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Best of Mexico
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Here’s What Your Amazing Holiday Could Look Like...
Raise your margarita glass and celebrate all things Mexican, taking in the history, culture, food and nature of this vivacious country. Explore ancient Mayan ruins, visit tropical waterfalls, browse bustling markets and laze on perfect beaches on this varied small group Journey.
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Your Example Itinerary
Fly from the UK to Mexico City and transfer to your hotel for the night.
On your first full day, explore Teotihuacan, the ruins of a pre-Colombian city built over 2000 years ago and site of the enormous Pyramids of the Sun and Moon. Afterwards, join your guide for a tour of Mexico City’s historic centre, including the enormous Metropolitan Cathedral and the mural-filled National Palace. Mexico City has the second highest number of museums of any city in the world (after Paris) and there’s something for every taste – try the Frida Kahlo museum or the perennially popular Museum of Anthropology. Head down to the Zocalo, the main square, where there’s always something going on, and look out for mariachi bands playing.
Continue on to colonial Puebla and tour the city with your guide, taking in the pretty cathedral and the gilded Rosary Chapel. Shop for hand-made souvenirs in the bustling markets and take a walk down the La Calle de los Dulces (Candy Street) to admire the quaint sweet shops selling all sorts of tempting treats. Soak up the volcano views with a hike in the surrounding area or sign up for a local cookery class where you can try your hand at making mole poblano, a thick, rich sauce containing chocolate, a recipe that originated here in the 16th century (optional, extra cost).
Continue to colonial Oaxaca, criss-crossed with leafy streets and pretty squares, and explore the ancient ruins of Monte Alban, a pre-Colombian ceremonial centre once inhabited by the Zapotecs. There are some vibrant markets here, filled with hand made clothes and traditional handicrafts, and there’s fun to be had just sitting in a street-side café and watching the activity unfold. Do not leave this town without trying the wonderful food, some of the best in Mexico: try the Oaxacan cheese in your empanadas, or indulge in a rich cup of Mexican spiced hot chocolate, made from locally produced cacao beans.
Marvel at the sheer size of the enormous Tule Tree, the world’s widest tree - it takes 30 people holding hands to reach around its trunk. Swing by a Mezcal factory to see how this spirit is made from the maguey plant, then tour the ancient ruins of Mitla, a gateway between the world of the living and the world of the dead, and an important religious centre for the Zapotec people. Admire the stone mosaics covering the walls and tombs, and learn about the site’s history before spending the night in friendly and modern Tehuantepec.
San Cristóbal de las Casas
Head to San Cristóbal de las Casas and marvel at the Sumidero Canyon, 800 metres deep and fringed by forest. Explore the Mayan villages of San Juan Chamula and Zinacantan, meeting places for the indigenous people who live in the surrounding countryside. Afterwards, take a look around the town of San Cristóbal itself, walking its winding cobblestone streets and discovering its colonial Spanish architecture. The cathedral, with its yellow and red façade, is particularly impressive, and the Museo de la Medicina Maya is worth a look to learn about the use of traditional medicine by indigenous people.
Listen to the call of the howler monkey from the surrounding jungle as you wander the evocative Mayan ruins of Palenque, over 1400 years old. The ruins are located on top of various small hills and surrounded by thick forest, giving them a more adventurous feel than other ruins. Spend the morning exploring the 15 square kilometre complex, and learn about its history, including the tallest of the structures, the Templo de las Inscripciones. If you’d like, you can head further into the jungle on a jungle trail tour (optional, extra cost).
Step back in time in Campeche, one of the best-preserved walled cities of the Americas, located seaside on the Gulf of Mexico. Explore the San Miguel Fort and the museum in this pretty colonial town, a World Heritage site, and take a look around the town on a city tour with your guide. Campeche was first settled in 1540 by Spanish conquistadors, and today many buildings and mansions left from that time are very well preserved. Admire the pastel coloured houses and bastions, dotted all over town. If you have some free time take a walk along the 5 kilometre long Malecon, a boardwalk path along the sea wall, the perfect vantage point to gaze out to sea and pass the town’s most interesting sights, shops and cafes.
Discover the ancient ruins of Uxmal, a World Heritage site surrounded by forest-clad hills, making it particularly photogenic. See the main sights, including the impressive Palace of the Governors with its 100 metre long façade and astrological themed mosaics, and the towering Pyramid of the Magician, which is over 30 metres tall. It’s quite a sight, with its long staircase, although tourists are no longer allowed to climb it. Take a look around Merida itself, Southern Mexico’s largest city, with a well-preserved old town, a twin towered cathedral and thronging food markets. For a spice hit you won’t forget in a hurry try the El Yucateco hot sauce, a local specialty and great souvenir.
Playa del Carmen
Tour the impressive Mayan site at Chichen Itza, dominated by the iconic El Castillo pyramid. Take a look at the Interior temple too, a temple inside a temple accessed by a claustrophobia -inducing tunnel. After all that sightseeing, head on to sophisticated Playa del Carmen’s white sands for a spot of beach chilling and snorkel and swim in the crystal clear azure waters of the Caribbean Sea before watching the sun set over the ocean with a cool margarita. Playa, as it’s known to locals, offers a selection of upmarket restaurants and trendy rooftop bars, plus an excellent nightlife, with several world-renowned DJs playing in its clubs.
Transfer to Cancun and return to the UK.
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