Enjoy an action-packed tour from Playa del Carmen to Antigua

Travel from the beach delights of Playa del Carmen to the Central American highlands on this dynamic Mexico to Guatemala tour. Clamber over ancient ruins at Chichen Itza, explore the pristine shores of the Mexican coast and discover the laidback highland charm of San Cristobal de las Casas. From the Yucatan Peninsula to volcano-studded Antigua, this trip really has it all.

Travel more, deposit less. Book now with just CHF 50!

Save a space on your 2019 trip with only a CHF 50 deposit until 31 August 2018.

Terms & Conditions

Start
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Finish
Antigua, Guatemala
Destinations
Guatemala, Mexico
Style
Original
Code
QVSJ
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why you'll love this trip

  • Revel in the beach vibe of Playa del Carmen

  • Explore incredible Maya pyramids at Chichen Itza

  • Travel along Mexico's amazing Yucatan Peninsula

  • Experience the great outdoors on the banks of Lake Atitlan

  • Trace the lines of ancient history at the Palenque ruins

  • Sample classic Guatemalan fare in Antigua

Is this trip right for you?

  • The tropical climate of Central America means conditions can be really hot and humid. Always carry plenty of water with you and stay hydrated, especially on walking tours.

  • Try to learn as many Spanish words as you can. Locals are very friendly, but also shy, so you'll need to make plenty of effort to break the ice. Attempting to communicate in Spanish is a great way of showing you care.

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2019 to 31 December 2019. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2018 - 31 December 2018

Bienvenidos! Welcome to this beachside playground. Your adventure begins with a Welcome Meeting at 6pm. 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. If you have time, why not kick off your shoes and walk along one of Playa's beaches. The evening is yours. Full of energy and craving a party? Try one of the many clubs that line the beachfront. Don't despair if you're not a techno-head, you can find a venue for every taste here, from rock and roll to jazz.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Some departures of this trip are part of a combination trip. As such, some of your fellow travellers may be continuing on longer itineraries from Antigua to start the second part of their trip – Mayan Adventure (QVSKC). Please contact our sales team if you wish to book or know more information on these longer combination trips.

