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Activities
Accommodation
  • 15 nights hotel
Meals
  • 5 Dinners
  • 4 Lunches
  • 15 Breakfasts

16 Days$4199USD

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Flexible Cancellations
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COVID-19 safety measures
Read our Covid-19 travel policy and what we're doing to keep you safe

Remote adventures
means social distancing comes naturally

Small groups only
Guided group sizes are strictly limited to maximum 16 people, average of 8-10


 
 
Trip Code: MAG

Trip highlights


  • Sun and Moon pyramids at Teotihuacan
  • Explore the dramatic ruins of Tikal, Palenque, Bonampak and Yaxchilan
  • Boat trip on the picturesque crater lake of Lake Atitlan
  • Bargaining in the colourful Indian markets of Chichicastenango
  • Sightseeing in Mexico City, Oaxaca & Antigua
  • Monte Alban, Sumidoro Canyon and St Christobal de la Casas

This journey traces the main archaeological and cultural attractions of Central America. The Mayan culture is immediately apparent near Mexico City where we view the huge Sun and Moon pyramids at Teotihuacan. We travel on to Oaxaca to discover the cultural ancestry of the Zapotec people and spend time in the rarefied climes of San Cristobal de la Casas and the magnificent Sumidoro Canyon. Before entering Guatemala we visit the stunning ruins at Palenque with its dramatic Mayan step pyramid architecture. We travel on to Flores and to the ruins at Tikal where forest trails lead to a plethora of stone ruins that rise above the thick jungle canopy. Continuing to the World Heritage listed UNESCO city of Antigua, we also visit Lake Atitlan - one of the world’s most beautiful lakes – and the rich and colourful Indian markets of Chichicastenango.


Meet at the group hotel, unless a transfer has been booked upon request. Mexico City, with a population of over 22 million, sprawls across some 2000sqkm. It is a giant cosmopolitan city, encompassing everything from colonial palaces to slums, and quiet plazas and parks juxtapose the unending stream of traffic. The sheer size of Mexico City is most definitely worth experiencing, and it will certainly leave you with a lasting impression. In the evening our guide will brief us on the itinerary, its activities and provide information relevant to the sites and areas visited.

Meals:  Nil

The city’s Museo Nacional de Antropolgia is one of the world’s great anthropological museums, and the best place to start to immerse ourselves in the ancient cultures and ethnology of Central America. Mayan pottery, jade beads and elaborately carved stelae can be seen, as well as the famed Mayan calendar. The huge Pyramids of the Sun and Moon at Teotihuacan are one of the great sites of the ancient world. The Pyramid of the Sun stands at 70m high along the Avenue of the Dead: lining the way, there are temples and palaces, ornately encrusted with exquisite frescoes, bas reliefs and statuary. The large Citadel complex, thought to have been home to the city’s supreme ruler, is full of small alcoves and maze-like corridors to explore. Teotihuacan was Mexico’s largest ancient city, with a population at its peak of 200,000. The giant Pyramid of the Sun was built around AD 150, with the remainder of the city (built on a grid pattern) constructed between AD 250 and 600. The city reached its peak in the 6th century, but it quickly declined and was virtually abandoned by the 7th century.

Meals:  B

We take a closer look at the density and bustle of Mexico City. The city’s focal point is the Zocalo – an enormous plaza that houses the presidential palace, the cathedral and the remains of the main temple of Tenochtitlan. We start here and then venture around some of the city’s other highlights before travelling to the southern state of Oaxaca. The scenery along the way, through winding mountain roads, is quite beautiful. The Spanish colonial town of Oaxaca is a relaxing retreat from the frenzy of Mexico City. The narrow streets all lead to a huge tree-filled zocalo, while the old stone buildings and open-air cafes and markets are wonderful for wandering and taking in the distinctive and colourful Indian culture. Many traditional Indian handicrafts and weavings can be found in the markets and on street corners, and the beautiful frescoes of Oaxaca’s traditional artists can be seen in the town’s museums.

