Beyond the Mayan World - Day of the Dead Festival Departure

17 days
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£2,779
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5 / 5 from 2 reviews >
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Trip code: 
AUO
Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Tailormade Adventures
Activity:
Festival Holidays
Min age:
16
Group size:
6–15

Explore the lost civilisations of Central America

Nomadic tribes settled some 3,000 years ago, establishing foundations of some of the most sophisticated ancient civilisations. We visit the diverse pyramids, temples and relics of the Aztec, Maya, Zapotec, Mixtec and Toltec cultures. Crossing the mighty Usumacinta River by boat, we arrive at the lost archaeological ruins of Yaxchilan where Howler monkeys hide in the jungle canopy. In Oaxaca, we explore the vibrant markets in search of regional delicacies and aromas. The Mexican Day of the Dead celebration is possibly the most vibrant and colourful tribute to human mortality there is. Citizens pay tribute to the dead, especially close relatives, visiting graves and congregating round the stones to lay edible offerings at the headstones alongside beautiful golden mounds of marigolds, the Flor de Muerto (flower of the dead).

Highlights

  • Explore the history and culture of Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras
  • Experience the Day of the Dead Festivities in Oaxaca
  • Guided visits to the archaeological sites of Monte Alban, Palenque, Tikal and Copan
  • Diverse pre-Columbian pyramids, temples and relics
  • World renowned cuisine of Oaxaca

Key information

15 nights in a mixture of standard and comfortable hotels with en suite facilities

What's included

 

  • All breakfasts
  • All accommodation (see below)
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)

What's not included

 

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation
  • Visas or vaccinations

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

  • Day 1

  • Day 2

    Morning visit Teotihuacan, afternoon city tour.

    After a group briefing, there is an excursion to the holy city of Teotihuacan, one of the oldest known archaeological sites in Mexico, thought to have had 25,000 inhabitants in its time. The Teotihuacan Pyramids are located 50 km north-east of Mexico City, and are known for two massive pyramids, the Pirámide del Sol (Pyramid of the Sun) and the Pirámide de la Luna (Pyramid of the Moon), which dominate the remains of the metropolis. We can climb up a very steep staircase to the summit for an incredible, sweeping view of the ancient city.

    In the afternoon we set off for a walking tour of the historical centre of Mexico City. We will visit the largest Cathedral in Latin America and the archaeological site of Templo Mayor (where the main pyramid of the former Tenochtitlan stood - please note, entrance to this last site is not included but we will see it from the outside).
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 3

    To Oaxaca via Cholula and Puebla.

    After breakfast we depart towards Oaxaca, stopping our journey after around 2 hours at the Great Pyramid of Cholula. By volume, this is the largest pyramid in the world, influenced by the Olmec, Toltec and Aztec cultures. The pyramid was covered in grass when the Spanish conquered Cholula and they built a large church on top of it - one theory about this is that they mistook the pyramid for a hill! Archaeologists have found some 8km of tunnels inside the structure - we will spend some time at this famous site to understand the history surrounding it. Our second stop will be in nearby Puebla, where we will walk around the colonial centre and see the many religious structures that it is famous for. This afternoon our journey continues for around 4.5 hours to Oaxaca City where we check into our hotel for the night, located in a central position just a few blocks from the main square.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 4

    Discover Monte Alban; Oaxaca market tour.

    This morning we visit the incredible pre-Columbian ruins of Monte Alban, sitting 400 metres up on the side of a mountain overlooking the fertile valley of Oaxaca. It is thought that the Zapotecs (also known as the 'Cloud People') began levelling the top of the mountain around 500 BC in order to build Monte Alban, a place of divine worship where rituals, sacrifices, ball games and astrological observations took place. A 30 minute drive takes us back to Oaxaca where we will spend the afternoon exploring the plazas and colourful food markets. Oaxacan cuisine is famous for its oversized tortillas, quesillo (a type of cheese in long strips wound into a ball) and of course the world-renowned mole sauce - a blend of chocolate, garlic, nuts, chilli and onions that has tantalised the nation! Mole negro chocolate sauce is the perfect accompaniment to shredded chicken heaped on a freshly cooked tortilla.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 5

    Day of the Dead Festivities.

