Mayan Empires - 22 days

  • Overview
  • Itinerary
  • What's Included
  • Dates
  • On The Go Tours

Travel through Mexico, Guatemala and Belize enjoying stunning beaches, ancient ruins and colourful villages over three exhilarating weeks. Experience the Mayan sites of Chichen Itza, Palenque and Tikal and bask on the Caribbean beaches of Caye Caulker. Shop up a storm at Chichi markets and enjoy the atmosphere in vibrant colonial towns.

Highlights
  • Playa del Carmen - one of Mexico's finest beach resorts
  • Chichen Itza - one of the New 7 Wonders of the World
  • Merida - capital of the Yucatan province
  • Palenque archaeological site
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - colonial city
  • Panajachel on the shores of Lake Atitlán
  • Chichicastenango and the Chichi markets
  • Antigua - a delightful colonial town
  • Livingston - a lively town situated at the mouth of the Rio Dulce
  • Flores - a charming island town
  • Tikal - a beautiful Mayan archaeological site
  • San Ignacio - Belize's adventure capital!
  • Caye Caulker - idyllic Caribbean island
Age Policy
Minimum age of 16 on all Central America group tours. All minors aged 16-17 years must be accompanied by an adult and the ratio should be one adult per minor. Parents and/or guardians of those aged 16-17 years will need to fill out a tour suitability form for minors. 


The maximum age is 75 but given the nature of our group tours, they're not recommended for over 60s. Those over 65 years of age will be required to fill out a tour suitability tour.  

Destinations
  • Belize
  • Guatemala
  • USA
  • Central America
  • North America
Tour Types
  • Small Group
Day 1: Cancun - Playa del Carmen.
( overnight in Playa del Carmen)
Cancun - Playa del Carmen. Hola Mexico! Arrival transfer from Cancun airport to the beautiful beach resort of Playa del Carmen, where you can spend the remains of the day at leisure.

Day 2-3: Chichen Itza
( overnight in Merida)
Playa del Carmen - Merida. Our Mexican exploration begins on day 2 with a tour of the famous Chichen Itza archaeological site - one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Chichen Itza was constructed between the 7th and the 10th Century AD and these incredible ruins are the best examples of Mayan architecture ever excavated. The highlight of our guided tour is the iconic El Castillo pyramid (aka the Pyramid of Kukulcan), which was dedicated to the feathered serpent god Kukulcan and built with such staggering precision that during the equinox the sunlight falls on the steps in such a way that a series of shadows form the shape of a serpents body which joins the stone-carved serpent's head at the bottom of the pyramid. Other sites of interest include the sacred cenote where treasures and the remains of human sacrifices have been discovered and a ball court where the captain of the winning team was beheaded!

Departing Chichen Itza we travel on to Merida, the capital of the Yucatan state. Known as the 'White City' Merida is an attractive town with colonial buildings, plazas and colourful markets which offer a wonderful array of handicrafts. Spend the next day at leisure exploring the town or choose from an exciting range of optional excursions including a free city tour, a hop on hop off bus tour and a Sound and Light show at the beautiful Mayan ruins of Uxmal.

Day 4-5: Palenque Ruins
( overnight in Palenque)
Merida - Palenque. On day 4 we travel south to Palenque in the state of Chiapas, where we spend the next two nights. Surrounded by the lush and colourful Chiapas jungle, Palenque is home to one of Mexico's most beautiful and important Mayan sites. The Palenque ruins include a series of hilltop temples, towers, tombs and pyramids and Palenque is famous for the discovery of tombs filled with treasure in honour of Lord Pakal and the Red Queen. Palenque highlights include the Temple of the Inscriptions, the Crypt, the Palace complex, the Temple of the Cross, the Temple of the Foliated Cross, and the Temple of the Sun which date back to 400-700 AD. Paths through the jungle will lead you to various temples.

Whilst in Palenque there is also an optional excursion to the beautiful Agua Azul Nature Reserve with its myriad of waterfalls, and the spectacular Misol-Ha waterfall with a 30 metre drop.

Day 6-8: San Cristobal
( overnight in San Cristobal )
Merida - San Cristobal. Ascending into the mountainous Chiapas region, in the heart of the highlands we arrive at the charming colonial city of San Cristobal de las Casas. San Cristobal is surrounded by 21 indigenous villages, each with their own distinct dress, customs and languages. Our 3 night stay here provides a fascinating insight into Mexico's indigenous culture. Brightly coloured red tiled houses dominate the city and there are several interesting museums to visit. On day 7 enjoy a guided tour of the nearby villages where you can buy beautifully made local handicrafts and get a true feel for how modern descendents of the ancient Maya people live today and learn about their pre-Colombian beliefs and daily struggles.

Whilst in San Cristobal you can also opt to visit the stunning Sumidero Canyon, where you can spot sun-bathing crocodiles and other wildlife on a guided speedboat tour along the Grijalva river to the hydro-electric dam.

Day 9-11: Panajachel
( overnight in Panajachel )
San Cristobal - Panajachel. Bidding farewell to Mexico on day 9 we cross the border into Guatemala at Ciudad Cuauhtemoc, en route to Panajachel. The journey takes us through spectacular scenery as we travel through the beautiful Guatemalan highlands towards the Pan American Highway and head down to Panajachel on the shores of Lake Atitlán, enjoying breathtaking views of the lake and its three volcanoes, San Pedro, Atitlán and Toliman.

