THE BEST OF YUCATAN A LA CARTE RUTA PUUC

days
4

nights
3

countries
1

From

$754 USD

itinerary

itinerary

Day 1

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

Day 2

  • Uxmal archaeological site visit and return to Merida.

Day 3

  • Visit to Loltún caves.
  • Puuc Route and archaeological sites of Labná y X-Lapak.

Day 4

  • Free Time in Mérida
  • Return to Cancún.

day 1 (monday): CANCUN – EK BALAM – VALLADOLID – 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 go to one of the main archaeological sites of 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.

Transfer to Mérida, the capital of the state of Yucatán, and check-in at the hotel.

day 2 (tuesday): MERIDA – UXMAL – KABAH – MERIDA

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.

We will now visit the magnificent archaeological zone of Kabah, which is found just 23 kilometers (14 miles) southeast of Uxmal. Its name means “the powerful hand”, and it belongs to the Late Classic Period (550-950 AD). The site is considered the second-largest religious center of the Puuc style for its sacred white roads, called sacbeob, and for its magnificent constructions. Among them, we find the Palacio (Palace), the Gran Pirámide (Great Pyramid), and a building known as Manos Rojas (Red Hands). Also noteworthy, are the monumental arch at the entrance of the road that used to reach all the way to Uxmal, and the impressive Codz Pop, also known as the Palacio de los Mascarones (Temple of the Masks), which is decorated with more than 250 images of the rain god, Chaac, carved in stone throughout its façade. Like Uxmal, its heyday was around the year 800 AD, and it also was abandoned in the 11th century.

Return to the hotel in Mérida.

day 3 (wednesday): MERIDA – LOLTUN CAVE – PUUC ROUTE

Transfer to plunge into more than 10,000 years of natural and cultural history of the area. A great part of the Peninsula of Yucatán is a massive platform made up mostly of marine calcareous sediments and coral reefs that formed a very hard limestone bedrock. After being exposed to the surface, its different degrees of permeability and solidity created a large aquifer that includes cenotes (natural sinkholes), flooded caverns and underground rivers that flow along several kilometers.

The Grutas de Loltún (Loltún Cave), whose name means “stone flower” are one of the largest and best-known within this great cavern system, and features one kilometer (0. 6 miles) of lighted trails that have been adapted to create a huge natural museum. Its many rooms, galleries and chambers, located almost 60 meters (200 feet) underground, offer us a historical journey from the Pleistocene Era, better known as the “Ice Age”, until the end of the 19th century, through discoveries and cultural expressions such as bone and stone tools, flat mortars and pestles, pottery, rock carvings, and even barricades built during the Guerra de Castas (Caste War) of 1847.

Later, we will visit three sites in the area known as Ruta Puuc (Puuc Route). This group of archaeological zones, whose name means “mounds or mountain range”, reached its peak during the Terminal Classic Period (830-950 AD). Its constructions share the same architectural style, which is characterized by pyramids topped by roofcombs, small pilasters embedded in the façades, and stylized Maya huts. To create their superbly decorative designs, numerous pieces of carved stones were assembled in mosaic style to create their commonly used diamond shapes, fretwork, serpents and masks of Chaac, the god of rain.

The first stop will be Labná, which means “house of the old woman”. Among the outstanding constructions of this small but significant Maya city, we find the Palacio (Palace), the Mirador (Lookout) and the Arco (Arch), which is renowned for the remarkable perfection in its elaborate decoration.

Later, we will get to know Xlapak, translated as “old wall or old place”. Here, is one of the greatest jewels of the Puuc style, the Palacio (Palace), with its beautiful façade and spectacular masks of the rain god Chaac that project from its roof.

The tour will end in Sayil, place of the leaf-cutter ants”. The size and architectural remains of the site indicate that it was one of the main cities in the Puuc region. Its most noteworthy constructions are the Palacio (Palace), decorated with figures of the descending god, and the Mirador (Lookout). It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996.

Return to the hotel in Mérida.

day 4 (THURSDAY): MERIDA - CANCUN

Tour of 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.

Checkout from the hotel, and return to Cancún, where we will drop you off at your place of lodging.

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