We're all getting very exciting about our first ever trip to Cuba and Mexico in January. We will visit many ancient sites including Chitzen Itza, Palenque, Tikal, Teotihuacan Pyramids & Guadalupe Shrine to name a few as well as but not limited to Mexico City, Oaxaca, San Cristobal de las Casas, Flores in Guatemala, Playa del Carmen, Havana Cuba, Trinidad Cuba and so much more.
DAY 1: 9 January 2018 (Tuesday) - Depart Australia and arrival in MEXICO CITY, Mexico (3 nights)
Arrival Transfer: - On arrival into Mexico City you will be met and transferred to our hotel.
DAY 2: 10 Jan (Weds) MEXICO CITY
Mexico City lies in the heart of Central Mexico and is the capital of Mexico and the oldest capital city in the Americas. It is one of the largest cities in the world with over 20 million inhabitants (in the greater metropolitan area) and has a rich history and colourful culture. Today enjoy a city tour of the capital and in the evening a welcome dinner to start our exciting adventure. (B,D)
DAY 3: 11 Jan (Thurs) - Teotihuacan Pyramids & Guadalupe Shrine.
We will drive to the impressive archaeological site of Teotihuacan, located 50km northeast of Mexico City. On the way we make a stop at the Plaza de las Tres Culturas, where three cultures converge: Aztec, Spanish, and contemporary Mexican. We continue to the Basilica de Guadalupe, Latin America’s most revered religious shrine. It is here where the Virgin of Guadalupe is said to have appeared before an Indian named Juan Diego in 1531, and an image of her was miraculously emblazoned on his cloak.
We will have time to explore the New Basilica de Guadalupe (the Old Basilica, built in 1700, is slowly sinking) and to see Juan Diego’s cloak. We then drive for another hour to Teotihuacan, one of the most impressive cities of the ancient world, held sacred by the Aztecs. We will explore its temples, palaces and pyramids, including the Quetzalpapálotl Palace Complex, the Temple of the Feathered Conches, the Pyramid of the Moon, and the immense Pyramid of the Sun, ranked among the biggest in the world. (B)
DAY 4: 12 Jan (Friday) - Travel Day - OAXACA, Mexico (2 nights)
Departure Transfer: - Transfer from your hotel to Mexico City Airport for your outward flight. Arrival Transfer: - Transfer from the Airport to the Hotel. Dinner included at the hotel tonight. (B,D)
DAY 5: 13 Jan (Saturday) - Oaxaca city tour
Oaxaca – a World Heritage Site – was once the centre of the Mixtec and Zapotec civilizations. After the Spanish conquered Oaxaca in 1533, the city quickly took on a Spanish flavour, with ornate buildings and charming plazas. Yet despite its colonial heritage, the city remains Indian at heart, due to the presence of a large indigenous population. We will walk through the streets of the colonial city centre, along the Cathedral – with its attractive baroque facade, the Iglesia de Santo Domingo – a church with a breathtaking interior that dazzles with gold ornaments, and the Casa Juarez – where Mexico’s great liberal reformer and president Benito Juarez lived. We will have time to browse the colourful local markets, and soak up the bustling atmosphere on the Zocalo (main square).
Oaxacan cuisine is famous for its refinement and complexity, and we will learn how to prepare it; the teacher is a local woman who learned cooking from her mother and her grandmother before her. We will take you to the local market where we will taste and buy the ingredients: different fruits, vegetables and traditional herbs that are used in the preparation of the regional dishes of Oaxaca. A light lecture on Oaxacan cuisine is given, and then we grab an apron to create a delicious 4-course meal. (B,D)
DAY 6: 14 Jan (Sunday) - Travel Day - TUXTLA, Mexico (1 night)
Departure Transfer: - You will be collected from your hotel in Oaxaca and transferred to the airport.
Arrival Transfer: - On arrival into Tuxtla you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel in Tuxtla Gutierrez. Dinner included at the hotel tonight. (B,D)
DAY 7: 15 Jan (Monday) - Tuxtla to SAN CRISTOBAL CASAS, Mexico (3 nights)
We will pick you up in Tuxtla Gutierrez and drive you to Chiapas de corzo. In due time we will take you for a thrilling motorboat ride down the spectacular Sumidero Canyon, which has towering rock walls reaching up to 1,000 metres high. The narrow, deep canyon, created by erosion by the Grijalva River which still runs through it, is surrounded by the Sumidero Canyon National Park. The walls of the canyon contain small caves and rock formations and there are waterfalls and springs in the canyon which is home to endangered and threatened species such as the Central American river turtle and the American crocodile. After this unforgettable experience you will continue on to picturesque San Cristóbal de Las Casas, a colonial town of white stucco walls, red-tile roofs and cobblestone streets. (B)
DAY 8: 16 Jan (Tuesday) - San Cristobal de las Casas: City Tour
We will explore the colonial city centre of San Cristobal de las Casas on foot. We will visit the cathedral on the north side of the pretty main square, with its lavish interior and gold-encrusted pulpit. We then walk a few blocks to the impressive 16th-century Dominican church, Templo de Santo Domingo, with its intricate pink facade and gilded Baroque interior. There will be time to browse the handicraft market in front of the church, where Tzotzil Indians from the surrounding hills come to trade. We then drive 10km into the Chiapas highlands, to the Tzotzil Indian villages of San Juan Chamula and Zinacantan. The Tzotzils are descended from the ancient Maya and maintain some unique customs, costumes and beliefs. We will visit the beautiful white church in San Juan Chamula. The candles, incense and chanting worshippers make a powerful impression. We then drive to the nearby village of Zinacantan, with its picturesque church and handicraft market.
