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Last updated: 02/19/2009
On this two weeks self drive tour of Yucatan Peninsula youâll see ancient ruins, stunning nature, colonial towns, jungle temples, waterfalls, ancient culture, colourful markets and beautiful beaches.
Playa del CarmenOn arrival at the modern airport of Cancun you will be met in the arrivals hall by our local agent and transferred to Playa del Carmen. Your hotel is centrally located in beautiful tropical surroundings. To the left you'll see the broad beaches, to the right Quinta Avenida (Fifth Avenue).
Playa del CarmenHead to the beach to soak up the Mexican sun and enjoy a leisurely lunch at one of the beach bars. The Quinta Avenida, the shopping street in the centre is a great place to wander round and there's always plenty to see and do, especially at night.
Playa del Carmen - Chichen ItzaAt 10am you can pick up your rental car at the city office and equipped with a good map and directions from our local agent you're on your way. The route to Chichen Itza is pretty flat and leads through several small villages. You'll also pass the colonial city Valladolid. It's a good place to stop for lunch, try one of the cafes around the Plaza. Further along the route you'll also pass a "cenote", Mayan for a cave with a clear underground lake. It's a great spot to take a dip, so have your swimming gear with you in the car.In Chichen Itza you will be staying at a beautiful romantic hacienda, surrounded by beautiful tropical gardens. The hacienda is close to the complex entrance which means you can head out to explore this ancient Mayan city first thing in the morning.Distance Playa del Carmen - Chichen Itza: approx 4 1/2 hours drive including stops.
Chichen - IzamalBecause you're staying close to the entrance, you can head out early in the morning to explore the ruins of Chichen Itza, the last major Mayan city (admission approx US$8). At this time of day you'll be able to enjoy the mysterious serene atmosphere before the complex is overrun by coach loads of tourists. When you're done exploring the ruins, head into the city for lunch or freshen up at the hacienda. From Chichen Itza it's a short drive to the golden yellow city of Izamal where we've booked a comfortable village hotel for you.At around 4pm you'll find a horse and carriage waiting for you for a magical tour through the yellow streets.Distance: Chichen Itza - Izamal: approx. 1 hour.
Izamal - CampecheIn the morning pay a visit to the local market of Izamal. Merida isn't far away, but with 1 million inhabitants and the accompanying traffic we'd recommend steering clear and head straight to Campeche instead. It's a lot less chaotic and a lot easier to find your way. Your hotel in Campeche is located in the historic and colourful centre.There's been a lot of restoration work going on in the last few years, so the buildings have been done up and the town is beautifully lit at night. You can head into the centre for dinner in the evening.Distance: Izamal - Campeche: approx. 5 hours.
Campeche - VillahermosaThe first part of the drive today follows the coastline of the Gulf of Mexico south. You'll pass several long bridges, eventually veering off inland through the fertile plantations in Tabasco province famous (as you probably guessed) for its like-named mouth-burning sauce. In the afternoon you'll reach Villahermosa, not a very well-known town but interesting nevertheless. Your hotel is in the centre, close to the bustling promenade.Distance Campeche - Villahermosa including stops: approx. 6 hours.
Villahermosa - San Cristobal (de las Casas)Before you leave Villahermosa, make sure you visit the Parque de la Venta on the edge of town. The enormous stone heads in this open-air city park are older than the Mayan ruins in Mexico.Continuing on your way, you'll drive to San Cristobal de la Casas, the centre of Indian culture, the last part of the route heading through the mountains of Chiapas. You'll be staying in a hotel in the colourful centre of San Cristobal. The rooms are beautifully decorated.Distance including stops: 6 hours.
San Cristobal, excursion to ChamulaThis morning you will head out to Chamula. Because the village has a lot of rules and customs which you won't be aware of, we've arranged this excursion with a local guide to give you a full understanding of the place. Chamula is a small mountain village where, after the arrival of the Spaniards, old local customs were intertwined with Catholic customs. For example, in the local church you won't find a priest but a shaman, seated on the ground, giving advice to the villagers.Back in San Cristobal later that day you'll have time to wander round the local market. Be aware that San Cristobal is at a high elevation. It's comfortably warm during the day but once the sun sets it becomes quite chilly so you'll need a sweater or a warm jacket. A strong tequila or margarita may also do the trick.
