Two Countries, One Heritage: Mexico and Guatemala
A 21 day tour through Mexico and Guatemala!
Trace the history of the Mayans during this exceptional 21-day trip that you’ll remember for a lifetime. Discover the colonial and archaeological treasures and marvel at extraordinary nature. You’ll meet Mayans of today, discover their rich and vibrant culture, and familiarize yourself with the traditions and customs of these countries who share a unique history.
Length of stay: 21 days
Kind: Multi-Country Tours
Fix: For all public
Countries visited: Mexico
- Day 1 : México
- Day 2 : Mexico
- Day 3 : Oaxaca
- Day 4 : Oaxaca
- Day 5 : Oaxaca
- Day 6 : Tuxtla Gutiérrez
- Day 7 : San Cristobal de las Casas
- Day 8 : La Mesilla
- Day 9 : Panajachel
- Day 10 : Panajachel
- Day 11 : Antigua
- Day 12 : Antigua
- Day 13 : Flores
- Day 14 : Tikal
- Day 15 : Flores
- Day 16 : Palenque
- Day 17 : Campeche
- Day 18 : Mérida
- Day 19 : Chichen Itza
- Day 20 : Tulum
- Day 21 : Tulum
San Cristobal de las Casas
Your customized trip
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Day 1 : México
Arrive in the Sprawling City of Mexico
Welcome to Mexico City!
Meet your driver at the airport and transfer to your hotel. Overnight stay at the hotel Punto MX. Deluxe room.
Day 2 : Mexico
A Tour Around Mexico City
After breakfast, meet in the hotel lobby. Depart for a city tour, starting with the Zocalo , one of the largest squares in the world. There stands the largest Cathedral in the Americas, built on the site of the former grand Aztec temple ‘Teocalli’. Its three naves shelter many chapels and altars adorned with gold, including the beautiful ‘Altar of Forgiveness’. The Palacio Nacional (National Palace) was built on top of the Palace of Moctezuma and features frescos painted by famous Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. Nowadays, it houses the President’s offices. The Templo Mayor (only outside) is a relic of the ancient Aztec capital Tenochtitlan… a pre-Columbian temple in the middle of urban jungle: simply amazing!
After, head to the archeological site of Teotihuacan with the pyramids of the Moon and the Sun, the Temple of the Feathered Serpent (Quetzalcóatl), the Temple of the Feathered Snails and the Palace of the Jaguars. The ‘City of the Gods’ was built in the seventh century and was probably, with its 200,000 inhabitants, the most populated city in the world at that time.
Experience the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe
On the way back, it’s possible to visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, built in the 17th century. It is the most important religious site of Latin America and a major pilgrimage site for Roman Catholics coming from all over the world. You can also see the Old Basilica that is slowly sinking into the ground. The Old Basilica shelters a reproduction of the Black Madonna, which can be seen behind the choir inside the modern basilica.
Then, head back to Mexico City for the evening. Option included : English speaking local guide for all the day. Option included : Entrance fees to Teotihuacan. Overnight stay at the hotel Punto MX. Deluxe room.
Day 3 : Oaxaca
Departure from the hotel by private transport to the bus station. Public bus transport Mexico City-Oaxaca.
Overnight stay at the hotel Golondrinas Oaxaca.
Option included : Standard double room.
Day 4 : Oaxaca
Explore the City of Oaxaca
Free day to explore Oaxaca . Take a walk around the town center, including the Zocalo, the Santo Domingo Cathedral and its museum, Benito Juarez’s house and so much more. You can also visit a chocolate factory, and taste the local drink: mezcal.
Nestled in a valley in the middle of the Sierra Madre del Sur, the city of Oaxaca is characterized by its incredible artistic activity, rich and varied handicrafts and its cultural activities. It is also home to major exhibitions and festivals, representative of the cultural richness and diversity and deeply rooted in local traditions and customs.
Note: Transport is not included on this day. Overnight stay at the hotel Golondrinas Oaxaca.
Option included : Standard double room.
Day 5 : Oaxaca
A day exploring the state of Oaxaca
Transfer from the hotel to the Zapotec village of Cuajimoloyas (1:30 – 2:30 hour drive) located 2800 meters above sea level and that belongs to the communities of the “pueblos mancomunados” of the Sierra Norte.
The Pueblos mancomunados are eight remote Zapotec villages of the Sierra Norte in Oaxaca. For centuries, these villages have brought together the resources of a 290 km2/112 mi2 territory that includes huge forests of pine and oak trees. The earnings from the forestry activity and the other activities are shared among all the families of the pueblos .
After lunch, take a 3 hour walk through the Cañon del Coyot . Climb up and appreciate the impressive view.
Head back to Oaxaca. Option included: Entrance fees to Pueblos Mancomunados. Option included: local community guide from n the pubelos. Public bus transport by night Oaxaca-Tuxtla Gutierrez
Day 6 : Tuxtla Gutiérrez
Trip through Natural Wonders
On arrival in Tuxtla Gutierrez, meet your driver and travel to Chiapa de Corzo, one of many Magic Towns in Chiapas, know for its Renaissance structures, warm people and impressive natural wonders. There, you will take a boat and travel through the Canyon del Sumidero, a deep natural canyon on the Rio Chiapas. You will see the ‘Christmas tree falls’, a rock wall eroded by 800 m/2,625 ft high waterfalls. The Canyon is home to a great variety of wildlife including: herons, vultures, spider monkeys and crocodiles!
