mayan route and markets

days
11

nights
10

countries
1

From

$1,868 USD

itinerary

itinerary

Day 1

  • Departure to Ek Balam archaeological site
  • Cenote visit and short tour to Valladolid, colonial city.
  • Chichen Itza visit, an archaeological site and one of the greatest capitals of the Mayan World.
  • Visit and stay in the historical city of Merida.
  • Accommodation in Merida

Day 2

  • Uxmal archaeological site.
  • Accommodation in Campeche

Day 3

  • Campeche downtown tour.
  • Arrival to Palenque.
  • Stay in Palenque.

Day 4

  • Tour in Palenque.
  • Stay in Palenque.

Day 5

  • Yaxchilán archaeological site visit.
  • Transportation to immigration process.
  • Departure to Peten.
  • Stay in Peten.

Day 6

  • Tikal archaeological site visit.
  • Flight to the capital city of Guatemala.
  • Stay in Guatemala city.

Day 7

  • Visit to Chichicastenango, indigenous market.
  • Tour in Lake Atitlan.
  • Stay at Lake Atitlan.

Day 8

  • Visit the village of San Juan de la Laguna.
  • Visit the village of Santiago de Atitlan.
  • Stay in Antigua.

Day 9

  • Departure to La Antigua.
  • Visit the archaeological site of Iximché.
  • Stay and visit La Antigua.

Day 10

  • In Antigua we will enjoy the day at leisure.
  • Stay in La Antigua.

Day 11

  • Transfer to Guatemala Airport.
  • End of services. 

day 1 (monday): cancun - ek balam - chichen itza - merida

Transfer from your hotel in Cancún, and head out to the “City of the Black Jaguar,” the archaeological site of Ek Balam, whose name means, “star jaguar”. It features impressive constructions nestled in the lush jungle, and most of them belong to the Late Classic Period (550-830 AD). In addition, it contains a series of mural paintings that reveal the technological and artistic development, as well as the material and cultural wealth, of the ancient Maya city. Ek Balam was the capital of the kingdom of Tah, which dominated the entire eastern part of the Peninsula of Yucatán between 600 and 850 AD. The combination of architectural styles of Ek Balam is unique in the Maya civilization, and its 45 structures are protected by two concentric walls. A magnificent arch gives access to a sacbé (sacred white path) that leads to the ceremonial center where members of high society resided. Here, you can find the Palacio Oval (Oval Palace), the Juego de Pelota (Ball Court), the Gemelas (Twin temples), and the Palacio de las Monjas (Nun’s Palace.) The grand Acropolis towers over the Plaza Norte (North Plaza), which contains the impressive tomb of ruler Ukit Kan Lek Tok’, where an offering with more than 7,000 objects was found. Its façade is beautifully decorated with magnificent masks, friezes and stone statues. Its 31 meters (100 feet) in height, 160 meters (525 feet) in length and a width of almost 70 meters (230 feet) make it the largest structure in the Peninsula of Yucatán. After a long walk, we will cool off in the crystalline waters of a cenote (natural sinkhole). These natural wonders were considered sacred places of life and death, and represented a vital source for the development of the Maya civilization.

We will then enjoy a panoramic tour of the colonial city of Valladolid. It was founded on May 28, 1543 on the remains of the ancient Maya settlement of Zací. It is the second most important city in the state of Yucatán, and has borne witness to two very significant chapters in the history of Mexico: the beginning of the Guerra de Castas (Caste War) in 1847, and the first spark of the Mexican Revolution in 1910. During the tour, you will be able to perceive the cultural fusion between the Maya and Spanish traditions in the Yucatán, and to enjoy the charming colonial style found in Valladolid’s Plaza Central (Main Square), the iglesia de San Servasio (St. Servatius Church), the Barrio del Sisal (Sisal Neighborhood) and the old Franciscan convento de San Bernardino de Siena (St. Bernardine of Siena Convent.)

Next, we will visit one of the main archaeological zones in the Peninsula of Yucatán, Chichén Itzá, the religious capital of the Itzá people. Its name means “at the mouth of the well of the Itzá”, and its greatest peak occurred during the Early Postclassic Period (950-1200 AD). In 1988, it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Two distinct styles of architecture can be found within its constructions: Puuc (600-800 AD) and Maya-Toltec (800-1100 AD). The tour begins at the Castillo, or Templo de Kukulcán (Castle, or Temple of Kukulcán), world-famous for the light and shadow effect that occurs on its main staircase during the spring and autumn equinoxes, as well as during the winter and summer solstices. This is the most impressive and representative building in the site, and it was recognized as one of the New Seven Wonders of the Modern World on July 7, 2007. Later, we will go to the Cenote Sagrado (Sacred Sinkhole) and other main constructions, such as the Juego de Pelota (Ball Game), the Observatorio (Observatory), also known as the Caracol (Conch), the Templo de las Mil Columnas (Group of the Thousand Columns), and the Templo de los Guerreros (Temple of the Warriors), among others.