Meals:  B,L

Outside Oaxaca, Monte Alban (‘white mountain’) sits atop a dry, rocky landscape. These superb ruins – a jumble of tunnels and staircases just waiting to be explored – are divided into five stages, each reflecting the different periods of Monte Alban’s dominance. Temples and palaces made of huge stone blocks crowd around an enormous Grand Plaza; it is believed that they were painted red at one stage. Over one hundred and seventy tombs have been found here, many of them elaborately frescoed. This was the hilltop centre of the Zapotec people of Oaxaca – at its peak the population numbered some 10,000. Building began around 500 BC, and Monte Alban quickly became the centre of Zapotec power and culture. By AD 750, however, the settlement’s power declined and it was deserted. During its prominence between AD 300 and 700, Monte Alban was a priest-dominated society: the I-shaped ball court and the deeply inscribed edifices and walls reflect the complex religious practices of the Zapotecs. Return to Oaxaca for overnight accommodation.

Meals:  B,D

Forty-six kilometres from Oaxaca, the village of Mitla is home to a number of palaces with pre-Hispanic stone mosaics. This was, perhaps, once the main Zapotec religious centre and the ruins still conjure up a feeling of a thriving priest-filled town. Human sacrifices took place here. Tehuantepec is a lively town on the Isthmus of the same name. Zapotec culture is still strong here and it provides a good introduction to a mid-sized Mexican town.

Meals:  B,D

From Tehuantepec we drive to Tuxtla Gutierrez, the capital of Chiapas, from where we take a boat trip along the incredible Sumide Canyon, whose sheer cliffs rise 1200m out of the water. Herons, kingfishers, egrets, cormorants and vultures abound. We then drive up into the highlands, through cloud forests, to the rarefied climes of San Cristobal de Las Casas. A colonial town, surrounded by pine forests and mountain valleys, San Cristobal is home to an Indian population with strong Mayan roots. The women wear traditional elaborately-embroidered skirts and shirts, while many of the men still wear traditional pink tunics.

Meals:  B,L

San Cristobal’s imposing Templo de Santo Domingo is an ornately beautiful church whose pink facade is reminiscent of baroque Spanish churches. Outside, Chamulan women sit under trees selling their handicrafts and embroideries. The town’s small cobblestoned streets are lined with brightly coloured colonial buildings and they eventually open into a large main plaza. Artists, galleries, restaurants and markets abound. The cool highlands around San Cristobal are home to a number of traditional Indian villages – the tribes, the Tzotzils and Tzeltals, are descendants of the Mayans. Here the people still live subsistence lives, dressing traditionally and quietly tilling the earth. The women plait their hair and roll it in bizarre horns over their foreheads; pigs roam the village streets; and men sit around smoking in the shade. The village of Chamula is home to a large, blue-framed church. This once-Catholic building is now bereft of pews, and the local Indians sit among rows of burning candles, clouds of incense and piles of pine needles, chanting as they prostrate themselves and croon. Bizarrely, the images of saints look on. Chamulans believe that Christ rose from the cross to become the sun. Throughout Central America, traditional Mayan beliefs are entwined with Catholic ones, and this is perhaps most keenly sensed in Chamula and Chichicastenango. In Zinacantan the men wear pink and white striped tunics and flat palm hats, while in Tenejapa the women wear brightly-patterned shirts.

Meals:  B,D

We leave San Cristobal and travel down from the highlands and through the jungle to Palenque. The drive is beautiful. We stop at Agua Azul to swim and relax. Located deep in the jungle, this is a series of enormous waterfalls that plunge into turquoise pools. Paths weave along the falls up into the hills – the place is enchanting and a welcome respite from travelling. We spend the night in the jungle town of Palenque. Teeming with Mayan architecture, this is a relaxed and rambling town with some fantastic food.

