Experience the incredible sights of Mexico and Cuba on an Intrepid Comfort journey

Get a good dose of fun, sun, history and culture on this three-week journey through Mexico and Cuba. Become immersed in the mesmerising mayhem of Mexico City, taste the distinctive foods on offer in Oaxaca's traditional markets, gaze in awe out over the pyramids of Palenque and live it up in the hedonistic haven of Playa del Carmen. Then catch a flight over to Cuba and get a taste of history while strolling through Havana's tumble-down buildings, learn about the country's renegade spirit and settle into a plaza cafe to watch sleepy Trinidad stir into motion. Teeming with stunning natural scenery and brimming with history, this Mexico and Cuba adventure serves up fun and fascination in equal measure.

TRIP CHANGES FOR 2017:

The itinerary of this trip will change from 1 February 2017.

In order to improve our trips we regularly review feedback from past travellers and our local operations team. As a result of that process, in 2017 we’ll make the following changes to this itinerary:

Puebla will be a stop en-route to Oaxaca.
We will travel by overnight bus from Oaxaca to San Cristobal de las Casas (enabling us to drop an overnight stop in Tehuantepec) and
We will remove the overnight stop in Campeche.

These changes will enable us to spend more time in highlight destinations, including Mexico City, Oaxaca and Playa del Carmen.

The overall itinerary will look like this:

Day 1 Mexico City
Day 2 Mexico City
Day 3 Teotihuacan / Mexico City
Day 4 Puebla / Oaxaca
Day 5 Oaxaca
Day 6 Oaxaca
Day 7 San Cristobal de las Casas
Day 8 San Cristobal de las Casas
Day 9 Palenque
Day 10 Palenque Ruins / Merida
Day 11 Merida
Day 12 Chichen Itza / Playa del Carmen
Day 13 Playa del Carmen
Day 14 Tulum / Playa del Carmen
Day 15 Playa del Carmen
Day 16 to 22 - will remain unchanged.

Start
Mexico City, Mexico
Finish
Havana, Cuba
Countries
Cuba,
Mexico
Themes
Explorer
Code
QVKGC
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 Max 16
Carbon offset
358kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • Be dazzled by Mexico City's sprawling urban jungle
  • Take a stroll down Teotihuacan's 'Avenue of the Dead'
  • Shop for colourful handicrafts in Puebla's bustling markets
  • Wander among the ancient Zapotec ruins of Monte Alban
  • Cool off in the turquoise pools of Agua Azul
  • Bask on the glittering sands of Playa del Carmen
  • Journey back through time while navigating Havana's tumble-down neighbourhoods
  • Get sashaying to the salsa in Vinales
  • Admire the charming colonial architecture of Trinidad

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 May 2016 to 31 December 2016. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2017 - 31 December 2017

An airport arrival transfer is included. This transfer is only valid if arriving on day 1 or if you have booked pre-trip accommodation through Intrepid. Please provide your flight details at the time of booking, or at a minimum 15 days prior to travel (note - we may not be able confirm request made within 15 days of travel). Once you have provided your details a transfer representative will be booked to meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel.
Your adventure begins with a Welcome Meeting at 7pm on Day 1.
Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
Following the meeting, the leader will take the group out for an (optional) group dinner.
Modern meets ancient in Mexico City, the world's fastest growing urban centre. Although crowded and smoggy, the former Aztec capital offers a great variety of impressive museums, galleries and architecture.
Today we'll embark on a city tour taking in the Metropolitan Cathedral, Zocalo, National Palace and Museum of Anthropology.
The rest of your time here is free. Head to the city centre and see Aztec ruins or take the subway right through one of the temples. If you prefer to get out of the city and escape the crowds, take a trip to the canals and gardens of Xochimilco. In the evening, explore Mexico's exciting night life. Learn some dance moves from the locals, or try out your own to the music of a mariachi band.
Today we travel by private minivan to Puebla, stopping en route to explore the 'must-see' archaeological ruins of Teotihuacan - the site of the massive Pyramid of the Sun and Pyramid of the Moon which dominate the skyline of the complex.

This was once the country's biggest ancient cities, and capital of the Aztec people, who ruled over the largest empire in the pre-Hispanic era. Guarded by mountains, this magnificent city is thought to have been founded early in the 1st century AD and reached its peak around 500 AD, when its influence extended down to Guatemala and as far north as present-day Texas.

With the help of a local guide, you will have time to stroll down ‘The Avenue of the Dead’, uncover its many wonders and imagine what life must have been like nearly 2000 years ago.

