airport and driven to your hotel.

Day 13: Tikal Nationalpark

The day is devoted to a visit to Tikal National Park, which is around an hour’s drive from Flores. Tikal was one of the most powerful kingdoms in the Mayan Age. The national park is located in the jungle, surrounded by kapok, cedar and mahogany trees. It is one of the biggest archaeological Mayan areas in Guatemala and features on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Take the time to admire the numerous pyramids, some of which are 60 metres high. If you are lucky, you may spot apes and other wildlife.

Day 14: Flores – Palenque

The time has now come to bid farewell to Guatemala. You will be picked up from your hotel and driven to Palenque in Mexico, crossing the border at El Ceibo – a journey of around six hours. On the other side of the border, you will be met by our representative who will accompany you to the hotel in Palenque where you will be spending the next two nights.

Day 15: Palenque – Misol-Há - Agua Azul

Palenque is set in an area of tropical rainforest and known for its beauty and magnificent location overlooking the flat Yucatán countryside. Palenque was one of the biggest cities in the Mayan kingdom, and gives its name to the nearby Mayan ruins, which feature on the UNESCO World Heritage List. These fascinating ruins are hidden deep in the almost impenetrable rainforest in the Chiapas Province of Mexico. Here, you can take a look at the Inscription Temple, a burial monument to King Pascal the Great. The 600 hieroglyphics carved into this temple make up the second-longest Mayan inscription in the world.

Next stop on today’s trip is the 35-metre-high Misol-Há waterfall, which is rightly famous for its beauty. It is located in the heart of the topical vegetation, covered by mahogany and sapote trees. Misol-Há was formed by cliffs collapsing into the river, which created a broad pool near the falls where you have the opportunity to go swimming.

Before returning to your hotel, there is just time to visit the Agua Azul falls as well. There are more than 500 large and small waterfalls here, ranging in height from 3 to 30 metres. With the turquoise water, intense colours, the constant breeze and the unbroken rumbling, this is one of the most beautiful and memorable natural attractions in Mexico. You will be back at your hotel towards the end of the afternoon.

Day 16: Palenque - Mérida

Today is given over to transport by first-class coach from Palenque to Mérida, a journey of around 8 hours. Lean back in the soft seats and enjoy the landscape rushing by. You can either walk from the hotel to the bus station in Palenque or take a taxi (at your own expense). On your arrival in Mérida, a taxi is waiting to drive you to your hotel.

The drive takes about 8 hours.

Day 17: Mérida

There are no excursions planned for the day, so you can choose to visit the flamingo colony in Celestun, to admire the magnificent Mayan ruins at Uxmal or to explore Mérida for yourself. It is a charming city, founded in 1542 on the site of the former Mayan settlement of Tihó. It is known as ‘The White City’ on account of the many white-painted houses it contains. The locals also refer to it as ‘the Paris of Mexico’ as it is the most European city on the Yucatán peninsula. During the last century, the city grew rich on the production of agave fibre, and the affluence of yesteryear is still reflected in the numerous impressive buildings.

Day 18: Mérida – Chichen Itza - Playa del Carmen

Today, you will be heading off to the delights of Playa del Carmen, but en route to the beach paradise you will be stopping off at the ruins of Chichen Itza, an ancient city that features on the UNESCO World Heritage List, and which has been named one of the seven wonders of the modern world.

The ruins actually include traces of two different cultural periods: one Mayan and one Itza. The Mayans were highly skilled in both astronomy and architecture, which is clearly evidenced in the ruins. For example, you can admire the 25-metre-high pyramid El Castillo, which is actually a representation of the Mayan calendar in stone. Every March and September, a ‘snake’ appears to be winding its way up the north steps – but it is only the shadow thrown by the sun. Other attractions here include the biggest antique playing field in Mexico, which measures more than 180 x 70 metres, the Temple of the Warriors, famous for its Chac-mool figure, and the observatory from where the Mayans studied the stars. In addition, you can see the holy well – Cenote Sagrado – which was used in religious rituals. It was originally a source of water, and the Mayans expressed their thanks through sacrifices to Chaac, the rain deity. Both human bones and valuable gifts to the gods have been found at the bottom of the well.

The tour then continues to the delightful holiday town of Playa del Carmen famous for its long, white sandy beach, palm trees and crystal clear water.

Possible upgrades:

For an additional cost, you can change the final beach part of your holiday from Playa del Carmen to Tulum. You can also choose to upgrade your hotel in Playa del Carmen. See the upgrade and additional purchase options below:

Day 19: Playa del Carmen

The day is yours to do with as you wish: explore Playa del Carmen on your own and relax on the fine white sandy beach, for example. You can also try some of the different water sports, such as windsurfing or jet-skiing, or go snorkelling and diving off Cozumel island – a world-famous paradise for divers with its fascinating grottoes and beautiful reefs. A ferry sails directly from the beach at Playa del Carmen to Cozumel, and the trip takes around 30–45 minutes.

The central square in Playa del Carmen is the Plaza Mayor, situated next to the beach and close to the departure point of the ferry that sails to Cozumel. Plaza Mayor marks the start of the main street in the town, Avenida 5, which is lined with shops, restaurants and bars. In the evening, the beaches transform into a giant party arena lined with bars that typically host live reggae or calypso music. It is hard to imagine a better way to start the evening than sitting down with a cool Corona beer, listening to sweet music and admiring the view out over the Caribbean Sea.

Day 20: Start of the trip home

The time has now come to bid farewell to Mexico. You will be driven to Cancún airport to start your journey home.
You will fly to the UK with connecting flights along the way.

Day 21: Arrival in the UK

You arrive in the UK after a wonderful tour.

Single room supplement £920
Special offers for groups of 6 or more. Request a quote today for more info.
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