We will then head out to the capital of the state of Yucatán. Founded on January 6, 1542, Mérida was built on the ancient Maya city of Ichcaanziho, also known as T’Hó. As a testament to its different historical eras, among its most magnificent and elegant constructions you can find the Casa de Montejo (Montejo House), the Catedral de San Ildefonso (St. Ildefonso Cathedral)–the first one built in the continental Americas—and the Palacio de Gobierno (Presidential Palace), all located around the famous Plaza Grande (Large, or main, Square), as well as the impressive Teatro Peón Contreras (Peón Contreras Theater.) During the panoramic tour of Paseo de Montejo (Montejo Boulevard))—one of the most important avenues in Mexico—we will be able to see the Casas Gemelas (Twin Houses), the Palacio Cantón (Cantón Palace) and the Monumento a la Patria (Monument to the Homeland.) Mérida was named the American Capital of Culture in 2000 and later in 2017.

Check-in at the hotel in Mérida.

day 2 (tuesday): MERIDA - UXMAL - CAMPECHE

Checkout from the hotel, and transfer to the spectacular archaeological zone of Uxmal, whose name means “built three times”. This beautiful Maya city, which belongs to the Classic Period (250-950 AD), was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Xiu. It controlled the northern Maya communities, and became the political and economic capital of the Puuc region. Among its constructions, featuring the architectural style also known as Puuc, are the Cuadrángulo de las Monjas (Nun´s Quadrangle), the Juego de Pelota (Ball Court), the Palomar (House of the Pigeons), the Casa de la Vieja (Old Woman´s House), and the Casa de las Tortugas (House of Turtles.) Its most outstanding building, for its unique elliptical structure and its 35 meters (115 feet) in height, is the Pirámide del Adivino (Pyramid of the Magician or Soothsayer.) The Casa del Gobernador (Governor’s Palace), however, is considered one of the most beautiful buildings in all of Mesoamerica. Its façade was exquisitely decorated with highly detailed mosaic sculptures, with thousands of perfectly polished small stones that form complex designs, including masks of the rain god Chaac, serpents and astrological symbols. Uxmal was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO on December 7, 1996. It is one of the main archaeological sites of the Maya civilization, along with Chichén Itzá and Tikal, in Guatemala.

Transfer to the capital of the state of Campeche, check-in at the hotel Francisco de Campeche, and free time.

day 3 (wednesday): CAMPECHE - PALENQUE

Checkout from the hotel, and panoramic tour of the beautiful walled city of Campeche. It was founded by the Spanish conquerors in 1540, and served as a base for the colonization of the rest of the peninsula. Due to its successful monopoly and marketing of dyewood, it became the target of attacks and looting by the most famous pirates of the 17th century. To protect the population, they built a fort around the city, and thanks to the preservation of its picturesque casco antiguo (old town), Campeche was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999. We will drive through the heart of the city, with its pastel-colored colonial houses, its churches and forts. We will also be able to see the walls of the old town with its main square and traditional neighborhoods.

Transfer to Palenque, a Maya town located in the state of Chiapas.

Check-in at the hotel in Santo Domingo de Palenque.

day 4 (thursday): PALENQUE

Transfer to the archaeological site of Palenque. Located in the heart of the high jungle of Chiapas, it was the capital of the ancient kingdom of B’aakal. It developed one of the most powerful dynasties in the Maya civilization, and ruled over the mountains and plains that surrounded it. Initially known as Lakam Há, “place of the great waters,” it later changed to Otulún, which means “fortified houses”. In 1567, after its first visit by a European, Fray Pedro Lorenzo de la Nada, the site was renamed Palenque, which means “fortification” in the Catalan language. It reached its heyday during the Late Classic Period (550-830 AD). The city was the seat of the powerful dynasty to which King Pakal belonged, and it rivaled other great capitals such as Calakmul, Tikal, Copan and Toniná. Within its main structures, we can distinguish its unique architectural style called Palencano; these include the Palacio (Palace), which contains the Observatorio (Observatory), the Acueducto (Aqueduct); the Templo de las Inscripciones (Temple of the Inscriptions), the tomb of the great Lord Pakal, the Juego de Pelota (Ball Court), and the temples of De la Cruz (of the Cross), De la Cruz Foliada (of the Foliated Cross), Del Sol (of the Sun), Del Jaguar (of the Jaguar) and Del Conde (of the Count.) The national park and archaeological zone of Palenque were declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 1987.