After the tour we continue on to Puebla.
Although a rapidly growing city, Puebla has managed to combine modern development with its colonial past and there are plenty of well-maintained churches and colonial buildings to admire. Head to the markets to brush up on your bargaining skills and take some fantastic photos. This is a great place to pick up hand-painted tiles and other handicrafts. If you're looking for something more active, go for a hike near one of the area's looming volcanoes. After a day sightseeing and shopping, why not try some mouth-watering mole Poblano, a dish that is famous all over Mexico and that originated in Puebla, or try your hand at making it yourself at an optional cooking class.
This morning we travel by minibus to the colonial city of Oaxaca.
A beautiful old colonial town, Oaxaca is full of graceful arcades and colourful markets largely populated by descendents of the Zapotec and Mixtec Indians, who come here to sell their colourful woven blankets and shawls. Oaxaca is also known for its well-respected arts scene, including folk art, fine art and dance. Explore the markets and narrow, cobbled streets or simply sit in the square drinking the local mezcal and watch life go by.
Today we drive the short distance to the ancient Zapotec ruins of Monte Alban, located on top of a hill near the city.
Monte Alban was inhabited over a period of 1,500 years by a succession of cultures (Olmecs, Zapotecs and Mixtecs) and it is an outstanding example of a pre-Columbian ceremonial centre. With the help of a local guide, we'll have plenty of time to explore the remnants of plazas, tombs, palaces and temples that make up this fascinating site.
We return to Oaxaca for the afternoon, which is free for you to explore at your leisure.
This morning we drive south towards the Pacific coast. On the way to Tehuantepec we'll stop to see the Tule Tree (an impressively large Montezuma cypress tree), a mezcal factory, and the ruins at Mitla.
Mitla is an important Zapotec archaeological site and was the main religious centre for the Zapotec people. It was originally built as a gateway between the world of the living and the world of the dead and the name Mitla is derived from the Nahuatl word Mictlan, meaning ‘underworld’.
We spend the night in the town of Tehuantepec.
Today we continue driving east into the state of Chiapas.
On the way we visit Sumidero Canyon, an 800-metre deep canyon carved out by the Sumidero River and dating from the same time as the Grand Canyon. We then continue on to San Cristobal de las Casas.
With winding cobblestone streets and colonial Spanish architecture, San Cristobal de las Casas maintains a lovely old-world feel mixed with strong indigenous roots.
Take a tour to the Mayan villages of San Juan Chamula and Zinacantan.
In the highlands around San Cristobal are villages like Chamula, which serve as market places and religious ceremonial centres for the indigenous people who live in the surrounding hills. The local people have retained their traditional way of life and are often seen dressed in their own distinctive colourful costumes. We will take a tour to explore these villages and learn more about the culture and history of these mainly Maya communities.
Depart San Cristobal de Las Casas and head for Palenque today. The afternoon is at your leisure to relax and explore the town.

The local Zapatista movement in the region around Palenque has been quite active in recent months, occasionally holding protests or blocking roads. Our local operations team is constantly monitoring this situation to ensure the safety of our passengers and leaders. In some cases we might need to use an alternative route from San Cristobal to Palenque to avoid this activity - more so to bypass long traffic delays than any real danger. It's also possible that the Misol-Ha and Agua Azul waterfalls will not be accessible at the time we are scheduled to visit.
Today we enjoy a guided tour around the ruins of Palenque.
Situated on a hilltop in an area of hot jungle, lie some of the most incredible Maya ruins in the region, dating back to AD600. The eerie calls of howler monkeys echo through the jungle as you wander among ancient ruins, further enhancing the majestic nature of this magnificent site. Some ruins remain unexcavated and hidden in the surrounding forest.
Pack your swimsuits today as we drive north towards the Gulf of Mexico, where we stop at the beach for a swim. We then drive on to Campeche where we spend the night.
Campeche is a typical Spanish colonial harbour town, complete with walls and fortifications. A UNESCO World Heritage site, many of the town's buildings have been restored, and as a result it is one of the most picturesque towns in Mexico.
We take an orientation tour of the city and also visit the San Miguel Fort and museum.
This morning we head into the ancient ruins of Uxmal to view the amazing Palace of the Governors, considered by many to be the finest example of classic Maya architecture, and the mystical Pyramid of the Magician, which consists of 5 super-imposed temples.
We then continue on to the beautiful city of Merida, and take a tour of the city.
Founded in 1542, Merida still retains much of its old-world charm with a well-preserved Old Town, wonderful museums and city streets alive with art and culture. It was also a centre for Maya culture long before the arrival of the conquistadors.
You will have a free day to explore the many sights and your leader will be able to recommend a number of sightseeing options, including the impressive Regional Anthropology Museum of the Yucatan.
Hang out in the green and shady Plaza Grande, with the twin-towered 16th century Cathedral on one side and City Hall, State Government Palace and Casa Mantejo on the others. For a taste of Merida's 19th century glory go for a walk along the mansion lined Paseo de Montejo. Mornings are the best time to visit the outdoor markets and you can stock up on hammocks and Maya replicas. It's a great place to try out the local food specialities, like cochinita pibil or the head-blowingly spicy El Yucateco hot sauce.
Our first stop today is the archaeological site of Chichen Itza.
One of the most impressive Mayan sites, Chichen Itza contains both Toltec and Mayan ruins lying alongside each other. The famous El Castillo pyramid dominates the ruins and the site also has the largest ball court where games used to be held. The games are depicted in carvings on the walls. Nearby, excavations of the Well of Sacrifice offered up treasures of jade, copper and gold as well as many human and animal bones.
Following a guided tour of the site, we continue to the resort town of Playa del Carmen.
With azure waters, powdery beaches and a European feel, Playa del Carmen is a resort city close to Cancun but without the party atmosphere. Spend your time snorkelling among the mangroves, diving in underground caverns or strolling along the white sands. In the evenings kick back and watch the waves with a margarita. For adventures further afield take a ferry across the turquoise seas to Cozumel, an island famous for its reef diving.
The Mexico part of the trip ends after breakfast this morning. You will then transfer to Cancun airport for your flight to Havana. Please note that this flight is not included in the trip and you will need to book it separately. We recommend booking a flight that arrives into Havana in time for the welcome meeting at approximately 7pm.