After the tour we return to San Cristobal where you will be dropped off at your hotel. (B)
DAY 9: 17 Jan (Wednesday) - San Cristobal - Leisure day
Today is yours to relax and/or explore this enchanting city. (B)
DAY 10: 18 Jan (Thursday) - San Cristobal to PALENQUE, Mexico (2 nights)
After breakfast, we will drive to the bustling city of Villahermosa, located on the Grijalva river. The city’s main attraction are the its exceptional museums. We will visit the archaeological open-air museum Parque-Museo de La Venta. The Olmecs, often called the cultura madre (other culture) because of their influence on later civilizations including the Maya, had their main site at La Venta, 117km outside of Villahermosa. When petroleum excavation threatened the La Venta site, the most significant finds, including three large stone Olmec heads, were moved to Villahermosa to found the Parque-Museum de La Venta. (B)
DAY 11: 19 Jan (Friday) - Palenque with lunch
Discover one of the most important Mayan cities in Mexico on this tour of Palenque. After being picked up from your hotel, you will be transferred to the site and given a guided tour as well as some free time to wander the impressive ruins. Lunch is also included in the tour. (B,L)
DAY 12: 20 Jan (Saturday) - FLORES, Guatemala (2 nights)
Today we travel from Palenque to Frontera Corozal and then on to Flores by bus with our final destination for today being Flores, Guatemala. (B)
DAY 13: 21 Jan (Sunday) - Tikal Full Day Tour with Lunch
We are met at our hotel by a private guide for a tour of Tikal National Park, where some 3,000 ancient structures rise from the rainforest floor. We will follow in the footsteps of Maya royalty and commoners as our guide leads them to such sites as the majestic Great Plaza and its Temple of the Jaguar. Temple of the Masks, the Acropolis and much more. Lunch is provided at a local restaurant. We can also explore the museum at the visitor centre before returning to our hotel. (B,L)
DAY 14: 22 Jan (Monday) - PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico (4 nights)
Departure Transfer: - Private transfer from your Flores hotel to Mundo Maya airport for your outward flight. Arrive Cancun and transfer to Playa del Carmen. This is a long flying day but tomorrow will be a free day to rest and recover. (B)
DAY 15: 23 Jan (Tuesday) - Playa del Carmen – Free Day
A free day today to enjoy the white sand beaches and pristine waters of Playa del Carmen and Riviera Maya. Here you can find the small coastal fishing village of Puerto Morelos with its attractive beaches and somewhat bohemian village life, and the nearby Palancar Aquarium, Croco Cun crocodile farm, and the Dr. Alfredo Barrera Marin Botanical Garden, which features a replica of a typical Mayan home, a nature trail and native plant species like cacao and chicle (chewing gum) trees.