Meals:  B,D

The astounding beauty of the Mayan ruins at Palenque, deep in their jungle setting, is quite unforgettable. Palenque rose to prominence in the 7th century under the club-footed Mayan ruler, Pakal. It was his tomb, filled with treasures, that was discovered under a jungle shroud in 1952. Occupied more than 1500 years ago, the city was at its zenith between AD 600 and 800. The gloriously encrypted Templo de las Inscriptions, the Plaza del Sol, and the maze-like palace with its stairways and cavernous rooms all help to make Palenque one of the world’s greatest ancient sites. Jungle envelops the ruins that were once painted bright red; monkeys and mist surround around the temples; a waterfall rushes nearby. The sheer grandeur of the place is humbling.

Meals:  B,D

We travel by boat and vehicle today to Bonampak and Yaxichilan. Bonampak is on the Guatemala border, 155km south-east of Palenque. This little-visited place is definitely ‘off the beaten track’, but the ruins here, located in dense jungle, are a sacred site of the local Indians and notable for their magnificent frescoes depicting ancient Mayan ceremonies. From Bonampak we continue to Yaxchilan, which is probably one of the least visited but most surprising set of Mayan ruins in Central America. Its location on a great river in the jungle almost defies description. Huge ceiba trees dominates its many grassy plazas surrounded by classic Mayan architecture and stelae. Monkeys and toucans endlessly screech above us and move from tree to tree through the jungle canopy. We embark by boat across the river to the Guatemalan border town of Corozal and on to Bethal where we meet our new Guatemalan guide. We continue onward by road to Flores. The interesting town of Flores is set on a small island in the Peten Itza Lake. Flores is connected to the mainland and to the twin city of Santa Elena by a 500m causeway. For many, the main reason to visit Flores is its proximity to Tikal, but the city itself is well worth a visit in itself. Colonial architecture, red-roofed buildings, narrow cobblestone streets, a historic church and Spanish plaza make this sleepy town an ideal stepping stone to Tikal.

Meals:  B,L

The majesty of the Mayan ruins at Tikal is striking. The winding, mossy jungle paths open up to a surreal world of pyramids and temples, where howler monkeys, frogs and birds like toucans create a cacophonous crescendo. Tikal has a number of step pyramids whose forty-four or so metres you can climb to gain a view across the jungle canopy. From the maze of courtyards of the Great Plaza, temples spread out into the jungle, including the Temple of the Grand Jaguar, and the North Acropolis of King Moon Double Comb. The Mayans settled in Tikal around 700 BC and had started to build the grand North Acropolis by 200 BC. By the time of Christ, the Grand Plaza was being built from stone, but it wasn’t until AD 250 that Tikal became a religious and cultural centre. It reached its glory under King Great Jaguar Paw in AD 300 and underwent a renaissance around AD 700 under King Moon Double Comb, before falling into a mysterious decline, like other Mayan centres, around AD 900.

Meals:  B,L

Transfer from your hotel to the airport for a flight to Guatemala city. On arrival take a short city tour before the journey to Antigua, a city that in 1979 was recognized a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The beautiful Agua, Fuego and Acatenango volcanoes are silent guardians of Antigua’s streets and buildings, which are full of history and legends. Note: Not included is the ‘Fuel Charge’ for the domestic flight paid direct at the airline counter upon check- in: US$30.00pp. Airport Security Tax domestic flight (US$3.00pp) The maximum luggage weight for domestic flights is 20lbs (9kg)pp. Over this weight there is a charge of US$1.00 per lbs (.5kg).

Meals:  B

We spend a full day visiting the churches, squares, markets and stunning colonial houses of this fabulous city. Surrounding the city are the huge volcanoes that make this part of the world so dramatic. Antigua satisfies everyone’s desire to see a perfect colonial city. It is a city where one can easily wax lyrical about its great beauty. Today we shall have the opportunity to explore this magnificent city and visit the Great Plaza, Cathedral, San Francisco Church, La Mercad Church, the Cultural Centre, Jade Factory and a coffee plantation.

