MB1 Mexico's Yucatan & Belize

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TOUR HIGHLIGHTS:

Phenomenal Chichen Itza & Uxmal: guided site tour Beautiful, colonial Merida Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary Temples or palaces of Lamanai World famous Belize Zoo Laid back tropic isle of Cay Caulker

Full Itinerary


Day 1 Arrive in Cancun
Today we arrive in Cancun on the Yucatan Peninsula.

Overnight in Cancun.
Meal plan: dinner

Day 2 Cancun - Chichen Itza
Today we travel to Chichen Itza. This is a wonderful archaeological site incorporating the ruins of two different cultures, the ancient Maya and the later arriving Toltecs. The substantial fusion of highland central Mexican and Puuc architecture make Chichen Itza unique. The El Castrillo, the temple of Panels and the Platform of Venus are superb architectural feats.

The most impressive monuments here are the Temple of the Warriors, the group of a thousand columns, the Temple of Kukulcan, the Temple of Chac-Mool and the Ball Court. The Toltecs interest in astronomy and mathematics is evident with a visit to the Astronomical Observatory, perhaps one of the most impressive revelations is the phenomenon occurring during equinoxes, when shadows cast across the ramp of the castle appear to form the shape of a slithering serpent.

Tonight we include a visit to the Sound and Light show.

Overnight in Chichen Itza.
Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 3 Chichen Itza - Merida
Today we drive to Merida, probably the most beautiful town in the Yucatan peninsula. We find that the most enjoyable way to sightsee is from a calesa, or horse drawn carriage. We include a half-day's sightseeing in this most elegant of fashions. During the nineteenth century, European traders flocked to the bustling city to exchange their luxuries for the area's much sought after sisal hemp. The state capital's many buildings and the Moorish and rococo-style mansions of the Paseo Montejo reflect the strong Old World influences.

Overnight in Merida.
Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 4 Merida - Uxmal
Uxmal is a stunning place. Uxmal was one of the sites to which the Maya returned again and again in the course of their civilization. The name means 'thrice built'. The Palace of the Governor at Uxmal is considered by many to be the most beautiful of all the Maya structures in Central America. Here some 20,000 hand cut stones have been set into acres of geometric friezes. The nunnery is the quadrangle where vestals allegedly spent a licentious final year of worldly pleasure before their sacrifice to appease the rain god Chac. This truly is a step back into the years of the Maya glory (AD 7-10). The Palace of Large Masks with its magnificent stone mosaics and representations of the ubiquitous rain god.

We also visit the nearby smaller sites of Kabah and Labna. Kabah is the most notable for its Palace of the Masks, the facade of which is covered with innumerable carved masks of the rain god Chac. Labna is another beautiful site. It is famous for its fine sculpture and its arch, this was one of the most ornate built by the Maya.

Overnight in Uxmal.
Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 5 Uxmal - Valladolid - Coba
Today we depart Uxmal for Coba. The morning's drive takes us through Valladolid where we stop for our lunch break. The peaceful Zocalo in the heart of Valladolid is shaded by large trees and surrounded by a variety of restaurants.

We continue on to Coba, one of the grandest Mayan city-states, and have a tour of this impressive site immediately upon arrival. As a large trading center, Coba was connected to other Mayan cities by an elaborate network of roads known as "sacbes". The ancient temples are still surrounded by the thick Yucatan jungle which adds a lot of natural flavour to a rich cultural experience.

After our guided tour you may choose to rent a mountain bike available at the site. A bike is the quickest way to reach some of the most remote parts of this enormous ruined city that once rivalled Tikal in size. Because our hotel is so close to the site you may choose to stay in the site and climb up Nocoh Muh -- the tallest pyramid in the Yucatan. Watching the sun set from the top of this Mayan pyramid over an endless stretch of forests is truly one of Mexico's most magical experiences.

Overnight in Coba.
Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 6 Coba - Tulum - Chetumal
In order to beat the crowds, we depart early today for Tulum, one of the most beautiful Maya sites, perched high on the cliffs above the Caribbean. Tulum means "wall" in Maya. The most impressive site at this area is the large Pyramid on the edge of the cliff overlooking the sea. A wide staircase leads to a two-chamber temple on the top. Two serpent columns divide the entrance and above the middle entrance is a carved figure of the Diving God. The sight at the top of the pyramid is stunning with a breathtaking view of the ocean and surrounding jungle. You will have free time to explore this site on your own. Tulum was once considered to be as grand as Sevilla in its day (ca. 1500).

