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17 days

Yucatán & Guatemala

Experience Mexico and Guatemala’s amazing Mayan ruins, unique scenery with beautiful lakes and waterfalls, colourful colonial towns and indigenous communities, and 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.

Yucatán & Guatemala Yucatán & Guatemala
17 days

Yucatán & Guatemala

Experience Mexico and Guatemala’s amazing Mayan ruins, unique scenery with beautiful lakes and waterfalls, colourful colonial towns and indigenous communities, and 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
  • Return flights from the UK to Cancún (enquire regarding direct flights)
  • 1 domestic flight in Guatemala: Guatemala City – Flores
  • Transfers from and to airports (in small international groups)
  • Coach travel: Cancún – Mérida
  • First-class coach travel:  Mérida – Palenque
  • Coach travel: San Cristóbal de las Casas – Panajachel – Antigua // Flores – Chetumal – Playa del Carmen
  • 15 nights’ accommodation in good hotels incl. breakfast
  • 1 x lunch (day 2)
  • Individual tour, however, all excursions are in small international groups with local English speaking guides
  • Telephone 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 Chichen Itza, one of the wonders of the modern world
  • Visit to the ruined cities of Uxmal and Kabah
  • Visit to the Mayan complex of Palenque
  • Visit to the Aguas Azul and Misol-Há waterfalls
  • Trip to the Indian villages of Chamula and Zinacantán
  • Trip to Santiago de Atitlan, incl. visit to one of the oldest churches in the country
  • Guided tour of Antigua, with its colourful colonial buildings, and a visit to a jade factory
  • Visit to Tikal National Park with its Mayan pyramids
  • Admission tickets to the attractions mentioned

The tour in short

The Yucatán Peninsula and Guatemala are famous in particular for their beauty – and for the impressive ruins from ancient Mayan civilisations. This trip will take you to Chichen Itza – which is one of the seven wonders of the modern world – as well as to the ruin cities of Uxmal and Kabah, the ruin complex of Palenque, and Tikal National Park, which is home to tall Mayan pyramids. You can also look forward to experiencing wonderful landscapes featuring rivers, turquoise waterfalls and one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, set among towering volcanoes. The Yucatán peninsula and Guatemala still show clear signs of their ancient history, and the trip will take you to a variety of charming colonial towns and small, intriguing Indian communities. Your wonderful trip finishes up in the delightful resort town of Playa del Carmen, with its fine white sandy beaches and crystal-clear water.

Why choose this tour

  • Experience Mexico and Guatemala’s fascinating Maya ruins Chichen Itza, Uxmal, Palenque and Tikal, which are all on the UNESCO World Heritage List
  • Take a refreshing swim in the gorgeous Agua Azul Falls, which consists of over 500 larger and smaller waterfalls with turquoise water
  • Take a walk down San Cristóbal’s lovely cobblestone streets and see impressive cathedrals, plazas and colourful colonial houses, a remnant of the Spanish Colonial Era
  • Finish up with a beach holiday on Playa del Carmen’s fantastic beach and enjoy Mexican food at one of the many restaurants in the lively holiday town

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 Cancún

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

Day 2: Cancún – Chichen Itza - Mérida

Today, you leave Cancún and travel to Mérida. En route, you will stop at the ruined city of Chichen Itza, which featured on the UNESCO World Heritage List and 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. Both human bones and valuable gifts to the gods have been found at the bottom of the well.

From here, you continue on to Mérida, a drive of approximately 2 hours. Mérida 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 3: Uxmal – Kabah

You leave the hotel in the morning for a full-day excursion to one of the most famous archaeological sites in Yucatán: Uxmal, an ancient Mayan city ruin dating back to around 500 AD. It was the most powerful city in Western Yucatán until around 1200. Following the Spanish conquest of Yucatán, old colonial documents indicate that Uxmal was still inhabited until the 1550s, after which the city was abandoned. The buildings here were constructed of pink limestone, and the site presents some of the most beautiful and impressive Mayan ruins in the world, delightfully laid out on the hills. Uxmal means ‘built for the third time’ in the Mayan language, but the city was actually built and rebuilt on the site a total of five times in typical Mesoamerican tradition. Uxmal is in much better condition than many other Mayan settlements, largely because the city was extraordinarily well built. Much of it was constructed of finely hewn stones laid without cement. If you are lucky, you may spot some of the lizards that live among the ruins.

Some of the more notable buildings to view include the Governor’s Palace, a low building positioned on a 12-metre-high platform; the Magician’s Pyramid, an attractive pyramid temple; the Four-Winged Nunnery, the most impressive of the four-winged buildings in Uxmal featuring painstakingly carved façades; and a large playing field marked with inscriptions stating that it was established in 901 by Chan Chak K’ak’nal-Ahau.

Later on, you will visit Kabah, the second-largest Mayan ruin in the Puuc Region – exceeded only by Uxmal. Kabah means ‘strong hand’ in the Mayan language and the site is famous in particular for the ‘Codz Poop Palace’ with its numerous intricately carved Chaac masks. Chaac was a Mayan rain deity, and when you see how dry the region is, you will quickly understand why he was so important.

You will return to your hotel towards the end of the afternoon.

Day 4: Mérida – Palenque

Today, you have a long day of travelling ahead of you, but as you are on board a first-class bus to Palenque, you can just sit back in the soft seats and enjoy the landscape rushing by. In Mérida, you are picked up from your hotel and driven to the bus station. When you arrive in Palenque, you can either walk from the bus station to the hotel or take a taxi (at your own expense).

The drive takes about 8 hours.

Day 5: Palenque

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.
You will be back at your hotel in the afternoon.

Day 6: Palenque – San Cristóbal de las Casas

Today, you will leave Palenque and travel to San Cristóbal de las Casas (unguided). En route, you will stop to admire the 35-metre-high Misol-Há waterfall, which is rightly famous for its beauty. It is located in the heart of the tropical vegetation, surrounded 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 continuing on to San Cristóbal de las Casas, you will also have the opportunity to visit the Agua Azul falls. 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.

San Cristóbal de las Casas 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. Located at an altitude of 2,100 metres above sea level, it is without doubt 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 7: 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 8: San Cristóbal de las Casas – Panajachel

Today, you will head for Guatemala. This is a long drive of around 10 hours, so lean back in your seat and enjoy the varied landscape you drive past. You arrive at your hotel in Panajachel in the evening.

Panajachel is located by one of the world’s most scenic lakes, Lake Atitlán, surrounded by high volcanoes and 12 Mayan villages. The view here is absolutely amazing!

Day 9: 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 10: 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 11: 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 12: Tikal National Park

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 list of World Heritage Sites 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 13: Flores – Chetumal

Today, it’s time to say goodbye to Guatemala and drive to Chetumal in Mexico – a drive of approx. 8 hours. The tour passes through Belize, as it is the fastest way back to Mexico.
You take a taxi from your hotel in Flores to the bus station, and on your arrival in Chetumal, you take another taxi from the bus station to your hotel.

Chetumal is a quiet, tranquil city located by the sea and on the border with Belize.

Day 14: Chetumal – Playa del Carmen

Today, you drive to the fabulous seaside resort of Playa del Carmen, with its kilometre-long white sandy beach with palm trees and crystal clear waters. The drive takes about 4 hours.

You take a taxi from your hotel in Chetumal to the bus station, and on your arrival in Playa del Carmen, you take another taxi to your hotel.

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 15: 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 16: 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 17: Arrival i the UK

You arrive in the UK after a wonderful tour.

Single room supplement £695
Special offers for groups of 6 or more. Request a quote today for more info.
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