|MAYA OF THE CARIBBEAN COAST, YUCATAN
PENINSULA AND HIGHLAND RAINFOREST
7 Night 8 Day Tour
This tour can be customized to meet
your individual interests.
Join a small group for this tour March 18-27, 2014.
||Day 1: At 8 am your driver and guide will pick you up at your hotel (any hotel between Cancun and Tulum) and take you to spectacular
Tulum, the most visited of Mayan archaeological sites. Perched atop a cliff overlooking the turquoise waters of the Caribbean, it is a photographers dream come true! Colorful iguanas bask lazily on rocks in the sun; gentle waves caress the shore. The pristine beach is so beautiful it is almost surreal. It is easy to imagine the ancient Maya landing at this bustling seaport with their canoes filled with trade goods.
Tulum has a number of interesting structures from the ancient Mayan world. Graceful columns and elegant carvings give one an appreciation for the architectural achievements of the Maya. Inside the Temple of the Frescoes are fantastic 13th century murals depicting ancient ceremonies. One of the few surviving images of the Mayan goddess of fertility and medicine, Ixchel,
can be found here.
In the afternoon visit the extensive jungle ruins at Coba. You may explore the ruins by foot, bicycle or human-powered tricycle. Coba is situated in a lush natural setting filled with many species of animals, birds and butterflies and is a real nature lovers delight. It is also home to the tallest Mayan pyramid in the Yucatan. From its top you can see the jungle canopy stretch for miles in each direction. This vast archaeological site dates from 600-900 A.D. with an estimated population of 100,000 people. Then to the Villas Arqueologicas Hotel with excellent restaurant, pool & bar located adjacent to the archaeological site in Chichen Itzá. In the evening enjoy "Tales of the Maya Skies", the new digital full-dome planetarium show produced by Chabot Space & Science Center. "With unprecedented realism Tales of the Maya Skies immerses us in Maya science, art and mythology, using full dome digital technology to transport us back into the world of the Maya."
Day 2: By overnighting in Chichen Itza you'll beat the "big bus" crowds this morning when you visit majestic Chichen Itzá, the most famous of Mayan archeological sites, one of the "New 7 Wonders of the World", and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Chichen Itzá has numerous monuments to explore. El Castillo, or the grand pyramid, has a staircase on all four sides, each with 91 steps that totaled with the last step on top equal the 365 days in a solar year. Other important areas of this great ancient city are: the Main Ball Court, which is one of the largest discovered from the ancient Mayan world; the Sacred Well or Cenote, where archeologists discovered a number of well-adorned skeletons of sacrificial victims; the Temple Of The Warriors, with its 1,000 columns dedicated to the warriors of Chichen Itzá; and the Caracol or Observatory. Then to the lovely colonial city of Valladolid for lunch and sightseeing. This is a modern Mayan city with an important history where you can experience the best in traditional Yucatecan dishes. You can also shop in the plaza, where authentic Mayan goods are sold.
Then you visit Ek Balam, a Mayan archaeological site with some very distinct features. The wonderfully preserved state of the sculptures and frescos Ek Balam are some of the most outstanding examples of the art of the ancient Maya. Some figures are winged, some in meditative ¨lotus¨ position, one sits headless above the "Witz Monster" (entry to the underworld)". All are beautiful and exquisitely crafted. Then you'll go to historic colonial Merida for the evening. Stroll the main square, enjoy live traditional music, take a horse drawn carriage tour of the local monuments. You'll overnight at the Hotel Gran Real Yucatan, located 3 blocks from the main square in Merida. (If possible, we schedule this tour for you to be in Merida for "Merida Sunday", a weekly local fiesta with live entertainment, music and market.)
Day 3: This morning you visit the magnificent Maya ruins of Uxmal. Uxmal is one of the finest examples of the "Puuc Maya" architectural style. Graced with two of the largest pyramids in the Yucatan and a multitude of incredibly preserved frescos paying homage to the rain god Chac and the serpent god Quetzecoatal, it is a site that inspires both awe and mystery.