On arrival in Mexico it is possible you will feel lethargic and lose some appetite. This is nothing to be concerned about and is just your body acclimatising to the heat and humidity. Be sure to drink plenty of water and try not to do too much in any one day, you'll soon adjust.
Rise and shine! At 8 am take a private minivan to the Maya ruins of Chichen Itza, and on the 3-hour journey you can practice your Spanish and spot charming villages. You’ll have a good couple of hours to explore the remains of Chichen Itza, an ancient city that fuses of religion, architecture and geometry. Then, travel on to the Yucatan capital of Merida for a beguiling dose of old-world charm. After a 2-hour ride, take a brief tour of the town centre and main attractions and then do as you please for the rest of the evening.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Chichen Itza - Archaeological site (Entrance fee & Transport)
  • Merida - Orientation walk
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Founded in 1542, it 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. It's a great place to try out the local food specialities, like cochinita pibil (barbecue pork) or the head-blowingly spicy El Yucateco hot sauce. Merida is also the gateway to the Maya ruins of Uxmal and there is an opportunity to visit these impressive ruins. Little is known about the site's origins but it is thought the city was founded around AD500.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Merida - Contemporary Art Museum - USD5
  • Merida - Celestun Bird Sanctuary (Entrance and Transport) - MXN1035
  • Merida - Uxmal Ruins tour (inc. shared transport and guide) - MXN810
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today we have an early start in order to jump on one of the very comfortable first or second class buses heading to Chiapas. These buses are equipped with bathrooms and TVs, though you may want to spend your journey staring out the window. There's plenty to admire in the landscape of Mexico's South, particularly once you reach the mountainous region of Chiapas. There will also be time for an informal Spanish lesson. Arrive at your hotel in the evening and get some rest for tomorrow—a day full of archaeological wonder.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Informal Spanish Lesson
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today we will hit the ruins with a local guide in Palenque to give you all the information that you need on the impressive Maya city state, entry fee included. The pyramids and structures that formed this once thriving hub are now swallowed by jungle. 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.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Palenque - Archaeological site (Entrance fee & Transport)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
After breakfast you'll grab a seat on a bus bound for San Cristobal de las Casas.The roughly 5-hour journey will be broken up with a refreshing dip in the the turquoise waters of the multi-tiered Agua Azul falls and a visit to the cascading Misol-Ha waterfall. Continue southward to San Cristobal de las Casas and explore this lovely city in a guided tour. With winding cobblestone streets and colonial Spanish architecture, San Cristobal maintains a lovely old-world feel mixed with strong indigenous roots. Maybe make a note of any particular points of interest during your tour, which you can then come back to during your free evening.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Leader-led city tour
  • Agua Azul waterfall - Visit with option to swim (Entrance fee)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
The local Zapatista movement in the region around Palenque has been quite active in recent years, 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 Palenque to San Cristobal to avoid this activity - more so to bypass long traffic delays than any real danger.
In nearby San Juan Chamula, you'll find an insular indigenous community where life is heavily informed by a spiritual blend of ancient ritual, animism and Catholicism. Make sure to visit the church, where the floor is covered with pine needles and the air is heavy with incense. Shamans come here to carry out cleansings with firewater, ancient prayer and sometimes chickens. There are also markets with colourful handicrafts for sale. Back in town, why not go for a stroll and try to spot the cafe with the most locals in it for a taste of the traditional 'elote', a corn cob which makes a common snack in the highlands of Chiapas.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Maya village - San Juan Chamula
Optional Activities
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Jade Museum - USD5
  • Sumidero Canyon - Boat Excursion (Entrance & Transport) - USD30
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Mountain bike tour - USD45
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Now entering Guatemala! From San Cristobal we head down by van. It takes about 4 hours to get to the Guatemalan border, just make sure you have your passport ready and the tour leader will give you detailed instructions on what to do once at the border. Our first stop is located on beautiful Lake Atitlan. Panajachel has a thriving market, good eateries and many water-based activities to enjoy. The surrounding area is dotted with villages which can be reached on foot or by boat. After a leader-led orientation walk, why not pick one and start exploring? In each village the local life has changed little over the last few hundred years. Each village has its own typical dress and make all the textiles themselves in designs passed down through generations.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Panajachel - Orientation walk
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today is wide open for you to continue exploring this fascinating region of Guatemala. You could go for a swim or hire a kayak, soaking up the sun and the breathtaking mountain views. If you're feeling adventurous, you could jump on the zipline that takes you through lush forest and spits you out over the lake. Just chat to your leader about the various optional activities you can partake in today.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Panajachel - Water taxi to Santiago, San Pedro or San Juan - USD8
  • Panajachel - Kayak rental (per hour) - USD8
  • Panajachel - San Pedro Volcano hike - USD75
  • Panajachel - Bicycle rental (per day) - USD10
  • Panajachel - Zipline - USD52
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
The old colonial capital of Guatemala, Antigua remains the cultural centre of the country. Its cobbled streets, local markets, colonial buildings, and indigenous marimba music emanating from the many bars and restaurants create a fantastic atmosphere. After a 4-hour drive, an orientation walk will get you started in the city, then it's up to you. If you're into salsa dancing or you'd like to learn some steps, Antigua is the place to be. Many dancing schools offer hourly lessons that give you the preparation to hit the discos at night and show your moves.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Antigua - Orientation walk
Optional Activities
  • Antigua - Pacaya Volcano hike - USD16
  • Antigua - Chocolate-making workshop - USD25
  • Antigua - Bike tour - USD40
  • Antigua - Coffee/Macadamia nut plantation tour - USD45
  • Antigua - Salsa lesson (per hour) - USD7
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
The trip ends after breakfast this morning.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Unfortunately, more than half the population of this beautiful Guatemala you have come to know so well lives under the poverty line, which may explain why Guatemala has also the lowest literacy rate in Central America. With this in mind, the Intrepid Foundation is proud supporter of CasaSito, an outstanding not for profit organization dedicated to assist youth to reach their academic, personal and professional potential.

If you have 2’ to spare (2’41’’ to be exact!) take a look at this short video about CasaSito – it’s inspiring: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=3KBiGdEcV4w

If you want to help CasaSito and Guatemalan’s youth, you can donate through the Intrepid Foundation, which means that your donation will be match dollar for dollar by Intrepid too. No donation is too small. $5, $10, $50 it all goes a long way to help this fantastic organization. Simply visit our website: www.theintrepidfoundation.org/projects/casasito/

Meals

5 breakfasts

Transport

Private vehicle, Taxi, Public bus

Accommodation

Hotel (10 nights)

Included activities

  • Chichen Itza - Archaeological site (Entrance fee & Transport)
  • Merida - Orientation walk
  • Informal Spanish Lesson
  • Palenque - Archaeological site (Entrance fee & Transport)
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Leader-led city tour
  • Agua Azul waterfall - Visit with option to swim (Entrance fee)
  • Maya village - San Juan Chamula
  • Panajachel - Orientation walk
  • Antigua - Orientation walk

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1. There are no activities planned for the final day so you may depart at any time.
2. To have a private room on this trip, a single supplement is bookable; subject to availability.
3. Please be careful when booking flights to/from Antigua; make sure you fly into/out of Guatemala City Airport [GUA]. Guatemala City Airport is the closest airport to Antigua. Please do NOT book flights to/from Antigua & Barbuda Airport [ANU] as this is an island in the Caribbean.
4. Hurricane season in this region is June to November, when landslides, mudslides, flooding and disruptions to essential services can occur. Intrepid monitors any situations that arise, and may need to change itineraries or activities in response to these natural weather occurrences.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides 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.

Reviews

Our Mexico & Guatemala Highlights trips score an average of 4.72 out of 5 based on 82 reviews in the last year.

Mexico & Guatemala Highlights, July 2018

Matthew Chong

Mexico & Guatemala Highlights, July 2018

Aimee Berkemeier