Travel south of the border to Mexico's lush Yucatan Peninsula, a tropical paradise filled with ancient ruins, baroque colonial architecture, and exotic flora and fauna. Geographically isolated, the Yucatan is home to a unique culture influenced by the indigenous Mayan Indians and historic trading partners from the Caribbean and Europe. Marvel at ancientMayan pyramids and temples, learn about traditional Mayan and Mexican cultures, and savor the delicious flavors of regional cuisine during your sojourn in the Yucatan.
Day #1 Cancun, Mexico - Travel to Mexico's lush Yucatan Peninsula and marvel at ancient Maya archaeological sites, baroque architecture, exotic flora and fauna and delicious regional cuisine. Begin in the Caribbean jewel of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Cancun.
Day #2 Cancun - Ek'Balam - Merida - Visit the magnificent archaeological site of Ek'Balam (Star Jaguar). Dating from A.D. 900, this wealthy city-state was known for richly carved stone, molded stucco ornamentation, stelae, a sophisticated network of roads and numerous hieroglyphic texts. Your day ends in Merida, capital city of the Yucatan. Join your fellow travelers for a welcome reception followed by dinner.
Day #3 Merida - A tour of Merida - founded in 1542 and known as the “white city”- features the spectacular archaeological finds at the Museum of Anthropology and the impressive art collection at the Governor's Palace. See the Plaza Principal, Cathedral of San Ildefonso, and Paseo Montejo with its gorgeous 19th-century homes. The remainder of the day is at leisure.
Day #4 Merida - Hacienda Sotuta Peon - Merida - Experience the grandeur and magnificent golden days of the haciendas at the Hacienda Sotuta Peon. Stroll through the buildings and working plantation grounds where henequen (sisal) is produced and processed. Take a scenic ride on an historic mule-drawn cart and perhaps enjoy a swim in a cenote, an underwater cave. This evening, a presentation on Yucatecan cuisine is followed by a wonderful dinner at a local restaurant.
Day #5 Merida - Uxmal - Becal - Campeche City - Enjoy an excursion to the archaeological site of Uxmal, a UNESCO World Heritage site, formerly one of the largest city-states in the Yucatan and take a guided tour of the impressive building known as the “Pyramid of the Magician.” Next, visit the small community of Becal, where a local Maya artisan demonstrates making the famous Panama hat. Later, travel to the Mexican state of Campeche, home of Maya culture for more than 2,000 years.
Day #6 Campeche City - Edzna Archaeological Site - Campeche City - Visit the archaeological site of Edzna, the “house of the itzaes (echoes).” Explore the great acropolis, including the main central square, the Building of the Five Floors, the Ambassadors Patio, Temple of the Masks and Platform of the Knives. Later, enjoy a leisurely paced walking tour of Campeche City’s historic city center, also a UNESCO World Heritage site. This 16th-century walled city features more than a thousand buildings of historical significance.
Day #7 Campeche City - Explore a local market this morning for an opportunity to learn about the products made and grown in the region. The remainder of the day is at leisure for you to explore Campeche City’s customs, traditions and culture independently. Walk along the impressive sea-side promenade, browse the many antique shops and galleries or explore the rich history of the many bastions and forts that protected the city from pirate attacks.
Day #8 Campeche City - Chichen Itza - Valladolid - This morning explore the famous Maya city-state of Chichen Itza (a UNESCO World Heritage site), once the largest political and religious center in the Yucatan. Marvel at the magnificent archaeological site that demonstrates the impressive architectural skills and ingenuity of the ancient Maya civilization. Your day concludes with an overnight stay in the colonial city of Valladolid, “The Pearl of the East.”
Day #9 Valladolid - Rio Lagartos Biosphere Reserve - Cancun - An amazing two-hour boat excursion explores the natural beauty of the Rio Lagartos Biosphere Reserve. Covering more than 120,000 acres of protected land, comprised of mangrove forest, coastal dunes vegetation, savannas and hummocks, the reserve is home to the world’s largest flamingo nesting grounds and is a bird-watching paradise with recordings of more than 350 bird species, 56 mammals, and 95 reptiles and amphibians. Later, return to Cancun for an overnight stay and farewell dinner celebrating an unforgettable trip to the Yucatan Peninsula.
Day #10 Cancun - Tour Concludes -