Mayan pyramid of Kukulcan El Castillo in Chichen Itza, Mexico

Treasures of the Mayan world: Mexico to Guatemala

Our Suggested 16 day itinerary to discover the Mayan heritage of Mexico and Guatemala!

Take the opportunity to visit two countries in one trip! Dive into the history of pre-Columbian civilizations as you visit the must-see locations of two countries that have preserved their authenticity and traditions. After traveling through the Mayan lands of Mexico, depart on a 3-day getaway to Guatemala to discover even more cultural and natural wonders.

Length of stay: 16 days

Kind: Multi-Country Tours

Fix: For all public

Countries visited: Guatemala

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Day 1 : Cancún

Cancun Arrival

Arrive at the airport and collect your vehicle at the rental company’s counter  Meet directly at the counter at the end of the parking lot in front of Terminal 2.

The rental agency will offer you more complete insurance, be careful as it can be very expensive. An English-speaking guide will meet you, help you with paperwork and provide you with a road map. Chevrolet Aveo Elegance or similar vehicle.

All-inclusive insurance: against theft and damage to third parties (property and persons) up to 350,000 pesos. Zero deductible.

– 5 passengers
– 2 Large pieces of luggage / 3 medium
– Automatic transmission
– Air Conditioning
– 11 l/100 kms

Note: Good size vehicle for 4 people. The trunk fits 3 – 4 suitcases depending on size

Option included: GPS, ideal for finding your way around Mexico’s regions where the telephone network may fail. It will also make it easier for you to find the routes and sites you are looking for, ensuring that you can travel without inconvenience and without wasting time. Overnight stay at the Ramada hotel.

Option included: Standard room.

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Day 2 : Cancún (Downtown)

The Pyramids of the “Black Jaguar” Ek Balam

After breakfast, travel to Ek Balam . This recently explored site remains a major discovery in Mayan archeology of the end of the twentieth century. It’s possible to climb the steps of the Pyramids and enjoy a breathtaking view of the surrounding jungle.

Note: entrance not included unless otherwise stated.

Cenote X’canche: Swim in the Forest

After lunch, take a bike tour (1.5 km, 20 minutes) from Ek Balam’s site entrance to the cenote X’canche . If luck is on your side, you might see the famous Mayan bird ‘Toh’ and its iridescent colours. At the cenote, go for a swim in this sacred place, or be adventurous and go on a zip-line or do some rappelling.

Note: entrance not included unless otherwise stated.

The Capital of the Maya East – Valladolid

Then, travel to Valladolid, a small and authentic Mexican town that is delightful to wander around. This peaceful town, built in the sixteenth century by Francisco de Montejo, is dominated by the imposing sobriety of the Franciscan convent San Bernardino de Siena. Appreciate the pretty pastel colored houses, while eating an ice cream.

Spend the night in Valladolid. Option included: Entrance fees to Xcanche. Overnight stay at hotel Meson del Marques.

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Day 3 : Valladolid

Chichen Itza, Mayan Wonder

After breakfast, head to Chichen Itza , one the seven wonders of the modern world. Built by the Maya, and then reorganized by the Toltecs, Chichen Itza symbolizes the unification of both religious cultures. The site, which at its height was the most important religious center of the peninsula, is the largest archaeological site in Yucatan.

Swim in Cenote Yokdzonot

Cool down this afternoon in the beautiful cenote Yokdzonot which sits off the beaten track from crowded tourist sites. The crystal clear water basin is perfect for a swim. We suggest you stop for lunch in a restaurant just next to the cenote.

The White City of Merida

In the afternoon, arrive in Merida, the capital city of Yucatan. Merida has maintained its captivating colonial charm and strong personality while enjoying great economical growth in recent years. You will find many historical monuments, churches and restaurants with both local and international food. The city is dotted with pleasant little squares which are perfect to relax in, have a drink and listen to a marimba band.

Spend the evening exploring the handicrafts market which offers numerous souvenirs like renowned huipils (very colorful embroidered woman tunics), authentic Panama hats, true Yucatecan all-cotton hammocks and many more. Option included: English speaking local guide in Chichen Itza. Option included: Entrance fees to Chichen Itza. Option included: Entrance fees to Yokdzonot. Overnight stay at the hotel Casa Lucia.

