22 days

Cuba & Mexico

Cuba & Mexico

UNESCO World Heritage-listed pre-Hispanic city of Uxmal

UNESCO World Heritage-listed Chichen-Itza

San Cristobal de Las Casas' Chiapas indigenous culture

Regional Anthropology Museum of the Yucatan

UNESCO World Heritage-listed Mayan ruins of Palenque

The Zapotec ruins of Monte Albán and Spanish city of Oaxaca

The tobacco fields of Viñales Valley

Trinidad

UNESCO World Heritage-listed Old Havana

Ernesto Che Guevara Monument in Santa Clara

Havana's fortress, cigars and rumba

Trip rating
  • This comprehensive tour takes in both Mexico and Cuba. 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 Mayan ruins are next and then comes the Yucatan Peninsula with stops in Merida and the Mayan sites of Uxmal and Chichen Itza. Then take a flight to Havana and see all its faded glory, waiting to be explored. Further on is the Vinales region, well known for its tobacco growing and cigar factories. On the south of the island is colonial Trinidad, where we can wander the cobblestone streets and listen to Cuban rhythms in the Casa de La Trova. In Santa Clara we stop to visit the memorials dedicated to revolutionary hero, Ernesto Che Guevara.

    Why we love it

    • This comprehensive tour takes in both Mexico and Cuba.
    • 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 Mayan ruins are next and then comes the Yucatan Peninsula with stops in Merida and the Mayan sites of Uxmal and Chichen Itza.
    • Then take a flight to Havana and see all its faded glory, waiting to be explored.
    • Further on is the Vinales region, well known for its tobacco growing and cigar factories.
    • On the south of the island is colonial Trinidad, where we can wander the cobblestone streets and listen to Cuban rhythms in the Casa de La Trova.
    • In Santa Clara we stop to visit the memorials dedicated to revolutionary hero, Ernesto Che Guevara.

    Itinerary

    Day 1 - Mexico City

    • On arrival at Mexico City’s Benito Juarez International Airport, you will be transferred to the hotel in the heart of the downtown area.
    • In the evening (usually around 6pm) you will meet your tour leader and the other members of your group for a pre-tour briefing.
    • Please check the notice board at the hotel reception for confirmation of the exact time and place of the meeting.
    • This meeting is generally followed by an optional group dinner at a nearby restaurant.
    Hotel Regente City or similar

    Day 2 - Teotihuacan - Mexico City

    • Located 50 kilometres northeast of Mexico City are the 'must-see' archaeological ruins of Teotihuacan - the site of the massive Pyramid of the Sun and Pyramid of the Moon which dominate the skyline of the complex.
    • This was once the country's biggest ancient cities, and capital of the Aztec people, who ruled over the largest empire in the pre-Hispanic era. Guarded by mountains, this magnificent city is thought to have been founded early in the 1st century AD and reached its peak around 500 AD, when its influence extended down to Guatemala and as far north as present-day Texas.
    • With the help of a local guide, you will have time to stroll down ‘The Avenue of the Dead’, uncover its many wonders and imagine what life must have been like nearly 2000 years ago.
    • You will also visit Virgen de Guadalupe, the city’s major religious landmark. After your exploration you will return to Mexico City in the afternoon.
    Hotel Regente City or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 3 - Mexico City

    • Mexico City is an exciting mix of modern cosmopolitan glamour with remnants from both its ancient and colonial history. Situated in the middle of a vast valley, this energetic metropolis, with a population exceeding 20 million, is one of the largest cities in the world.
    • There is a saying that if it happens in Mexico, it happens in Mexico City!
    • Following a city tour, you will have a free afternoon to discover the city's myriad of neighbourhoods and historic buildings.
    • You might enjoy a trip to Xochimilco, to explore the canals and gardens, or perhaps just head for the Aztec ruins in the city centre. The nightlife here is worth indulging in, think mariachi bands, vibrant local dancing and tequila.
    Hotel Regente City or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 4 - Puebla

    • This morning you will travel by private minivan to Puebla.
    • Puebla has managed to maintain its colonial heritage despite rapid growth and development. There is a plethora of churches and colonial buildings that remain a testament to its proud history.
    • You will spend time at the local markets, a great place to hunt down hand-painted tiles and other handicrafts, take colourful photos and try your hand at bargaining.
    • Alternatively, you may like to go for a hike around one of the area's volcanoes.
    • 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.
    Hotel Colonial or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 5 - Oaxaca

    • This morning you will travel by minibus to the colonial city of Oaxaca. If you're interested in purchasing traditional Mexican handicrafts, this is the place! Descendants of the Zapotec and Mixtec Indians sell an array of bright woven blankets and shawls.
    • Oaxaca has a vibrant art scene, and is famous for its colourful markets and its relaxed, laid-back feel. It is also a great place to try out some regional delicacies, from ‘mole’ sauces and banana leaf-wrapped ‘tomales’ to the baked chilli and lime grasshoppers. These are sold by the little old ladies at the markets, with each of them declaring that their creation is the best.
    • If the frenzy of finding a bargain becomes too much, chill out in one of the many laid-back cafés and soak up the ambience by observing everyday life passing by.
    Hotel Oaxaca Real or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 6 - Monte Alban - Oaxaca

