Highlights of Yucatan - Private Tour

Tour/Activity in Cancún, Mexico

About this activity

Experience colonial cities, mysterious Mayan culture and breathtaking nature in the Yucatán Peninsula.

Your Travel Experience with Tierra Maya Tours

Day 1

Cancún - Tulum - Bacalar

In the morning, you will visit the Mayan site of Tulum, built high above the Caribbean Sea. Unlike all other Maya sites, Tulum is located directly by the sea. Besides the so-called castle, the most famous buildings are the "Temple of the Descending God", the "Temple of the Wind" and the frescoed temple. Your trip continues then to the Lagoon of the Seven Colours in Bacalar, which has been awarded the title of Pueblo Mágico. The fort of San Felipe de Bacalar is located in the centre of Bacalar. The fort was built in 1725 by Antonio de Figueroa y Silva, governor of Yucatán, as a strong defence for the preservation of the state against the advance of the English colonialists and was completed in 1733. Afterwards, enjoy a refreshing swim in the Cenote Azul.

Included meals: Breakfast

Overnight stay at Hotel Carolina *** or similar

Day 2

Bacalar - Chicanná - Calakmul

After breakfast, drive to the Rio Bec region. Visit the Mayan site of Kohunlich, framed by palm groves, with its monumental masks of the sun god. On the way to Palenque, visit the small but very special site of Chicanna. Towards evening you will reach Palenque.

Welcome to a 2-hour boat adventure into the Laguna Bacalar. Stop at the Cocalitos cenote, which is 90 metres deep. The next stop is the famous Pirate Channel, where the shallow and warm water creates an unforgettable scenery. Continue to the so-called Rio Bec region. The city of Chicanná was inhabited between 300 and 1100 years AD and houses buildings of the Chenes style and the Rio Bec style. During the classical period, the city benefited from its location on the central trade route between the Gulf Coast and the Caribbean coast. Drive to the hotel entrance of the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve. On your overnight stay, visit the nearby Cave of the Bats in the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve. It is a cave with a depth of 54 metres, where experts say about four million bats of nine species live. Thousands of these incredible mammals emerge from the cave almost every day at the same time at sunset in search of food, providing one of the most impressive spectacles nature can offer.

Included meals: Breakfast

Overnight stay at Hotel Puerta Calakmul **** or similar

Day 3

Calakmul - Palenque

Take a journey deep into the rainforest to the mystical site of Calakmul. Calakmul was a powerful Mayan city during the Classic period. Together with El Mirador and Tikal, Calakmul is one of the largest Mayan cities ever discovered. A visitor centre marks the entrance to the national park. From there, a natural road leads deep into a jungle area where the once mighty Maya city awaits your discovery. Calakmul covered an area of about 30 square kilometres and had over 100 colossal buildings; a total of more than 5,000 buildings are known. The pyramids I and II are particularly dominant here. The latter has a height of about 45 metres. However, most of Calakmul has not yet been excavated or researched in detail. Only speculations can be made about the number of inhabitants. A population of about 50,000 people is assumed for the city centre. The enormous dimensions of the main pyramid are impressive, and from its top platform you have an unforgettable view over almost endless jungle deep into Guatemala. In the afternoon, continue your journey towards Palenque.

Overnight stay at Hotel Chan-Kah Resort Village ***(**) or similar

Day 4

Palenque - Waterfalls Roberto Barrios - Palenque

Palenque was founded around 300 years BC and was in its full bloom in the 7th and 8th centuries AD. All the buildings that can still be seen today date from this period. Thus, Palenque was one of the first sites of the Classic Maya period to be abandoned for reasons that are still unclear. The "Temple of Inscriptions" impresses with more than 620 hieroglyphs and tells the story of the Mayan king Pakal from the time of his accession to the throne in 615 AD For almost 70 years, Pakal, who was crowned at the age of 12, guided the fortunes of Palenque. The discovery of his tomb in a temple built in his honour was one of the great archaeological sensations in Mayan history. Afternoon bathing fun at the nearby Roberto Barrios waterfalls. Head back to Palenque.

