the Puuc Route
Arrival from Europe, the United States, Mexico or Japan. Transfer from the Cancun International Airport to Playa del Carmen upon arrival. Overnight at Hotel Continental Plaza Playacar.
Breakfast included at your hotel. Today you will take a taxi to the dock on your own and from there on to Cozumel by boat… Free day on your own to discover the beautiful island of Cozumel (Cuzamil in Mayan), where the Spanish Conquerors first saw Maya fishermen in a small boat in early 1519, and the first contact between Europe & America took place. Return to your hotel. Overnight at Hotel Continental Plaza Playacar.
After breakfast at your hotel (included) our representative in Playa del Carmen will pick you up to go to the great Caribbean fortified Maya city of Tulum. (They will arrive at 8:00 a.m.) Although Tulum was built in the Late Classic, a stella with an inscription for the year 564 AD was found at the site. A small site, Tulum’s watch towers & gates stand surrounded by white sand and the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea! Proceed to Coba, which more than one ancient urban center is more like a collection of smaller Maya settlements, connected by a series of roads, or sacbeob in the Maya Language. The intricate patterns of these white roads were a true feat of engineering, as some of these sacbeob are built on raised platforms: 12 feet high and an average of about 32 feet in width. The roads were surfaced with limestone cement. Today, Coba’s tallest structure, El Castillo, stands 132 feet tall on a base 180 by 200 feet. The surrounding jungle remains its most impressive feature. Return to your hotel in Playa del Carmen, for an evening out on your own. We recommend you explore the restaurant-scene in Playa del Carmen’s lively Quinta Avenida… Overnight at Hotel Continental Plaza Playacar.
After breakfast at your hotel (included), our driver will take you to the southernmost city in the state of Quintana Roo, its capital: Chetumal. Upon arrival, check in at your hotel. Overnight at Hotel Los Cocos or Holiday Inn Puerta Maya.
The day today will be spent exploring the amazing Maya Archaeology Museum in the City of Chetumal. There is a lot to see in this great museum, although it doesn’t contain any original pieces, it is a wonderful resource to learn more about the Maya and has an outstanding museography. Spend as much time in the museum as possible. In the evening we suggest taking a drive around on your own and enjoy dinner at any of the restaurants on the malecon before retiring at your hotel. Overnight at Hotel Los Cocos or Holiday Inn Puerta Maya.
Early after breakfast, transfer to Belize City. Upon arrival check in at your hotel . Overnight at Hotel Chateau Caribbean or Belize Biltmore Plaza.
Early transfer to the Municipal Airport, to board Tropic Air flight departing at 7:40 a.m., arriving in San Pedro Ambergris Caye at 7:55 a.m. You may proceed directly across the street upon arrival, to the Sunbreeze Hotel. Your hosts in Belize will pick you up at your hotel and take you for spectacular underwater park views…at the Hol Chan Marine Reserve on a glass bottom boat. You may snorkel with nurse sharks and mantarays. Overnight at the Sunbreeze Hotel.
Early this morning you will check out of your hotel & leave your things at the front desk before departure to the Blue Hole. The Blue Hole is an amazing formation… probably formed by a meteorite falling to earth. Spend a whole day discovering the beauty of this unique marine formation. Return to San Pedro Ambergris Caye to pick up your things at your hotel, and proceed to the airport for your flight back to Belize City at 5 p.m., arriving at 5:17 p.mOvernight at Hotel Chateau Caribbean or Biltmore Plaza in Belize City.
Transfer to Orange Walk District where we will visit Lamanai. You will then proceed to the New River Lagoon and immediately embark on our expedition to Lamanai, the most impressive archaeological site in Belize. Lamanai is one of the few sites that still bear its original Mayan name, which means “Submerged Crocodile”. The site was occupied as recently as the sixteenth century, when Spanish missionaries settled the area and built a church on the spot to try to convert the Indians to the Christian faith to save their heathen souls. Take a few minutes to appreciate the local fauna, as the lagoon offers a unique opportunity to see unspoiled wildlife in its own habitat, being one of the few remaining jungles in Belize. Return to Belize City for overnight. Overnight at Hotel Chateau Caribbean or Belize Biltmore Plaza.