    The Mexican Day of the Dead celebration is possibly the most vibrant and colourful tribute to human mortality there is. Citizens pay tribute to the dead, especially close relatives, visiting graves and congregating round the stones to lay edible offerings at the headstones alongside beautiful golden mounds of marigolds, the Flor de Muerto (flower of the dead). Today we hope to visit several cemeteries in and around Oaxaca to see the altars and tributes made for loved ones. We also hope to visit local markets and bakeries with ornaments and essentials for the Day of the Dead festivities, with the chance to sample specialties only on offer during this festival.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 6

    Visit Teotitlan del Valle and Mitla; to Tehuantepec.

    We have a short drive (approximately 40 mins) to Teotitlan del Valle ('Place of the Gods'), a Zapotec community that make traditional weavings in a myriad of colours. The textiles and pottery produced by the Zapotec people follow ancient traditions and have remained relatively unchanged for hundreds of years - we will learn about the weaving process and see this traditional craft in action. Our journey then continues to the archaeological site of Mitla, impressive ruins surrounded by a town of the same name that was recently classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The intricately carved stone mosaic patterns found throughout the site are unique to the area. We spend some time exploring Mitla, crowned as one of the architectural wonders of Mexico, before continuing our journey for around 4.5 hours to Tehuantepec.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 7

    To San Cristobal de las Casas.

    We drive for approximately 6 hours to San Cristobal de las Casas, considered to be the cultural capital of the state. We will have a city tour of the cobbled streets this afternoon, before checking into our centrally located hotel, within a short walking distance of the central plaza.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 8

    Free day.

    Today is a free day to explore San Cristobal de las Casas at your leisure. Undoubtedly one of the most interesting colonial towns on the itinerary with many old churches and squares amongst a lively café scene. It is also a major centre for the Tzotzil Indians, each group having different, colourful costumes. The extensive market has some good handicrafts for sale and plenty of interesting foodstuffs on offer! Alternatively, it's possible to take an optional boat trip through the Sumidero Canyon, or visit a traditional Mayan community in one of the villages outside San Cristobal.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 9

    To Palenque via Tonina and Agua Azul falls.

    We set off for Palenque today, stopping our journey after around 2.5 hours at the archaeological site of Tonina which is less well known than some of Mexico's other sites and as a consequence tends to have relatively few visitors. Tonina is an impressive site with two ball courts, one that is sunken and, at 60 metres long, one of the Mayan world's largest and another that has an altar where it is thought that sacrifices took place. A 3.5 hour drive this afternoon brings us to Palenque where we check into our hotel for the night - on the way we stop at the Agua Azul waterfalls, a beauty spot where it's possible to take a refreshing dip. Please note that on the rare occasions where we are unable to visit Agua Azul Falls, we will endeavour to visit the Misol Ha waterfalls instead.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 10

    Discover Palenque; optional excursion to Misol Ha waterfall.

    This morning we have a guided tour of the impressive Mayan site of Palenque. The jungle-covered complex is one of the most famous in Mexico and is located in the low hills of Chiapas. The pyramids, sanctuaries and temples, with their sculptured wall-panels and roofs, are remarkably well preserved and are probably the finest surviving examples of Mayan buildings. This afternoon it's possible to continue exploring Palenque at your leisure, or take an optional excursion to Misol Ha waterfall, a cascading stream pouring 120 feet into a deep pool of water below. Surrounded by lush vegetation, Misol Ha is perfect for a relaxing afternoon!
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 11

    Visit Bonampak; crossing to Guatemala; to El Remate.

    We have an early departure today to visit Bonampak, some 'lost' ruins that are surrounded by jungle. Bonampak means 'painted walls' and is famous for its astonishing frescos in side the modest looking Templo de las Pinturas. After visiting the ruins, we cross the border into Guatemala where our journey continues with a 4.5 hour drive (at times on a dirt road) to the small village of El Remate, close to tomorrow's attraction: Tikal.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 12

    Explore Tikal ruins.