Our journey continues on to Chetumal travelling along the edges of the Sain Ka'an Biosphere Reserve, a vital preserve for the rich flora and fuana of the region. Chetumal, the capital of the state of Quintana Roo was once a Mayan port for shipping gold, feathers, cacao and copper from this region and Guatemala to northern Yucatan. The town's name is derived from the Mayan Chactemal, meaning "Where the Red Trees Grow." The trees referred to were once used to produce a red dye for use in weaving.

We visit the Museum of Mayan Culture, where we learn how the Mayans were the dominant culture in the area for over 100 years. The museums highlights aspects of Mayan society, mathematics, cosmology and astronomy.

Overnight in Chetumal.
Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 7 Chetumal, Mexico - Corozal, Belize
After crossing the border into Belize we have an excursion to Cerro Maya. We leave Corozal aboard a small boat and travel across the bay to Los Cerros, one of the oldest commercial sites dating back to 400 BC.

Overnight in Corozal.
Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 8 Corozal - Crooked Tree - Altun Ha - Orange Walk
Today we travel south via the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary. The sanctuary is a large reserve covering inland waterways, logwood swamps, and lagoons. It is ideally located as a resting point for thousands of migrating birds such as kites, tiger-herons, snowy egrets and ospreys. The reserve's most famous visitor is the rare Jabiru Stork, the largest flying bird in the New World with a wing span of 2.5 m/8 ft.

We will also stop at Altun Ha, an important ancient trading centre as well as a religious ceremonial centre. We see a concentration of structures including plazas surrounded by palaces and temples. Over 300 jade pieces have been discovered including the largest Mayan jade carving, Kinich Ahau, the sun god, found in the Temple of the Green Tomb.

Overnight in Orange Walk.
Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 9 Orange Walk - Lamanai Archaeological Reserve - Belize City
Today we explore one of the many temples or palaces of Lamanai.

Travelling via the Northern Highway, we pass through rural villages and lowlands to Tower Hill, where we board a riverboat and head up the New River. While traversing the many little creeks and lagoons, it is easy to encounter birdlife including hawks, kites and falcons. Dainty Jacanas lightly walk on the lily pads while the elusive crocodiles bask in the morning sunlight. The river is lined with hardwood trees with lots of orchids and bromeliads. At the entrance to the New River Lagoon, the ruins of Lamanai (Mayan for submerged crocodile) rise into view.

Once at the site we tour the small museum which features many ancient relics found at Lamanai.
This ancient archaeological site reveals a civilization that is known to have occupied Belize as far back as 1500 BC. Among the most spectacular of these archeological wonders is the ruins of one of the Maya's largest ceremonial centers and home to several large temples located on the banks of the New River Lagoon. The Lamanai Archeological Reserve also contains a museum, the remnants of two 16th century Spanish churches and a colonial sugar mill from 1860.

We then return to the river boat for cruise back to Tower Hill and continuation tour bus drive to Belize City.

Overnight in Belize City.
Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 10 Belize City - Belize Zoo - Cay Caulker
Early this morning we visit the world famous Belize Zoo. A highlight of any visit to this little country, the zoo allows us not only to see some of the rare creatures of Central America but the zoo is actively involved in conserving habitat for these species and part of our entrance fees go towards ensuring that the wild relatives of these now caged animals can live free.

We continue to Belize City to connect with our 45 min water taxi to Cay Caulker.

Overnight in Cay Caulker.
Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 11 Cay Caulker
On early British maps the island's name is spelled "Cay Corker." Known historically for its plentiful supply of exposed fresh water at La Aguada, one theory holds that this island was a favourite stop for sailors to replenish and cork water bottles. The Spanish name of the island is Cayo Hicaco, which means "the island of the cocoplum." "Caye Caulker" could be an anglicized pronunciation of Cayo Hicaco. Another theory is that boats were caulked in the protected bay, La Ensenada, on the western side of the island leading to the "Caulker" name.

Despite the growth of tourism, Caye Caulker remains a small village with a distinct cultural flavour not necessarily found in large-scale tourist development. Almost all the businesses are locally owned, vehicles larger than golf carts almost never roam the streets, and lodging is small scale compared to many other tourist destinations, including neighbouring Ambergris Cay.

Today is at leisure to enjoy the barrier reef, located just off shore, or to just sit and relax in the tiny island's legendary tropical atmosphere and friendliness. Your Tour Leader can you help you plan your day.

Overnight on Cay Caulker.
Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 12 Cay Caulker - Belize City - Departure
Today we fly to Belize City to connect with our onward flights. Departure from Belize City.

LAND ONLY CLIENTS: Your flight out of Belize City, the tour end point, should take into account the trip from Cay Caulker. Those with morning flights may have to overnight in Belize City at an extra cost.

BON VOYAGE!!
Meal plan: breakfast


MB1 TRIP DETAILS

DURATION12 days

TOUR STARTCancun

TOUR ENDBelize City