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Day 4 : Mérida

 Off-the-Beaten-Tracks Cenote Tour

Cenotes are natural pools of fresh and crystalline water, where the sun’s rays create spectacular lighting effects. On the way to the first cenote, stop at a typical Mayan market where the colors of fruits and vegetables are matched only by those of the women’s traditional clothing. Then, take some time to explore 2 cenotes, and take a refreshing swim in the forest. One thing is certain, you will leave completely transformed.

Conquer the City of Uxmal

The archaeological site is peaceful and not widely visited by tourists… You will love it! Uxmal , in Mayan language, means “Thrice Built”, but in reality the city was constructed five times. One of the best preserved sites on the peninsula, this massive complex includes The Great Pyramid, House of the Turtles, a vast ballgame court and the Governor’s Palace. The water is really scarce in the region which explains the omnipresence of representations of the rain god Chac-Mool.

Explore the Forts of Campeche

Arrive at the end of the day in the city of Campeche. UNESCO named it as a model of a colonial baroque city planning and it has also been declared a World Heritage Site in 1999. Campeche oozes charm on every corner. Take some time to stroll through the beautiful colonial port, visit various Mayan ceremonial centers, wander down the ‘malecon’ (boulevard) and explore the fort. Here you can gaze out to see and imagine the recurrent attack pirate launched on the town during the colonial period. Option included: Entrance fees to Uxmal. Option included: Lunch at the home of Doña Ana. Option included: English speaking local guide in cenotes and Uxmal (meeting at 09:00 AM in the hotel’s lobby). Overnight stay at hotel Socaire. Standard room.

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Day 5 : Campeche

Travel to Chiapas

Today, take a trip down to Sabancuy , a beautiful fishing town. Tourists don’t come here very often and its peaceful atmosphere make it a perfect spot to chill at the seaside for an hour or two.

Then take the road to the south. We cross tens of kilometers of swamps against a backdrop of haciendas where the country’s bulls are raised.

Arrive in the late afternoon in Palenque, where the coolness of the tropical forest can be felt. Overnight stay at hotel La Aldea. Standard room.

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Day 6 : Palenque

Explore the city of Palenque

After breakfast we visit the archaeological site of Palenque . It might well be the most magical site of Mexico. It gives the impression to penetrate a deep, mysterious and secret place, of a light and delicate architecture. At the heart of the Inscriptions Temple stands the crypt of King Pakal, discovered in 1952. It still contained the remains of the powerful monarch, covered with jewels and a mortuary mask made of jade mosaic. The surrounding jungle and the buried ruins create a fascinating scenery and we can easily imagine the magnificence of the place, back when the temples and the palace were still covered with polychromatic paints and a richly adorned crowd animated the esplanades.

Explore the Majestic Yaxchilan

In the morning embark on a trip to the archeological site of Yaxchilan . In the Maya language it menas ‘Place of the Green Stones’ and is a site of amazing temples, plazas and sculptures. Sitting on the banks of the river Usumancinta (on the border with Guatemala), Yaxchilan has been almost completely swallowed by the jungle where the Ceiba and gum trees host howler monkeys and toucans.

Reach the site by paddling down the Usumacinta River on a pirogue (45 minutes). Discover the site, among many howler monkeys and toucans. Here you can take a walk between the many Mayan temples.

Then drive to the Mexican border village of Frontrera Corozal . In the self-drive option, you will leave your rental car at the Escudo Jaguar Hotel. Option included: English speaking local guide in Palenque Option include: Entrance fees to Palenque. Overnight in Escudo Jaguar Cabañas. Standard

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Day 7 : Bethel

Continue on to Guatemala

Support by our local team in Guatemala at Frontera Corozal border crossing.

Transfer to Flores in the heart of the Petén. End of the day free to enjoy the sunset on Lake Petén Itza.

Overnight stay at the hotel Isla de Flores. Premium Room.

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Day 8 : Flores

Tikal: Jewel of the Mayan world

Day dedicated to the exploration of the impressive city of Tikal, built in the 4th century BC. The impressive Mayan city reached its peak between the 3rd and 9th centuries AD.

Some 3,000 structures rise from the rain forest in a mystical atmosphere. The temple of The Great Jaguar faces the Temple of the Masks on the great square, the heart center of the city. At 65 meters high, the Snake Temple was the highest building in the new world until the 19th century.

