Trip Type : Small Group Tour
Contrasts of Mexico tour
Mexico City Palenque Contrasts of Mexico Trip
San Cristobal San Ignacio Contrasts of Mexico Trip

Contrasts of Mexico

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4.6 . Excellent
96%
Travel Style: For those looking to maximize their sight seeing time. You thrive on a packed day’s schedule from 8 am to 6pm, with some (but limited) free time. Most activities and meals included. Full on
Physical Level: Full day hiking or trekking over medium to long distances. Moderate expectation of physical fitness. Strenuous
Lodging Level: Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
15 days
From: $ 2,070 $ 138 / day
Checking price

Overview

Highlights

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

Short Description

An exciting and varied journey through the ancient heartland of the Aztecs, Zapotecs and the Maya. From the foodie hub of Oaxaca in Mexico to the jungles of Guatemala, explore charming colonial towns and discover ancient sites including Palenque and Tikal. Some departures have been set to coincide with Mexico's Day of the Dead Festival.

Palenque - Arguably the most enchanting of the ancient Maya ruins, set in dense jungle

Oaxaca - Wander the streets and markets of this delightful UNESCO World Heritage City

Sumidero Canyon - Take a boat trip through this towering gorge

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
Spend most of the time outdoors. Common trip themes and activities include cycling, hiking, kayaking, whitewater rafting.
Itinerary Focus Active
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 Mexico City
End City Belize City Airport
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Itinerary

Day 1 Join tour in Mexico City

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.

Meals Provided : None

Day 2 Mexico City tour including the Museum of Anthropology

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.

Meals Provided : None

Day 3 Visit the Teotihuacan Pyramids and the Basilica de Guadalupe

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.

Meals Provided : None

Day 4 Journey to Oaxaca; free to explore the colonial city

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. The colonnaded Zocalo comes alive at night as families come to stroll in the shade, while street vendors and entertainers vie for their attention. Oaxaca also has several colourful markets.

Meals Provided : None

Day 5 Visit the ancient complex of pyramids of Monte Alban

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).

Meals Provided : None

Day 6 Journey to Tehuantepec via the Mitla ruins

Today we journey through the mountainous Sierra Madre range, stopping to visit the 2000-year old swamp cypress tree in Santa Maria del Tule just outside Oaxaca and continuing to the Mixtec/ Zapotec site of Mitla where we will have a short exploration of the ruins. Our destination this evening is the hot and windy isthmus of Tehuantepec, a convenient stopping point on our journey towards San Cristobal.

Meals Provided : None

Day 7 Sumidero Canyon boat trip then drive to San Cristobal de las Casas

Leaving early this morning we have a roughly 5 hour drive to Chiapa de Corzo, the starting point for our visit to 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 indigenous people 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. At 2210m above sea level, it can get cold at night, a sharp contrast to the heat of Tehuantepec.

Meals Provided : None

Day 8 Discover the indigenous villages of San Juan Chamula and Zinacantan

There is a unique atmosphere to this small colonial 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 community who still retain much of their Mayan customs and language. We will be visiting San Juan Chamula and Zinacantan, indigenous villages close to San Cristobal that practice an interesting blend of Catholicism and traditional Maya beliefs. This area is noted for the bright textiles and weavings in bold designs, and when we return to San Cristobal we'll have the afternoon free to bargain for some colourful souvenirs. You may also 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.

Meals Provided : None

Day 9 Travel to Palenque via the Roberto Barrios waterfalls

Leaving the highlands, the road is slow and winding, but there are scenic views as we descend to the jungles of Palenque. We'll be driving via the town of Villahermosa, planning to bathe at the waterfalls of Roberto Barrios before driving onto our hotel. The river at Roberto Barrios tumbles over a series of limestone hills, forming a number of natural pools with overhangs, caves and numerous waterfalls to swim under.

Meals Provided : None

Day 10 Discover the important Mayan site of Palenque

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'.

Meals Provided : None

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

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.

Meals Provided : Dinner

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

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 Lake Peten Itza (optional).

Meals Provided : Breakfast

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

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 followed by free time 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. We drive back to Flores at around 3.30pm.

Meals Provided : None

Day 14 Travel to San Ignacio (Belize)

Today we drive over the border to San Ignacio in Belize, visiting the little known site of Xunantunich en route, with it's fantastic array of pyramids and temples.

Meals Provided : None

Day 15 Drive to Belize City Airport where the tour ends

This morning we drive to Belize City where the tour ends. It's well worth extending your time here and Explore have a 7 day extension that includes a stay on the beautiful Belizean island of Caye Caulker, as well as a trip up to the Yucatan Peninsula with a visit to the famous Maya site of Chichen Itza. Search for the trip code MXY for more information.