Meals:  B

We drive the short distance to Panajachel, one of the most interesting villages set on the shores of Lake Atitlan. Surrounded by volcanoes, its shores are dotted with Indian villages, all of which have retained their distinctive cultures – the local dress and colours varies from village to village, much like the clans of Scotland, and market stalls line the narrow streets. We enjoy a boat trip on Lake Atitlan, considered to be one of the most picturesque lakes in the world. Our boat trip includes Santiago, where we can learn more about the local people, their famous weavings and their typical clothes.

Meals:  B

Today we visit the superb market at Chichicastenango. Livestock, handicrafts, fruit and embroidery all give way in this bustling market to the focal point – the church, strewn with flowers and filled with genuflecting Indians whose elaborate rituals see them crawling to the altar, while ‘Cofradias’, or members of the traditional brotherhood, swing incense above their heads. We return to Guatemala City for the evening.

Meals:  B

The trip concludes after breakfast.

Meals:  B


Inclusions

  • 15 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 5 dinners
  • Comfortable well located accommodation on a twin-share basis in 3 or 4 star hotels
  • Private air conditioned transportation
  • internal flight Flores/Guatemala City
  • Sightseeing and site entrance fees as listed
  • Expert bilingual guides
  • Medical Kit

  • International airport transfers in Mexico City or Guatemala
  • Items of a personal nature ie laundry, phone calls
  • Drinks of any kind (e.g. bottled water, soft drinks, beers etc)
  • International flights & airport and border taxes
  • Travel insurance
  • Medical treatment
  • Bike hire at Lake Atitlan
  • Fuel Charge for Guatemala domestic flight US$30
  • Airport Security Tax Guatemala flight US$3
  • Allowed baggage weight for local flights is .5kg. Airline charges US$1.00 for every extra pound .5kg
  • Tips
  • Visas

Departure dates

* Guaranteed status denotes minimum trip numbers have been met, however the trips operation will be subject to there being no COVID-19 restrictions or other government travel advisories. Please contact us for further information.


Notes

Note:
prices valid up to 15/12/2017. For trips departing after this date, the price will likely increase subject to local inflationary pressures on operational costs.

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Total Priceper person from

$4199USD

Options & Supplements*
  • Single SupplementUSD$570
*Prices listed are per person

Essential Information

Ready to book? Make sure you download and read the detailed Highlights of Mexico and Guatemala trip notes which contains all the essential information you need to know before booking. Once you’ve booked, we will supply you with a Pre-Departure document which contains a detailed gear list and other important information to help you prepare for your adventure ahead.


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Why travel with us

Award Winning Adventures

Enhancing your journey with authentic experiences, genuine cultural exchange and real exploration are the focal points on all of our adventures. In 2019, we were crowned by our peers as the best in adventure travel at The Travel Awards in Sydney.

Thoughtful Travel

Responsible travel is at the heart of every program we offer as a fundamental and long held philosophy. When you book one of our 100% carbon offset adventures you’re supporting true sustainability in the protection of local communities, natural environments and wildlife.

Ultimate Value

 When you book one of our adventures, you will receive quality services at the best prices with plenty of inclusions. There are no hidden costs, single travellers don’t pay more and you’ll enjoy many ‘extra touches’ that ensure your holiday is excellent value for money.

Positive Impact Travel

By joining this trip you are directly supporting positive impact projects in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

We’ve offset the carbon emitted by this trip by purchasing credits that support important projects that address the UN’s seventeen SDGs, like reducing poverty, affordable and clean energy, reducing hunger, clean water and climate action.

Proceeds from this adventure purchase carbon credits through the world’s largest and most awarded carbon project developer, South Pole, which are invested into projects accelerating the transition to renewable energy sources in developing countries.

Supported projects are based on internationally recognised standards and are third-party audited. They entail a series of positive impacts on the ground, which benefit local communities and ecosystems, that are aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

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