San Cristobal - PalenqueToday the road will take you from the mountains to the jungle. Driving through wooded valleys and through villages where pigs block the road and horses graze freely on the roadside, it's one of the most beautiful routes you'll drive along in Mexico. But drive carefully, lazy cattle and unexpected twists in the road are easily missed when you're admiring the view.Palenque is in the heart of the jungle, where it's hot and humid (35 degrees) which is why we've booked accommodation in rather more refreshing surroundings just outside the village, surrounded by tropical gardens and with a big pool where you can cool off. The ruins of Palenque are a 10-minute drive away.Distance San Cristobal de las Casas - Palenque: approx 5 hours drive including stops.
PalenqueYou'll be able to explore this Mayan ruin at your leisure today. Plan your visit as early as possible and make sure you bring plenty of water, it's so hot here you'll be sweating buckets. Archaeologists who discovered Palenque were able to learn a lot about the history of the place thanks to the ancient hieroglyphs on the wall that have remained surprisingly intact. They tell stories of dynasties, conquests, wealth and destruction. When the heat becomes too much you can cool off in one of the waterfalls in the area. You'll find several hidden away in the jungle, like Misol Ha and Agua Azul (blue water).
Palenque - (Calakmul -) ChicannaThe road from Palenque to the Caribbean coast is scattered with serene Mayan ruins. From Palenque it's roughly a 5-hour drive along flat roads to your hotel. About 30 minutes from your final destination you'll pass the turn off to the Mayan city Calakmul, approximately an hour's drive from the main road. Unlike many of the other major sites Calakmul draws relatively few visitors, mainly because it wasn't discovered until 1931 when most of the other Mayan ruins had already been made public to the outside world. Still, covering 25kmÂ² Calakmul certainly competes with Tikal and Palenque in terms of size and because you'll be one of the few visitors there you can really experience the silence and serenity as you wander round the ruins. This is what makes Calakmul stand out from Palenque.For tonight we've booked a night in an eco-village close to the Mayan cities Chicanna and Xpujil. The two-storey wooden bungalows are built around a swimming pool in beautiful surroundings. The downstairs bungalow has a veranda with rocking chairs, on the first floor you'll find a large balcony. The rooms are spacious and have a modern bathroom. In the restaurant you can enjoy some delicious meals with home-grown vegetables.
Chicanna - TulumIn the morning you can spend some time in the pool or listen to the birds twittering from the comfort of your rocking chair. Then it's time to head on to the Mayan Riviera and Tulum.Distance: Chicanna - Tulum: 6 hours (7 if you include a visit to the recently discovered ruins of Kohunlich, or 8 hours if you also include a lunch on Lake Bacalar).
TulumFinish of your trip in style in Tulum and enjoy the sun, sea and sand. You'll be staying in a cabaÃ±a on the beach, 7km from the village and 15 minutes drive from the famous cliff-top Mayann ruins. You'll find some small bars, and behind the hotels is a sandy road with some shops. Don't expect any wild discos here, Tulum is very low-key. With an average temperature of 24Â°C (28Â°C in summer) you can recharge your batteries before your trip back home.
TulumIf you're up early, take a walk along the beach and watch the sun slowly rise over the Caribbean waters and the deserted beaches. If you want to go surfing you're in luck; there's nearly always a good swell here. Tulum is a good place for diving and snorkelling too; not just the sea but also, rather more spectacularly, in one of the underground lakes (cenotes) in the area. You can book a diving or snorkelling trip at your hotel reception but also rent a bike to explore the surrounding area or visit the Sian Ka'an nature reserve, where you can find several rare species of birds, overgrown jungle trails and deserted beaches.
Tulum - CancunThe last day of your Yucatan trip. Enjoy a couple more hours on the beach before heading back to Cancun. From Tulum it's a two hour drive back to the airport where you will hand in your car and say 'adios' to Mexico.
- Inclusions -
- 13 full daysâ car rental cat. C, accommodation, excursions as described, breakfast in Izamal
- Exclusions -
- International flights, (airport) taxes, car rental surcharges (e.g. compulsory CDW insurance), admission fees, other meals
- Extras -
- This is not a group tour and can be tailor made to create your perfect trip. We can play around with your itinerary until we get it just right.
Couldn't find what you're looking for? Check out more tours & excursions in Cancun
- Day Trip to Isla Mujeres - from 54 USD
- Aquatours Jungle Tour - from 55 USD
- Aquatours Sailing Quest - from 27.5 USD
- Dolphin Discovery Puerto Aventuras - from 69 USD
- The Lobster Dinner Cruise - from 74 USD
Email the tour operator - Arriba Yucatan
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