    Tikal is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular of all Mayan sites, surrounded by rainforest and with pyramids rising above the tree tops. We spend the morning here, in the middle of the jungle, exploring nearly 20 square miles of classic Mayan ruins. We take a tour of the city, visiting the Q complex, Main Plaza, North and Central Acropolis, Seven Temples and Mundo Perdido (Lost World). Tikal is a superb area for observing wildlife in the jungle environment and visitors regularly see Howler monkeys, Spider monkeys, toucan, Weaver birds, coatimundi and even tarantula (if you know where to look and wish to find one!). In the afternoon there will be free time to relax by Lake Peten Itza.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 13

    To Copan in Honduras.

    Today is primarily a long travel day of around 11 hours which also involves a border crossing to get to Copan in Honduras. We break our journey near Rio Dulce for lunch (not included) and to visit the former Spanish fort of Castillo de San Felipe de Lara.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 14

    Visit Copan ruins.

    Nestled in the Rio Copan Valley, the ancient city of Copan was once a major Mayan capital, the most southerly site of the Mayan empire. Copan is renowned for its striking carvings and architecture and has a huge number of sculptures making this one of the most artistic of all sites. The jungle surrounding Copan is a haven for birds and wildlife and we will also spend some time exploring the eco-park before we return to the quaint town of Copan Ruinas.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 15

    To Antigua.

    We make our way to Antigua after breakfast this morning, crossing the border back into Guatemala. The drive should take around 6 hours giving us a free afternoon in Antigua to explore the cobbled streets and numerous churches. Beyond the tiled roofs there are stunning views of the Agua and Fuego Volcanoes - it is not hard to see why Antigua is regarded as one of the most attractive cities in Latin America.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 16

    Depart Antigua; to Guatemala City and end.

    Our trip ends today in Antigua, but clients on group flights will return to Guatemala City airport in order to catch the flight home. Land Only clients are free to make onward arrangements from Antigua or can return to Guatemala City airport with the group transfer, providing that there is room.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 17

Essential Info

Visas

Guatemala

Holders of British, Australian, New Zealand, US, Canadian and most EU passports do not require visas for Guatemala.

Honduras

British nationals can get a 30-day tourist visa on arrival, which may be extended by 30 days on two further occasions (to a maximum of 90 days in total) if you apply to an Immigration Office. There is no fee payable for the initial arrival visa, nor for the extensions. The same process applies to holders of Australian, US, Canadian and most EU passports.

Mexico

Holders of British, Australian, New Zealand, US, Canadian and most EU passports do not require visas for Mexico.
However, please note that if flying via the USA, you will have to clear immigration during transit. In this case, you will be required to get an Electronic Travel Authority (USD14) prior to flying if travelling via the USA under the Visa Waiver Scheme (as is the case for most UK citizens). Please see www.exodus.co.uk/USVisa for more information.

Vaccinations

Guatemala

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Tetanus, Typhoid, Hepatitis A. The risk of malaria is slight but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice. Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites. The above information can change at short notice; as we are not qualified to answer all your questions about travel health we strongly recommend you contact your Medical Professional or a Travel Health Clinic at least 8 weeks prior to departure for up‐to‐date information.

Mexico

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements.

Recommended vaccinations are: Typhoid, Hepatitis A.

The risk of malaria is slight but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice.

Dengue fever and/or Chikungunya are known risks in places visited on this trip. Both are tropical viral diseases spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for either, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Zika fever is a mosquito‐borne viral disease and a known risk in places visited on this trip. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being witten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites. For the latest information please visit www.exodus.co.uk/zika‐virus‐q‐a .

The above information can change at short notice; as we are not qualified to answer all your questions about travel health we strongly recommend you contact your Medical Professional or a Travel Health Clinic at least 8 weeks prior to departure for up-to-date information.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts included.

Breakfast generally consist of fruits, cereals, beans and eggs. Meals vary in price from around $15-20 USD for lunch and $15-30 USD dinner. A beer costs on average $2-5 USD.

