Contrasts of Mexico

Contrasts of Mexico

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15 Days
From

$3150

$3063

Contrasts of Mexico

15 Days Starting in Mexico City and ending in Belize City Airport

Visiting: Mexico City, Oaxaca, Tehuantepec, San Cristobal de las Casas, Palenque, Archaeological Site of Yaxchilán, Lago Peten Itza, San Ignacio, Belize City

Tour operator:

Explore!

Tour code:

MX

Guide Type:

Fully Guided

Group size:

4 - 18

Physical rating:

Medium, Full On

Age range:

16-

Special diets catered:

Vegetarians, Vegans

Interests:

Cultural, History

From:
$3150
$3063 (USD) The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$87
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Tour Overview

An exciting and varied journey through the ancient heartland of the Aztecs, Zapotecs and the Maya. From the foodie hub of Oaxaca in Mexico to the jungles of Guatemala, explore charming colonial towns and discover ancient sites including Palenque and Tikal. Some departures have been set to coincide with Mexico's Day of the Dead Festival.



Palenque - Arguably the most enchanting of the ancient Maya ruins, set in dense jungle

Oaxaca - Wander the streets and markets of this delightful UNESCO World Heritage City

Sumidero Canyon - Take a boat trip through this towering gorge

Highlights

  • Palenque - Arguably the most enchanting of the ancient Maya ruins, set in dense jungle

  • Oaxaca - Wander the streets and markets of this delightful UNESCO World Heritage City

  • Sumidero Canyon - Take a boat trip through this towering gorge

Itinerary

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Day 1: Join Tour In Mexico City
Location: Mexico City
Accommodation: Hotel

Arrive in Mexico City, the capital of Mexico and truly the heart and soul of the country. With so much rich history to discover, the city is filled with historic buildings, landmarks and the largest number of museums in the world.



Due to the number of evening flights into the international airport, your Leader plans to do the welcome meeting on the morning of day two, and will leave a message in reception with details on timings and everything else that you'll need for the day. There are no activities planned today, so you are free to arrive into Mexico City at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Mexico City International Airport (MEX) which is approximately a 30 minute drive from the hotel.



If your flight arrives earlier in the day, perhaps you might choose to have a stroll around Alameda Central, Mexico City's oldest municipal park, or visit the Templo Mayor Museum, which is known for its exhibits relating to the Aztec civilization.

Day 2: Mexico City Tour Including The Museum Of Anthropology
Location: Mexico City
Accommodation: Hotel

On our first day in Mexico City we visit the Zocalo (main square) area. The Cathedral and National Palace with many of Diego Rivera's remarkable murals on the history of Mexico are all built on top of Tenochtitian the old Aztec capital. Afterwards we will visit the museum of Anthropology, one of the finest museums in the world, its exhibits offer a taste of the history ahead of us.

Day 3: Visit The Teotihuacan Pyramids And The Basilica De Guadalupe
Location: Mexico City
Accommodation: Hotel

The next day we will drive out to the mysterious pyramids of Teotihuacan. Although abandoned thirteen centuries ago, they are still an unbelievable sight. Once the largest city in the Americas with perhaps 100,000 inhabitants, its influence continued through Middle America, and Maya craftsmen borrowed its decorative motifs and building designs. Centuries later the Aztecs revered Teotihuacan as 'the Place of the Gods'. Returning downtown we visit the Basilica de Guadalupe.

Day 4: Journey To Oaxaca; Free To Explore The Colonial City
Location: Oaxaca
Accommodation: Hotel

Leaving the capital we drive south through cactus country to Oaxaca, one of the most charming colonial cities in Mexico. Arriving in the afternoon, we will have some free time to explore the city on foot. The colonnaded Zocalo comes alive at night as families come to stroll in the shade, while street vendors and entertainers vie for their attention. Oaxaca also has several colourful markets.

