Chichén Itzá
Chichén Itzá

Archaeological Tours

Limited availability with Andante Travels

Mexico | The Maya

Of all Mesoamerican civilisations, the Maya have enjoyed the most enduring hold on the popular imagination. For a long time, their jungle-clad ruins remained intriguing, yet shrouded by mystery. However, recent progress in the decipherment of Maya writing has unlocked many of their secrets, revealing a society as complex and fascinating as their art, and architecture had previously suggested.

This is one of Andante’s most adventurous trips, starting with the superb museums of Mexico City, travelling via the uplands of Chiapas, along the great river of  Usumacinta, before driving up the Yucatan peninsular. This is a thrilling journey through the rich and colourful landscapes of Mexico

What's included?

  •  A/C coach
  •  Expert scholar & tour manager
  •  Accommodation
  •  Local transport & private transfer to/from airport and group hotel
  •  Entries & tips
  •  Meals - as per the itinerary

Led by...

David Drew

David Drew Expert Scholar

Writer, broadcaster and archaeologist, David Drew studied at Oxford and UCL.

Today's Price
$5,935

Deposit: $1,250 Single supplement: $1,015

Tour highlights:

  • View the Aztec Templo Mayor
  • Encounter enduring Maya traditions among the Chiapas communities
  • Discover Palenque, which is considered by many as the most beautiful of all the Maya cities
  • Travel in 4x4s and then by motor launch boat to reach the remote site of Yaxchilán, famous for its remarkable architecture
  • Explore the ball court, observatory, sacred well, and the great pyramid of Kukulcan at the awe-inspiring city of Chichén Itzá

Tour details

Dates November 2 2020 - November 16 2020
Duration 15 days
Cost
Today's Price
$5,935
Deposit: $1,250 Single supplement: $1,015 Balance due by August 10 2020
Activity Level
Tour code AMEX201102

Call for availability

November 2 2020: Itinerary

We fly in to Mexico City and transfer to our hotel close to the Plaza de Armas in the Spanish Colonial centre.

Meals include: Dinner

Hotel: Hampton Inn & Suites, Mexico City

The day begins with exploration of the remains of the Templo Mayor, once the sacred heart of Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital, combined with a visit to the excellent museum. In the afternoon we walk a short distance to the National Palace to see Diego Rivera’s magnificent murals.

All meals included

Hotel: Hampton Inn & Suites, Mexico City

Most of our day will be spent at the National Museum of Anthropology, one of the finest museums in the world, with collections spanning every era of Mexico’s richly-textured past. Having our lunch at the museum allows us to continue our visit here. Later in the afternoon we return to our hotel with some free time to relax ahead of dinner.

All meals included

Hotel: Hampton Inn & Suites, Mexico City

This morning we fly south to Tuxtla Gutiérrez, on the edge of the beautiful Chiapas Highlands. Stopping for lunch in Chiapa de Corzo, we drive on to the handsome Colonial town of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, the great centre of traditional Maya culture. Later in the afternoon we can take a look at the products of the many hundreds of local Maya weavers who come in here from nearby villages.

All meals included

Hotel: Hotel Casa Mexicana, San Cristóbal de las Casas

A full day begins with a visit to Chamula, one of the most fiercely independent of all Maya towns. Here, famously, the local community have been largely left to run their own affairs. The use of the church of San Juan is a symbol of this. The Catholic clergy are absent most of the year and instead traditional Maya priests or shamans minister to the local population. On most days the interior of the church is packed with chanting priests and their clients. Candles flicker, pine needles cover the floor and on occasion a chicken will be sacrificed. We return to San Cristóbal for lunch with some free time to enter Santo Domingo church, stroll along the cobbled streets of the local market or visit a small new museum devoted to Maya textiles. In the early evening we visit the museum at the Casa Na Bolom, where we also have dinner.

All meals included

Hotel: Hotel Casa Mexicana, San Cristóbal de las Casas

We drive east to Toniná, a spectacular site perched in the hills above the fertile Ocosingo valley. On the periphery of the Maya area, it seems to have been one of the longest lasting Maya cities, possessing the very latest Maya ‘Long Count’ date known, from 15 January 909 AD. Other hieroglyphic evidence points to Toniná having engaged in sporadic warfare with Palenque, some 100 kilometres to the north and the direction in which we are heading.

