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Contrasts of Mexico tour
Mexico City Palenque Contrasts of Mexico Trip

Contrasts of Mexico

Explore! Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
4.6 . Excellent
93%
Travel Style: You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level: Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level: Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
15 days
From: $ 1,657 $ 110 / day
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Overview

Highlights

  • Oaxaca - Explore the streets and markets of this delightful UNESCO World Heritage city
  • Mexico City Anthropological Museum - An impressive collection of precolonial artefacts
  • Tikal (Guatemala) - The Maya metropolis, where temples scattered over a vast area stand out tall above the surrounding jungle
  • Palenque - Arguably the most enchanting of the ancient Maya ruins, set in dense jungle
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - A beautiful highland colonial market town, surrounded by modern day Maya villages

Short Description

This exciting journey explores the fiery and mysterious land of the Aztecs and the Maya. From the valleys of Oaxaca in Mexico to the jungles of Guatemala, we tour colonial cities, discover ancient sites and search out the perfect locations for some down time. We visit the impressive Mayan sites of Tikal and Palenque, as well as lesser known sites such as Monte Alban, Bonampak and Yaxchila, and the pyramids at Teotihuacan. We also take a boat trip through the impressive Sumidero Canyon and visit the Mayan towns of San Cristobal and San Juan Chamula. This tour coincides with the Day of the Dead Festival. This festival is celebrated throughout Mexico and focuses on family and friends praying for and remembering loved ones who have died. We will witness the celebrations from Oaxaca. The origins of the Day of the Dead Festival can be traced back as far as the indigenous people of Mesoamerica. The Zapotecs, Mayans and Aztecs all had ancient rituals for celebrating the deaths of ancestors. The modern day festivities take place between the 31st October and 2nd November each year, when it is believed to be easier for the souls of the departed to visit the living. Relatives tend to gather in cemeteries where they build private shrines and altars and bring along food, toys and other sentimental items. One of the most common symbols of the Day of the Dead is the skull which many people wear as masks during parades and festivities. The ceremonies are a fascinating insight into local culture and beliefs. There are three dates available, departing one day after the other. Those on the 28th October departure will spend the nights of 31st October and 1st November in Oaxaca (days 4 and 5); those joining on the 29th October will spend the nights of the 1st and 2nd November in Oaxaca (days 4 and 5), and those joining on the 30th October will spend the nights of the 2nd and 3rd November in Oaxaca (days 4 and 5). Oaxaca is one of the best places to witness the Day of Dead as the streets become alive with parades and markets selling flowers and local delicacies fill the air with colour and perfume. Many of the festivities take place at night in the local cemeteries and there is a carnival-like atmosphere that brings the streets of Oaxaca to life.

Small groups are usually defined as between 10 and 24 travelers, often less. If you're the kind of person who enjoys more intimate experiences and personal service this is a good choice. All else being equal you will pay a premium for this style vs a larger group tour.
Trip Type Small Group Tour
See all the highlights and popular spots on a classic tour.
Itinerary Focus Classic Highlights
Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels.
Lodging Level Value - 3 star
Flights & Transport N/A
Start City N/A
End City Belize City Airport

Travel Theme

Cultural

Cities & Attractions

Mexico City Palenque Tikal

Activities

N/A

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Itinerary

Day 1 - Join tour in Mexico City

Description

Check-in at hotel in Mexico City. Modern day Mexico City was built on top of the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan by the Spaniards, after their conquest of the city. Today this busy, lively, city boasts a wealth of historical buildings, museums and markets.

Included Meals : None

Day 2 - Mexico City tour including the Museum of Anthropology

Description

On our first day in Mexico City we visit the Zocalo (main square) area. The Cathedral and National Palace with many of Diego Rivera's remarkable murals on the history of Mexico are all built on top of Tenochtitian the old Aztec capital. Afterwards we will visit the museum of Anthropology, one of the finest museums in the world, its exhibits offer a taste of the history ahead of us.

Included Meals : None

Day 3 - Visit the Teotihuacan Pyramids and the Basilica de Guadalupe

Description

The next day we will drive out to the mysterious pyramids of Teotihuacan. Although abandoned thirteen centuries ago, they are still an unbelievable sight. Once the largest city in the Americas with perhaps 100,000 inhabitants, its influence continued through Middle America, and Maya craftsmen borrowed its decorative motifs and building designs. Centuries later the Aztecs revered Teotihuacan as 'the Place of the Gods'. Returning downtown we visit the Basilica de Guadalupe.

