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Mayan Discovery Tour

From €1449pp
15 Days
Mexico, Belize, Guatemala
From €1449pp
Enquire Now

Travel to Mexico and discover the mystery and beauty of the ancient Mayan ruins.

Mayan ruins peeking out from verdant jungle, street vendors hawking their wares on colonial streets, pristine white-sand beaches sparkling under the Caribbean sun- now this is the real Yucatán

On this unique 15-day journey, you’ll tour the ruins at Chichén Itzá and Palenque, and head deep into the jungle of Guatemala to experience the ruins of Tikal. You're free to choose your own adventure!

So escape the resort packages and witness all the incredible wilderness, wildlife and Mayan culture—past and present—that you can imagine.

Is this tour for me?

  • Travel Style: Classic

All of the highlights, culture, access, and I-can’t-believe-we-did-that moments, all at a great price.

  • Service Level: Basic

Simple and clean hotels and hostels; affordable public and private transport; lots of optional activities.

  • Physical Rating: 3 - Average

Some tours may include light hiking, biking, rafting, or kayaking in addition to walking.

  • Trip Type: Small Group

Small group experience; Max 16, avg 12

  • Age requirement: 12+

All travellers under age 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

Day 1: Playa del Carmen

Arrive at any time.

Day 2: Playa del Carmen/ Mérida

Travel to Mérida, stopping en route for a guided tour of Chichén Itzá. Enjoy an orientation walk of Mérida.

Stop for a guided tour of the popular Mayan ruins of Chichén Itzá. Explore this famous site, known for its huge stepped pyramids and elaborate stone carvings.

Continue on to Mérida, the capital of the Yucatán State. Follow your CEO on an orientation walk to get the lay of the land.

Activity: Chichén Itzá Guided Tour, Chichén-Itzá (2h)

Spend the afternoon with a local expert and learn about the history of Chichén Itzá and the beliefs and rituals that defined this ancient Mayan civilization. This dramatic site includes a 30m (98 ft) high temple, known as the Pyramid of Kukulcan, famous for its balustrade of 91 stairs up each of the four sides, a ball court with a grandstand, and towering walls. Visit the highlights of the site including the famous Castillo, the ball court, the cenote, and the Nunnery.

Day 3: Mérida

Opt to visit the ruins of Uxmal or swim in cenotes (underground pools) in the Yucatán.

Ride the PUUC Route, go bird-watching in Celestún, hit the beach in Progreso, visit cenotes in the nearby town of Cuzamá, or walk around town and soak in all of the history this city has to offer.

Exclusive Inclusions: Carte Blanche

There's plenty to see and do in Mérida, and we wanted to make sure that you had some time to take it all in with Carte Blanche. Feel free to relax or try optional activities like visiting the Uxmal ruins, the anthropological museum, and swimming in a nearby cenote. Your CEO has more ideas if you need them. Just ask!

Day 4: Mérida/ Palenque

Sit back and relax on a travel to Palenque in the lush jungle of Chiapas.

Day 5: Palenque

Enjoy a guided tour of the Mayan ruins of Palenque. Later, choose from one of the many optional activities in the area.

Activity: Palenque Ruins Guided Tour, Palenque (2h-3h)

Experience the elegant jungle site of Palenque on a guided tour. See the highlights -- the Temple of the Cross Group, Temple of Inscriptions and the Grand Palace. Howler monkeys sound in the distance as the fog rolls in and out of this mystical site, one of the most important centres for trade and culture during the end of the Classic Maya period.

Day 6: Palenque

Enjoy a free day to explore Palenque and surroundings. Opt to visit the Mayan ruins of Yaxchilán and Bonampak.

Optional activity: Yaxchilan and Bonampak Ruins, Palenque (11h-12h) 65USD PP

Climb aboard a boat from Frontera Corozal along the Guatemala border, float along the Usumacinta River and arrive at Yaxchilan, one of the least crowded and best preserved Mayan sites in Mexico. This large Classic centre is known for its well-preserved sculptured stone lintels stelae etched in hieroglyphics.

Next, visit Bonampak, a smaller site 30km (19 mi) to the south, known for the quality of its ancient fresco murals, painted in a single session while the plaster was moist. The excursion includes breakfast, lunch and the transportation, but a local guide will be extra.

Optional activity: Roberto Barrios Waterfalls, Palenque, (5h-6h) 35-50USD PP

Visit the Zapatista community of Roberto Barrios, Chiapas, have a swim and explore the cascading waterfall. If it hasn’t rained for a few days, you will be astonished how bright the light blue water can get.

Optional activity: Jungle Trail Hike, Palenque (2h-2h30m) 25USD PP

Only two percent of the ruins in the Mayan capital of Palenque are out in the open. Follow a local guide into the jungle along a trail, visit ruins that are now overgrown with moss and vines. Learn about the wildlife and different medicinal trees and plants that grow in and around the Usumancinta River of this mountainous forest area of Chiapas.

Day 7: Palenque/ San José

Journey through the jungle by private vehicle, crossing into Guatemala and continuing on to San José. Explore Lake Petén Itzá and the island of Flores.

Border Crossing (Mexico - Guatemala), El Ceibo (30m-1h30m)

Pay the Mexican exit fee, then go to the immigration and customs booth in Guatemala. Pay the entrance fee there and continue on to a new country.

Day 8: San José

Learn about Mayan culture and history on a guided tour of Tikal archaeological site. Relax on Lake Petén Itzá with a boat cruise or a swim.