    • 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 Zapotec civilisation began construction of this city around 200 BC and it reached its peak during the period between 300 and 700 AD, when the population was estimated to be around 25,000.
    • Monte Alban exercised political, economic and ideological control over the local communities and surrounding regions that include the peaks of three mountain ranges that converge in this valley.
    • 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.
    • We return to Oaxaca for the afternoon, which is free for you to explore at your leisure.
    Hotel Oaxaca Real or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 7 - Tehuantepec

    • This morning we drive south towards the Pacific coast on our way to Tehuantepec.
    • On the way we will stop to see the Tule Tree (an impressively large Montezuma cypress tree), a Mezcal factory, and the ruins at Mitla.
    • Mitla 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 and the name Mitla is derived from the Nahuatl word Mictlan, meaning ‘underworld’.
    • We spend the night in the town of Tehuantepec.
    Hotel Calli or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 8-9 - San Cristobal de las Casas

    • Today we continue driving east into the state of Chiapas.
    • On the way we visit Sumidero Canyon, an 800-metre deep canyon carved out by the Sumidero River and dating from the same time as the Grand Canyon. We then continue on to San Cristobal de las Casas.
    • San Cristobal de las Casas has a distinctive old-world feel, thanks to the Spanish colonial architecture and pretty, cobbled streets. It also maintains its indigenous roots.
    • Villages like Chamula are tucked in to the highlands surrounding the San Cristobal, these essentially act as market places and places of religious ceremonial import for the local indigenous people who live in the neighbouring hills.
    • The traditional way of life has been preserved for the local people here, and you will have the opportunity to see them in customary dress. In order to gain a better understanding of these largely Mayan communities, you will have the chance to explore the myriad of surrounding villages on a cultural tour.
    Hotel Catedral or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 10-11 - Palenque

    • You will depart San Cristobal de Las Casas and head for Palenque today. The highlight of this part of the trip is a visit to the Misol-ha and Agua Azul waterfalls.
    • Though geographically close, Misol-ha and Agua Azul waterfalls are astoundingly different. Misol-ha stands 35 metres high, and the water cascades in one single drop to a pool below. You can walk underneath the water to the cataracts on the other side of the fall.
    • Agua Azul is, by contrast, a wide a low waterfall, defined by a number of smaller falls across limestone. The minerals in the limestone lend the long river here a beautiful blue hue.
    • The following day we visit the ruins of Palenque.
    • Situated on a hilltop in an area of hot jungle, lie some of the most incredible Mayan ruins in the region, dating back to AD600. The eerie calls of howler monkeys echo through the jungle as you wander among ancient ruins, further enhancing the majestic nature of this magnificent site. Some ruins remain unexcavated and hidden in the surrounding forest.
    Hotel Maya Tulipanes or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 12 - Campeche

    • Pack your swimsuits today as we drive north towards the Gulf of Mexico, where we stop at the beach for a swim. We then drive on to Campeche where we spend the night.
    • Campeche is a typical Spanish colonial harbour town, complete with walls and fortifications. A UNESCO World Heritage site, many of the town's buildings have been restored, and as a result it is one of the most picturesque towns in Mexico.
    • We take an orientation tour of the city and also visit the San Miguel Fort and museum.
    Hotel Baluartes
    Breakfast

    Day 13 - Merida

    • This morning we head into the ancient ruins of Uxmal to view 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 5 super-imposed temples.
    • We then continue on to the city of Merida, and take a tour of the city.
    • Known as the 'White City' due to its great use of limestone and white paint, Merida was a centre for Mayan culture long before the arrival of the conquistadors. Today Merida is a bustling city with much of its colonial influence intact.
    • You will have plenty of time to explore the many sights and your guide will be able to recommend a number of sightseeing options, including the impressive Regional Anthropology Museum of the Yucatan, the shady Plaza Grande, replete with a 16th century Cathedral on one side and City Hall, State Government Palace, and Casa Mantejo on the others.
    • The outdoor market is another must-visit, with an array of hammocks and Mayan replicas for sale, as well as a selection of enticing local specialties, including ochinita pibil or the brain-numbingly spicy el yucateco.
    Hotel Mision Panamericana
    Breakfast

    Day 14 - Chichen Itza - Playa del Carmen

    • Chichen Itza is arguably the most famous Mayan site in Mexico. Its name came from the deep, natural well known as a ‘cenote’ (sinkhole containing groundwater) located near the centre of the site, which was used during the city's heyday as a place for human sacrifices to appease the Mayan rain god Chaac!
    • The magnificent Temple of Kukulkan stands over the ruins and 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. Stone carvings depict the violence of the play around the ball court walls, suggesting it was not such a casual sport. Following a guided tour of the site, you will continue to the resort town of Playa del Carmen.
    • With azure waters, powdery beaches and a distinctly European feel, Playa del Carmen is a resort city close to Cancun but without the party atmosphere. 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 adventures further afield take a ferry across the turquoise seas to Cozumel, an island famous for its reef diving.
    Hotel Playa del Carmen or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 15 - Havana