Note: This is a 2-3 hour shared boat tour, we recommend taking a hat!
Romantic Pueblo Magico of San Cristobal de las Casas
In the afternoon, arrive in San Cristobal de las Casas, a beautiful city located at the center of an indigenous population area, and is the birthplace of the Zapatist movement, developed under the leadership of Subcomandante Marcos for the protection of the indigenous rights. Every morning, the Tzotzil people sell their products at the market.
It is truly one of the most romantic Pueblos Magicos in the state of Chiapas. Explore the narrow, cobblestone streets of the traditional neighborhoods and and admire the houses painted in bright colors that are homes to quaint shops and markets. Admire the beautiful embroidery and the jewelry made from amber and wood pieces that are on display in the windows and on the shelves of the local shops. Option included: Entrance fees and boat to Canyon de sumidero. Overnight stay at hotel Casa Margarita. Standard room.
Note: Breakfast is served 350 meters away from the hotel.
Day 7 : San Cristobal de las Casas
Romantic Pueblo Magico of San Cristobal de las Casas
San Cristobal is located in the center of an area of Indian population where the Zapatista movement led by Subcomandante Marcos for the defense of indigenious rights has developed. Every morning, the Tzotz Indians sell their products at the market.
Syncretism in Tzotzil community
After breakfast, head to the village of San Juan de Chamula where the inhabitants practice a form of syncretism: a mixture of Christian beliefs and ancestral rituals. Then, you can visit Zinacantan where a Tzotzil family invites you into their house and shares with you their customs and traditions (weaving), as well as a glass of pox (corn-based liquor) and handmade tortillas.
Return in the late afternoon to San Cristobal . Overnight stay at hotel Casa Margarita. Standard room.
Note: Breakfast is served 350 meters from the hotel.
Day 9 : Panajachel
Boat Trip to Mayan Villages on Lake Atitlan
In the morning, hop on a boat and discover the Tzutuhil villages of Lake Atitlan. The Tzutuhil are one of the 21 Mayan peoples of Guatemala. They are present in only a handful of villages located southwest of Lake Atitlan. Visit Santiago Atitlan where you’ll discover a curious syncretic cult: Maximón, the cigarette smoking God of Guatemala is feared as much as he is idolized. Somewhere between good and bad, the villagers offer Maximón gifts in the form of cigarettes, alcohol or money.
After, discover the small Mayan village of San Juan La Laguna. Here the weavers’ cooperative will open its doors to teach you about the techniques of natural coloring and traditional weaving. Appreciate the naive paintings that represent scenes of daily life in the region.
Return to Panajachel and spend the rest of your afternoon at exploring the small town. Option included: English speaking local guide for the day. Overnight stay at the hotel Dos Mundos Panajachel.
Day 10 : Panajachel
Market day in Chichicastenango:
Today travel to Chichicastenango to explore it’s famous market (Thursday and Sunday). The Kaqchikel Indians descend from surrounding villages twice a week to sell their handicrafts here. The city is transformed into a real kaleidoscope of colors and smells! The women wear the traditional huipil, representing the seasons of the Mayan calendar. In the center of the village, shamans purify the stairs of the church with incense and partake in Mayan rituals.
In the afternoon continue your journey towards the city of Antigua. Arrive in the late afternoon and spend the evening in this incredible colonial city. Overnight stay at the hotel Euro Maya.
Day 11 : Antigua
Surrounded by 3 majestic volcanoes, this ancient capital of Central America has suffered many natural disasters: earthquakes, floods, volcanic eruptions… Yet, Antigua remains one of the most beautiful cities in Guatemala.
The city is home to more than thirty monasteries, convents and a grand cathedral in the central square. The cobblestone streets adjoin the colorful patios of the colonial houses. Stroll along the arcades of Parque Central, admiring the volcanoes Fuego, Agua and Acatenango in the distance.
Note: walking visit of the city (no vehicle required). Overnight stay at the hotel Euro Maya.
Day 12 : Antigua
Climb the Pacaya Volcano:
This morning, depart early for Pacaya Volcano, one of 3 active volcanoes in Guatemala. After a 1 hour and 30 minute drive, begin the ascent (3 hours hiking, 400 meters of altitude difference). The hike is accessible to all and offers beautiful views of the valley and the volcanoes Agua, Fuego and Acatenango. At the base of the cone, observe the crater and fumaroles escaping. Lava flows can be seen when the volcano is active. Descend the giant and return to Antigua around 1PM. Free afternoon to explore Antigua.
Note: Good physical condition is recommended! There is the possible to do this activity on horseback. Option included : Entrance fees to volcan Pacaya. Option included: English speaking local community guide (mandatory for your climb).
Overnight stay at the hotel Isla de Flores. Premium Room.
Day 13 : Flores
Mayan sites Yaxha & Topoxté
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!
