Chichen Itza

Mexico: Mayans, Aztecs & Conquistadors

16 days
from
£2,899
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Leisurely
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Trip code: 
AHM
Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Tailormade Adventures
Activity:
Culture
Min age:
16
Group size:
6–15

Lost civilisations, Spanish colonial heritage, natural beauty and a rich and unique culture.

Few countries can compete with Mexico when it comes to unleashing the inner Indiana Jones in each of us. Jungle clad temples and abandoned ancient civilisations make way to colonial era towns with cobbled streets and Spanish architecture. This fusion of history has led to Mexico’s unique culture from the art of Frida Kahlo to Oaxaca’s succulent cuisine. Uncover the country’s historical and cultural layers as we journey from the highlands of Mexico City to the jungles and beaches of the Yucatan via the lands of Aztecs, Zapotec, Mayas and Conquistadors.

Highlights

  • Mexico's intense culinary and artistic traditions
  • From ancient temples and cities to colonial town
  • Highlands, jungles and coastlines

Key information

  • 14 nights in a mixture of standard and comfortable hotels with en suite facilities
  • All breakfasts and 2 lunches
  • Travel by private minibus and boat
  • Some long drives
  • Day of the Dead Festival special departure

What's included

  • All breakfasts and 2 lunches
  • 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 (available on request)
  • Visas or vaccinations
Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Santo Domingo de Guzman church, Oaxaca

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

    Fly to Mexico City

    Those on the group flights normally arrive in Mexico City in the evening. Land only passengers can arrive at any time.

    Hotel Royal Reforma or similar

  • Day 2

    Coyoacan Neighbourhood, Frida Kahlo and Xochimilco Canals

    Following a briefing, we head out for a day exploring the bohemian side of Mexico City.

     We start off by making our way to the south of the city and a particular house hidden behind cobalt blue walls known as Casa Azul. This is where the acclaimed artist Frida Kahlo was born; grew up and, eventually, lived with her muralist husband, Diego Rivera until she died in 1954 at the age of 47. Now a museum, the colonial house, set around a luxuriant garden doesn’t only showcase the collections and personal effects of the two great artists but is a window into the life of affluent Mexican bohemians in the first half of the 20th Century.

    Next, we visit the quaint neighbourhood of Coyoacan (meaning place of coyotes) with its pebbled streets, colonial churches, bustling little markets and quiet squares. This area was inhabited before the arrival of the Spanish and it is said that the conquistador, Hernan Cortes, made this the first capital of New Spain.

    Finally, we enjoy a relaxing ride on a pre-Hispanic boat along the peaceful waters of the Xochimilco Canals. These scenic waterways would have been used by the Aztecs and today see us enjoying a relaxing journey past floating gardens and little floating kitchens selling local food.

     We finally return to our hotel in the late afternoon.

    Hotel Royal Reforma or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 3

    Teotihuacan and Mexico City's Old Town

    The ancient city of Teotihuacan reached its zenith around 1,000AD when it was the 6th biggest city in the world with a population of about 125,000. Amongst the avenues and structures are the pyramids of the Sun and the Moon, the 3rd and 4th largest in the World. We explore this impressive archaeological zone with an expert local guide to unearth some of the site’s secrets.

     Returning to Mexico City we visit the historic centre. Based around the Zocalo (main square) are the Palacio Nacional and the Cathedral Metropolitana. The Palacio Nacional not only contains the offices of the President, the Federal Treasury and the National Archives but also murals depicting pre-Hispanic life and a large mural filling the central stairway depicting the entire history of Mexico from the conquest on. 

     Hotel Royal Reforma or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 4

    Mexico Museum of Anthropology and History; on to Puebla

    Before leaving Mexico City behind we visit the Museum of Anthropology and History with its impressive collection of artefacts from Mexico’s many civilisations.

    Starting our journey south we head towards the city of Puebla (about 4.5hrs). En route we visit Cholula, home to the largest pyramid base in Mesoamerica with a 16th-century church built on top of it. On a clear day there are good views of Popocatepetl Volcano.

    In the late afternoon we arrive in Puebla de los Angeles, the City of Angels – so called because of a legend that claims angels came down from heaven to place the cathedral’s bells in the towers when builders were unable to do so. The colonial city is known for its traditions, especially its handicrafts, including blue-and-white pottery, and its cuisine that is some of the best in Mexico.

