Days
15
Price from
FR2,826CHF

Discover Maya ruins, Indian communities and colonial towns on this in-depth Mexican adventure

This is our most comprehensive tour in Mexico. Having explored Mexico City and the great ruins of Teotihuacan we discover the delights of Puebla and Oaxaca. From Monte Alban we visit the ruins of the Zapotec capital before continuing southward to the town of San Cristobal, complete with its traditional Indian communities. The magnificent Palenque Maya ruins are next and then comes the Yucatan Peninsula with stops in Merida and the Maya sites of Uxmal and Chichen Itza.

TRIP CHANGES FOR 2017:

There will be some significant improvements to the Mexico in Depth itinerary in 2017.

From 14 January 2017 this trip will include a flight from Oaxaca to Tuxtla Gutierrez, before completing the short drive to San Cristobal de las Casas. That change allows us to spend more time in highlight destinations, including Mexico City, Oaxaca and Playa del Carmen (Tehuantepec and Campeche have been removed from the itinerary). Puebla will now be a stop en route to Oaxaca.

We've also made some exciting additions to the group activities included on this trip. It will now feature a cooking class in Oaxaca, a visit to the Celestun Bird Sanctuary near Merida and an opportunity to snorkel with turtles at Akumal on the Yucatan Peninsula. We still include guided tours of Mexico's most iconic archaeological sites - Teotihuacan, Palenque and Chichen Itza - plus the inclusion of the beachside ruins at Tulum (Monte Alban will be an optional activity). At least one of these tours will be guided by an archaeologist with extensive experience working in this region.

The accommodation and transport throughout the tour has also been upgraded.

The 2017 itinerary will operate as follows:

Day 1 Mexico City (Hotel Geneve or similar)
Day 2 Mexico City
Day 3 Teotihuacan / Mexico City
Day 4 Puebla / Oaxaca (Hotel Mision de Los Angeles or similar)
Day 5 Oaxaca
Day 6 Oaxaca
Day 7 San Cristobal de las Casas (Hotel Parador Margaritas or similar)
Day 8 San Cristobal de las Casas
Day 9 Palenque (Hotel Villa Mercedes or similar)
Day 10 Palenque Ruins / Merida (Hotel Castellano or similar)
Day 11 Merida
Day 12 Chichen Itza / Playa del Carmen (Hotel Hacienda Paradise or similar)
Day 13 Playa del Carmen
Day 14 Tulum / Playa del Carmen
Day 15 Playa del Carmen


Start
Mexico City, Mexico
Finish
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Country
Mexico
Style
Peregrine
Code
PSMI
Physical rating
Traveller’s rating
67 reviews
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why we love this trip

  • This is our most comprehensive trip in Mexico, rich in historical and cultural highlights

  • Get up close and personal with the country's diverse heritage, from the extraordinary Aztec temples of Teotihuacan to the colourfully-dressed Maya folk of the hills of San Cristobal

  • There's something for everyone in this trip, whether you're a history buff, nature-lover or Epicurean

  • Compare Mexico City's heady street-food scene to subtler forms found in Oaxaca

  • Your adventure culminates in rest and relaxation. The white sands and azure waters of Playa Del Carmen provide the perfect excuse to extend your time in Mexico

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.

  • There are a few long days of travel, as you'll be covering a lot of ground. So be prepared for some driving. You will, however, make stops at interesting locations along your way to break things up.

  • 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. Luckily there will be several opportunities to take a 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 also a great way to show your respect and involve yourself in their culture.

  • Due to increased activity by the Zapatista movement in the region around Palenque, some changes to your itinerary may be necessary for your safety.

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 30 April 2016 to 21 January 2017. View the itinerary for departures between 22 January 2017 - 31 December 2017