Boat trip across Lake Yaxha to visit Topoxté, a sacred and religious site.
Head to your hotel in Tikal National Park to experience a night’s rest in the heart of the Petén jungle. Option included: Entrance fees to Yaxha. Overnight stay at the hotel Jungle Lodge Tikal.
Day 14 : Tikal
Sunrise in Tikal
Early departure (4:30 am) for Tikal. The impressive Mayan city built in the 4th century BC reached its peak between the 3rd and 9th centuries AD.
We enter the site in the darkness to climb the highest pyramid and witness the awakening of the jungle: first the howler monkeys whose cries can be heard several kilometers away, then the birds that cross the twilight. The light rises over the tropical forest, gradually revealing the pyramids that surround us.
Visit the archaeological site. Some 3,000 structures emerge from the rainforest in a mystical atmosphere. The temple of the great jaguar faces that of the masks in the great square, the nerve 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. We are watching for spider monkeys, pheasants, coatis, toucans and other multicoloured parrots. The screams of howler monkeys can be heard from several kilometers away. The traveler is surprised by the smell of vines and roots.
Collective excursion with English and Spanish speaking guides. Breakfast provided at the beginning of the excursion. Option included: Entrance fees to Tikal. Private transfer from Tikal National Park to Flores Peninsula. End of the day at Peten Itza Lake. Overnight stay at the hotel Isla de Flores. Premium Room.
Day 15 : Flores
Road to Mexico
Today travel to Río Usumacinta, which stands as a natural border between Mexico and Guatemala. The border post is located in a remote area, the end of the journey is on a dirt road. Transfer by boat on the Río Usumacinta to reach Frontera Corozal in Mexico (private boat).
Day 16 : Palenque
Explore the Maya City of Palenque
In the morning, visit the archaeological site of Palenque… It might well be the most magical site in Mexico! The majesty and mystery of its ceremonial centers still echoes from the past. At the heart of the Inscriptions Temple stands the crypt of King Pakal, discovered in 1952. It still contains 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 an awe-inspiring scenery and it’s easy to imagine the magnificence of the place, back when the temples and the palace stood in their full glory, adorned with richly animated esplanades, columns and ceilings.
In the afternoon, travel to Campeche where you’ll spend the night. Option included: Entrance fees to Palenque. Option included: English speaking local guide in Palenque. Meet at the entrance of the site at 08:30 am. Overnight stay at hotel Lopez. Standard room.
Day 17 : Campeche
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.
The White City of Merida.
Arrive at the end of the day in Merida where you will spend the night. Merida, the capital city of Yucatan, 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.
The handicrafts market offers numerous souvenirs like renowned huipils (very colorful embroidered woman tunics), authentic Panama hats, true Yucatecan all-cotton hammocks and many more. Option included: Entrance fees to Uxmal. Option included: English speaking local guide in Uxmal. Overnight stay at the hotel Casa Lucia.
Day 18 : Mérida
The Yellow Town of Izamal
This morning, journey to the gorgeous colonial town of Izamal , entirely painted in bright yellow. The Franciscan convent San Antonio de Padua was built on top of a Mayan ceremonial center, and is the continent’s largest cloister.
Then drive to the small village of Ek Balam, the black jaguar in Maya.
The Pyramids of the “Black Jaguar” Ek Balam
After breakfast, travel to Ek Balam. This recently excavated site remains a major discovery in Mayan archeology of the end of the twentieth century. Climb the steps of the Pyramids and enjoy a breathtaking view of the surrounding jungle!
Note: entrance not included unless otherwise stated.
At the end of the day, arrive to Chichen Itza where you will spend the night. Option included : Entrance fees to Ek Balam.. Overnight stay at hotel Oka´an.
Day 19 : Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza, Mayan Wonder
After breakfast, visit of Chichen Itza . 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.
Explore the Ruins of Coba
Head to Coba, one of the largest Mayan city. It’s ruins have remained essentially intact in the middle of the tropical jungle. The archaeologists brought to light a 42 meters (138 feet) high pyramid, a 9-storey high palace, a ball court and the most extended network of large calk cobbled roads (sacbé ) ever discovered.
You’ve now reached the Caribbean coast, with its endless beaches, turquoise waters and coral reefs.
At the end of the day, arrival in Tulum where we will spend the night. Option included: English speaking local guide in Chichen Itza. Option included: Entrance fees to Chichen Itza. Option included: Entrance fees to Coba. 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 beds).
Day 20 : Tulum
White Sand and Turquoise Sea
Spend the day in the Magic Town of Tulum, either shopping in the small boutiques, strolling up the central street, relaxing on the white sand, swimming in the crystal clear blue, Caribbean waters or sampling some local seafood. Don’t forget to visit the archaeological site to the north of the main beach. This World Heritage Site sits on a cliff edge facing the Caribbean sea and witnessed the arrival of the first colonists. In 1518, the Spanish conquistador Juan de Grijalva set foot on the beach, under the stunned watch of Batab (the Mayan governor of the time). Visit this ancient harbor (and the only one known) built in 1200 and which disappeared at the end of the sixteenth century.
Note: Transport is not included on this day. 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 beds).