Meals Provided : None

Availability

Checking price
Price From $ 2,070
Price Per Day: $ 138 per day
Check Availability
Checking price
Start DateFinish DateBase PriceDeparture GuaranteedAvailability 
Oct-05-2019Oct-19-2019$ 2,070Yes14 Spaces Left Reserve
Oct-28-2019Nov-11-2019$ 2,100YesSold Out Reserve
Oct-29-2019Nov-12-2019$ 2,820Yes13 Spaces Left Reserve
Oct-29-2019Nov-12-2019$ 2,100YesSold Out Reserve
Oct-30-2019Nov-13-2019$ 2,100YesSold Out Reserve
Nov-09-2019Nov-23-2019$ 2,070Yes14 Spaces Left Reserve
Dec-19-2019Jan-02-2020$ 2,180Yes7 Spaces Left Reserve
Jan-18-2020Feb-01-2020$ 2,100Yes12 Spaces Left Reserve
Feb-08-2020Feb-22-2020$ 2,100Yes13 Spaces Left Reserve
Mar-07-2020Mar-21-2020$ 2,100Yes16 Spaces Left Reserve
Apr-04-2020Apr-18-2020$ 2,100Yes13 Spaces Left Reserve
Oct-28-2020Nov-11-2020$ 2,100Yes10 Spaces Left Reserve
Oct-29-2020Nov-12-2020$ 2,100Yes14 Spaces Left Reserve
Oct-29-2020Nov-12-2020$ 2,840No18 Spaces Left Reserve
Oct-30-2020Nov-13-2020$ 2,100Yes16 Spaces Left Reserve
Nov-14-2020Nov-28-2020$ 2,100Yes17 Spaces Left Reserve
Nov-21-2020Dec-05-2020$ 2,100No18 Spaces Left Reserve
Dec-19-2020Jan-02-2021$ 2,100No16 Spaces Left Reserve
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Check Current Availability, prices, specials with Explore!.

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Stride Featured in

Stride Feature In

73 Explore! Travel Reviews & Ratings

96%
4.6 out of 5 (100+ reviews)
Excellent 55
Great 11
Average 3
Disappointing 3
Terrible 1
Value
4.5
Guide
4.7
Activities
4.6
Lodging
4.3
Transportation
4.5
Meals
4.4

Contrasts of Mexico

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Company Reviews

Trip of a lifetime seeing the Arctic in a week

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging4.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
I travelled as a solo traveller and was relieved to find that about half the boat was also solo travellers. It was a great adventure - on a ferry board for a week with the most amazing panoramic views around us every day. We were regularly out on smaller boats to see the bird cliffs up close, or to go onto land to walk around. We saw lots of amazing wildlife including walrus, blue whales, beluga whales, endless species of birds, and of course Polar Bears! The week went by too quickly. It was a great mix of wildlife and landscapes. Each day there was a different guide giving a presentation of everything from the biology of a polar bear, to the fauna found in the arctic circle. You could join in for as little or as much as you wanted. Definitely recommended.
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Super good tour guide, but the itinerary was rushed

5.0
Details
Value4.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging4.0
Transportation4.0
Meals4.0
Junk on Halong Bay, Homestay in Mekong Delta. Hoi An Our tour guide, Long, was excellent and did a super job of mixing history and political context with what we were seeing. He went out of his way to add to the tour, actually taking us to favorite restaurant on his night off. The children loved him and we enjoyed his professionalism and his personal narrative of Vietnam. I felt that the itinerary was very rushed for a family tour. I understand the non family tour is longer and actually that would have been better for the family too. In particular a very busy day in Hue followed a mostly sleepless night on the train. We could have done with more time in Hue, or different activities. Hue was a bad day as the kite making was dull, crowded, and hot, then we didn't get to fly kites as we had not made them. In the end we had little time at the Citadel as we had to transfer into a small bus to navigate the streets.
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Excellent

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging4.0
Transportation4.0
Meals4.0
Mohammed was excellent!

Enjoy the trip

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
The highlight of this trip was seeing Machu Picchu, which I loved it.

Great Tour Leader will come back in 2017

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
A great tour leader - friendly, personable, approachable, knowledgeable of the local area, sights and people. We plan to come back and cycle with Andrew again in 2017.

Pleasant surprise experience

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation4.0
Meals5.0
It is hard to say because each outing was a pleasant surprise. The best experience was a workshop on feltmaking in Kazbegi town Georgia) where, as a group, we made the felt from scratch and created our own design. A great opportunity to discover a local craft. It is also an excellent example how this diverse group got along like a house on fire. In Armenia my fqvourite outing was the walk along the Garni river gorge with a local guide. The scenery was breathtaking.
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Details

Guides

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

Age Notes

Min. Age: 14

Trip ID#:

explore_new-MX

Meals Included:

  • Breakfast : 1
  • Dinner : 1
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