Day 5: Visit The Ancient Complex Of Pyramids Of Monte Alban
Location: Oaxaca
Accommodation: Hotel

Colonial Oaxaca was built with stones taken from ancient temples a few miles away. We explore the complex of temples, pyramids and enigmatic rock carvings at Monte Alban, a high spur that looms over the fertile valley. This mystical site was created by Zapotec Indians, who flourished here a thousand years ago. This afternoon there may be the chance to see some of the exquisite treasures of Monte Alban in the Regional Museum (known as the Louvre of Oaxaca) in town (optional).

Day 6: Journey To Tehuantepec Via The Mitla Ruins
Location: Tehuantepec
Accommodation: Hotel

Today we journey through the mountainous Sierra Madre range, stopping to visit the 2000-year old swamp cypress tree in Santa Maria del Tule just outside Oaxaca and continuing to the Mixtec/ Zapotec site of Mitla where we will have a short exploration of the ruins. Our destination this evening is the hot and windy isthmus of Tehuantepec, a convenient stopping point on our journey towards San Cristobal.

Day 7: Sumidero Canyon Boat Trip Then Head To San Cristobal
Location: San Cristobal de las Casas
Accommodation: Hotel

Leaving early this morning we have a roughly 5 hour drive to Chiapa de Corzo, the starting point for our visit to the spectacular Sumidero Canyon, a unique rift 41km long and up to 1000mts deep, cut by the Rio Grijalva. This is the spot where, in the 16th century, some 1000 Chiapa indigenous people committed suicide rather than submit to Spanish rule. We take a trip on a speed boat to fully appreciate the towering gorge, before driving up a scenic mountain road to San Cristóbal de las Casas. At 2210m above sea level, it can get cold at night, a sharp contrast to the heat of Tehuantepec.

Day 8: Discover The Indigenous Villages Of San Juan Chamula And Zinacantan
Location: San Cristobal de las Casas
Accommodation: Hotel

There is a unique atmosphere to this small colonial town, high in the scenic Chiapas range. The indigenous groups from the surrounding hills fill the town and marketplace with their colourful dress including the distinctive Tzotzil community who still retain much of their Mayan customs and language. We will be visiting San Juan Chamula and Zinacantan, indigenous villages close to San Cristobal that practice an interesting blend of Catholicism and traditional Maya beliefs. This area is noted for the bright textiles and weavings in bold designs, and when we return to San Cristobal we'll have the afternoon free to bargain for some colourful souvenirs. You may also wish to visit the Na Bolom, the House of the Jaguar, which is dedicated to the preservation of the Lacandón tribe and displays many of their artefacts or the Kakaw museum where you can learn about the history and production of chocolate in the area.

Day 9: Travel To Palenque Via The Roberto Barrios Waterfalls
Location: Palenque
Accommodation: Hotel

Leaving the highlands, the road is slow and winding, but there are scenic views as we descend to the jungles of Palenque. We'll be driving via the town of Villahermosa, planning to bathe at the waterfalls of Roberto Barrios before driving onto our hotel. The river at Roberto Barrios tumbles over a series of limestone hills, forming a number of natural pools with overhangs, caves and numerous waterfalls to swim under.

Day 10: Discover The Important Mayan Site Of Palenque
Location: Palenque
Accommodation: Hotel

One of the highlights of our tour is today's guided visit to the famous jungle ruins of Palenque, a fascinating and important Mayan site. Once the choking forest was cleared, the ruins revealed the tomb of the high priest Pakal, his body adorned with a marvellous jade death mask - one of the most prized relics of the Maya culture, discovered only in 1952. The entire site, shrouded by the steamy rainforest, has an aura of deep mystery. During the afternoon you can continue to explore the site, or take a bus back to the waterfall of Misol Ha for a refreshing swim (optional). The stunning 30m high waterfall was featured in the titles of the movie 'Predator'.

