Land of the Maya Trip Notes

    • 23
    • QVKFC
    • Total price tool tip
      USD $3,920
      CAD $4,170
      AUD $4,330
      EUR €3,010
      GBP £2,590
      NZD $5,135
      ZAR R39,420
      CHF FR3,715
      *
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Last Modified: 31 Jul 2014
Land of the Maya
Trip code: QVKFC
Validity: 01 Jan 2014 to 31 Dec 2014
Wander around ancient ruins in Mexico, swan through the aqua blue waters of Belize and navigate the colonial alleyways of one of Guatemala's most beautiful major cities. From the grimy yet tantalising streets of Mexico City, through the underwater wilderness of Caye Caulker, to the ancient Maya temples of Tikal, Central America is a hot spot for historical adventures, nature enthusiasts and party animals. Pack bathers, sunscreen and a sense of adventure for an exploration through the Land of the Maya.
This trip is run by our experienced sister company Peregrine Adventures. Your group is therefore likely to be a mixture of Intrepid passengers and other like-minded international travellers.
Table of Contents
StyleDeparture taxAlternate Finish point
ThemesImportant notesEmergency contact
MapGroup sizeEmergency funds
ItineraryYour fellow travellersVisas
Itinerary disclaimerSingle travellersIssues on your trip
Culture shock rating AccommodationWhat to take
Physical ratingMeals introductionHealth
Physical preparationMealsSafety
Included activitiesTransportTravel insurance
Optional activitiesGroup leaderResponsible Travel
Money ExchangeJoining point A couple of rules
Spending moneyAlternate Joining point The Intrepid Foundation
TippingArrival complicationsFeedback
Style
Comfort
  • Comfort is your style of travel if you want the whole grassroots experience with more inclusions, meals and creature comforts. While accommodation is predominantly tourist class (3-4 star), on some itineraries there is the opportunity to stay with a local family, spend the night on a train or camp out in exotic places (without putting up your own tent of course). Along the way, you'll really experience the destination up close. You'll mingle with locals, enjoy a taste of their way of life and gain special insights from your leader. This is not luxury travel, but real world experiences - just with a softer landing!
Themes
Explorer
Map
Land of the Maya
Itinerary
Days 1-3 Mexico City
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 6pm 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.
The following day we head out and take a tour of the ancient city of Teotihuacan.
Located 50 kilometres northeast of Mexico City are 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. This was once the country's biggest ancient city 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 AD 500, when its influence extended down to Guatemala and as far north as present-day Texas. With the help of a local guide we 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. We will also visit Virgen de Guadalupe, the city’s major religious landmark.
On our last day in Mexico City we will take 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.
Included Activities
  • Complimentary airport arrival transfer
  • Mexico City - Teotihuacan Ruins
  • Mexico City - Governor's National Palace and Diego Rivera murals
  • Mexico City - Museum of Anthropology
  • Mexico City - City Tour
  • Mexico City - Metropolitan Cathedral
Optional Activities
  • Mexico City - Leon Trotsky Museum - MXN40
  • Mexico City - Mariachis Garibaldi Square - USD10
  • Mexico City - Frida Kahlo Museum - USD8
Accommodation
Hotel (3 nts)
Day 4 Puebla
This morning we travel by private minivan to Puebla. On arrival we will head out on a city tour including the Cathedral, Santo Domingo Church and Rosary Chapel and the Street of Candy.
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.
Included Activities
  • Puebla - City Tour
  • Puebla - Rosary Chapel and Santo Domingo Church
Optional Activities
  • Puebla - Cooking class - USD55
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 5-6 Oaxaca
This morning we travel by minibus to the colonial city of Oaxaca. On arrival we will take an orientation tour of the city.
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 mescal and tequila, and watch life go by.
The following day 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. The terraces, dams, canals, pyramids and artificial mounds of Monte Alban were literally carved out of the mountain.
We explore the site with a local guide, before returning to Oaxaca for the afternoon, which is free for you to explore Oaxaca at your leisure.
Included Activities
  • Oaxaca - Monte Alban Ruins
Optional Activities
  • Oaxaca - Cultural Museum and Garden - USD8
  • Oaxaca - Folkloric ballet (seasonal) - USD10
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 7 Tehuantepec
This morning we drive south towards the Pacific coast on our way to Tehuantepec. On the way we will 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.