Transfer to the hotel in Santo Domingo de Palenque.

day 5 (friday): PALENQUE - YAXCHILAN - PETEN

Checkout from the hotel, and transfer the town of Frontera Corozal to take a boat to the archaeological site of Yaxchilán. It is located on the banks of the Usumacinta River, and it was a great political and economic center during the Late Classic Period (550-950 AD). Its name means “green stones”. Yaxchilán is known for its large number of architectural structures distributed among three main groups: the Gran Plaza or Gran Acrópolis (Great Plaza or Great Acropolis), the Pequeña Acrópolis or Acrópolis Oeste (Small or West Acropolis) and the Acrópolis Sur (South Acropolis). Also noteworthy are its well-preserved sculpted stones, its monolithic stelae, and a wide variety of glyphs, distributed on stelae, altars and lintels, which record the dynastic history of the city, as well as its ceremonies, battles, rituals and daily life.

Return to Frontera Corozal, and after the immigration procedures, we will move on to the Peten jungle to check-in at the hotel.

day 6 (saturday): PETEN - TIKAL - GUATEMALA CITY

Transfer by bus to the Tikal National Park, whose name means “place of voices”. Nestled in the heart of the lush jungle of the Guatemalan Petén, it is one of the most important archaeological sites of the Maya civilization, along with Chichén Itzá and Uxmal. It reached its heyday, and exercised total hegemony over the area, during the Early Classic Period (250-550 AD). Nowadays, more than 1,000 years after it was abandoned, its buildings stand tall amid the vegetation that is struggling to consume them. Among its most noteworthy constructions, we can find the Plaza Central (Central Plaza), the Templo del Gran Jaguar (Temple of the Great Jaguar), the Gran Pirámide (Great Pyramid) and the Acrópolis. From the top of Templo IV, you can enjoy a view of more than 50 kilometers (30 miles) of unspoiled jungle. The Tikal National Park, created on May 26, 1955, was the first protected area in Guatemala, and on November 5, 1979 it was declared the first mixed World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Informal lunch at the archaeological site.

Transfer to Flores Airport to fly to Guatemala City, and check-in at the hotel.

day 7 (sunday): GUATEMALA CITY – CHICHICASTENANGO – LAKE ATITLAN – LA ANTIGUA

Checkout from the hotel, and transfer to Santo Tomás Chichicastenango in the Guatemalan highlands. Its name comes from its patron, Saint Thomas, and the word in Nahuatl language that means “wall of nettles”. In this picturesque town, you will have the chance to visit the Mercado Central (Central Market), one of the most famous indigenous markets in all of Latin America, where you will find a wide range of textiles, masks, and handicrafts.

The iglesia de Santo Tomás (church of Saint Thomas), which was built on the archaeological remains of a pre-Hispanic temple, performs both Catholic ceremonies and local native rituals. The Museo Regional de Chichicastenango Rossbach (regional museum) is located inside the church, and it features more than 500 pre-Hispanic objects from the Late Pre-Classic and Classic Periods (1 BC-950 AD). The greatest cultural and historical relevance of Chichicastenango lies in the fact that it was here that the “Popol Vuh” was found; it is a religious book that narrates the origin of humanity, according to the Maya. We will then enjoy a special experience, where local women will give us a workshop on corn, the staple food of Guatemala.

Later, we will enjoy a panoramic view of the “most beautiful lake in the world”, according to the British author Aldous Huxley. Lake Atitlán, whose name in Nahuatl language means “between the waters”, has an area of ​​130 square kilometers (50 square miles). It is located almost 1,600 meters (5250 feet) above sea level. It is the deepest one in Central America, and one of the greatest natural attractions in Latin America. Formed approximately 84,000 years ago after a volcanic eruption, it is surrounded by “the Three Giants”, the Atitlán, Tolimán and San Pedro volcanoes, as well as a dozen indigenous towns.

Check-in at the hotel in Lake Atitlán.

day 8 (monday): LAKE ATITLAN – SAN JUAN LA LAGUNA – SANTIAGO ATITLAN – LAKE ATITLAN

Boat ride to visit two of the twelve towns that surround the beautiful Lake Atitlán. Our first stop will be in San Juan La Laguna, renowned for the harmonious way in which the local Tzu’tujil and K’iche’ Maya coexist with their natural surroundings, and for its spectacular landscapes. The town has three villages in the upper part: Palestina, Panyebar and Pasajquim. The great creative talent of its inhabitants becomes quite evident while walking around its streets. The amazing techniques of the women weavers and the unique style and creativity of the Juanero artists can be found in the many shops, art galleries and murals that adorn the town.