     Hotel Colonial Puebla or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 5

    Puebla city tour and on to Oaxaca

    We spend this morning discovering the city of Puebla which has been given UNESCO World Heritage Site for its colonial architecture. We visit the Patio de los Azulejos and the ex-Convent of Santa Rosa, both of which provide classic examples of how ‘talavera’ tiles were incorporated into buildings, inside and out. Early settlers who came from Talavera de la Reina in Spain introduced these tiles and associated ceramics. Today the glazed pottery has become synonymous with Puebla.

    After our city tour we continue our journey and drive towards another Mexican World Heritage City, Oaxaca (about 4.5hrs). With a colonial centre of shaded pedestrian streets, bright, clear light, indigenous traditions and a creative atmosphere, Oaxaca has attracted and inspired many artists and artisans alike.

    The city boasts such sights as the beautiful zocalo (main square), the Cathedral and the vast Convento de Santo Domingo, along with museums, fascinating markets and charming inns.

    Hotel Casantica or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 6

    Monte Alban and Oaxaca

    Our next exploration of Mexican history takes us to the Zapotecan site of Monte Alban. Whilst the name dates back to a Spanish landowner in the 16th-century, previous names come from the Mixtec word ‘Sahandevul’ meaning ‘At the foot of the Sky’ or the Zapotecan ‘Danibaan’ meaning ‘Sacred Mountain.

    In 500 BC the Zapotecans moved into the Oaxaca region and began the monumental task of levelling the top of a 1,600m high mountain that intersects and divides three valleys. Here they built the city of Monte Alban with a maze of subterranean passageways, rooms, drainage and water storage systems.

    We later return to Oaxaca and explore the cobbled streets and vibrant squares and churches of the historical town. We also visit the Museum of cultures Santo Domingo.

    Hotel Casantica or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 7

    Learn how to create popular Mexican dishes

    Oaxaca is possibly the most famed region in Mexico for its cuisine and we get more acquainted with it as we head for a cooking class, learning dishes that can easily be recreated at home. The exact menu can change but we generally learn how to make two types of tortilla, three different salsas, guacamole, mole, a starter, a soup, a desert and a drink. We visit a local market where different ingredients are showcased and explained before returning to the restaurant for our class and a succulent lunch.

    The afternoon is free to wander around Oaxaca on your own.

    Hotel Casantica or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 8

    Teotitlan del Valle, Mescal tasting and Mitla; on to Tehuntepec

    A short distance from Oaxaca is the village of Teotitlan del Valle known for its colourful, hand-woven rugs and our first stop today. From here we continue to the Don Agave distillery to taste some mescal. Distilled from agave plants, mescal is different to tequila and is most popular in the Oaxaca region.

    We next head to Mitla, another Zapotecan city which contains tombs of kings and priests and which roughly dates from the 200-900AD.

    After visiting the site we drive on to Tehuantepec where we spend the night (total drive time is about 7hrs plus stops)

    Hotel Calli or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 9

    To San Cristobal

    Drive to San Cristobal (about 6hrs plus stops).

    One of Mexico's most popular cities with visitors, San Cristobal de las Casas is filled with cobbled stoned alleyways of whitewashed buildings with red-tiled roofs that give onto plazas and picturesque arcades.

    Upon arriving in San Cristobal in the afternoon we have a short orientation tour of the historic city before checking into our hotel.

    Hotel Casa Mexicana or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 10

    Free day in San Cristobal

    Day 10

    Today is a free day to explore San Cristobal at your own pace. Wander the colonial streets, take in the lively cafés, or buy handicrafts produced by the local Tzotzil indigenous groups with their different colourful dress. It’s also possible to do an optional boat trip through the Sumidero Canyon and/or visit one of the traditional Mayan communities who live in the villages surrounding the city (see money section for prices).

    Hotel Casa Mexicana or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 11

    To Palenque via Agua Azul

    The road we take towards Palenque is very windy but picturesque. En route we visit the waterfalls of Agua Azul (after about 5hrs driving plus stops). Agua Azul is a group of beautiful waterfalls that create wonderful natural pools and has been a protected area since 1980.

    Following a stop at the falls it’s a further 2.5hrs to the town of Palenque, named after the nearby impressive ruins.

    Hotel La Aldea del Halach Huinic

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 12

    Palenque Ruins, on to Campeche

    Emerging from the jungles of the Chiapas’ low-lying hills is one of Mexico’s most impressive ruins: the Mayan site of Palenque. The temples, sanctuaries and pyramids, with their sculptured walls and ceilings are some of the best-preserved and finest examples of Mayan buildings despite the city-state having peaked over 1,300 years ago in the 7th century.