Bienvenido a Cuba!
After collecting your luggage, please continue walking through the main arrivals hall of the airport. An Intrepid representative will meet you and transfer you to your Premium Guesthouse.

In the evening, at approximately 7 pm, you will meet your leader and the other members of your group for a pre-tour briefing. Please expect a letter or a phone call on Day 1 from your leader to confirm the time and place of your meeting. The briefing is generally followed by an optional group dinner.

Havana grew from an obscure port to a bustling hub when gold and silver that was being pillaged by the Spanish from the New World was taken to Spain. While the ships gathered in growing numbers, the pirates were not far behind and the treasures resting in Cuba's ports were attacked again and again by Dutch, English and French pirates. The Spanish built fort after fort for protection but the English eventually captured the territory. An economic boom followed due to the English lifting the Spanish trade restrictions. Spain eventually exchanged the Florida territory for the island, but these years left an indelible mark on the city and the country, and Havana is slowly restoring its beautiful colonial buildings.
This morning your leader will take you on a walking tour of Old Havana, including the cathedral, Plaza de Armas, San Francisco de Asis, Plaza Vieja and Central Park.
Drive west to Soroa where you will stop for lunch and tour the impressive orchid garden.
Continue on to Vinales where tobacco and sugarcane fields lie side by side and limestone outcrops dot the landscape.
The scenery here is some of the most picturesque in Cuba and there are many outdoor, optional activities available to help you enjoy it. Choose from cycling, hiking through tobacco fields, or hiking to mountain caves.
A walking tour of the farmlands and crops is included today. Learn more about the simple lifestyle here and see first hand the farmers who grow tabacco for some of the most expensive cigars.

Vinales is a small and charming rural village. It's probably the easiest place to mingle with locals in Cuba, who are very sociable. Many of them love nothing better than to drink rum and dance the night away. An informal salsa lesson is included so you are confident to be involved. There are only three bars in this town, so you probably won't find yourself getting lost!
Today you will board the bus and head to Trinidad. There's no doubt it's one of Cuba's alluring destinations, a great place to wander around, with almost every scene offering a photo opportunity. Watch as locals casually smoke their huge cigars on the doorsteps of their homes, and hear the old Chevrolets rumbling by. Kick things off by strolling along the cobbled streets and marvelling at some of the colourful colonial architecture on display (this town was put on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1988 for good reason).