All meals included

Hotel: Hotel Villa Mercedes, Palenque

A full day amongst the ruins of Palenque, beautifully positioned on the lower slopes of a range of jungle clad hills and with magnificent views across the floodplain of the Usumacinta River. The city possesses art and architecture of remarkable quality, most famously in the well preserved ‘Palace’ complex and the ‘Temple of the Inscriptions’, where Palenque’s greatest king, Pacal, lies buried in a massive sarcophagus. Abundant hieroglyphic texts here have been crucial in piecing together the story of Palenque’s rulers, a dynasty that lasted from c. 430 to 800 AD.

All meals included

Hotel: Hotel Villa Mercedes, Palenque

This morning we travel in 4x4s first to the famous Maya site of Bonampak, best known for the remarkable preservation of its vividly painted murals. From Bonampak we continue to the Usumacinta River and a journey by motor launch downriver to the jungle site of Yaxchilán, constructed within a horseshoe bend in the river. It is a remote and atmospheric place, many of the buildings well-preserved though devoid of some of its famous carved lintels. A number of these were removed by the British explorer Alfred Maudslay in the 1880s and are now to be seen in the ‘Mexican Gallery’ of the British Museum

All meals included

Hotel: Hotel Villa Mercedes, Palenque

Today we drive north to the coastal city of Campeche, founded by Spanish settlers in 1540 and with a fine Colonial centre which we will explore in the afternoon.

All meals included

Hotel: Hotel Plaza Campeche

We begin our day with a visit to the still remote site of Edzná. It has a very grand plaza, a five-storey main temple complex or Acropolis and it also originally possessed a complex system of dams and canals constructed as early as 150 BC. The city endured until the time of the conquest but was then abandoned and lay undiscovered until 1907. Our next stop is Sayil, a ruined Late Classic city extensively mapped in the 1980s which led to estimates of a peak population here of some 12,000 at the city’s height around 850 AD. John Lloyd Stephens and Frederick Catherwood came here and were impressed by the seemingly Old-World style and proportion of the architecture, especially the multi-roomed palace structures, their façades decorated with pillars and clusters of columns. Before travelling on to Uxmal, we finish the day at Kabah, a small site best known for its ‘House of the Masks’ – a structure whose façade is decorated with hundreds of stone masks that probably represent the long-nosed Maya Rain God Chaak

All meals included

Hotel: Hotel Hacienda, Uxmal

We devote the morning to Uxmal, especially renowned for the elegance of its architecture and the exceptional state of preservation of the buildings, commented upon by visitors from the 16th century onwards. John Lloyd Stephens was greatly impressed and felt that it formed a completely ‘new order’ of architecture, ‘not unworthy to stand side by side’ with the architectural traditions of the Old World. The tallest structure, looming above the site, is the so-called Pyramid of the Magician, built in five separate stages. But the city’s two major glories are the so-called ‘Nunnery’ quadrangle, made up of 4 rectangular range structures with multiple doorways around a central courtyard, and the magnificent House of the Governor, constructed on a broad platform and at a different angle to other structures, facing east towards the most southerly rising point of Venus as Morning Star. A recently deciphered inscription above the central doorway confirms this purposeful astronomical orientation. In the afternoon we continue to Mérida, the Yucatán’s cultural capital, where we will have some free time to investigate the city centre.

All meals included

Hotel: Gamma Mérida El Castellano

We remain in Mérida in the morning to visit the new Mundo Maya Museum. This very good and comprehensive museum covers the history of the Yucatan from earliest times to the Colonial period. It has some splendid exhibits, such as an arresting, larger than life-size ‘chac-mool’ sculpture from Chichén Itza, depicting a reclining warrior with head twisted dramatically sideways and with a large receptacle for offerings in his belly. This afternoon we head for Izamal to visit the impressive Franciscan Monastery, built on top of a large Maya pyramid, which is most famous as the home in the 1550s and 60s of the great Spanish chronicler and extirpator of Maya ‘idolatries’, Diego de Landa.

All meals included

Hotel: Hotel Villas Arquelogicas, Chichén Itzá

Today we encounter one of the most visited and impressive of all Maya cities: Chichén Itzá. It is a vast and still mysterious site where archaeological work has been ongoing for many years. We will enter early in the day to marvel at the immense Ball Court and the ‘Castillo’ or Temple Pyramid at the heart of an enormous plaza and to follow the great stone causeway to the sacred ‘Cenote’ or well. Into this natural sink hole in the limestone the Maya cast jades, precious metalwork and sacrificial victims which lay undiscovered until the early 20th century, even though the site was known and marvelled at by early Spanish visitors, including Diego de Landa. After lunch we continue to the walled city of Ek Balam, a lesser-known site, but where major discoveries have been made over the last decade or so. These demonstrate that Ek Balam was a major power in northern Yucatan in the Maya Classic period and may have had close ties to Chichén Itza. Here one can climb the steps of the largest pyramid for a marvellous view of the surrounding jungle.

