Day 1 – Monday – PUEBLA
Depart Mexico City on a morning drive to Teotihuacan, the city of gods, for a visit to the Pyramids of the Sun and Moon, the Temple of Quetzalcoatl and the Palace of Jaguars; this was Middle America’s largest and most important city and continues to be one of the Continent’s most imposing sights. On to charming, colonial Tlaxcala, driving in near sight of Mexico’s snow-capped volcanoes. Our visits include the spectacularly ornamented white stucco Sanctuary of Our Lady of Ocotlán. Proceed to historic Puebla, the site of a disgraceful defeat by Napoleon III’s Grande Armée. We first visit the Forts of Guadalupe and Loreto, and continue with the marvelous, high-baroque Rosary Chapel. Overnight in Puebla.
Day 2 – Tuesday – VERACRUZ
Some additional sightseeing in Puebla before continuing to Xalapa, at the foot of snow-covered Pico de Orizaba, for a visit to Mexico’s most beautiful Archaeological Museum. On to Veracruz, the country’s bustling sea port on the Gulf Coast, guarded by the old Spanish fortress of San Juan de Ulúa. Sample a classical Veracruzan dinner at popular Café de la Parroquia. Afterwards enjoy coffee and cool drinks under the main plaza’s arcades, watching the tireless activity of competing street musicians, dancers and vendors: a swirling, never-ending party. Overnight in Veracruz.
Day 3 – Wednesday – CATEMACO
Today we start along the coast, past Alvarado and up the wide Papaloapan River to charming Tlacotalpan, an important fluvial port in the 19th c., today a World Heritage Site that has preserved its colourful, pastel-painted colonial houses. On through the hilly Los Tuxtlas region, with a stop at San Andrés to visit a cigar factory, before continuing to Catemaco, a town of witch doctors and shamans, on the shores of the homonymous lake, where we spend the night. A highlight of the tour will be a late afternoon susnet boat ride, allowing us to enjoythe lake’s incredible wildlife. Overnight at lakeside hotel.
Day 4 – Thursday – SAN CRISTÓBAL DE LAS CASAS
A long day’s journey through Mexico’s southeast will take us to Tuxtla Gutiérrez, the sultry capital of Chiapas, the gate to Sumidero Canyon, an imposing wonder of nature. A motor boat ride takes us on the Grijalva River, flowing through the bottom of the Canyon, flanked by 1000 m. high cliffs, offering incomparable views. Proceed through an imposing mountainous landscape to the unique colonial town of San Cristóbal de las Casas, the Indian capital of Mexico, where the next two nights are spent.
Day 5 – Friday – SAN CRISTÓBAL and INDIAN VILLAGES
The whole day is dedicated to the visit of San Cristóbal, and of the nearby village of San Juan Chamula, inhabited by the tzotzil Indians who have preserved both their language and their ancestral customs. A visit to the church, where Christian saints and native deities are worshiped alike, is an experience not to be forgotten.
Day 6 – Saturday – PALENQUE
A morning trip through the Chiapas Highlands, with its multi-ethnic population, takes us into the semitropical rainforest region, and to the extraordinary jungle waterfalls of Agua Azul. From here it’s a short drive to ancient Palenque, the marvelous capital of Mayan ruler Pakal, whose tomb was discovered in the imposing Temple of the Inscriptions, against the backdrop of the dense green jungle. This and other remarkable monuments are visited before proceeding to our overnight quarters.
Day 6 – Saturday – PALENQUE
A morning trip through the Chiapas Highlands, with its multi-ethnic population, takes us into the semitropical rainforest region, and to the extraordinary jungle waterfalls of Agua Azul. From here it’s a short drive to ancient Palenque, the marvelous capital of Mayan ruler Pakal, whose tomb was discovered in the imposing Temple of the Inscriptions, against the backdrop of the dense green jungle. This and other remarkable monuments are visited before proceeding to our overnight quarters. Continue north into the Peninsula of Yucatan, for a visit to the unique Codz’ Pop, or Temple of the Masks in pre-Hispanic Kabah, and finally reaching that jewel of Mayan architecture known as Uxmal, where the night is spent. Palenque, Campeche and Uxmal, all three form part of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites’ list.
Day 8 – Monday – MERIDA
The Governor’s Palace, Sorcerer’s Pyramid and the exceptional Nunnery Quadrangle are among Uxmal’s outstanding monuments which will be visited this morning. We then continue through the Peninsula’s flatlands to the White City, Merida, Yucatan’s friendly capital. A thorough visit is included and free time to roam on your own around the busy central square, the Plaza de Armas. Overnight
Day 9 – Tuesday – CHICHEN-ITZÁ and THE CARIBBEAN
Drive past tiny Mayan villages and through the large sisal plantations to Chichen-Itzá, the largest and most impressive of all Mayan sites in the country, and certainly also on UNESCO’s Heritage list. Visits to the Kukulcán Pyramid, Warrior’s Temple, Hall of Thousand Columns and the Ball Game Court will help us to round-up our vision of the fascinating Maya culture. A farewell Yucatecan luncheon in a lovely hacienda will mark the conclusion of this beautiful journey through Mexican lands, as we now continue eastward to country’s Caribbean coast, with its white-sand beaches and transparent, turquoise waters, where you may start a beach holiday in the fashionable resort of CANCUN, or at the lovely playgrounds of the MAYAN RIVIERA.