Arrive at Mexico City’s Benito Juarez International Airport, where you'll be transferred to your hotel. You'll be staying in the heart of the downtown area. In the evening (usually around 7 pm) you will meet your tour leader and the other members of your group for a pre-tour briefing. The exact time and place of the meeting can be found at hotel reception. This meeting is generally followed by an optional group dinner at a nearby restaurant.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Geneve or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Complimentary Airport Arrival Transfer
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Enjoy a city tour of Mexico City. You'll visit the Metropolitan Cathedral, Zocalo, National Palace and Museum of Anthropology. After that, the day is yours to spend as you please. You'll discover that Mexico City is an exciting mix of modern cosmopolitan glamour with remnants from both its ancient and colonial history. Ask your leader about where to find Aztec ruins in the city centre, explore another of the city's numerous museums, or perhaps ride the subway right through to one of the temples. If you prefer to get out of the city and escape the crowds, take a trip to the canals and gardens of Xochimilco.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Geneve or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Mexico City - National Palace and Diego Rivera murals
  • Mexico City - Museum of Anthropology
  • Mexico City - Metropolitan Cathedral
  • Mexico City - City Tour
Optional Activities
  • Mexico City - Leon Trotsky Museum - MXN40
  • Mexico City - Mariachis in Garibaldi Square (entry is free, price to hire a band for 2-3 songs) - USD8
  • Mexico City - Frida Kahlo Museum - MXN140
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Travel by private minivan towards Puebla. En route you'll stop at Teotihuacan, which is about 50 kilometres northeast of Mexico City. Here you'll discover the extraordinary Aztec ruins known as the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon which dominate the skyline. This was once one of the country's biggest ancient cities and the Aztec capital. With the help of a local guide, you'll have time to stroll down ‘The Avenue of the Dead’ to see fascinating clues to what life here was like nearly 2,000 years ago. Continue to Puebla, a town of palpable colonial heritage despite rapid development. You will spend time exploring the city on a walking tour, taking in the incredibly beautiful gilded interior of the Santo Domingo Church and Rosary Chapel. To finish off a busy day, perhaps refuel with the local specialty, mole Poblano, a dish famous across Mexico. You may prefer to learn how to cook this famed dish for yourself at an optional cooking class.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Del Portal or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Mexico City - Teotihuacan archaeological site (inc. transport, entrance and guide)
  • Puebla - Santo Domingo Church and Rosary Chapel
  • Puebla - City Tour
Optional Activities
  • Puebla - Cooking class - USD85
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Take a minibus to the colonial city of Oaxaca, a lovely city renowned for its cuisine and vibrant art scene. It's also an excellent place to browse for traditional Mexican handicrafts, as descendants of the Zapotec and Mixtec Indians sell an array of bright woven blankets and shawls here. Take in the relaxed atmosphere as you explore the streets, perhaps sampling some regional delicacies along the way. From ‘mole’ sauces and banana-leaf-wrapped ‘tomales’, to the baked chilli and lime grasshoppers, there's no shortage of unique and delicious food here, usually sold by the charming old ladies of the markets.
Accommodation
  • Oaxaca Real or similar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today you will drive the short distance up a nearby hill to the ancient Zapotec ruins of Monte Alban, which looks out across the three legs of the valley of Oaxaca. The peaks of three mountain ranges converge in this valley, and the Zapotec civilisation began construction of this city around 200 BC, with the city estimated to reach a peak population of 25,000. With the help of your local guide, you will have plenty of time to explore the remnants of plazas, tombs, palaces and temples that make up this fascinating site. Return to Oaxaca for the afternoon and enjoy some free time to perhaps take in a folkloric ballet performance or visit the cultural centre.
Accommodation
  • Oaxaca Real or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Oaxaca - Monte Alban Ruins (entrance fee)
Optional Activities
  • Oaxaca - Folkloric ballet (seasonal) - USD10
  • Oaxaca - Santo Domingo Cultural Centre - USD8
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Drive south towards the Pacific coast on your way to Tehuantepec. Along the way you will stop to see the Tule Tree (an impressively large Montezuma cypress tree), a Mezcal factory and the ruins at Mitla. The latter, meaning 'underworld' in Nahuatl, is an important Zapotec archaeological site and was the main religious centre for the Zapotec people. It was originally built as a gateway between the world of the living and the world of the dead. You'll spend the night in the town of Tehuantepec.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Calli or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Oaxaca - Mitla ruins visit
  • Oaxaca - Mezcal Factory
  • Oaxaca - Tule Tree
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Continue driving east into the state of Chiapas. On the way you will visit Sumidero Canyon, an 800-metre deep canyon carved out by the Sumidero River and dating from the same time as the Grand Canyon. Then continue on to San Cristobal de las Casas. Take in the distinctive old-world feel here, which comes from the Spanish colonial architecture and pretty, cobbled streets.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Parador Margarita or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Sumidero Canyon (inc. transport)
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Mayan villages tour inc. San Juan Chamula
Optional Activities
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Lagunas de Montebello - USD35
  • San Cristobal - Bicycle rental (per hour) - USD30
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Embark on a tour to the Mayan villages of San Juan Chamula and Zinacantan today. These villages, nestled in the highlands, serve as marketplaces and religious ceremonial centres for the indigenous people who live in the surrounding hills. The local people have retained their traditional way of life and are often seen dressed in their own distinctive colourful costumes. You will explore these villages with a guide and learn more about the culture and history of these mainly Mayan communities.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Parador Margarita or similar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
You will depart San Cristobal de Las Casas and head for Palenque today. Enjoy some free time exploring the town when you arrive.

