Imagine, for a moment, that you could see all the things you want to see on a tour of Mexico (y’know, the major sites) before embarking on a five-day river exploration through the deepest, darkest jungle. Imagine you could retrace the steps of explorers and adventurers of decades past, uncovering ancient ruins that most travellers will never have the privilege of seeing. Imagine you could do it all with aboriginal guides and an expert archaeologist by your side…
Well, thanks to our new expeditionary trip, Exploring the Mayan World, you don’t need to imagine anymore. This trip, created by our expert product manager for Central America, Martin Ruffo, does all of the above and more. There’s a 99% chance it’ll take you further ‘off the beaten track’ than you, or anyone you know, has been before. It’s the purest definition of an expedition, and we’re 110% excited about it. You should be too.
We caught up with Martin to find out more about this incredible new adventure in Mexico.
This trip is pretty different for Intrepid – what gave you guys the idea?
I met this guy called Mauricio in Mexico when I was there for an adventure travel expo. Mauri is an adventure travel fanatic who also has a passion for mediating between the aboriginal cultures of his country and the outside world – qualities not easy to find!
One day Mauri was telling me about this trip he had taken years ago with a bunch of friends, deep into the jungle with the prospect of seeing hardly visited Mayan sites. It sounded incredible and I wanted to make it happen, but of course, a trip like this is not your mainstream adventure to Mexico so I didn’t think it would work. But a few months later, Intrepid launched into the Expedition style of travel, and I had the perfect excuse to bring this trip to life.
What makes it such a unique experience?
There are a couple of factors that make this trip unique. During the first six days of this itinerary you tick off most of the highlights you always wanted to come to Mexico for: DF, Puebla, the exquisite culinary destination of Oaxaca and quaint town of San Cristobal de las Casas.
But then, after you’ve done all that, you spend five days rafting and exploring one of the most amazing jungles in the Americas joined by local aborigines to help us understand this unique, intimidating and fascinating environment as well as a professional archaeologist to give us an exclusive understanding of the lost Mayan world.
Tell us a bit about Giles Healey and how he inspired this trip…
Un explorador con cojones…Google that! He was an explorer in the full sense of the word. Healey explored the areas we visit back in 1946 with some local Lacandon Maya people and discovered the ruins of Bonampak. But he also wrote of another city, situated even deeper in the jungle – that city hasn’t been seen since. And this trip retraces Healey’s footsteps – wrap your head around that.
It’s not until you are in the jungle yourself that you start to understand the calibre of the challenges Healey must have faced to explore this part of the world back then, when safety and technology were luck and machetes respectively…
How difficult was it to think up the route and plan the itinerary? Did you encounter any problems along the way?
The route to follow was pretty straight forward to design…just follow the river! But we put a lot of thought to the safety part of this trip, contingency plans, gear needed, resources, etc. It was truly like planning an old fashioned expedition!
What are some of the best experiences on this itinerary? ‘Rafting forgotten rivers’ sounds pretty fun!
That has to be the one. But again, to me the most valuable part of that experience is being accompanied by local aboriginals and an archaeologist. Without them, a jungle is a dangerous maze of green and a Mayan ruin a bunch of piled up rocks. These guys will open your eyes to the secrets of living in the jungle and bring back to life an amazing culture like the Mayan.
What kind of things can travellers expect on the ‘jungle exploration’ part of the trip?
They should expect to rough it up a bit. This is the real deal. It will be hot, humid, we’ll be camping in the jungle, food will be nutritious rather than fancy and toilets will be in the bush (shovel provided!). You should also expect very, very envious friends, colleagues and family on your return home.
What kind of traveller would a trip like this appeal to? Would you recommend it to Mexico first-timers?
The adventurer…the explorer…regardless the age. If you’ve read this far, this trip is probably for you. And absolutely yes for the first timer!
Any unexpected surprises along the way?
If I tell you about them now they won’t be surprises any longer. We’re going deep into the jungle…expect surprises…