    • You will fly on to Havana today. This flight is not included in the tour price and is to be booked separately.
    • There will be a second orientation meeting in Havana in the evening.
    • After the group meeting you can enjoy an optional group for dinner.
    Hotel Nacional or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 16-17 - Soroa - Vinales

    • Havana (known locally as La Habana) is the centre of all things Cuban and to walk around its streets is like being on the set of a Hollywood movie. You will see 1950s and 1960s American cars cruising wide boulevards, while paint peels from glorious Spanish colonial buildings. Old men in straw hats puff on huge Cuban cigars as Cuban 'son' music fills the air; it's hard not to be drawn in by this evocative atmosphere.
    • There is so much to see in Havana and you will explore both old and modern districts. In the Old Town you will take a walk to the various squares such as Plaza de Armas, Plaza de la Catedral, Plaza de San Francisco de Asis, Plaza Vieja (Old Square) and Plaza de Cristo.
    • From here you will travel by private minibus to Vinales, a rural town in the dramatic Pinar del rio province (approximately 3 hours). You will stop for a lunch in the densly forested mountain resort in Sierra del Rosario called Soroa. You will also have the opportunity to tour the orchid garden, home to over 700 different species of orchid.
    • Vinales is the perfect place to meet and mix with Cuban people, it is a charming and rural village, and the locals have a penchant for rum and dancing.
    • There are a number of optional activities available to allow you to explore the beautiful surrounding countryside. You can choose to hire a a scooter or bicycle to go adventuring, or simply hike through the local tobacco fields, mountains and caves. Rock climbing is also available to those who are interested.
    • You will be accommodated overnight at a homestay. Your room will be fitted with a ceiling fan or air-conditioning.
    Homestay
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 18-19 - Trinidad

    • Today you travel back to Havana before boarding a bus bound for Trinidad. UNESCO declared Trindad and its surrounding hills a World Heritage site in 1988.
    • Established by the Spaniards in 1514 and lined with cobblestone streets and colourful houses, the town of Trinidad is easy to wander around and as the most well-preserved colonial city in Cuba, almost every scene offers superb photographic opportunities – from locals casually smoking their huge cigars on the doorsteps of their homes to old Chevrolets cruising by. It is easy to see why Trinidad is one of the most visited towns in Cuba.
    • The city was once incredibly wealthy, owing to the area’s successful sugar-cane cultivation in the 1800s. The grand old mansions, intricate wrought iron work, and cobbled streets remain a testament to the affluence of its past.
    • There are some beautiful Spanish churches to explore, and for a taste of the area’s revolutionary history, Museo Nacional de la Lucha Contra los Bandidos and the Casa de los Mártires de Trinidad are worth a visit.
    • Riding horses or renting old bikes is a great way to enjoy the city. You may prefer to relax at the local beach, Playa Ancon or hike through the surrounding Sierra del Escambray Mountains.
    • You will be accommodated in a homestay overnight. Your room will include air-conditioning or a ceiling fan.
    Homestay
    Breakfast | Lunch

    Day 20 - Cienfuegos

    • You will continue on to Cienfuegos today. (approx. 1 hours).
    • Cienfuegos is known for its Parisian-style boulevards and colonial European centre. Locals refer to as La Perla del Sur (The Pearl of the South).
    • You will have the opportunity to visit Palacio del Valle, the architectural pride of the city – the entire structure is adorned with ornately carved Venetian alabaster.
    • You will stay in a colonial-style centrally located hotel, replete with air-conditioning, a restaurant, bar and swimming pool.
    Hotel La Union or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 21-22 - Havana

    • You will head back to Havana via Santa Clara and the Che Guevara mausoleum and memorial today. Che Guevara was killed in Bolivia and his remains were uncovered and identified in 1997. They were brought back to Cuba and interred in Santa Clara along with those of other revolutionaries who were killed with him.
    • Upon arrival in Havana, you will head to your hotel, before hitting the town to celebrate the end of your adventure.
    • The trip will come to an end after breakfast on Day 22.
    Hotel Nacional or similar
    Breakfast
  • What to Know

    What's Included

    • Local tour leader
    • Local guides
    • Arrival transfer
    • Transport
    • Sightseeing and entrance fees

    Not Included

    • Airport departure tax
    • Visas where required
    • Meals not included in the itinerary
    • Insurance
    • Laundry
    • Any optional tours or activities during free time
    • Tips and items of a personal nature
  • Map Itinerary

  • Past Travellers' Ratings & Comments

    At the end of each trip, we ask our travellers to provide feedback. We publish the positive, negative and neutral feedback on this page to give you an overall idea of what to expect on this trip.

    Cuba & Mexico

    Ian - , 13 Dec, 2011
    4
    Overall Rating

     

    Go to Cuba, but not for the beach or the scenery; go to see how the only country really trying to practice communism is faring!

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Trip at a glance

Trip Code PSCM
Group size 1 - 16
Start City: Mexico City
End City: Havana
Style: Small Group

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