Included Activities
  • Oaxaca - Tule Tree
  • Oaxaca - Mezcal Factory
  • Oaxaca - Mitla ruins visit
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 8-9 San Cristobal de las Casas
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.
The following day we 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. While we are here we will take a tour to explore these villages and learn more about the culture and history of these mainly Mayan communities.
Included Activities
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Sumidero Canyon
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Villages tour
Optional Activities
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Lagunas de Montebello - USD35
  • San Cristobal - Bicycle rental (per hour) - USD30
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 10-11 Palenque
Today we travel by minivan to Palenque, where we visit the waterfalls of Misol-ha and Agua Azul.
Although not far apart, Misol-ha and Agua Azul waterfalls could hardly be more different. Misol-ha is 35 metres high and falls in a long drop to a pool below. Here it is possible to walk underneath the falling water to the cataracts on the other side. Agua Azul on the other hand is low and wide, with multiple, smaller cascades falling over limestone. The river here runs for miles and is a spectacular blue colour from the minerals in the limestone. Take a dip in the turquoise pools, but be sure to follow local advice on where to swim, as the current in some areas is very strong.
The following morning we take a tour of the Palenque ruins.
Palenque is situated on a hilltop in an area of hot jungle and is home to possibly the most impressive series of Mayan ruins, which date back at AD600. Whilst walking amongst the ruins it is often possible to hear the eerie calls of howler monkeys echoing from the jungle, giving an added dimension to this magnificent site. The temples are superb relics of Mayan culture and there are many ruins here still un-excavated and hidden in the surrounding forest.
The afternoon is free for you to relax in town, or perhaps take a jungle tour.
Included Activities
  • Palenque - Misol-Ha and Agua Azul waterfalls
  • Palenque ruins entrance fee
Optional Activities
  • Palenque - Jungle Trail Tour - USD10
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 12 Campeche
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.
Included Activities
  • Campeche - City Tour
  • Campeche - San Miguel Fort
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 13 Merida
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 Mayan architecture, and the mystical Pyramid of the Magician, which consists of 5 super-imposed temples.
We then continue on to the 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. 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.
Optional Activities
  • Merida - Celestún Bird Sanctuary - USD35
  • Contemporary Art Museum - USD5
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 14-15 Playa del Carmen
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 losing players in which would not have escaped with their heads. 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.
Included Activities
  • Chichen Itza - Ruins
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 16-17 Caye Caulker
This morning we travel by minibus to the town of Tulum, and visit its cliff-top ruins.
Sitting on a cliff with views of an azure ocean, Tulum not only has spectacular Maya ruins to discover but some of Mexico's finest beaches to frolic on.
We then continue by minibus to the town of Chetumal, where we transfer to a water taxi, which takes us to the island of Caye Caulker.
The Belize Cayes are a group of islands a short boat ride away from the coast. There are a number of these islands to choose from, but we base ourselves on Caye Caulker as this is one of the more popular islands with travellers. From here it is possible to arrange day trips to other Cayes, to the best reefs for diving, or simply to take a local boat out to the reef of Caulker itself. Each island has its own particular character, but all of them have the unmistakeable Caribbean pace and charm.
The following day we include a half-day snorkelling trip to the reef, where you will most likely see sharks, rays, fish and coral. There is also the option to upgrade to a full-day snorkelling package if you wish, with additional chances to see animals such as turtles and manatees. Otherwise spend your afternoon shopping for souvenirs, sipping cocktails overlooking the water, or swimming off the Split.
Included Activities
  • Tulum - Ruins
  • Caye Caulker - Snorkel trip (half day)
Optional Activities
  • Caye Caulker - Snorkel trip (full day) - USD70
  • Caye Caulker - Sunset sail - USD25
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 18-19 San Ignacio
Today we travel to San Ignacio by private minibus.
We then continue to San Ignacio (approx. 3 hours) in the forested hills of the highlands. Surrounded by fast flowing rivers, waterfalls and Mayan ruins, San Ignacio is an ideal base to explore the region.