Nature is not to be outdone, engulfing the traveler who enters the reserve. Watch for spider monkeys, pheasants, coatis, toucans and other multicolored parrots. The cries of howler monkeys can be heard for miles around. Smells of lianas and roots surprise the traveler.

In 2017, new research techniques discovered uncovered temples still buried in the jungle. Tikal has not yet finished revealing all its mysteries…

Transfer to Flores on a peninsula of Lake Peten Itza. Option included: English speaking local guide in Tikal. Option included: Entrance fees to Tikal. Overnight stay at the hotel Isla de Flores. Premium Room.

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Day 9 : Flores

Overnight stay at the hotel Isla de Flores. Premium Room. Jungle Immersion at Ixpapajul Eco-Park

A few miles from Flores, Ixpanpajul offers a beautiful immersion in the jungle. Walk for 2 hours along rope bridges to observe the local flora and fauna. Some rope bridges measure more than 100 meters and offer breathtaking views of the rain forest!

Yaxha Sunset

Departure for Yaxha, which means “green water” in the Mayan language. The site is located on the shores of Lake Yaxha, which was used to supply the Maya population with fresh water. We walk on the trails of this immense and uncrowded site.Don’t miss the sunset from from the Temple of las Manos Roja!

Option included : Entrance fees to Yaxha. Option included: Entrance fees to Ixpanpajul, rope bridges activity.

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Day 10 : Frontera Corozal

Cross the boarder to Chiapas

Today cross the border into Mexico and travel north through the beautiful state of Chiapas to Lacanja. This is a Mayan community in the middle of the jungle.

Spend your evening in your jungle cabin where you can admire the lake from your hammock. Overnight stay at Rio Lacanja Eco Cabins.

Option included: Jungle Cabin with shared bathroom.

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Day 11 : Lacanja

Admire Colorful Bonampak

Departure for the majestic site of Bonampak . The site, discovered in the middle of the jungle in 1946, features gorgeous and incredibly well preserved frescoes depicting wild fight scenes, on the inside walls of the temples. Part of the entrance fee goes to the Lacandon indigenous community, supposedly the direct descendants of the Maya.

Then we continue to Palenque. Overnight stay at hotel La Aldea. Standard room.

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Day 12 : Palenque

Ruins of Calakmul

Depart early this morning to travel to the archaeological site of Calakmul , located in the state of Campeche, in the heart of a biosphere reserve, home to numerous jaguars. This still quite unknown site to travelrs is one of the jewels of the Mayan culture and was, at its peak, the direct rival of Tikal (Guatemala). Here, it’s possible to observe wildlife wandering freely on the site (toucans, monkeys, Oco pheasant). Jaguars usually prefer to wander at night, but who knows, maybe you’ll get lucky.

At the end of the day, arrive in Chicanna where you will spend the night. Overnight stay at the Chicanna Ecovillage hotel. Standard

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Day 13 : Chicanna

Bacalar: The Lagoon of Seven Colours

Today, travel to Bacalar. The Laguna Bacalar is a 50 km (31-miles) long and 2 km (1.25-miles) wide lagoon, surrounded by a beautiful mangrove forest. It earned the nickname ‘the lake of seven colors’ for its incredible water color variations.

Optional introduction to water skiing or wake-boarding (non-included), and for the less adventurous there is the possibility to go on a boat tour (non-included). Overnight stay at the hotel Aires Bacalar. Standard

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Day 14 : Bacalar

Boat tour on the Bacalar lagoon (3 Hours)

Take a trip on a small boat and discover the lagoon of Bacalar, as well as the canal which was used by the pirates as access to the lagoon and the town during their repeated attacks on Bacalar. You can swim all morning in the multi-colored water and even discover cenote.

Spend the rest of the afternoon free to explore on your own Overnight stay at the hotel Aires Bacalar. Standard

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Day 15 : Bacalar

Free Time to Explore Laguna Bacalar

Spend your morning free to explore the lagoon before heading to the white beaches of Tulum in the afternoon. Overnight stay at the hotel Don Diego de la Selva. Room with A/C and a king size bed.

Note: please contact us for information about family rooms (twin sized beds)

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Day 16 : Tulum

Hasta Luego México!

Depart from the hotel to travel to Cancun Airport at least 5 hours before your flight.

Return the rental car to the Hertz desk.

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