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The Yucatan Peninsula is one vast, flat limestone shelf rising only a few metres above sea level. This geology means that there are no rivers or lakes. Water is collected in a maze of underground waterways called ‘Cenotes’ on which the thick thorny forest above survives. Natural vantage points are hard to come by unless you’re into tree climbing!!! The best views are man made by the Maya in the form of Chichen Itza and Coba. Both archaeological sites were built 500 AD and some compare Chichen Itza with the Pyramids in Egypt.

For more recent history, the towns of Merida and Valladolid are well worth a visit. Both have fine colonial architecture and are populated mainly by the Maya. Here you will get a real sense of Mayan life and culture and as you will find out the pace of life is a stroll. For those wishing to experience nature the Sian Ka’an should be high on your list. Bordering Tulum and stretching south towards Majahual this biosphere heritage site offers a wide range flora and fauna in idyllic surroundings.

With all these excursions we would recommend taking a break from getting wet and hire a car. A circular route will encompass all the main sites and take anywhere between 4 days and a week to cover.

'Must-see' sights

Chichen Itza

The most famous and best restored of Yucatan’s Mayan sites it will awe the most jaded of ruins visitors. Many mysteries of the Mayan astronomical calendar are made clear when one understands the design of the ‘time temples’ here. In fact if you visit on the vernal equinox (20-21 Mar) or autumnal equinox (21-22 Sept) you will witness the light and shadow illusion of the serpent ascending the staircase of El Castillo. Built and settled around 750 AD it was continually inhabited by Mayan’s and Toltec’s until the 14th century. Why it was abandoned is a mystery.

Coba

Perhaps the largest of all Mayan cities, Coba, offers the chance to explore mostly unrestored antiquities set deep in the tropical jungle. Easily reached from Tulum it can be a day trip or included in a circular route with the other highlights. The pyramids are particularly steep but offer great view once at the top. It is only on the way down that you realise how small the Mayan feet were, especially if you are size 11 !!

Merida

Merida is the state capital of the Yucatan with a population of around 600,000. It’s a city of narrow streets, colonial buildings, shady parks and Mayan pride. The Spanish ruled here for nearly three centuries and named the city after its European counterpart. The Plaza Mayor is a great place to watch the world go by and soak up the atmosphere. If you are in the market for a hammock you will probably get a better quality product at a reasonable price here rather than at the coast.

Sian Ka'an

Over 5000 sq km of tropical jungle, marsh, mangrove and islands is ‘Where the Sky Begins’ (Sian Ka’an). Varied fauna include howler monkeys, foxes, ocelots, pumas, vultures, crocodiles, eagles, raccoons and jaguars. It is a beacon for eco tourism with the local Mayan population involved in its promotion for tourism and its preservation as an eco system. Day trips can be organised from Tulum that visit the Reserve and the fishing village of Punta Allen. The trips are community run and financially contribute to the conservation of natural resources and education on the environment.

The best way to explore this fascinating region is to stay within it. Accommodation in cabins with sea views are available. From here numerous tours can be taken exploring the lagoons and interior of the biosphere. The whole operation is a Non Government Organisation providing environmental education to local students. Amongst others, this includes a sea turtle protection project that monitors populations during summer nesting times. For details on staying please call us.

Suggested itinerary

Classical Yucatan 8 day Tour

  • 1st Day –CANCUN- TULUM Arrival
    Arrive and transfer to Los Lirios Hotel in Tulum
  • 2nd Day – TULUM – Sian Ka’an
    Breakfast –Transfer and visit to Tulum, archeological Mayan site, a unique city right in a top of a cliff in front of the Caribbean Sea. Later we will go to Sian Ka’an In the language of the Mayan peoples who once inhabited this region, Sian Ka'an means 'Origin of the Sky'. Located on the east coast of the Yucatán peninsula, this biosphere reserve contains tropical forests, mangroves and marshes, as well as a large marine section intersected by a barrier reef. It provides a habitat for a remarkably rich flora and a fauna comprising more than 300 species of birds, as well as a large number of the region's characteristic terrestrial vertebrates, which cohabit in the diverse environment formed by its complex hydrological system.
  • 3rd Day - TULUM – Coba - VALLADOLID
    Breakfast –Leave for Coba, Coba is located in the heart of the tropical forest. Coba is an old Mayan centre that owes its existence to five small lakes, a rarity in this region where the rain water filters through the calcareous earth. visit of Valladolid, colonial city where it is common to see women dressed in huipiles (traditional tunics embroidered with vibrant colors).
  • 4th Day VALLADOLID – Ek Balam – CHICHEN ITZA
    Breakfast – In the morning, visit of Ek Balam meaning “ Black jaguar” was the name of the great man who founded the city and built most of the five structures at the site. Continue to Chichen Itza the largest archaeological zone of the Maya world. With more than 300 hectares, there’s ample to see at Chichen Itza: the Temple of Kukulkan, the Mayan Ball Game, the Sacred Cenote, the Temple of the Tigers and the Temple of the Warriors are the main attractions which are found between numerous smaller ruins.
  • 5th Day CHICHEN ITZA – MERIDA
    Breakfast – Departure for Merida also known as “The White City”. The city combines the appeal and grace of old Europe with a large dose of modern, cosmopolitan culture, Museums, old churches, beautiful government buildings, monuments, and shady, tree lined plazas fill the city, and music is everywhere.
  • 6th Day MERIDA – HOLBOX
    Breakfast – Departure to Holbox arrival rest of the day free
  • 7th Day HOLBOX
    Breakfast – A days Whale Shark spotting between the months of May & September.
  • 8th Day CANCUN Departure
    Breakfast – Departure to Cancun International airport

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  • Contact Us for further information or call us now on 01722 780810.

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