The following day is free. Some of the optional activities are a day trip to Xunantunich, an impressive Mayan ceremonial centre with panoramic views over the countryside. The east side of one of the temples has a unique stucco frieze and the central plaza has three carved stelae. Getting to the site is half the fun: you'll need to take a hand-cranked ferry to cross the river. It is also possible to take a day trip to the Mountain Pine Ridge area to visit waterfalls, warm swimming holes and a huge system of caves.
The cave of Tunichil Muknal is a living museum of Mayan relics. Wade through water until you reach a Mayan ceremonial site. Here you will find ceramic pots and crystallised skeletons, preserved by the natural processes of the cave for over 1400 years.
For those who can't get enough jungle fun there are also opportunities to go tubing or canoeing through the region. And for those who would like some time to reflect on the beauty of nature, there is always San Ignacio's butterfly garden.
Optional Activities
  • San Ignacio - River tubing - USD95
  • San Ignacio - Butterfly farm - USD6
  • San Ignacio - Bicycle rental (per hour) - USD3
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 20 Tikal
Today we travel by minibus to Tikal.
Towering above the jungle of the Tikal National Park, the five granite temples of Tikal are an awesome sight and one of the most magnificent Maya ruins. Hidden in the jungle growth is a maze of smaller structures just waiting to be explored. The energetic can climb to the top of the ruins for spectacular views over the canopy. You may even spot toucans, macaws and other colourful birds.
Included Activities
  • Tikal - Tour of ruins and national park
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 21-23 Antigua
Early this morning we drive to the nearby airport and fly to Guatemala City, from where we transfer to Antigua.
The old colonial capital of Guatemala, Antigua remains the cultural centre of the country. Its cobbled streets, Mayan and local markets, colonial buildings, and indigenous marimba music emanating from the many bars and restaurants create a fantastic atmosphere.
While here, we visit a women's cooperative. The cooperative was founded in 1992 as an independent grassroots organisation whose goal is to assist community development, health, education, clean water and income generation. The women demonstrate their skills in traditional crafts such as weaving, textiles and cooking.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
Included Activities
  • Antigua - Women's cooperative visit
Optional Activities
  • Antigua - Coffee/Macadamia nut plantation tour - USD20
  • Antigua - Chocolate Museum - USD24
  • Antigua - Salsa lessons (per hour) - USD7
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
  • QVKFC Single Supplement (QVKFC)
    Itinerary disclaimer
    Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website: www.intrepidtravel.com
    Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.
    Culture shock rating

    Expect some culture shock. You'll be exposed to signs of poverty and access to services may be sporadic. The food will be quite different to home and English speakers harder to find. Respecting the local culture will make it easier to fit in and really experience the location.
    Physical rating

    Some easy physical activities included in your trip. No physical preparation is required to make the most of the journey.
    Physical preparation
    We recommend that you undertake regular aerobic exercise in the weeks before you travel, particularly if you are not in the habit of regular exercise. Walking, jogging, swimming or riding a bike are all good ways to increase your aerobic fitness, which will allow you to enjoy the trip to its fullest.
    Included activities
    Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
    Optional activities
    A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are approximate and are for entrance only and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability and it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination.
    Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. This means that it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, however we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with booking these activities. The decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
    Money Exchange
    The official currency of Mexico is the Mexican Peso (MXN).
    The official currency of Belize is the Belize dollar (BZD).
    The official currency of Guatemala is the Quetzal (GTQ).
    With ATMs being widely available in major towns and cities, credit and debit cards are the best way to access money in Latin America (note though that charges are made for each transaction). Please check with your bank before departure that your card is accepted in the countries you are travelling to. Also ensure your bank is aware of your travel plans as - suspecting fraud - they may cancel your cards after the first few international transactions.
    Be aware that your withdrawing limit may vary from country to country (regardless of your withdrawing limit in your home country) and it can be as low as the equivalent to US$100 per day.
    It's also advisable to carry some cash in small denominations bills, for those times when ATMs may not be available. US$ dollars is the most readily changeable currency.
    VERY IMPORTANT:
    US$100 bills with serial number CB or BE and any other US$ bills that are old, torn, written or stamped on will not be accepted by local banks.
    Spending money
    Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
    Tipping
    If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations.
    The following amounts are per person suggestions based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
    Restaurants: Local markets and basic restaurants - round your bill up to the nearest S/5. More up-market restaurants we suggest 10% to 15% of your bill.
    Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your tour leader. We suggest S/10 per passenger per day.
    Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We suggest S./3 to S/6 per day for drivers.
    Your Tour Leader: You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline US$2-US$4 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
    In total, we recommend you budget approx US$5-US$10 per day of your trip to cover tipping.
    Over the years we have found that many of our travellers find the need for tipping to be both tiresome and embarrassing, especially if they don't have the correct small change. To overcome this, we have established a tipping kitty system. At your group meeting, your tour leader may discuss the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your tour leader pays the tips while keeping a running record of all monies spent (except restaurant tips). The record can be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members.
    Departure tax
    Please allow US$25 for international departure tax from Mexico. This is sometimes included in your international airfare.
    Please allow US$19 for departure tax from Belize.
    Please allow US$15 when flying into Guatemala City airport and a further US$15 if you are flying out of Guatemala City airport. These payments must be made in cash at the airport and are in addition to the US$30 international departure tax which may be included in your international flight ticket.
    If departing Guatemala by land, please allow US$3 for departure tax.
    Important notes
    OUR LOCAL PARTNER:
    This trip is operated by Peregrine Adventures and you will be joined by other like minded Intrepid and non Intrepid travellers. Single travellers will share accommodation with another traveller of the same sex.
    HURRICANE SEASON::
    Please note that hurricane season is June to November in this region, when landslides, mudslides, flooding and disruptions to essential services can occur. Intrepid monitors such situations should they arise, and may need to change itineraries or activities in response to these natural weather occurrences.
    ITINERARY CHANGE:
    Please note that due to a change in flight schedule, we have had to vary this itinerary slightly from what was printed in the brochure. The trip will now spend 2 nights in Puebla instead of 1, and 2 nights in San Cristobal de las Casas instead of 3.
    Group size
    Maximum of 16 travellers per group.
    Your fellow travellers
    As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.
    Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit: www.intrepidtravel.com/meetup
    Single travellers
    Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
    Accommodation
    Hotel (22 nts)
    The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.
    Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.
    If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.
    Meals introduction
    While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
    Meals
    22 Breakfasts
    Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.
    USD 450.00
    There are some breakfasts included on this trip. Please note these may be quite simple and be comprised of just bread, butter, jam, coffee / tea and juice (or similar).
    Transport
    Taxi, Metro, Bus, Minibus, Boat, Plane
    Group leader
    All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.
    Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
    Joining point
    Hotel Regente City
    Paris No. 9
    Cuauhtemoc District
    Mexico City
    06030
    MEXICO
    Phone: 52 55 10848700
    Fax: 52 55 10848710
    Alternate Joining point
    For trips departing on the following dates, use this joining point.
    04 Jan 2015 (QVKFC150104), 11 Jan 2015 (QVKFC150111), 08 Feb 2015 (QVKFC150208), 22 Mar 2015 (QVKFC150322), 29 Mar 2015 (QVKFC150329), 05 Apr 2015 (QVKFC150405), 10 May 2015 (QVKFC150510), 14 Jun 2015 (QVKFC150614), 12 Jul 2015 (QVKFC150712), 26 Jul 2015 (QVKFC150726), 09 Aug 2015 (QVKFC150809), 13 Sep 2015 (QVKFC150913), 11 Oct 2015 (QVKFC151011), 08 Nov 2015 (QVKFC151108), 06 Dec 2015 (QVKFC151206)
    Hotel San Francisco Centro Historico
    Luis Moya No. 11
    Centro Historico
    Mexico City
    MEXICO
    Arrival complications
    We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your group trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.
    Please also make sure have a copy of the local operators Emergency phone numbers from our Emergency Contact section of these trip notes.
    Alternate Finish point
    For trips departing on the following dates, use this finish point.
    07 Sep 2014 (QVKFC140907), 19 Oct 2014 (QVKFC141019), 30 Nov 2014 (QVKFC141130), 07 Dec 2014 (QVKFC141207)
    Hotel Posada del Hermano Pedro
    3a Calle Ote. #1
    Antigua
    Antigua
    GUATEMALA
    Phone: +502 7832 3926
    Alternate Finish point
    For trips departing on the following dates, use this finish point.