Included Meals : None

Day 4 - Journey to Oaxaca; Day of the Dead celebrations

Description

Leaving the capital we drive south through cactus country to Oaxaca, one of the most charming colonial cities in Mexico. Arriving in the afternoon, we will have some free time to explore the city on foot, where we will see the Day of the Dead celebrations already in full swing between the 31st and 2nd November. The colonnaded Zocalo comes alive at night with parades, and the local cemeteries host many of the festivities as families come together to honour their dead. The local markets are thriving at this time of year, selling flowers and local delicacies that fill the air with their colour and perfume. The main parade of the week takes place on the 2nd November, but celebrations are taking place constantly throughout the preceding days, and during our time here we will experience as much of the carnival-like atmosphere as we can.

Included Meals : None

Day 5 - Visit the ancient complex of pyramids of Monte Alban

Description

Colonial Oaxaca was built with stones taken from ancient temples a few miles away. We explore the complex of temples, pyramids and enigmatic rock carvings at Monte Alban, a high spur that looms over the fertile valley. This mystical site was created by Zapotec Indians, who flourished here a thousand years ago. This afternoon there may be the chance to see some of the exquisite treasures of Monte Alban in the Regional Museum (known as the Louvre of Oaxaca) in town (optional).

Included Meals : None

Day 6 - Journey to Chiapa del Corzo via Mitla

Description

Today is a full day's journey through the mountainous Sierra Madre range, through the hot and windy isthmus of Tehuantepec and on to our hotel in Chiapa del Corzo, the provincial capital of Chiapas state, which we will explore over the next few days. There are plenty of stops to stretch our legs, eat and drink during the 10 hour car journey.

Included Meals : None

Day 7 - Sumidero Canyon boat trip then head to San Cristobal

Description

This morning we visit the spectacular Sumidero Canyon, a unique rift 41km long and up to 1000mts deep, cut by the Rio Grijalva. This is the spot where, in the 16th century, some 1000 Chiapa Indians committed suicide rather than submit to Spanish rule. We take a trip on a speed boat to fully appreciate the towering gorge, before driving up a scenic mountain road to San Cristóbal de las Casas. On route we will visit San Juan Chamula where they practice an interesting blend of Catholicism and traditional Maya beliefs' before continuing to San Cristobal. At 2210m above sea level, it can get quite cold at night!

Included Meals : None

Day 8 - Free Day to explore San Cristobal de las Casas

Description

There is a unique atmosphere to this small colonial and Indian town, high in the scenic Chiapas range. The indigenous groups from the surrounding hills fill the town and marketplace with their colourful dress including the distinctive Tzotzil Indians who still retain much of their Mayan customs and language. They are noted for their bright textiles and weavings in bold designs and this is the place to bargain for some colourful souvenirs. Today is left free for you to explore the area. You may wish to visit the Na Bolom, the House of the Jaguar, which is dedicated to the preservation of the Lacandón tribe and displays many of their artefacts or the Kakaw museum where you can learn about the history and production of chocolate in the area.

Included Meals : None

Day 9 - Travel to Palenque via the Agua Azul Waterfall

Description

Leaving the highlands, the road is slow and winding, but there are scenic views as we descend from the highlands to the jungles of Palenque. We plan to bathe at the waterfalls of Agua Azul before driving onto our hotel. The river tumbles over a series of limestone travertine's, forming natural jacuzzis, and is a popular Sunday picnic spot for Mexicans and travellers alike.

Included Meals : None

Day 10 - Discover the important Mayan site of Palenque

Description

One of the highlights of our tour is today's guided visit to the famous jungle ruins of Palenque, a fascinating and important Mayan site. Once the choking forest was cleared, the ruins revealed the tomb of the high priest Pakal, his body adorned with a marvellous jade death mask - one of the most prized relics of the Maya culture, discovered only in 1952. The entire site, shrouded by the steamy rainforest, has an aura of deep mystery. During the afternoon you can continue to explore the site, or take a bus back to the waterfall of Misol Ha for a refreshing swim (optional). The stunning 30m high waterfall was featured in the titles of the movie 'Predator'.

Included Meals : None

Day 11 - Drive to Frontera Corozal; travel by boat to Yaxchilan

Description

Today we head into the Lacandon area to the ruins of Bonampak. The discovery of the well preserved murals at this site had a profound impact on our understanding of the Mayans. Continuing to Frontera, we board our lancha (river boat) on the Ucumacinta river and head for the remote site of Yaxchilan, famous for its stelae and roof combs. We continue back up the river through the rainforest to our overnight lodge near where we boarded our boat earlier today.

Included Meals : Dinner

Day 12 - Head to Flores, optional boat trip on Lake Peten Itza

Description

Our Mayan rainforest experience continues up river by boat to the small settlement of Bethel on the Guatemalan side before progressing by road to Flores, on Lake Peten Itza. The afternoon can be spent enjoying a leisurely boat trip on the blue waters of the lake (optional).