    We explore this magnificent site before continuing on the road towards the Yucatan Peninsula and the Caribbean town of Campeche (about 5hrs plus stops).

    Yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site, the colonial town’s best feature are its impressive city walls built to protect it from the constant attacks by English and Dutch buccaneers and pirates during the 16th and 17th centuries.

    Hotel Lopez or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 13

    Uxmal, traditional lunch and Merida

    About two hours drive from Campeche is our second Mayan site: Uxmal. Quite open, it is in contrast to the jungle-ruins of Palenque we visited yesterday. This site, which dates to the late classic era (500-800AD) and features the Pyramid of the Magician; the Nunnery Quadrangle with long, elaborately carved facades; and a ball court where a traditional ball game was played, sometimes ending in human sacrifice.

    Having worked up an appetite we have lunch at a local Mayan family restaurant. Here we get to eat Pollo Pibil and Cochinita Pibil – slowly cooked pork and chicken. The meat is roasted for about 5hrs along with achiote past and wrapped in banana leaves. This is a typical Yucatan dish and representative of the local cuisine.

    After lunch it’s about 1.5hrs drive to Merida. A number of the city’s buildings, including the cathedral, were built using Mayan stones found on this site and, along traditional colonial architecture, features 19th century houses built in a French style.

    Arriving mid-afternoon we have a walking tour of Merida, returning later to enjoy the main square which is particularly delightful at night.

    Hotel Caribe or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 14

    Tixkokob craft village, Izamal magic town and on to Chichen Itza

    Our first stop is at the traditional Mayan village of Tixkokob where local families practice the age-old craft of hammock weaving.

    After learning about how hammocks are made we continue to the ‘magic town’ of Izamal. Once a Mayan settlement, the name means ‘Place of the God of Medicine’. The town is covered in buildings painted yellow and white and is known for the 16th century Franciscan monastery built on top of the base of a huge Mayan pyramid (which was probably once larger than the Castillo in Chichen Itza).

    From here we transfer to Chichen Itza, possibly the best known and most impressive of all Mayan sites. We should arrive early enough to enjoy the beautiful hotel and gardens where we spend the night right by the ancient site. (total drive time of about 3.5hrs plus stops)

    Hotel Mayaland Resort or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 15

    Chichen Itza visit; on to Cancun; end Cancun

    Our final day starts with a visit the most famous Mayan temple city: Chichen Itza. Having spent the night right by the site means we can get in nice and early before the hordes of day-trippers coming from the beach resorts.

    Chichen Itza served as the political and economic centre of the Mayan civilisation and thrived from around 600 to 1,200AD. The pyramid of Kukulkan, the Temple of Chac Mool, the Hall of the Thousand Pillars and the Playing Field of the Prisoners can still be seen today and demonstrate the extraordinary commitment to architecture, space and composition. The pyramid itself was the last, and possibly the greatest, of Mayan pyramids.

    This afternoon we drive about 2.5hrs to Cancun airport in time for the group flight. This is where the tour’s land only portion ends. Those who have decided to extend there stay by visiting the beach will get picked up here.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 16

    Arrive London

    Arrive London

Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

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

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 bitten. 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 .

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts and 2 lunches 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 $3-5 USD.

There is a lot more to Mexican cuisine than fajitas and tacos and we have the opportunity to discover the wealth of dishes on offer. In Oaxaca we attend a cooking class, the exact dishes we learn to cook can vary but generally include tortillas, salsas, mole (chocolate based savoury dishes) and guacamole. We also learn about Mexican drinks, in particular by visiting a mezcal distillery.

Weather

Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza

Is this trip for you?

Covering a lot of ground from Mexico City to Cancun does mean there are some long drives – some of which are on windy mountain roads. Some of the trip, in the lowlands of Chiapas and the Yucatan in particular, is likely to be hot and humid, especially in the summer months – drinking plenty of water and dressing in loose cotton clothing will help. Whilst this is a leisurely trip, walking city tours. as well as visits to various pre-Hispanic sites. does mean a lot of time spent on our feet.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

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 charming restored XVI century convent in Oaxaca, a Spanish colonial residence in the heart of San Cristobal de las Casas, a property 2km from Palenque surrounded by forest, stay at Mayaland, the first Hotel built in Chichén Itzá, making it the first resort within an ancient site in the world . Some of the hotels have pools and most have wifi/internet. Single supplements are available upon request.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

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Dates & Prices

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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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Call us on 020 8772 3936