We will then head toward Santiago Atitlán, considered the capital of the Tzu’tujil people, whose name means “those of the flowery place”. Its inhabitants live mainly from fishing, canoe building, and producing handicrafts, which include tule mats, traditional fabrics, ceramics, candles, and leather products. However, the main attraction of the town is the cult of Maximón, a deity originating from the fusion of the Rilaj Maam nahual, or guardian spirit, of the Tzu’tujils, and Simón Pedro (Saint Peter), the Christian apostle introduced by the Franciscan friars during the colonial era.

Return to the hotel in Lake Atitlán.

day 9 (tuesday): LAKE ATITLAN – IXIMCHÉ – LA ANTIGUA

Checkout from the hotel, and transfer to the archaeological site of Iximché, whose name means “corn tree”. It is acknowledged as the last Maya capital, and was part of the Kaqchikel (or Cakchiquel) kingdom. Built on the slopes of Mount Ratzamut, it is flanked by two deep ravines, and protected by a moat. Both its foundation, in 1470, and its abandonment correspond to the Late Postclassic Period (1250-1524 AD). The buildings that are still standing include palaces, plazas and ball courts. Its decorative style was very colorful, since the site was used for the kingdom’s special events. In 1524, conquistador Pedro de Alvarado declared Iximché the capital of the Kingdom of Guatemala, the first capital in the New Spain. However, two years later the conquerors burned down the city, destroying much of its ancient structures, and its stones were used to build the city of Tecpán. On site there is a museum featuring sculptures, as well as ceramic and jade objects that were found during the excavations.

We will then head out to the “Muy Noble y Muy Leal Ciudad de Santiago de los Caballeros de Guatemala” (Very Noble and Very Loyal City of Saint James of the Knights of Guatemala), better known as La Antigua or Antigua Guatemala. Founded in 1543, this beautiful and magical colonial city enjoys a privileged climate and an exceptional view of the Fuego (Fire) and Acatenango volcanoes. Despite the series of earthquakes that have devastated the city, its dominant Spanish Baroque architecture is still very well preserved. We will visit the Catedral de Santiago (Saint James Cathedral), the Iglesia La Merced (church), the Plaza Central (Central Square), and its main streets and monuments. Other places of interest include the Convento y Arco de Santa Catalina (Saint Catherine’s Convent and Arch), the Centro Cultural La Azotea (Rooftop Cultural Center), the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales (The General Captains’ Palace), the Ruta Santa del Hermano Pedro (Holy Route of Brother Peter), the Catedral (Cathedral), and a long list of churches, convents and museums such as the Museo de Armas Antiguas (Antique Weapons), the Museo del Hotel Casa Santo Domingo (Saint Domingo’s House Hotel), the Museo del Libro Antiguo (Antique Books), the Museo del Jade (Jade), the Museo del Traje Indígena (Indigenous Costume), the Museo de la Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala (University of Saint Charles of Guatemala), etc. For this and more, the city was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979.

Check-in at the hotel in La Antigua.

day 10 (wednesday): LA ANTIGUA

Free day to enjoy the city of La Antigua. It is ideal for wandering around its cobbled streets, and becoming familiar with its different architectural styles; or even to take a well-deserved break at the hotel. As an optional activity, during the morning, we recommend a visit to the Pacaya volcano.

Return to the hotel in La Antigua.

day 11 (thursday): LA ANTIGUA – GUATEMALA CITY AIRPORT

Transfer to the Guatemala City Airport.

End of our services.

day 12 (friday): ATITLAN - SANTIAGO - SAN ANDRES XECUL - QUETZALTENANGO

Breakfast. In the morning we will take a boat to visit the village of Tzutuhil of Santiago. Following the excursion we will continue onwards to Quetzaltenango, to visit this colonial city that still conserves its ancient traditions of the Maya-Quiché lineage, conjugated with a colonial past and a dynamic modern life. On the road, we will visit San Andrés Xecul, possessor of an imposing parrochial temple with a spectacular façade. Lodging.

day 13 (saturday): QUETZALTENANGO - ALMOLONGA - ZUNIL - SALCAJA - GUATEMALA

Breakfast. Today we will visit the market of Almolonga, renowned for its generous crops. We will continue onwards toward Zunil, one of the pre-columbine populations, famous for its regional weaves and cloths. We will visit Salcajá, the fi rst producer of marbled cloth, applied by the women in their forms of dress. We will also get to know the Hermitage Church or The Conqueror, which was the fi rst catholic church of Guatemala. Following the excursions, return to Guatemala City. Lodging.

day 14 (sunday): GUATEMALA - GUATEMALA AIRPORT

At the convened hour, we will transfer you to the airport of Guatemala City and the conclusion of our services.
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