 
Enjoy a day of free time. There are some great Spanish-style churches to see, and nearby is the Valle de los Ingenios, where sugar plantations stretch out as far as the eye can see. For some seaside fun, head down to Playa Ancon and stroll its long stretches of white sand. You can go for a snorkel too. Just be careful when you're in the water, as sea urchins can be a problem here. Back on the land, you can go horse-riding, cycling or hiking. If you rent a bicycle, be careful on the cobblestones, and remember your bike will be of the vintage variety. The trekking is great in the Sierra del Escambray, the local mountains. A folklore dance and music show in one of the open-air venues is highly recommended – a great chance to immerse yourself in Cuba's African, French and Spanish-influenced music and dance culture.
A short drive will take you to Cienfuegos today. This is the gem of the south, a seaside town of relaxing streets and dazzling buildings that strike a beautiful pose by the water. You will enjoy a photo stop at Palacio del Valle, which is Cienfuegos' architectural pride and joy. Learn more about its history as you take in the beauty of its intricate carvings of Venetian alabaster. If you haven't done so already, perhaps try some Cuban coffee while you're here – it's served black, strong and super sweet.

 
On your way back to Havana, you'll stop in at Santa Clara to visit the Che Guevara mausoleum and memorial. In the museum you can get a rare insight into the legacy of the revolutionary leader, with some interesting ephemera and artefacts on display – letters, firearms, even medical devices. Upon arrival in Havana, prepare for a final night of celebrations.

 
Your trip comes to an end this morning after breakfast. Check-out time is 10 am.
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
21 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 2 dinners
Transport
Private minivan, Private Bus
Accommodation
Hotel (14 nights), Premium Guesthouse (5 nights), Guesthouse (2 nights)
Included activities
  • Complimentary Airport Arrival Transfer
  • Mexico City - National Palace and Diego Rivera murals
  • Mexico City - Museum of Anthropology
  • Mexico City - Metropolitan Cathedral
  • Mexico City - City Tour
  • Mexico City - Teotihuacan archaeological site (inc. transport, entrance and guide)
  • Puebla - Santo Domingo Church and Rosary Chapel
  • Puebla - City Tour
  • Oaxaca - Monte Alban Ruins (entrance fee)
  • Oaxaca - Mitla ruins visit
  • Oaxaca - Mezcal Factory
  • Oaxaca - Tule Tree
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Sumidero Canyon (inc. transport)
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Mayan villages tour inc. San Juan Chamula
  • Palenque - Misol-Ha and Agua Azul waterfalls
  • Palenque - Archaeological site guided tour
  • Campeche - San Miguel Fort
  • Campeche - City Tour
  • Merida - Uxmal Ruins tour (inc. transport and guide)
  • Merida - Guided city tour
  • Chichen Itza - Entrance
  • Soroa - Orchid garden tour
  • Vinales - Guided valley walking tour
  • Havana - Guided walking tour of Old Havana
  • Trinidad - Informal Salsa lesson
  • Cienfuegos - Visit to the Palacio del Valle
  • Santa Clara - Visit to Che Guevara Mausoleum and Museum

Dates

There are currently no departures for this trip.

{{departure_day.departure_date | date:'EEE d MMMM yyyy'}} {{departure_day.arrival_date | date:'EEE d MMMM yyyy'}}

Style: {{departure.style}}

Boat/Ship: {{departure.vehicle_name}}
On sale Hot deal Departure guaranteed On request
{{product.currency_code}} {{room.base_price | noFractionCurrency:product.currency_symbol}}
{{product.currency_code}} {{room.discount_price | noFractionCurrency:product.currency_symbol}}
Fully booked Bookings closed

Total price per person {{room.room_type | lowercase}}
Includes {{departure.kitty_currency_code}} {{departure.kitty | noFractionCurrency:departure.kitty_currency_symbol}} kitty
Includes {{extra.extras_code}} {{extra.extras_symbol}}{{extra.extras_value}} in local payments Single supplement available from {{product.currency_code}} {{departure.single_supp | noFractionCurrency:product.currency_symbol}}

Contact us to arrange an alternative departure for you

Book {{departure.places_left}} spaces left! space left!

If you can’t find the dates you’re after here, click on the button below to find options for the next season. Please bear in mind that some of our itineraries can change from year to year, so this trip may differ slightly next season to the information shown on this page.

Next Season Dates

Important notes

1. The international flight from Cancun to Havana on Day 15 of this itinerary is not included in the price of this trip.
2. A single supplement is available on this trip.
3. An airport arrival transfer is included in Mexico City and in Havana. Please provide your flight details at the time of booking.
4. An airport departure transfer is included from Playa del Carmen. Please provide your flight details at the time of booking.
5. There are unprecedented changes happening in Cuba right now. It is an exciting time but it also means some patience and understanding is required for the heightened demand of infrastructure, accommodation and crowds.

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what’s included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

View trip notes

Reviews

Our Mexico and Cuba trips score an average of 4.33 out of 5 based on 6 reviews in the last year.

Mexico and Cuba , May 2016

Mexico and Cuba , April 2015