Day 11: Drive To Frontera Corozal; Travel By Boat To Yaxchilan
Location: Archaeological Site of Yaxchilán
Accommodation: Lodge

Today we head into the Lacandon area to the ruins of Bonampak. The discovery of the well preserved murals at this site had a profound impact on our understanding of the Mayans. Continuing to Frontera, we board our lancha (river boat) on the Ucumacinta river and head for the remote site of Yaxchilan, famous for its stelae and roof combs. We continue back up the river through the rainforest to our overnight lodge near where we boarded our boat earlier today. The lodge is simple in this remote location, a series of cabins with thatched roofs, en suite bathrooms and hanging mosquito nets. Listen out for the howler monkeys in the early hours of the morning.

Day 12: Head To Flores, Optional Boat Trip On Lake Peten Itza
Location: Lago Peten Itza
Accommodation: Hotel

Our Mayan rainforest experience continues up river by boat to the small settlement of Bethel on the Guatemalan side before progressing by road to Flores, on Lake Peten Itza. The afternoon can be spent enjoying a leisurely boat trip on the Lake Peten Itza (optional).

Day 13: Explore The Great Mayan Metropolis Of Tikal (Guatemala)
Location: Lago Peten Itza
Accommodation: Hotel

Today we visit Tikal, the great Maya metropolis set in the midst of the rainforest, which can justly be compared with the celebrated ancient cities of Egypt and Greece. Initially settled in about 600BC, Tikal was abandoned by its rulers around 890AD and totally deserted a hundred years later. The city covered an area of 16 square kilometres. Re-discovered in 1848, only a few of its great temples and pyramids have been excavated. The site is extensive, so we include a guided tour in the morning followed by free time to let you explore. We can appreciate the prolific birdlife in the surrounding rainforest and take in amazing views of the forest canopy from the tops of the pyramids. We drive back to Flores at around 3.30pm.

Day 14: Travel To San Ignacio (Belize)
Location: San Ignacio
Accommodation: Hotel

Today we drive over the border to San Ignacio in Belize, visiting the little known site of Xunantunich en route, with it's fantastic array of pyramids and temples.

Day 15: Drive To Belize City Airport Where The Tour Ends
Location: Belize City

Departing San Ignacio this morning we drive to Belize's Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport (airport code: BZE), where we will arrive at about 10am and this is where our trip ends. The earliest your flight can depart is 12.30pm.

What's Included

  • Fully Guided

  • All Domestic Transportation (including internal flights)

  • Meals – Breakfast Only

  • Accommodation

What's Not Included

  • Tipping and Gratuities

  • Country Entry Visas

  • 1 bottle of Mineral Water per person per day

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Check out our Q&As

  • Can you assist with pre or post tour accommodation?

    Yes

  • Are children permitted to take part in the tour?

    No

  • Will there be an escort accompanying this tour?

    Yes

  • Is there any free time to explore places during the tour?

    Yes

  • What is the maximum group size?

    16

  • Are the local guides on the tour English speaking?

    Yes

  • Will I know the names and details of all the accommodation before I depart?

    Yes

  • I'm going on a walking/cycling trip-do I need to train?

    It will depend on the grade and how fit you already are. Check the trip page for details of the walking or cycling grade and how far you’ll be walking/cycling each day. For moderate or challenging trips in particular we’d recommend doing some walks or cycles before you leave to build up your fitness and prepare you for the distances being covered.

  • Who will be my travelling companions on the tour?

    We have a wide range of ages nationalities on our small group trips and they come from all walks of life.

  • Should I get travel insurance?

    Yes–it is a condition of booking that you are fully insured when travelling with us

  • How long has the tour company been trading?

    At Explore, we're the experts in adventure travel. Our small group adventure holidays have been running since 1981. Today, Explore is one of the most trusted travel companies in the UK with over 500 trips to more than 120 countries.

  • Can I join the tour once it has departed?

    Yes, but there are no concessions for doing so, and we must have a record in your booking advising as such before the trip departs.

  • Am I contributing to any charity by booking the tour?

    Being a responsible company is a large statement, something that has to be entwined within the very fibre of a company. Discover the charities and partnerships we support as part of this at https://www.explore.co.uk/about/sustainability/charities-and-partners

  • What happens if I need to change my holiday date once I’ve booked?