Included Meals : Breakfast

Day 13 - Explore the great Mayan metropolis of Tikal (Guatemala)

Description

Today we visit Tikal, the great Maya metropolis set in the midst of the rainforest, which can justly be compared with the celebrated ancient cities of Egypt and Greece. Initially settled in about 600BC, Tikal was abandoned by its rulers around 890AD and totally deserted a hundred years later. The city covered an area of 16 square kilometres. Re-discovered in 1848, only a few of its great temples and pyramids have been excavated. The site is extensive, so we include a guided tour in the morning with the afternoon free to let you explore. We can appreciate the prolific birdlife in the surrounding rainforest and take in amazing views of the forest canopy from the tops of the pyramids.

Included Meals : None

Day 14 - Travel to San Ignacio (Belize)

Description

Today we drive over the border to San Ignacio in Belize. Here canoeing activities are available on the Macal river (optional) that passes through San Ignacio Town or alternatively venture deep into the Mayan underworld cave canoeing in nearby Barton Creek Cave. You may also like to visit one of the nearby and little visited Mayan sites of Cahal Pech or Xunantunich.

Included Meals : None

Day 15 - Drive to Belize City Airport where the tour ends

Description

This morning we drive to Belize City where the tour ends.

Included Meals : None

Availability

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Price From $ 1,657
Price Per Day: $ 110 per day
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Stride Featured in

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30 Explore! Travel Reviews & Ratings

93%
4.6 out of 5 (100+ reviews)
Excellent 24
Great 3
Average 1
Disappointing 1
Terrible 1
Value
4.6
Guide
4.6
Activities
4.6
Lodging
4.5
Transportation
4.6
Meals
4.5

Contrasts of Mexico

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Company Reviews

Wonderful

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
I was grateful to Explore with my booking as I was forced to cancel at a late date and then was enabled to rebook which meant the difference between having no summer holiday and a wonderful one. All of the administration seemed to be very efficient, friendly and professional.
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Wonderful holiday memories

5.0
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Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
We have travelled all over the world with explore on their family adventure holidays. We have an only child and she benefited so much with instant friendships, and has some wonderful holiday memories. Explore has always been very helpful with the booking process, and we have found most of the tour leaders they use to be professional, committed, really good at their jobs.
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Extremely enjoyable

5.0
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Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
I have travelled with Explore on several occasions. Each experience has been positive and every trip extremely enjoyable. The itinerary’s are excellent ensuring a full and varied experience and the use of local guides is hugely beneficial.
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It's fantastic trip

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
It's fantastic trip for me..just not very happy for accommodation. And the trip leader .If he can make more time with us.and make more interesting and funny when he was talking. It is should be good..other way he is good..
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wonderful

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
Danijela, our tour guide, was wonderful. She shared plenty of facts about Croatia with us and managed all the arrangements really well. One of our group had a birthday while we were away and Danijela gave her a present and we celebrated. Transfers to and from the airport went well. Prior to going, the staff on the phones were really helpful with any questions.
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Great experiences

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
This was our third family adventure with Explore, all have been great experiences. Kids bond immediately and adults can melt into the background and relax. The size of the groups makes mixing manageable and the guides and crews have been first rate throughout.
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Details

Optional Activities

Optional Excursions

Mexico City - Ballet Folklorico - US$80-120; Coyoacan Frida Kahlo Museum US$12 (plus transport) Oaxaca - Regional Museum US$ 5 San Cristobal - Na Bolom US$5 ; Kakaw Museum US$2 ; Kakaw Chocolate workshop US$20; Folkloric dancing US$25 Palenque - Misol Ha waterfall US$2 entry plus transport US$70 (up to 4) Flores - Boat trip on Lake Peten Itza US$ 20; Tikal Canopy - US$50 San Ignacio - Iguana Farm US$12; Cahal Pech site US$15; Xunantunich site US$30

Guides

A Tour Leader is an integral part of any Explore tour and your tour will be led by one of our experienced tour leaders who have been handpicked and expertly trained. We believe that our Tour Leaders are the key to the success of our tours; they are passionate travellers who are bursting with first-hand local knowledge which they love to share. Your tour Leader will also take care of all the planning and organization throughout your journey. Their passionate approach will make this tour fun and inspiring, bringing the destination to life whether you're travelling alone or with others.

Tour Staff

Driver(s), Explore Tour Leader, Local Guide(s), Boat Crew, Driver(s), Explore Tour Leader, Local Guide(s), Boat Crew, Driver(s), Explore Tour Leader, Local Guide(s), Boat Crew, Driver(s), Explore Tour Leader, Local Guide(s), Boat Crew

Additional Information:

Tour Features

Extend your trip With a six day Yucatan Peninsula Extension Trip code: MXY

Trip ID#:

explore-MX

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