Lake Atitlan is arguably one of the world's most beautiful lakes and the laid back lakeside town of Panajachel is an idyllic place for us to relax and enjoy the spectacular scenery. Spend your time at leisure in Panajachel. Go for a swim in the lake, enjoy lakeside sunset drinks, sample the towns many bars and restaurants or take an optional boat tour to some of the many surrounding villages.

Day 12-13: Antigua
( overnight in Antigua)
Panajachel - Antigua. In the morning on day 12 we visit Chichicastenango - Guatemala's most famous market town. On market day, the local indigenous people, mostly descendents of the K'iche' Maya people, come down from the nearby hills in their masses to sell everything from kitchenware and handicrafts to jumpers and live turkeys! Here we can shop for souvenirs and enjoy the lively atmosphere before continuing our journey to Antigua.

The picturesque colonial town of Antigua cannot fail to enchant, with its cobbled streets, parks and plazas, convents, ornate churches and colourful street markets, all set against a spectacular backdrop of awe inspiring volcanoes. Here, the local indigenous people dressed in their colourful costumes can be found selling their crafts and textiles and as the cultural centre of Guatemala, Antigua is an ideal place to experience the traditional music, architecture and art of the country. Enjoy free time exploring Guatemala's most captivating city.

Day 14: Rio Dulce
( overnight in Rio Dulce)
Antigua - Rio Dulce. We depart Antigua by mini van and drive to the riverside town of Rio Dulce where we overnight in cabins right on the water. In the afternoon we take a boat trip to Livingston, one of the most scenic areas of Guatemala. Livingston is a vibrant little town which is inhabited by the Garifuna people and has a uniquely Caribbean atmosphere.

Day 15: Flores & Tikal
( overnight in Flores)
Rio Dulce - Flores. Today we journey to the charming island-town of Flores which is located in the centre of Lake Peten Itza. From Flores we explore Tikal - the greatest city of the Maya world. Nestled deep in the jungle, this complex is one of the largest Maya sites discovered. Enjoy the remains of the day exploring this remarkable archaeological site and learning about the flora, fauna and Mayan history with our knowledgeable local guide.

Day 16-17: San Ignacio
( overnight in San Ignacio)
Flores - San Ignacio. On day 16 we travel over the border into Belize, one of the smallest and most diverse countries in Central America. Our first port of call is San Ignacio, known as "Cayo" by the locals. San Ignacio is the adventure and nature capital of Belize and it's also the centre of agricultural. Surrounded by lush, wildlife rich jungle, waterfalls, rivers and caves, there's no shortage of optional activities to enjoy in Cayo, from canoeing downriver and tubing through caves, to visiting the famous caves Actun Tunichil Muknal.

Day 18-20: Caye Caulker
( overnight in Caye Caulker)
San Ignacio - Caye Caulker. On day 18 we take a local bus through the centre of Belize to Belize City, where we catch a water taxi out to the Cayes (mangrove islands). Belize is renowned for it's laid back and relaxed pace of life and on the beautiful island of Caye Caulker we kick off our shoes and enjoy some R&R. Spend the evenings wandering the sand filled streets, spend the evenings eating seafood, drinking cocktails, and listening to reggae music in one of the bars.

On days 19 and 20, do as little or as much as you please. A range of optional activities are available from snorkelling and diving excursion to taking a bike around the island, or enjoying a spot of fishing.

Day 21: Playa del Carmen
( overnight in Playa del Carmen)
Caye Caulker - Playa del Carmen. After a long day travelling by bus, we return to Playa del Carmen for a final night. Spend the night enjoying your final taste of delicious Mexican cuisine and celebrating the end of the adventure with several margaritas!

Day 22: Playa del Carmen

Our adventure of a lifetime comes to an end in Playa del Carmen today. Consider extending your stay to explore the area. Departure transfers can be booked upon request.

  • Cancun airport arrival transfer on day 1
  • 17 breakfasts
  • 21 nights simple hotels, hostels and guesthouses
  • Local transportation - public buses, private vehicles and boats
  • Excursions to Livingston, Tikal ruins, Caye Caulker, Chichen Itza ruins, Palenque ruins, San Cristóbal village tour, Chichi Market
  • Escorted by a tour leader
  • Specialist local guides at certain sights of interest


NB - the following are not included:

-International flights, visas, departure and border taxes
-Tips on all excursions. Tip for your tour leader - an entirely personal gesture.
-Meals - allow US$25-30 spending money per day to cover meals, snacks, drinks, limited souvenirs and any extras.
-Airport departure transfer - can be booked at an additional cost upon request
-Local payment - $230 - $250 paid in USD

You will have the option to book your own flights independently with the operator.

Dates Price Single Availability
24-Feb-2019 for 22 Nights Visit Website
17-Mar-2019 for 22 Nights Visit Website
07-Apr-2019 for 22 Nights Visit Website
28-Apr-2019 for 22 Nights Visit Website
19-May-2019 for 22 Nights Visit Website
09-Jun-2019 for 22 Nights Visit Website
30-Jun-2019 for 22 Nights Visit Website
21-Jul-2019 for 22 Nights Visit Website
11-Aug-2019 for 22 Nights Visit Website
01-Sep-2019 for 22 Nights Visit Website
22-Sep-2019 for 22 Nights Visit Website
13-Oct-2019 for 22 Nights Visit Website
03-Nov-2019 for 22 Nights Visit Website
24-Nov-2019 for 22 Nights Visit Website
15-Dec-2019 for 22 Nights Visit Website

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