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Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
Arrive in Mexico City, the capital of Mexico and truly the heart and soul of the country. With so much rich history to discover, the city is filled with historic buildings, landmarks and the largest number of museums in the world.
Due to the number of evening flights into the international airport, your Leader plans to do the welcome meeting on the morning of day two, and will leave a message in reception with details on timings and everything else that you'll need for the day. There are no activities planned today, so you are free to arrive into Mexico City at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Mexico City International Airport (MEX) which is approximately a 30 minute drive from the hotel.
If your flight arrives earlier in the day, perhaps you might choose to have a stroll around Alameda Central, Mexico City's oldest municipal park, or visit the Templo Mayor Museum, which is known for its exhibits relating to the Aztec civilization.
Hotel Regente (or similar)
On our first day in Mexico City 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 to the downtown area, we have time for a city tour of the huge Zocalo; the main square that has been a cornerstone in public gatherings since the ancient times. The National Palace is located on the east side of the square - the President lives here as his permanent residence, so we'll take a look at it from the outside, along with the grand metropolitan cathedral. Many of these key sights were build on top of Tenochtitlan, the old Aztec capital.
This morning we fly to Tuxtla airport, in the state of Chiapas, and set off for the spectacular Sumidero Canyon, a unique rift 41km long and up to 1000m deep, cut by the Rio Grijalva. This is the spot where, allegedly, in the 16th century, some 1000 Chiapa peoples committed suicide rather than submit to Spanish rule. We take a trip on a speed boat to fully appreciate the towering gorge, before driving approximately two hours up a scenic mountain road to San Cristobal de las Casas, the small colonial and indigenous town located high in the tree-lined Chiapas range. At 2210m above sea level, it can get quite cold at night!
Hotel Arrecife (or similar)
There is a unique atmosphere to the small colonial town of San Cristobal, 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 - you may like to bargain for some colourful souvenirs here.
Leaving the highlands, we have a long driving day ahead of us, approximately 8 hours plus stops. 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, where we stop for lunch. We'll also take a stop at the waterfalls of Agua Blanca, which tumble over a series of limestone hills, before continuing on to our hotel.
Hotel Maya Tulipanes (or similar)
One of the highlights of our trip is today's guided visit to the famous jungle ruins of Palenque, a fascinating and important Maya 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.
After our visit we continue with an approximately 350km drive (around 5 hours) to the stunningly well-preserved colonial city of Campeche. In the early evening we'll take a stroll out to explore on foot. This UNESCO Heritage city was constantly sieged by pirates and is thus the only walled city in Mexico It is almost so well maintained that it feels like a storybook town, and we will get an impression of the walled ramparts, narrow cobblestoned roads, boulevard and pastel coloured buildings on arrival.
Hotel Mision Campeche (or similar)
To those in the know, Uxmal is one of the Yucatan's most underrated ancient cities. Encircled by hills, Uxmal is expansive in its design with majestic palaces and pyramids, and long geometrical friezes that rank among the most splendid examples of ancient American Art. The incredible Pyramid of the Magician and the beautiful Governor's Palace are two of the finest examples of Mayan art found in Meso America. Later in the day we drive to Merida, famed for its beautiful Spanish-Moorish style architecture, where we have time to wander along the narrow streets watching the horse-drawn carriages rattle past.
Hotel Colonial (or similar)
This morning we visit the ruins of Chichen Itza. Founded in AD432, re-founded in 987 and conquered by the Toltecs in the 10th century, the culture of the Maya and the Toltec gradually fused. The pyramids, palaces, temples and ballcourt (where death was the penalty for defeat) are adorned with astonishing sculptures. Under the pressure of the civil war, the great monuments deteriorated and the Maya civilisation collapsed, but undeniably Chichen Itza remains one of the most outstanding sites in the Americas, and its main pyramid was denoted as the Seventh New Wonder of the World in 2007.
We'll have a lengthy visit here, before setting off to Playa del Carmen for our final hotel. Time permitting, we'll stop for a swim in one of the many superb cenotes in the Yucatan - a cenote is an underground pool naturally formed in limestone, were used by the ancient Maya as a source of water. We'll arrive into Playa in the evening.
Hacienda Del Caribe (or similar)
The trip ends in the morning at our hotel in Playa del Carmen
There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Playa del Carmen at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you need to depart from Cancun Airport (CUN), which is approximately a 60 minutes\ drive from the hotel.