Weather

On the coast and in the lowland areas there is little variation in temperatures between the seasons. These are likely to be 28ºC to 33ºC average daytime maximum and 18ºC to 23ºC night time minimum. On the coast the heat and humidity are moderated by sea breezes, but inland it is likely to be quite humid. The wet season is from June to October, when it normally rains on average one day in three. The rains tend to be short and heavy, alternating with pleasant clear spells. During the other months rain is much less likely, but there is the chance of an occasional storm at almost any time. In the hills the temperatures are moderated by the altitude, and there is more seasonal variation. Between November and February the daytime maximum is around 20ºC, rising to 27ºC in summer. Nights are much cooler, around 6ºC in winter and 12ºC in summer. Note that it can be surprisingly cold in the highlands on winter nights. The pattern of rainfall is similar to the lowlands.

Flores

Flores

Is this trip for you?

You should be prepared for some long drives, sometimes across bumpy roads. Border crossings can sometimes be delayed with significant queues and formalities. Being in the tropics, most of the region is hot and humid, particularly during the summer months and inland - drinking plenty of water and dressing in loose cotton clothing will help.

Accommodation

Hotels

We will stay in a variety of colonial and modern properties, all with en suite facilities. Some of the accommodation highlights will include: a Spanish colonial residence in the heart of San Cristobal de las Casas, a property 2km from Palenque surrounded by forest, family owned guesthouse on the lakeshore of Peten Itza. Some of the hotels have pools and most have wifi/internet.

Single supplement is available from 350GBP.

Expert Blog Entries

  • Reviewed November 2016
    Gillian Wright-Dixon

    A trip full of diversity

    The trip was very different from the previous trips I have done with Exodus, and different doesn't mean bad, it means it surprised me and opened my eyes in different ways. I booked this trip to see: Day of the dead, mayan ruins and visit three extraordinary countries and the trip did just that.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Tikal mayan ruins was one of the highlights, followed by Copan and the community day for day of the dead. Tikal was a picturesque place where rainforest meets ruins meets wildlife, what more can you ask for? Copan was interesting and the statues within the mayan ruins were different to what you will see anywhere else on the trip. The community visit for day of the dead was so moving and real that you almost want to give back to the people you shared it with. I feel that the family gave us so much and opened their hearts and their home to us that no words could ever reciprocate what we had witnessed in that day.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Edwardo was a fun loving, entertaining and joyful leader. He lead the group very well and had a fountain of knowledge. He had a love of wildlife which was refreshing and new the best places to shop! :)

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Change your currency into Mexican Peso, as we had some troubles with our USD. Extra Peso's can then be changed into Quetzal in Guatemala. USD can be changed in Honduras. I had around 10,000 Peso in Mexico which was enough (but I am not a souvenir shopper) which also gave me enough to change into Quetzal in Guatemala although I did panic knowing I couldn't change money easily if I needed extra. Of course prices don't remain the same, but it might give you a benchmark. Be aware of your belongings and keep them safely on you, as with many places in the world there could be undesirable people wanting to take your belongings.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    It is a unique trip to visit three wonderful countries.
  • Reviewed November 2016
    Amanda Hayes

    Beyond the Mayan World - Day of the Dead

    This was a very special trip as it not only showcased the wonders of Mayan archeological sites but also gave us an intimate and unique experience of the Day of the Dead celebrations and the life and culture of the counties visited.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The time spent with the local family for the celebration of Day of the Dead and looking out over the misty rainforest from the top of a Mayan temple.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    He was knowledgeable and reflective. he could not have worked harder to make the trip a great success.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It is rather more active than the brochure rating indicates. This was no problem but future participants need to be aware of some quite challenging treks on slippery rain forest paths and mossy stones and come prepared. Climbing up the steps of the temples is of course optional.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Several of us thought that the Trip Notes could be clearer about: which denominations to take money in, the availability of ATM machines in the different places visited and the charges made at border crossings. Whilst this is subject to change, it is useful to be able to plan ahead so that you do not end up short of cash, or with pockets full of different currencies. As a woman travelling alone I did not want to carry a lot of cash. Out leader was excellent but more detailed information in advance would have been useful.

Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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