Transfer to Chetumal, from where you will continue to Kohunlich before closing time and then proceed towards Chicanna. Kohunlich, a beautiful Maya site set among magnificent groves of Cajun palm tree, to which it owes its name was part of the Kingdom of The Serpent or an important ally... After visiting the magnificent site and enjoying lunch at a beautiful lodge close to the site, we will continue by car to the Chicanná Ecovillage Resort in the State of Campeche for overnight.
After breakfast at your hotel, visit the sites of Chicanna & Xpuhil today. Chicanná’s architecture is a mixture of the Chenes & the Rio Bec architectural styles. Its most impressive feature is the doorway of the House of the Serpent Mouth… probably representing the heavenly creator. Chicanná was built during the Classic Period, but its occupation continued until the year 1100 AD. Continue to Xpujil, in the Late Classic Rio Bec style architecture, famous for its false towers. Then proceed to Becan, completely surrounded by a moat, which is the most ancient defensive system known in the Maya World. Several archaeologists have purported that this was the real capital of the Itza, Tayasal, and not the smaller site on Lake Peten Itza in Peten. It dates back to the Pre-Classic period, its settlement took place in 600 BC. It was occupied throughout the Classic and into the Post-Classic, around the year 1000. A particular feature is that most of the buildings are not ceremonial but residential instead. Overnight at Chicanná Ecovillage Resort.
After a very early breakfast, visit Calakmul, the largest archaeological zone in Mesoamerica which has the most stelae of any Classic site in the whole Maya World. It is only the most impressive of all the Rio Bec style sites and the capital of the Kingdom of the Serpent Head, Tikal’s eternal rival. It was occupied by the Maya for more than one millennium. It was discovered by botanist Cyrus Lundell in the the early 1930s and later declared a protected area. Today it is a UNESCO declared Biosphere Reserve. Calakmul’s defeat by its eternal enemy –Tikal- led to its being abandoned a few years later,. Calakmul has been only partially restored but we hope with the help of the archaeologists to be able to see a frieze dating back to 400 BC and other impressive archaeological finds... Overnight at Chicanná Ecovillage Resort.
Transfer from Xpujil to Villahermosa, where we will visit La Venta Park. Continue toward Palenque. Once you arrive in Palenque you will check in at your hotel. Overnight at the Chan-Kah Ruinas Resort or the Mision Palenque Hotel.
Full day to visit Palenque with a local guide. Palenque is the Westernmost Maya City State, where the great ruler Pacal began his rule at the tender age of 12. The site is small yet exquisite and is surrounded by a dense tropical forest that was described as “The Garden of Eden” by an early Spanish chronicler. It is one of the greatest and most beautiful of all Mayan sites. Overnight at Hotel Chan-Kah Ruinas or Mision Palenque.
This morning, after breakfast, our representatives in Palenque will pick you up to take you for a beautiful drive on the road that leads to San Cristobal de las Casas. There you will see the Tzotzil indigenous people & their land… You will marvel at the scenic fall of Misolha & perhaps take a swim, or a jump there. Then you will proceed to the impressive geological formation of Agua Azul, perhaps the most amazing falls in the Maya World. The light blue color of water given by the limestone riverbed is truly enchanting, an invitation to reverie & a most romantic get-away to find relaxation & peace. Your driver will take you back to Palenque when you are completely ready to go back… Overnight at your hotel.
Very early this morning we will pick you up and head toward the Border Highway, in the direction of the Usumacinta River. You will first make a stop at the archaeological site of Bonampak to appreciate the marvelous work of Maya painters, who painted 3 exquisite chambers with murals on all sides, depicting different ceremonial & warlike scenes. Proceed through the beautiful jungle of the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve until you reach the Great Usumacinta River. Boat transfer to Yaxchilan, still used to this day as a place of worship and ceremony by the Lacandon Maya. At this sacred place you may catch a glimpse of the acropolis in Piedras Negras –another important Maya ancient site- in the distance… Return upstream and meet our driver, who will be waiting for you to take you back to Palenque. Overnight at your hotel.