Notes: Due to increased activity by the Zapatista movement in the region around Palenque, some changes to your itinerary may be necessary for your safety. The Zapatistas have recently been targeting tourists in order to draw attention to their cause. As a result, some transport to and from Palenque may need to be rerouted, which means longer travel times of up to 9 hours. Some activities, including visits to the Misol-Ha and Agua Azul waterfalls, will be unavailable until this situation is resolved. Alternative activities will be organised as required and explained to you by your tour leader at the welcome meeting. Currently there are no safety issues within the city of Palenque itself, or at the nearby Mayan archaeological site. We’re constantly monitoring this situation to ensure the safety of our passengers and leaders.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Chablis or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Palenque - Misol-Ha and Agua Azul waterfalls
  • Palenque - Archaeological site guided tour
Optional Activities
  • Palenque - Jungle Trail tour - USD15
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today you will visit the ruins of Palenque. These are situated on a hilltop in an area of hot jungle and are some of the most incredible Mayan ruins in the region, dating back as far as AD 600. Listen for the eerie calls of howler monkeys as they echo through the jungle while you're wandering around the site. Some ruins remain unexcavated and are hidden in the surrounding forest.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Chablis or similar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Pack your swimsuit today as you drive north towards the Gulf of Mexico. On the way there you'll be stopping at the beach, so take this opportunity for a refreshing dip. Continue to Campeche, where you'll spend the night. Enjoy an orientation tour of the city and also visit the San Miguel Fort and museum. Campeche is a typical Spanish colonial harbour town, a UNESCO World Heritage site complete with walls and fortifications. Many of the town's buildings have been restored, and as a result it is one of the most picturesque towns in Mexico.
Accommodation
  • Castelmar Hotel or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Campeche - San Miguel Fort
  • Campeche - City Tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Head for the ancient ruins of Uxmal this morning. Here you'll visit the amazing Palace of the Governors, considered by many to be the finest example of classic Mayan architecture, and the mystical Pyramid of the Magician, which consists of five super-imposed temples. Continue to Merida and take a tour of this 'white city'. Take in the splendour of its many colonial buildings and learn more about the Mayan heritage of the town.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Del Gobernador or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Merida - Uxmal Ruins tour (inc. transport and guide)
  • Merida - Guided city tour
Optional Activities
  • Merida - Celestun Bird Sanctuary (entrance and transport) - USD50
  • Merida - Contemporary Art Museum - USD5
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
There will be plenty of time to explore the many sights of Merida and your guide will be able to recommend some good options, including the impressive Regional Anthropology Museum of the Yucatan and the shady Plaza Grande. At the latter you will find the 16th-century cathedral, City Hall, State Government Palace and Casa Mantejo. The outdoor market is another essential visit, with an array of hammocks and Mayan replicas for sale, plus a selection of enticing local cuisine, including the dish cochinita pibil ('little pig').
Accommodation
  • Hotel Del Gobernador or similar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Chichen Itza is your first stop today. This is arguably the most famous Mayan site in Mexico. Witness the magnificent Temple of Kukulkan which stands over the ruins. Not far from the temple is the ‘ball court’, where it is believed many disputes were settled in a game with combatants hitting a ball by using only their elbows, hips and wrists. You'll notice stone carvings depicting the violence of the play around the ball court walls, which suggest it was not such a casual sport. Following a guided tour of the site, continue to the resort town of Playa del Carmen. Here you can spend your time snorkelling among the mangroves, diving in underground caverns or strolling along the white sands. In the evenings, kick back and watch the waves with a margarita. For optional adventures further afield from here, take a ferry across the turquoise seas to Cozumel, an island famous for its reef diving.
Accommodation
  • Hacienda Paradise Boutique Hotel or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Chichen Itza - Entrance
Optional Activities
  • Playa del Carmen - Cenote Ikil - USD6
  • Playa del Carmen - Bike rental (per day) - USD10
  • Playa del Carmen - Ferry to Cozumel - USD28
  • Playa del Carmen - Dos Ojos Cenote snorkelling tour - USD80
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Your trip comes to an end after breakfast today.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

14 breakfasts

Transport

Private minibus

Accommodation

Hotel (14 nights)

Included Activities

  • Complimentary Airport Arrival Transfer
  • Mexico City - National Palace and Diego Rivera murals
  • Mexico City - Museum of Anthropology
  • Mexico City - Metropolitan Cathedral
  • Mexico City - City Tour
  • Mexico City - Teotihuacan archaeological site (inc. transport, entrance and guide)
  • Puebla - Santo Domingo Church and Rosary Chapel
  • Puebla - City Tour
  • Oaxaca - Monte Alban Ruins (entrance fee)
  • Oaxaca - Mitla ruins visit
  • Oaxaca - Mezcal Factory
  • Oaxaca - Tule Tree
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Sumidero Canyon (inc. transport)
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Mayan villages tour inc. San Juan Chamula
  • Palenque - Misol-Ha and Agua Azul waterfalls
  • Palenque - Archaeological site guided tour
  • Campeche - San Miguel Fort
  • Campeche - City Tour
  • Merida - Uxmal Ruins tour (inc. transport and guide)
  • Merida - Guided city tour
  • Chichen Itza - Entrance

Reviews

Our Mexico In Depth trips score an average of 4.37 out of 5 based on 67 reviews in the last year.

Mexico In Depth, October 2016

Jessica McGilvray

Mexico In Depth, October 2016

Jane Satterford

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Essential Trip Information

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