    We want to be as clear as and as honest as possible about what happens if you decide to that you no longer wish to travel on your trip. Our booking conditions have details of the costs you’ll incur when you cancel-these charges depend on how long it is before your planned departure.

  • What is the accommodation like?

    We choose comfortable accommodation in the best locations possible. We opt for small, local and family-run accommodation where we can, as opposed to large chain hotels. We typically use hotels that are the equivalent of European 3-star, and you’ll usually have an en suite room. Occasionally, where we want to get off the beaten trail we may stay in more basic accommodation.

  • What Ethical Travel credentials does the tour company have?

    Sustainability is embedded within the fibre of Explore, it emanates from the inside out. But as we enter a new decade it is clearer than ever that our world needs help, and Explore has created a sustainability strategy based on the 2015 UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

  • What policies are in place for Covid-19?

    Our flexible booking and safety policies mean you're protected before and during your travels with us. Receive a full refund if your trip is cancelled, transfer your trip free of charge up to 10 days before departure minus any irrocoverable costs.

  • Do I need to be very fit to book with you?

    All our trips require some level of active participation. This could be on a cultural trip, trek, safari, expedition or voyage. It is in the interests of all members of the group that everyone should be capable of fully participating in the activities of their chosen trip.

  • What documents will I receive before I travel?

    Final documents will include a comprehensive trip itinerary, climate and country information, budgeting and packing advice visa and passport information and details on optional activities available.

  • Do you operate a “single share” option and how does it work?

    Yes on most of our trips. Most trips are based on customers sharing twin-bedded rooms. If you book a group trip as an individual, you will share a room with someone of the same sex. However, on many trips we offer the opportunity to pay a supplement to pre-book a single room, known as our single room option. On some trips a single room will be provided every night, on others it will be provided o

  • Do we have to be vaccinated against Covid-19 to travel

    It’s now a condition of booking a trip with us that customers should have one of the following before they travel - — Be vaccinated against COVID, having received the full recommended course, and allowing enough time for immunity to take effect. Full vaccination includes any booster required to keep the vaccine valid. — Have taken a negative test (rapid antigen or PCR) within 72hrs of departure.

  • Will the accommodation included meet local health and safety regulations?

    Explore will only offer hotels that have specific COVID-19 protocols in place and comply with local government guidelines. We will ensure these measures include; enhanced room cleaning, ventilation, social distancing, regular cleaning and disinfection of high frequency touch points in public areas, food safety, staff re-training and minimising contact within the properties.

Reviews from Travellers on this Tour

Ruth  

Contrasts of Mexico

It was a really fun and enjoyable experience! Desp

It was a really fun and enjoyable experience! Despite a few times of discomfort I would recommend this trip highly and will book with explore again!

Sarah  

Contrasts of Mexico

I would just like to say it was a wonderful holida

I would just like to say it was a wonderful holiday! It was brilliantly organised and most enjoyable.It was varied in what we did and what we saw.

Anthony  

Contrasts of Mexico

Would recommend this trip to get a real flavour of

Would recommend this trip to get a real flavour of Mexico

Sandra  

Contrasts of Mexico

The only thing I can think of that would have made

The only thing I can think of that would have made a positive difference would have been direct flights between the UK and Mexico

Christopher  

Contrasts of Mexico

Superb trip, re-charged my batteries after 2 years

Superb trip, re-charged my batteries after 2 years living in dreary Holland. Thanks so much!

Andrew  

Contrasts of Mexico

Great trip

Great trip

Stephen  

Contrasts of Mexico

The best explore trip I’ve been on to date. A lot

The best explore trip I’ve been on to date. A lot of experiences for the money, especially Day of the Dead in Oaxaca. Some excellent trips to various complexes too

Joanne  

Contrasts of Mexico

Being in Mexico for The Day of The Dead celebratio

Being in Mexico for The Day of The Dead celebrations was an amazing experience and one which I will never forget. My lovely fellow travellers and Chris our guide made the trip a brilliant one.