This morning we will make an early start, for our journey from Palenque to Campeche, declared a World Heritage site in 1999. Upon arrival check in at your hotel. Campeche was a small fishermen’s village, Ah Can Pech… first identified as a strategic site in the early XVI century by the Spaniards, on the Gulf of Mexico… The Spaniards didn’t manage to establish their main colonial port in the Yucatan Peninsula here until many years later, due to fierce Maya warriors, who protected their land. History-rich Campeche is also a fun town… and there is much to see. Your hotel is ideally located near the Malecon, so the Palacio de Gobierno, Plaza de la Republica, Museo de Estelas Mayas & the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception are all within walking distance… Overnight at Hotel Baluartes or Del Mar.
After an early breakfast at your hotel our driver will pick you up to take you to the fascinating ancient Maya city of Edzna. The site begun as a Pre-Classic settlement around 600 BC and exhibits mostly Puuc style architecture, although the crests on the Five Story building in the Grand Acropolis is reminiscent of Tikal temples… Continue toward Uxmal, where our driver will drop you off at the Hotel Hacienda Uxmal.
This morning after breakfast our driver will pick you up to take you around the archaeological sites of Sayil, Labna, Xlapak and Kabah, known as the Pucc Route. Sayil is perhaps the finest example of the Puuc style architecture, marvelously displayed in the palace building at the site, a respectably sized structure standing 80 by 36 meters. Late Classic, first reported in John Lloyd Stephen’s Incidents of Travel in Yucatan in the mid 1800s. Another interesting feature is the phallic stella. The Late Classic Palace at Xlapak with towers-like corners covered in stylized Chac masks will surely catch your eye. Labna, is truly the most impressive of the sites you will see today, boasting a beautifully decorated arch, which connected two adjoining courtyards in this Late Classic site, and a two storied palace, also the longest in the Maya World, 132 meters long. At Kabah you will see an impressive 45 meter long building, named the Codz-Pop, or “rolled up mat”… The palace has at least 250 masks of God Chac decorating its facade. Tonight we suggest you arrange transportation directly at your hotel, to be able to see the great Light & Sound night at the grand Uxmal. Overnight at Hotel Hacienda Uxmal.
After breakfast at your hotel you will walk directly to the superb site of Uxmal. The work of the Puuc Maya will be appreciated with delight at Uxmal, the triumph of the Maya Civilization, a place of great pomp and splendor. At Uxmal, which means “Built three times”, you will spend the morning exploring the site that lays beyond the 30 meter tall Temple of the Magician, of usurpassed Puuc style decorations, with stylized Chacs & geometric patterns which repeat themselves endlessly. After exploring the Nunnery, the House of Turtles, the ball-court and the Governor’s Palace, you will return to your hotel to check out and for lunch before you proceed to the village of Piste. Our driver will take you to visit the Ik’kil Cenote for sunset. Overnight at the Hotel Mayaland.
After breakfast you will visit the impressive Post Classic Renaissance architecture of the magnificent Chichen Itza. It is said that around the year 900 AD the Toltecs invaded and conquered the Pre Classic and Classic Maya settlement, built next to two large cenotes (sinkholes). The hybrid of Puuc Mayan and Toltec styles, with intricate carvings and full blown Tula-style warriors represented by columns and the proud Chaac Mol, will simply fascinate you. We suggest you visit the Cave of Balankanche on your own or as an optional tour. Return to your hotel and prepare to go on the Light & Sound Show at Chichen Itza. Overnight at Hotel Mayaland.
Get up very early this morning to start heading toward Valladolid. You will be able to visit the Xquequen Cenote on the way to Dzitnup and visit the beautiful colonial city of Valladolid. You may have enough time to enjoy lunch by the Zaci Cenote as well. Please remember you need to be back in Cancun for your flight departing from Cancun. Farewell.