In the afternoon you'll visit the ruins at Labna, also home to many Chac masks and a beautiful corbeled arch. One of its interesting features is a carving of a Vision Serpent with a human head emerging from its outstretched mouth. Your hotel for the night will be historically restored Hacienda Uxmal.
Day 4: Today you'll transfer to Palenque (5 hours drive from Uxmal). On the way you'll have time to stop for sightseeing and lunch in historic UNESCO World Heritage Site Campeche City. Overnight at Maya Tulipanes Hotel in Palenque.
Day 5: Today you have an entire day to visit the spectacular ruins of Palenque and the Palenque archaeological museum. A UNESCO historical monument, Palenque is considered a world treasure. Ancient structures rise out of the lush rainforest on multiple terraces set against the mountains. There are many buildings to explore and new buildings are now being uncovered and studied. Many wonderful examples of Maya art and history are carved into the buildings facades, some of them the most famous depictions from the ancient Maya world. Palenque is exciting because of the vast amounts of information that has been painstakingly brought to light by archeologists over the years. Overnight at Maya Tulipanes Hotel in Palenque.
Day 6: Today you visit Bonampak and Yaxchilan. First you go to Bonampak, home of famous Mayan murals. Their ancient colors remain clear and vital, making them an excellent representation of Mayan art. Bonampak also has well preserved stele that detail important historical moments. Then you travel by boat down the mighty Usamacinta River to the mysterious ancient Maya site of Yaxchilan. This incredible boat ride through the rainforest with its huge trees and abundant wildlife makes you feel like you are in an Indiana Jones movie! The tremendous archeological site of Yaxchilan, situated on the riverbanks, rises in levels to temples with breathtaking views of the rainforest stretching far into Guatemala. You'll hear stories of ancient Mayan Queens who exerted great power and the Lacandon Indians who still use Yaxchilan as a place of worship. See howler monkeys and many exotic birds as you roam this well organized ancient Maya city. Overnight Maya Tulipanes Hotel.
Day 7: This morning you travel to Villahermosa to visit the La Venta Olmec Museum. There are 28 Olmec carvings at this beautiful outdoor museum with interesting zoo and lake. Each piece was set carefully for optimum viewing with benches placed for those wishing to meditate or ponder. The huge and amazingly well crafted Olmec heads, intricate altars, and intriguing stele and statues there makes one pause to reflect on the mystery of who these ancestors of the Maya people were. You’ll also visit the newly remodeled Carlos Pellicer Museum of Anthropology. On display is the controversial Tortuguero Stela 6 which has rare inscriptions referring to the end of the 13th baktún, which corresponds to December 21st, 2012. You'll overnight at the Hilton Hotel in Villahermosa.
Day 8: Hotel shuttle to the Villahermosa airport for departure.
Cost per person for this 7 night private tour (double occupancy):
2 people $2,485 per person
4 people $1,660 per person
6 people $1,355 per person
8 people $1,210 per person
$350 per child for up to 2 children under age 12 sharing hotel room with 2 adults. Infants go for FREE.
Book this private tour by May 1 for May 1 to Oct. 31 travel dates and receive a 10% discount + FREE hotel upgrade in Chichen Itza to historically restored Hacienda Chichen Resort & Yaxkin Spa (a Conde Nast Traveler and National Geographic recommended hotel).
For this tour you need to fly into Cancun and out of Villahermosa (or the schedule can also be reversed).
2 night tour of Palenque
Vivaaerobus non-stop flights
Cancun to Villahermosa
from $150 round-trip!
UPCOMING SMALL GROUP TOURS
Classic Maya of the Rainforest
Palenque & Tikal
Dec. 8-15, 2013:
Palenque, Bonampak, Yaxchilan,
La Venta Olmec Museum, Tikal,
Uaxactun, Yaxha & more!
Spring Equinox at Chichen Itza
March 18-22, 2014:
Plus Ek Balam, Uxmal, Labna,
Kabah, Tulum, Coba & More!
Classic Maya of the Rainforest
March 23-27, 2014:
Palenque, Bonampak, Yaxchilan,
La Venta Olmec Museum & more!