Included meals: Breakfast

Overnight stay at Hotel Chan-Kah Resort Village ***(**) or similar

Day 5

Palenque - Campeche

Drive along the Gulf of Mexico past idyllic fishing villages like Champoton. In the early afternoon you reach the port city of Campeche. The Archaeological Museum in the Baluarte San Miguel is located just outside the city and comprises two unique collections of its kind in the entire Maya region, including the jadeite burial masks from the royal tombs of Calakmul and the collection of burial figures from the island of Jaina. In 1540, today's Campeche was founded by Spanish settlers and quickly developed into a flourishing port city on the Gulf of Mexico, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999. Towards the end of the 17th century, the Spanish built large fortifications as protection against pirate raids. These are still among the city's most important sights today. The city's beautiful and lovingly restored colonial buildings are located within this belt of fortifications. Worthwhile is a visit to La Concepcíon Cathedral and the Zócalo, also called Parque Principal.

Included meals: Breakfast

Overnight stay at Hotel Plaza Campeche *** or similar

Day 6

Campeche - Uxmal - Celestún - Mérida

Drive past citrus plantations to Uxmal. The excavation site is located about 60 kilometres south of Mérida and reveals the history of the Late Classic Maya era. This large ruin complex, built in the Puuc style, is one of the most interesting in the world. The name Uxmal stands for "the thrice-built". The meaning of many of the buildings dating from 600-950 AD could not be fully deciphered until today. The beautifully decorated facades, huge terraces and plazas, columns and archways are impressive. Celestún is a mangrove biosphere reserve known for its high flora and fauna diversity. The Estero estuary is home to the only colony of Cuban flamingos in Mesoamerica besides the one in Río Lagartos. Boat trip through the channels and observation of the pink flamingos. From December to March, numerous North American water birds also winter in Celestún. Besides fish, shrimps and mussels, Celestún is home to numerous bird species such as brown pelicans, frigate birds, cormorants, crabeater herons, snowy ibises and mangrove buzzards. The mangrove area of Celestún was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2004. Your journey follows heading to Mérida.

Included meals: Breakfast

Overnight stay at Hotel La Mision de Fray Diego **** or similar

Day 7

Mérida - Izamal - Chichén Itzá

Enjoy a city tour of Mérida and admire some of the most beautiful buildings including the huge cathedral, the bishop's residence, the Palacio Municipal and the Casa de Montejo, the home of the city's founder with its figurine-decorated portal. The influence of Spain and France can be felt everywhere in the city. The Champs-Elysees, for example, served as the model for the boulevard Paseo de Montejo. A visit to the colourful market is a must. Continue to the yellow town of Izamal with a city tour and visit to the dominant Franciscan convent, the spacious main square bordered by the convent and colonial buildings with arcades. Continue to the ruined site of Itzamatul, which at 21 m carried a rather high platform with a temple to the god Itzamná. The northern and eastern sides have been restored and show a five-tiered structure. The highest pyramid platform of Izamal is called Kinich Kak Moo with side lengths of 200 m and a height of the platform of 36 m. The main access to the pyramid is from the north. The main access to the platform is from the south side, where there is a monumental megalithic staircase made of huge worked stone blocks. Finally, visit the Cultural Centre of Arts and Crafts with a permanent exhibition of objects created by great masters of Mexican folk art. In the evening, arrive at Chichén Itzá.

Included meals: Breakfast

Overnight stay at Hotel Hacienda Chichén Itzá ** or similar

Day 8

Chichén Itzá - Valladolid - Riviera Maya / Cancún

The archaeological zone of Chichén Itzá expresses the Mayan culture in all its splendour, further developed through the influence of the Toltecs from central Mexico. "El Castillo" is the most impressive building of this Mayan city with a height of 30 metres. It is also home to the largest ball court in the Yucatán. The building "El Caracol" resembles a snail shell and was discovered and drawn by the explorer Frederick Catherwood as early as 1842. The local observatory was used by the Mayas to observe Venus and its orbit, among other things. The Cenote de Dzitnup was discovered by chance around 1950 and is located about 10 kilometres outside Valladolid. The underground pool of water, which can be reached via steep steps, offers a wonderful refreshment opportunity by jumping into the cold water. Above the turquoise water of the tiny lake is an opening through which the penetrating daylight illuminates the pool, meaning that the best time to visit the cenote is at midday. Many fish live in the crystal-clear water and directly above there are numerous stalactites, which have formed over time on the ceiling of the underground cave. Afterwards, return transfer to your hotel on the Riviera Maya or to Cancún airport.

Included meals: Breakfast

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