Mexico is a vast country whose weather varies by season and region. The optimum time to travel is generally between December and April when rainfall is at a minimum. Temperatures are coolest between December and February and temperatures start to rise from March and the hottest months are May, June and July. The rainy season runs from May until October when humidity and temperatures are highest. The rains tend to be intense and short, clearing the humidity before building up again. The Caribbean coast can be affected by hurricane season between June and November. Please bear in mind that at altitude the temperatures can drop considerably at night and sudden changes can occur at any time.
2 Pin Flat
Roman Catholic, Protestant
Spanish is the official language, but around 50 languages/dialects are also spoken by the indigenous peoples of Mexico.
Mexico City - Folkloric Ballet US$80-120 San Cristobal - Na Bolom US$5; Merida - Mundo Maya Museum US$10 + transport
Warmer clothing is needed in the highlands (San Cristobal and Mexico City), which are mostly mild, but temperatures can drop dramatically at night. Pack a fleece and some long sleeved clothing for protection from sun and insects. Lightweight rainwear is essential. In general, winter is dry and summer wet. Casual clothes are acceptable. Shorts are acceptable everywhere except in churches.
Bring walking boots if you have them, otherwise comfortable shoes/trainers with a good grip and sandals.
One main piece of baggage and a daysack. Remember - you are expected to carry your own luggage so don't overload yourself.
An umbrella is useful for tropical downpours. A torch and waterbottle are recommended. Bring insect repellent, sunscreen and a sunhat.
Its worth noting that the hotels in the highlands of San Cristobal can be extremely cold at night. They can provide extra blankets on request, and electric heaters at an additional cost. If you're prone to the cold we recommend packing a layer to wear under your pyjamas here.
We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK citizens, check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice.
Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.
Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.
Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. However, please note that if you voluntarily make any changes to your booking including changing your trip or departure date, any additional costs or charges incurred will not be covered. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions
Mexico: Citizens from UK, New Zealand, Australia, New Zealand, US and Canada require a Mexican Tourist Card to enter. This is obtained on arrival if flying into Mexico City Benito Juarez Airport or Cancun International. Some airlines may give this to you at the check-in desk. Once you receive the tourist card you must keep this on you until you exit Mexico. If entering by another port - you will have to apply for this in advance online - website - https://www.inm.gob.mx/fmme/publico/en/solicitud.html. Other nationalities should consult the relevant consulate. All visa information is subject to change. You should confirm all visa related issues with the relevant Embassy prior to departure. USA: If your flights pass through the USA, even if only in transit, you will require either a visa or an ESTA (an e-visa). Please read on for more information. Citizens of the UK, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and passport holders from several EU countries can apply for an ESTA under certain conditions. This applies if you enter the country by sea or by air, and this must be done online via https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov, no later than 72 hours prior to travel. Travellers who have not registered before their trip are likely be refused boarding. You must have a biometric passport to apply for an ESTA. UK passports which are biometric feature a small gold symbol (camera) at the bottom of the front cover. If you have visited Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen since 2011 or are dual nationals of these countries, you cannot travel with an ESTA and instead you will need to apply for a visa from the nearest US Embassy or Consulate. If you are unable to provide a valid visa before boarding flights to the US, or entering via another method, you may not be permitted to travel. You should also be aware that if you have travelled to or have been in Cuba since the 12th of January 2021, you will not be eligible for an ESTA visa waiver and will need to apply for a US visa. You should consult the US State Department website to determine which you will need. Your ESTA application will ask for Point of Contact information. Please note that if you're only transiting through the USA then this is not required. If you're visiting or staying in the USA on an Explore trip, then our USA contact information will be listed on your final documentation which you will receive approximately 3-4 weeks before departure. Entry requirements for the USA can change regularly, therefore, please ensure you have the most up to date information before you travel by checking the US embassy website. Visa applications - http://london.usembassy.gov/niv/apply.html Canada: An electronic travel authorisation (ETA) is required by British citizens transiting via Canada. For more information see the official Canadian government website: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/eta.asp Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office
If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.
Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information.
You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.
The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.
Free transfers are not available for Polar customers.
If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.
For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here
It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.
Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.
You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.
We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.
On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.
Nothing compulsory, but we recommend protection against typhoid, tetanus, infectious hepatitis and polio. Please consult your travel clinic for the latest advice on Malaria, Dengue and Zika Virus. Please take preventative measures to avoid mosquito bites - these include mosquito repellent as well as long trousers and long sleeve shirts to cover up when necessary. Please note many countries in Central America, South America and the Caribbean require a yellow fever vaccination certificates if travelling from infected areas. A detailed list of these countries can be found on the NaTHNaC website - http://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries. Also on the NaTHNaC site there is a list of Countries (and specific areas within a country) which are at risk of infection and a vaccination is therefore recommended. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.