Then comes Puerto Aventuras, with its deep-water marina, golf course, beautiful hotels, shops, restaurants and dive centers. At Puerto Aventuras, you can swim with dolphins or simply pet them at Dolphin Discovery. Further south is Akumal, which means “land of the turtles” in the Mayan language. It owes its enchantment to the fresh waters of its caves and subterranean rivers. More than 200 entrances to subterranean caves, with depths of up to 150 meters, make it a gathering place for divers from around the world. You may choose to do some optional extras at your own cost or you may just choose to relax and enjoy all that the resort has to offer, it’s your choice. (B)
DAY 16: 24 Jan (Wednesday) – Full day tour Chichen Itza
Discover the magic and beauty of the Mayan world on this full-day excursion to one of Mexico’s best preserved archaeological site, Chichen Itza. After an early morning pick-up from your hotel, you will be taken to Chichen Itza, stopping in the city of Valladolid on the way for a short tour and a visit to the handicraft market. On arrival at Chichen Itza, you will be given a guided tour of the site including the Kukulkan Temple, Jaguar Temple, the Sacred Well and the Ball Court. You will then have some free time to wander the ruins. In the late afternoon, you will be taken to the Mayaland Restaurant for a delicious buffet lunch before being taken back to your hotel. (B,L)
DAY 17: 25 Jan (Thursday) - Tulum & Cenotes tour
Today we travel to what are considered the most beautiful Mayan ruins, Tulum, which overlook the rugged coastline of the Caribbean Sea. There is an opportunity to swim on one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean. From here we will explore some of the Cenotes (Sen-ot-ays) in the area which are limestone caves with crystal clear waters, fish and turtles! (B)
DAY 18: 26 Jan (Friday) - Travel Day - HAVANA, Cuba. (3 nights)
Departure Transfer: - Transfer from Playa del Carmen to Cancun for flight to Havana, Cuba. Balance of day free. (B)
DAY 19: 27 Jan (Saturday) - Havana Panoramic City Tour - Vintage Car
Enjoy a panoramic city tour through modern Havana, riding in a vehicle of your choice. Travel through neighbourhoods such as Central Havana, Vedado and Miramar. You will ride past the Capitol Building, Revolution Square, Hotel Nacional and the University of Havana among others. Entrance to one Museum is included as well as a complimentary drink in one of the private restaurants at the suburbs. (B)
DAY 20: 28 Jan (Sunday) - Havana: Vinales Valley
Today your local guide will take you on a tour of the Vinales Valley in Pinar del Rio - where the world’s best tobacco is grown. En-route visit a Cigar Factory. Your guide will take you to visit the valley’s famous Mogotes, including the Pre-historic Mural, which reflects the geological history of the Sierra de la Organos, and the Indian Cave, where you can take a boat along the underground river. After lunch you will have some free time to explore Vinales. On the way back to Havana you will stop at the Los Jazmines lookout point to enjoy the incredible view of the Valley. Dinner is included this evening. (B,L,D)
DAY 21: 29 Jan (Monday) - TRINIDAD, Cuba (2 nights)
Breakfast in the hotel followed by departure for Cienfuegos. On the way, visit the “Fiesta Campesina”, your first contact with the endemic flora and fauna of Zapata Peninsula. Also visit the crocodile farm at the Guama resort. Lunch is at a local restaurant. Continue via Ciénaga de Zapata to Cienfuegos where you tour Cienfuegos’ main streets and avenues. Founded by the French, Cienfuegos is located at a wonderful bay guarded by Castillo de Jagua (Jagua Castle) where the largest coral site ever discovered in Cuba is to be found, christened Notre Dame. Visit the Marti Park, the Palacio del Valle, the Tomas Terry Theatre, the House of Cultural Assets and the Purisima Concepción Cathedral. The trip continues to Trinidad where you are transferred to your hotel. The remainder of the evening is free at leisure. (B,L)
DAY 22: 30 Jan (Tuesday) - Trinidad with Topes de Collante Mountains
Wander through the historical centre of Trinidad, a city full of remarkable colonial architecture classified as UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tour around Plaza Mayor and Museo Romantico. Stop at La Canchanchara bar to taste a Cuban cocktail made with rum, lemon and honey. There will be time to shop at the craft markets before lunch. Afterwards, travel to Tope de Collantes, a natural park nestled in the Escambray Mountains with beautiful endemic flora and fauna. Stop at La Casa del Café to taste some of Cuba’s best coffee. (B)
DAY 23: 31 Jan (Wednesday) - HAVANA, Cuba (2 nights)
After breakfast you will begin the transfer back to Havana, along the way you will stop in at Santa Clara for lunch and a city tour including entry to the Che Guevara Mausoleum. (B)
DAY 24: 01 Feb (Thursday) - Havana, Cuba
Today is a free day to explore, shop or relax. Tonight our farewell dinner to mark the end of an amazing adventure! (B,D)
DAY 25: 02 Feb 2018 (Friday) - Travel Day
Departure Transfer: - Transfer to the airport in a vintage car for your outward flight from la Havana. (B)
DAY 26: 03 Feb (Saturday) - in flight
DAY 27: 04 Feb (Sunday) - Arrival into Australia
• International flights from Australia with Qantas
• Flights within South America with regional airlines
• Private airport transfers on tour with the group
• Full time tour escort and professional English speaking guides throughout
• 3 and 4 star accommodation
• All breakfasts, 5 lunches, 6 dinners including cooking class in Oaxaca
• All touring and transfers as shown
• All entries and National Park fees as shown
• Tips & gratuities
• Other meals not on itinerary
• Porterage at hotels
• Travel insurance and personal costs
Please contact me, Judy by email on firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 0409 057 417 for bookings or more details.
Cost pp - Twin Share - $13,629* ex Brisbane. Other capital city departures available on request and may be subject to different airline taxes or costs.
Single Supplement - $1,850 - SOLD OUT, BOOKINGS CLOSED.
*based on minimum group of 10 and subject to currency fluctuations. Maximum group size will be 15 travellers including your escort.
Please note: This tour involves walking tours and site tours of up to 3 hours and as such a reasonable level of fitness is required to enjoy and get the most from this tour. Tour escort for this tour is Judy Polkinghorne.