Activity: Tikal Ruins Guided Tour, Tikal (3h-4h)

Put on your walking shoes and prepare for a tiring but memorable day walking through history at the impressive site of Tikal. The Mayan site is set in the heart of the jungle, in Tikal National Park, now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Along with our bilingual guide, see some of the temples, plazas, carved stone monuments and public squares, more than 3,000 buildings in all, dating from as far back as 600 BC.

Climb to the top of Temple IV, catch your breath, take photos, and then sit and contemplate the magnificence of the site and the tropical rainforest beyond. Look for monkeys, anteaters, armadillos, and deer, as well as macaws and eagles, snakes, and spiders.

Day 9: San José/ San Ignacio

Cross the border into Belize and travel to San Ignacio. Enjoy an included pottery demonstration and local lunch at a G Adventures-supported women's pottery cooperative.

Continue on to Belize, a country with a decidedly Caribbean flavour. The relaxed atmosphere of San Ignacio allows for options including horseback riding, canoeing, caving, or exploring the Mountain Pine Ridge area.

Exclusive Inclusions: G Adventures for Good San Antonio Women's Pottery Cooperative and Local Lunch

Like in many places around the world, education for women in the village of San Antonio isn’t prioritized. Girls don’t typically attend school beyond primary levels. So a women’s cooperative was founded here, as a way for underprivileged women to earn income, learn new skills, and share centuries-old Mayan techniques and knowledge.

Visit the pottery workshop, which is newly expanded with an investment from our tour operator. Meet some of the women who’ve found community within its walls and gain insight into the tradition of throwing pots. Afterward, enjoy lunch together with these inspiring and unforgettable women, sampling traditional foods of the Cayo region.

Meals included: Lunch

Day 10: San Ignacio

Enjoy free time to visit the sacred Mayan cave, Actun Tunichil Muknal, explore the Mountain Pine Ridge area or see the lesser-known Mayan ruins of Xunantunich or Caracol.

Optional acitivities abound around San Ignacio. Choose to see the Mountain Pine Ridge area or take a day trip to the astounding Actun Tunichil Muknal cave. Explore the cave’s water systems using a helmet and headlamp. An experienced local guide will provide insight into the fascinating practices of the ancient Maya.

Alternatively, opt for a trip to the impressive Maya ceremonial centre of Xunantunich. Getting there includes crossing a narrow river by a hand-cranked ferry. 

Day 11: San Ignacio/ Caye Caulker

Travel to Caye Caulker and enjoy this tropical paradise. Rent a bike and organize activities for the next day.

Caye Caulker is a relaxed and easy going island with friendly and welcoming local residents. Snorkel and dive boats leave daily for full- or half-day outings to the reef, Hol Chan Marine Reserve, the Blue Hole and for manatee spotting tours.

Try your hand fishing and be rewarded with a fresh catch, then barbecue it on the beach.

Day 12: Caye Caulker

Spend the day exploring Caye Caulker and the marine life in the area.

Opt to snorkel with stingrays, nurse sharks, and green turtles at Hol Chan Marine Reserve, go diving in Blue Hole National Park, take a flight over the Blue Hole and coral reef, rent a bike, or just chill out, Belizean style.

Exclusive Inclusions: Carte Blanche

Day 13: Caye Caulker/ Playa del Carmen

Full travel day to reach Playa del Carmen, the last stop of the adventure.

Head to Playa del Carmen, located on the beach just a 45-minute drive south of Cancún. Enjoy some nightlife, buy last minute souvenirs and relax and swim in the Caribbean.

Just off the coast is the island of Cozumel, renowned for its world-class diving. Take the ferry from Playa del Carmen (30-75 mins depending on the boat) across the turquoise waters and explore the towns and the reefs of the island. For a final dose of ruins, Tulúm is just a 45-minute drive south of Playa.

Border Crossing (Belize - Mexico), Chetumal

Ready for a little more ink in your passport? Grab your bags and get ready to check another country off your bucket list.

Day 14: Playa del Carmen

Enjoy a free day to explore the Mayan ruins of Tulúm, visit one of the many cenotes or the diving mecca of Cozumel. Enjoy dinner at a G Adventures-supported community restaurant with a youth-focused art program.

Activity: G Adventures for Good: El Hongo Mexican Community Restaurant & Youth Art Program

El Hongo (which means 'The Mushroom') is a volunteer-run restaurant started as a means to create income to support a youth art program in the 'real' Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

Across the highway from the commercial beach strip is where most locals live – cross onto the unpaved roads and enjoy a delicious home-style meal at the restaurant, while learning more about this much-needed program for the community.

Meals included: Dinner

Day 15: Playa del Carmen

Depart at any time.

Price is per adult sharing and includes:

  • Accommodation:
    • Simple hotels (14 nights)
  • Meals:
    • 1 lunch
    • 1 dinner 
    • Allow USD370-485 for meals not included.
  • Transportation:
    • Public bus
    • Private vehicle
    • Water taxi
    • Taxi
    • Walking
  • Staff & experts:
    • Chief Experience Officer (CEO) throughout
    • Local guides 
  • Activities & excursions:
    • G Adventures for Good: San Antonio Women's Pottery Cooperative and Local Lunch, San Ignacio
    • G Adventures for Good: El Hongo Mexican Community Restaurant & Youth Art Program, Playa del Carmen
    • Chichén Itzá guided tour
    • Mérida orientation walk
    • Palenque guided tour
    • Tikal guided tour
    • Free time in Mérida, Palenque, San Ignacio, Caye Caulker, and Playa del Carmen

Please ask us about adding great value:

  • Flights
  • Travel insurance
Subject to availability. Terms & conditions apply.price based on travel May 2022

For more information please call us on 021 427 7094 or 01 696 5135, email info@shandontravel.ie, request a call back using the red button or submit an enquiry through the form below.

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