Read all 8 reviews

Dates & Availability

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Saturday - Saturday

Apr 27, 2024 - May 11, 2024
$3190 $3102 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$88 (USD)

Saturday - Saturday

May 18, 2024 - Jun 01, 2024
$3150 $3063 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$87 (USD)

Instant Booking Available

Saturday - Saturday

Aug 03, 2024 - Aug 17, 2024
$3150 $3063 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$87 (USD)

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Monday - Monday

Oct 28, 2024 - Nov 11, 2024
$4340 $4221 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$119 (USD)

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Tuesday - Tuesday

Oct 29, 2024 - Nov 12, 2024
$4650 $4522 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$128 (USD)

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Wednesday - Wednesday

Oct 30, 2024 - Nov 13, 2024
$4420 $4298 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$122 (USD)

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Saturday - Saturday

Nov 09, 2024 - Nov 23, 2024
$3600 $3501 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$99 (USD)

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Thursday - Thursday

Dec 19, 2024 - Jan 02, 2025
$3560 $3462 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$98 (USD)

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Saturday - Saturday

Dec 21, 2024 - Jan 04, 2025
$3560 $3462 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$98 (USD)

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Saturday - Saturday

Jan 18, 2025 - Feb 01, 2025
$3630 $3530 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$100 (USD)

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Saturday - Saturday

Jan 25, 2025 - Feb 08, 2025
$3630 $3530 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$100 (USD)

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Saturday - Saturday

Feb 01, 2025 - Feb 15, 2025
$3630 $3530 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$100 (USD)

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Saturday - Saturday

Feb 15, 2025 - Mar 01, 2025
$3630 $3530 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$100 (USD)

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Saturday - Saturday

Feb 22, 2025 - Mar 08, 2025
$3630 $3530 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$100 (USD)

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Saturday - Saturday

Mar 08, 2025 - Mar 22, 2025
$3630 $3530 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$100 (USD)

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Saturday - Saturday

Mar 22, 2025 - Apr 05, 2025
$3630 $3530 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$100 (USD)

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Saturday - Saturday

Apr 26, 2025 - May 10, 2025
$3630 $3530 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$100 (USD)

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Saturday - Saturday

May 17, 2025 - May 31, 2025
$3630 $3530 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$100 (USD)

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Saturday - Saturday

Jul 12, 2025 - Jul 26, 2025
$3560 $3462 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$98 (USD)

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Saturday - Saturday

Aug 02, 2025 - Aug 16, 2025
$3560 $3462 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$98 (USD)

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Saturday - Saturday

Aug 16, 2025 - Aug 30, 2025
$3560 $3462 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$98 (USD)

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Tuesday - Tuesday

Oct 28, 2025 - Nov 11, 2025
$4570 $4444 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$126 (USD)

Instant Booking Available

Wednesday - Wednesday

Oct 29, 2025 - Nov 12, 2025
$4570 $4444 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$126 (USD)

Instant Booking Available

Thursday - Thursday

Oct 30, 2025 - Nov 13, 2025
$4570 $4444 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$126 (USD)

Instant Booking Available

Saturday - Saturday

Nov 08, 2025 - Nov 22, 2025
$3630 $3530 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$100 (USD)

Instant Booking Available

Thursday - Thursday

Dec 18, 2025 - Jan 01, 2026
$3630 $3530 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$100 (USD)

Instant Booking Available

Saturday - Saturday

Dec 20, 2025 - Jan 03, 2026
$3630 $3530 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$100 (USD)

Book with Confidence

  • Free Date Changes

    Explore! allows you to make 1 free date changes, as long as the change is made at least 60 days before the start of the tour.

  • Low Deposit

    Explore! requires a minimum deposit of 10% or the full booking value, whichever is less, with the final balance not due until 60 days before departure.

  • Cancellation Policy

    We don't charge a cancellation fee, here is a summary of explore! charges.

    Up to 60 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of deposit.

    At 59 days before tour starts: Forfeit 30% of booking price.

    At 41 days before tour starts: Forfeit 60% of booking price.

    At 27 days before tour starts: Forfeit 90% of booking price.

    At 13 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of booking price.

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