Day 1 :
Departure from North America
- Arrive in Cancun:
Our Tour Director will meet us at the airport. Our private coach will be waiting to transfer us to our hotel in Playa del Carmen.
Cancún is a coastal city in the tourist destination called The Mexican Caribbean, i.e. the state of Quintana Roo on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. It is a popular vacation spot on the Caribbean coast.
- Hotel check in:
For the next one evening(s) we will enjoy the convenience of our centrally-located Cancun hotel, where daily breakfast will be included.
We will dine in a local restaurant.
Day 2 :
Venture to Valladolid
- Cenote Dzitnup:
Visit the Cenote Dzitnup (also known as Cenote Xkekén), a natural well, apparently unearthed by a pig in the 1950s. Those that choose are welcome to take a swim.
- Ek Balam:
Discover the spectacular and recently excavated Maya ruins at Ek Balam, which, owing to a certain ambiguity in Mayan, means either "dark jaguar" or "star jaguar." Relatively unvisited by tourists, the Ek Balam ruins have been undergoing extensive renovation; and are a must see. Built between 100 BC and AD 1200, the principal buildings in the main group have been reconstructed beautifully and two small pyramids flank the imposing central pyramid.
- Arrive in Valladolid:
Located halfway (two hours from each) between Merida and Cancún, Valladolid is a bustling Mayan city with a special colonial flavor. This is where you will see the majority of the townspeople still using the typical dress of the Mayas and the buildings around the Main Plaza painted pastel colors. You will surely get a sense of the laid-back pace of life.
- Hotel check in:
We will enjoy our evening meal together in a local restaurant. For the next two evening(s) we will enjoy the convenience of our centrally-located Valladolid hotel, where daily breakfast will be included.
Sample Mexican fare, as we enjoy dinner together in a local restaurant.
Day 3 :
- Chichén Itzá:
Explore the ruins at Chichén Itzá, which has two parts: the northern zone, which shows distinct Toltec influence, and the southern zone, with mostly Puuc architecture. Our visit will include: the El Castillo Pyramid; the Main Ball Court; the North Temple; the Temple of Jaguars; the Temple of the Skulls; the Platform of the Eagle; the Platform of Venus; the Sacred Cenote; the Temple of the Warriors; the Tomb of the High Priest; the Observatory; and the Temple of Panels.
- Grutas de Balamkanche:
Take a guided tour of the Grutas de Balamkanche, huge caves discovered in 1959. Maya artefacts found here suggest that this was a place of worship as early as 300 BC, dedicated to the rain god Chac. View some of the Maya objects still in situ, which include miniature corn-grinding stones and decorated incense burners.
We will enjoy our evening meal together in a local restaurant.
- First Concert Performance:
Your first concert performance will be today.
Day 4 :
- Travel to Merida:
Merida is the capital city of Extremadura and was once an important Roman city. As such, it preserves some of Spain’s best Roman monuments. This was the traditional boundary between Moorish and Christian Spain, and it is particularly well-known for its tapas.
- City Center Walking Tour:
We will take a guided City Center Walking Tour, which will be highlighted by the Palacio Municipal, the Casa de Montejo, the Cathedral, the Palacio de Gobierno, the Parque Cepeda Peraza, the Templo de la Tercera Orden, the Universidad de Yucatan, the Teatro Jose Peon Contreras, and the Iglesia de Santa Lucia.
- Paseo de Montejo:
Stroll the fashionable boulevard Paseo de Montejo, a broad, tree-lined boulevard that runs north to south starting at Calle 47. In the late 19th century, stalwarts of Mérida's upper crust decided that the city needed something grander than its traditional narrow streets lined by wall-to-wall town houses, so they built this monumentally proportioned boulevard and lined it with mansions. Today, this is the fashionable part of town, with many fine restaurants, trendy discos, and expensive hotels.
- Museo Regional de Antropología:
Visit the Museo Regional de Antropología, designed and built by the Italian architect Enrico Deserti. The museum's main focus is the pre-Columbian cultures of the peninsula, especially the Maya, and topics include cosmology, history, and culture.
- Hotel check in:
Our base for the next two night(s) will be Merida (area), where breakfast will be provided at the hotel.
We will enjoy the local fare together as a group as we dine in a nearby restaurant.
Day 5 :
Tour the Mayan ruin site of Uxmal and view the remarkable Pyramid of the Magician, unique because of its rounded sides, height, steepness, and its doorway with heavy ornamentation. The visit will also include the Nunnery Quadrangle, which resembled a Spanish convent and was possibly a military academy or a training school for princes, the partially restored Ball Court, the Governor's Palace, the Great Pyramid and the Dovecote.
Explore the Mayan site of Kabah and view the spectacular facade of masks on the Palace of Masks, named for its decorative motif. Its outstanding feature is the Chenes-style facade, completely covered in a repeated pattern of 250 masks of the rain god Chaac, each one with curling remnants of Chaac's elephant-trunk-like nose. The visit will include the Palace Group, the Great Temple and a Great Arch.
We will enjoy our evening meal together either in a local restaurant or at our hotel.
- Second Concert Performance:
Your second concert performance is today.
Day 6 :
Cruise to Coba
Cobá was once one of the most intriguing cities built by the Maya in the Yucatán. An important city-state, Cobá flourished from A.D. 632 until after the rise of Chichén Itzá at which time Cobá slowly faded in importance and population until it was finally abandoned. Scholars believe Cobá was an important trade link between the Yucatán Caribbean coast and inland cities.
- Guided Bike Tour:
Rent Bikes at the site and take a guided tour of the excavated portion of the city, which is greatly spread out. Your tour will begin with the Coba Group, and include: an impressive pyramid, the Temple of the Church; the ruined juego de pelota (ball court); the visible remains of the sacbé (Elevated Maya Road) to Yaxuná; and intricately carved stelae by pathways. Next we visit the Nohoch Mul Group, including El Castillo one the tallest pyramids in the Yucatán, where we can climb to the top for great views of the unexcavated jungle-covered pyramidal structures poking up through the forest all around. We then explore the Conjunto Las Pinturas, where the main attraction is the Pyramid of the Painted Lintel, a small structure with traces of its original bright colors above the door.
- Head to Playa del Carmen:
We continue on our journey from Coba to Playa del Carmen.
- Hotel check in:
Our accommodation for the next three night(s) will be in Playa del Carmen (area). Breakfast will be included at the hotel.
This evening, dinner will be provided in a local restaurant.
Day 7 :
Discover the Tulum Archaeological Site, a Mayan fortress city overlooking the Caribbean. By 900 A.D. the Mayan civilization had begun its decline, and the large cities to the south were abandoned. Tulum is one of the small city-states that rose to fill the void, and came to prominence in the 13th century as a seaport, controlling maritime commerce along this section of the coast. The most imposing building in Tulum is a large stone structure above the cliff called the Castillo, which was a temple, as well as a fortress.
This evening dinner will be provided in a local restaurant.
Day 8 :
Visit Xcaret, an Ecological and Archaeological Theme Park, which is one of the area's most popular tourist attractions. Xcaret celebrates Mother Nature, and the jungle setting and palmlined beaches are beautiful. Once past the entrance booths (built to resemble small Maya temples), pathways meander around bathing coves, the snorkeling lagoon, and the remains of a group of real Maya temples.
We will have our final farewell dinner in a local restaurant.
- Third Concert Performance:
Your third concert performance is scheduled for today.
Day 9 :
- Departure flight from Cancun:
Our rewarding and enjoyable tour comes to an end as our Tour Director accompanies us to the airport on our final day.