From beach to jungle to beach again, explore the eastern coast of marvellous Mexico.

Adventure across the Yucatan Peninsula from the tropical beaches to the dense jungles. Lose yourself among ancient Maya ruins of Chichen Itza and Calakmul, and head to the bustling street markets before finding yourself in clear waters and turquoise lagoons of the coast. Learn about the Maya culture in colonial Merida, experience a local homestay near Calakmul, and then take the plunge in Bacalar: a laidback lake town famous for its ever-changing shades of blue water. Thousands of years of history mixed with a modern, laidback lifestyle means Mexico, and the Yucatan in particular, should be high on everyone’s bucket list.


Start
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Finish
Tulum, Mexico
Destination
Mexico
Style
Original
Theme
Explorer
Code
QBSY
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why you'll love this trip

  • Discover the lost Maya city of Chichen Itza, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Your tour of the ancient ruins includes a special visit and traditional lunch to the nearby Piste community.

  • Sip margaritas and try local specialties in Merida: Yucatan’s charming colonial capital. There’s so much culture to this city, and always a place to practise your salsa!

  • Explore the hidden treasures of Calakmul, a Maya site which has stayed largely hidden by the second-largest expanse of tropical forests in the Americas.

  • Dip your toe in the fresh waters surrounding Tulum – a laidback beachside community close to deep blue cenotes and expansive lagoons.

Is this trip right for you?

  • Some included activities, such as guided tours of archaeological sites, can be quite strenuous. Be sure to bring suitably sturdy footwear.

  • The tropical climate of Central America means conditions can be hot and humid. Always carry plenty of water with you and stay hydrated, especially on walking tours. There will of course be plenty of chances to swim!

  • It's a good idea to learn as many Spanish words as you can. Locals are very friendly, but can be shy, so you'll need to make an effort to break the ice. It's a great way to show respect and involve yourself in their culture.

  • The homestay in Calakmul is a wonderful opportunity to witness every day rural life and includes a home-cooked dinner. Facilities are simple and multi-share but comfortable, with mattresses and bedding provided. Some travellers are nervous about the homestay experience before they arrive, but we find most end up naming this as a highlight of their time in Mexico and a rewarding, authentic experience.