All meals included

Hotel: Hotel Villas Arquelogicas, Chichén Itzá

We spend our morning at the ruins of Cobá, which was once a very important city. More than 30 carved stelae have been found here, some with images of Cobá’s rulers. But the limestone is very soft and very few inscriptions are readable. Thus, the details of its history are lost to us. The site is characterised by clusters of buildings linked together by sakbes or stone causeways. At the end of one of these is the tallest Pyramid here, known locally as ‘Nohoch Mul’ or the ‘Big Hill’. At its summit is a temple structure with a stucco image of a figure plunging to earth, known as the ‘Diving God’. Further Diving Gods are to be seen at the small walled coastal site of Tulum, which we visit in the afternoon. Tulum seems to have been an important port late in the Maya period and is described from the sea by the first Spaniards who sailed along here in 1518, just before the conquest of the Aztecs. We spend our last night here in a hotel on the beach not far from Tulum.

All meals included

Hotel: Hotel Cabañas Los Lirios

A leisurely morning at our beach-side hotel, before we transfer to the airport in Cancún for our individual flights home.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

November 2 2020: Additional Info

November 2 2020: Accommodation

Housed in a colonial building, the hotel is located in the heart of downtown Mexico City with an abundance of historical and cultural attractions. The rooms are furnished with TV, Wifi, coffee maker and a hairdryer. The en-suite bathrooms have a shower.

The Cathedral Zocalo, Templo Mayor, and National Palace are all within walking distance of the hotel. 

The hotel has 107 spacious rooms and include Internet access. The hotel also features a fitness centre.

The Hotel Casa Mexicana is situated in the beautiful mountainous and colonial city of San Cristóbal within walking distance of several historical sites. The hotel has an interior sky-lit garden. The rooms all open into the gardens or private courtyards.

The hotel has a restaurant, bar, spa and sauna. The rooms are furnished with TV, Wi-Fi and a safe. The en-suite bathrooms have a shower.

Set in tropical gardens in Palenque, this hotel has 2 outdoor pools and a Mayan-style spa. Located in a collection of charming thatched buildings, rooms feature satellite TV and a private bathroom.

The restaurant at the Hotel Villa Mercedes Palenque serves traditional Mexican food. There is also a poolside bar with a terrace, loungers and hammocks.

Located in the historic centre of the city of Campeche and within walking distance of the waterfront, the hotel has a restaurant, cafeteria and bar. The rooms are furnished with TV, safe, ceiling fan and air conditioning. The en-suite bathrooms have a bathtub and shower.

Just across the street from the Uxmal Pyramids, and a 40 minutes' drive from Merida. This historic resort offers 2 outdoor pools and a working plantation filled with fruit trees and jogging trails. The Uxmal Cacao and Chocolate Museum can be found on site.

Rooms at Hacienda Uxmal Plantation & Museum feature a blend of traditional Mayan and Spanish décor, and have terraces overlooking the pools and tropical gardens. Some also have plantation views.

All rooms offer air conditioning, a ceiling fan, flat-screen satellite TV and a private bathroom. Free Wi-Fi is available in most rooms, terraces and public areas.

Guests at the Hacienda Uxmal Plantation & Museum can dine at one of 2 restaurants serving Yucatecan and Mayan cuisine.

Gamma Mérida El Castellano has an outdoor swimming pool with sun loungers. It is located near the main square and 16th century cathedral.

The rooms are classic in design with tile flooring. Each room has cable TV, ironing facilities, air-conditioning and private bathrooms. Free WiFi is available throughout.

The hotel restaurant serves typical Yucatan cuisine, as well as international dishes.

Hotel Villas Arquelogicas Chichén Itzá is located at the back entrance of the archaeological site of Chichén Itzá and is only a 10 minute walk away. The hotel is surrounded by tropical gardens where you can hear the song of exotic birds.

This cosy hotel offers 43 rooms are built around an attractive pool accented by Mayan statues. The hotel has free Wi-Fi and a there is a small library with books about the archaeological sites. There is a restaurant and bar and Original Mayan ruins endow the hotel gardens. There is also a pool table and a spa on site. 

Situated in the heart of the Mayan Riviera, surrounded by tropical vegetation and mangrove, the Hotel Cabañas Los Lirios hotel lies close to the beach.

The rooms are furnished with a safe box, hairdryer and air conditioning. Wi-Fi is available in the restaurant and lobby. The en-suite bathrooms have a shower and bathtub.

November 2 2020: Enquiries

Enquiry Form

Contact Us