    21 Dec 2014 (QVKFC141221), 04 Jan 2015 (QVKFC150104), 11 Jan 2015 (QVKFC150111), 08 Feb 2015 (QVKFC150208), 22 Mar 2015 (QVKFC150322), 29 Mar 2015 (QVKFC150329), 05 Apr 2015 (QVKFC150405), 10 May 2015 (QVKFC150510), 14 Jun 2015 (QVKFC150614), 12 Jul 2015 (QVKFC150712), 26 Jul 2015 (QVKFC150726), 09 Aug 2015 (QVKFC150809), 13 Sep 2015 (QVKFC150913), 11 Oct 2015 (QVKFC151011), 08 Nov 2015 (QVKFC151108), 06 Dec 2015 (QVKFC151206)
    Hotel Meson del Valle
    5a Avenida Sur #11-C
    Antigua
    GUATEMALA
    Phone: (502) 7882 4469
    Emergency contact
    In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, please contact Intrepid's local ground representative for Mexico on:
    Office:+52 55 56355845
    24 Hour Emergency:
    Mexico City: 04455 54511443 or 04455 19281743
    Outside Mexico city: 04555 54511443 or 04555 19281743
    Abroad: +52 1 55 54511443 or +52 1 55 19281743
    For all other enquiries please contact our Reservations department which is open 24 hours, 6 days per week. For further contact details please use the following page:
    Emergency funds
    Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
    Visas
    Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
    We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
    MEXICO:
    Australia: Not required
    Belgium: Not required
    Canada: Not required
    Germany: Not required
    Ireland: Not required
    Netherlands: Not required
    New Zealand: Not required
    South Africa: Yes - in advance
    Switzerland: Not required
    United Kingdom: Not required
    USA: Not required
    BELIZE:
    Australia: Not required
    Belgium: Not required
    Canada: Not required
    Germany: Not required
    Ireland: Not required
    Netherlands: Not required
    New Zealand: Not required
    South Africa: Not required
    Switzerland: Not required
    United Kingdom: Not required
    USA: Not required
    GUATEMALA:
    Australia: Not required
    Belgium: Not required
    Canada: Not required
    Germany: Not required
    Ireland: Not required
    Netherlands: Not required
    New Zealand: Not required
    South Africa: Yes - in advance
    Switzerland: Not required
    United Kingdom: Not required
    USA: Not required
    Issues on your trip
    While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
    We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
    You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
    What to take
    What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
    Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
    You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
    CLIMATE & CLOTHING:
    Night time temperatures can be low in the height of the winter months and at altitude so bring a set of warmer clothes. Thermal underclothes, being small and light, can be very useful. A light water and windproof jacket is useful and a hat essential.
    WATER BOTTLE:
    Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day
    Health
    All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
    You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
    DENGUE FEVER:
    Dengue Fever is common in Latin America and can occur throughout the year. Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay, Brazil and parts of Mexico are currently suffering from a serious outbreak. This virus is transmitted by mosquitoes. There is no vaccination against it, but there are preventative measures that you can take such as wearing long clothing, using repellent and being indoors particularly around dusk and dawn.
    Safety
    Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
    We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
    Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
    For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
    PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
    While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
    BUSES:
    Due to safety concerns, we don't use 'chicken buses' (i.e. repainted US school buses) in Guatemala and Honduras - inter-city coaches are used instead.
    SEAT BELTS:
    Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in your home country and not all the transport which we use is able to provide seat belts.
    WATER SAFETY:
    Please take care when taking part in any activities in the ocean, river or open water, where waves and currents can be unpredictable. It's expected that anyone taking part in water activities is able to swim and have experience in open water. All swimmers should seek local advice before entering the water.
    Travel insurance
    Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
    When travelling on a group trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
    If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
    Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
    Responsible Travel
    We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller:
    Latin Americans can be very conscious of appearance so try to be casual but conservative in your dress. Outside of beach areas halter tops and very short shorts should not be worn. When visiting churches or religious sites shoulders and knees should be covered.
    A couple of rules
    Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
    The Intrepid Foundation
    Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.
    The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
    Feedback
    After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.
    Remember that once you’ve left your feedback you’ll automatically be entered into our monthly draw for a US$500 (or equivalent in your local currency) travel voucher.