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 Jan 2020 to 31 Dec 2020.
View the 2019 itinerary
Hola! Welcome to Playa del Carmen, on the sandy shores of the Yucatan Peninsula. Meet your leader and fellow travellers at an important welcome meeting at 6pm, then tuck into some Mexican morsels for dinner. If you do arrive early, good for you, as there’s so much to do! Playa del Carmen is popular resort town famed for its coral reef and sparkling warm waters, so feel free to kick back with a book, take a stroll along the white sands, go on a day trip to the island of Cozumel or head for a dip in the Caribbean.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Playa del Carmen - Bicycle rental (per day) - MXN250
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
It’s very important that you attend the welcome meeting as we will be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this time. If you are going to be late please let your travel agent or hotel reception know. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place.
Depart the coast early by private vehicle towards Merida, learning some Spanish from your leader on the way. You’ll be stopping at the famous Chichen Itza, one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, for a guided tour. This is perhaps the most famous Maya site in Mexico and dominated by the Temple of Kukulkan, or El Castillo, a Mesoamerican step-pyramid. After your tour, experience a special lunch in the local Piste community, a short drive from the archaeological site. You’ll have time to experience the culture and interact with the locals while being served some traditional Yucatecan cuisine. Make sure you have learnt some Spanish phrases – the men and women of the community will be very appreciative. Continue on to Merida, where your leader will take you on an orientation walk to get your bearings. Founded in 1542, Merida is the capital of the Yucatan region and has retained so much of its old-world charm. Wander the streets and take in the colonial buildings, learn about the town’s Maya heritage and don’t forget to visit Mercado 60: a buzzing food market with international and local cuisine, margaritas and live music.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Leader-led Informal Spanish Lesson
  • Chichen Itza - Archaeological site (Entrance fee, Guide & Transport)
  • Piste - Traditional Maya Family Lunch
  • Merida - Leader-led orientation walk
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Take today to explore the many sights of Merida. Your leader will have some recommendations and there are a number of optional activities available. Perhaps visit one of the several museums in town, including the Regional Museum of Yucatan, located in the stunning Palacio Canton. Chill out in the shady Plaza Grande, surrounded by the 16th-century cathedral, City Hall, the State Government Palace and Casa Mantejo, or stroll through the outdoor markets selling hammocks, Maya replicas and mouth-watering local food including the Yucatan specialty: cochinita pibil. There’s also the option of visiting the Celestun Bird Sanctuary where, depending on the season, you can catch the flamingos painting pink streaks across the landscape. Merida is a people-pleaser when it comes to nightlife and has something for all tastes, whether you’re after a low-key bar, cultural show or some live music and dancing.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Merida - Celestun Bird Sanctuary (Entrance and Transport) - MXN1035
  • Merida - Uxmal Ruins tour (inc. shared transport and guide) - MXN810
  • Merida - Regional Museum of Yucatan - MXN52
  • Merida - Guided city tour - MXN318
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Leave the city of Merida behind at around 8 am for a complete contrast in Calakmul, in the southern end of Yucatan. Today, you’ll transfer 5 hours by private vehicle to your homestay. You’ll enjoy lunch on arrival. In the afternoon, get hands-on and spend some time with local artisans creating your own jewellery with an included workshop. As you’re staying at a homestay, you’ll have the opportunity to interact with a local family, so an included Maya language lesson will definitely come in handy. Enjoy an included dinner with your group and have a relaxing night, ready to explore the deep jungle and ancient ruins of Calakmul tomorrow.
Accommodation
  • Homestay (Shared facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Calakmul - Homestay Experience
  • Calakmul - Artisan Workshop including Jewellery Making with Maya Seeds
  • Calakmul - Informal Maya Language Lesson
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
This morning, visit the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve and explore an incredible hidden treasure. You’ll be getting up quite early (7 am breakfast with an 8 am departure), for a 20-minute drive to the archaeological site. This World Heritage site is part of the largest area of tropical forest after the Amazon and played an important role in the region’s history for over 1200 years. Building at this location began in the 6th century BC and by AD250, most of the city was standing. The ancient city covers around 70 square kilometres and contains more than 7000 structures, but because the jungle is so thick, only a very small portion of the site has been excavated. You’ll have time to explore this lost city for yourself in the morning, and at around midday you’ll enjoy a community lunch, before taking a 3-hour drive to Bacalar. Once arrived, take a short leader-led orientation walk to get your bearings of this small town, and then have a free afternoon and evening to relax. Cerveza, anyone?
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Calakmul Biosphere Reserve - Archaeological site (Entrance fee & Transport)
  • Bacalar - Leader-led orientation walk
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
With a jam-packed day yesterday, take some time to chill out in relaxed riverside Balacar. You’ll have a free day to do as you please, perhaps a relax by the banks of the lake, a swim, or just diving straight into a book. Bacalar is known for its Lake of Seven Colours – thanks to the various stunning shades of blue it adopts throughout the day. There’s also the option to visit Cenote Azul today: a beautiful fresh water rockpool, perfect for swimming. The sparkling blue water and stalactites and stalagmites in the cave are a sight to behold.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Cenote Azul - Natural rock pool with option to swim (Entrance fee & Transport) - MXN120
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Enjoy a free morning relaxing around Balacar’s lake before taking a taxi to the bus station to board a public bus to Tulum. Keep working on that Spanish with the locals, then once arrived in Tulum, take an orientation walk with your leader to know your way around. There may be time to fit in a visit to another cenote or Tulum’s Maya ruins, or otherwise, find a bar or restaurant and say ‘salud’ to Mexico.
Included Activities
  • Tulum - Leader-led orientation walk
Optional Activities
  • Dos Ojos Cenote - Fresh water rock pool (Entrance fee with snorkelling gear included) - MXN350
  • Tulum - Archaeological Site (Entrance fee) - MXN75
  • Tulum - Bicycle rental (per 24 hours) - MXN150
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
After breakfast, there are no activities planned for the day, but that’s no reason to stop exploring! Tulum is famous for its crystal water, snorkelling, ancient ruins and general magnificence, so no-one can blame you for wanting to stick around for a few more days. If you would like to spend some more time in Tulum, we’ll be happy to book additional accommodation (subject to availability).
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

7 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 1 dinner

Transport

Private vehicle, Public bus, Taxi

Accommodation

Hotel (6 nights), Homestay (1 night)

Included activities

  • Leader-led Informal Spanish Lesson
  • Chichen Itza - Archaeological site (Entrance fee, Guide & Transport)
  • Piste - Traditional Maya Family Lunch
  • Merida - Leader-led orientation walk
  • Calakmul - Homestay Experience
  • Calakmul - Artisan Workshop including Jewellery Making with Maya Seeds
  • Calakmul - Informal Maya Language Lesson
  • Calakmul Biosphere Reserve - Archaeological site (Entrance fee & Transport)
  • Bacalar - Leader-led orientation walk
  • Tulum - Leader-led orientation walk

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm on Day 1. There are no activities planned for the final day so you may depart at any time.
2. A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement applies to all nights on your trip and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.

Essential trip information

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