Yucatan Explorer

Trip Highlights: Swim alongside sea turtles in Akumal Bay, search for bat-eating hanging snakes in Kantemo Cave, glide past flamingos at Rio Lagartos, all while immersing yourself in the rich traditions of the Maya, past and present.
Where: Yucatan Peninsula
When: Year-round (Whale shark extension available from June-August)
Duration: 8 days/ 7 nights

Destinations

  • Yucatan Peninsula: The cradle and living legacy of one of the greatest civilizations of the world – The Maya. Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula possesses breathtaking archaeological zones, colonial cities and natural reserves, as well as grand traditions, gastronomy, and cultural heritage rich in myths and legends.
  • Akumal: “Place of the turtles” in the Mayan language and it remains an important site for three species of sea turtles (green, loggerhead, and hawksbill).
  • Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve: The third largest natural reserve in Mexico protecting more than 1.2 million acres of tropical ecosystems. It also contains a portion of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, second in size only to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
  • Rio Lagartos Biosphere Reserve: Covers close to 150,000 acres and is home to 580 species of animals, including Mexico’s largest congregation of flamingos.

Sample Itinerary


DAY 1: Arrival/ Akumal ~ Upon arrival to Cancun International Airport, you’ll be met by your guide who will be traveling with you for the duration of the trip. Transfer to peaceful Akumal located in the heart of Mexico’s Riviera Maya. You have the rest of the day to enjoy Akumal’s white sand beaches and calm bay. Overnight at Akumal Caribe or similar.

DAY 2: Akumal/ Tulum ~ Two species of sea turtles, loggerhead and green, nest on Akumal’s sandy beaches and hawksbill sea turtles can be found in the coral reefs further offshore. You’ll have the opportunity to snorkel with juvenile green turtles this morning as they feed on sea grass beds in Akumal Bay. This afternoon, enjoy a guided tour at Tulum archaeological site and finish your day with a refreshing swim at a nearby cenote. Overnight at Akumal Caribe or similar. (B,L)

DAY 3: Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve/ Kantemo ~ Start your day with a guided hiking and boat tour at Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. The name Sian Ka’an comes from the Mayan expression that means “place where the sky is born”. It’s an ideal place for nature lovers. Continue on to Kantemo where another wildlife adventure waits. Bike through the forest in late afternoon arriving to Kantemo, the cave of hanging snakes, at dusk. Kantemo is home to thousands of bats and specially-adapted constrictor snakes hanging in wait for a bat to fly by. Continue exploring after dark with a boat tour in search of crocodiles. Overnight in a rustic cabin at Kantemo. (B)

DAY 4: Kantemo/ Ek Balam/ Valladolid ~ This morning, enjoy a guided nature walk in search of resident birds and mammals at Kantemo before continuing on to Ek Balam Archaeological Site. Located about an hour from Valladolid and off the main tourist track, Ek Balam has a feel all its own when compared to other Mayan sites in the Yucatan. The main temple is impressive and amazingly well-preserved sculptures delight visitors. Overnight in Valladolid at Meson de Marques. (B)

DAY 5: Chichen Itza/ Hacienda San Jose ~ Chichen Itza is the second most visited archaeological site in Mexico and for good reason. Start early so you have plenty of time to explore this magnificent Mayan metropolis before the crowds arrive. Enjoy a private lunch at Samula Cenote before continuing on to Hacienda San Jose, a historic plantation house that exudes elements of its historical past. Overnight at Hacienda San Jose. (B,L)

DAY 6: Hacienda San Jose ~ Maya culture did not disappear with the arrival of the Spanish. Today’s Maya are direct descendants of the people who inhabited the area 500 years ago. They’re the same people who built the cities and ceremonial centers that still inspire awe in today’s visitors to the region. Their language, culture, rituals, and traditions are still very much alive. Enjoy a full day immersed in the local Maya way of life while learning about the art of making handicrafts and cooking a traditional Yucatecan meal. Overnight at Hacienda San Jose. (B,L,D)

DAY 7: Rio Lagartos/ Las Coloradas Salt Dunes/ Valladolid ~ Morning departure to Rio Lagartos, home to Mexico’s largest congregation of flamingos. Enjoy a guided boat tour to learn about the ecological importance of this reserve. The Maya have been extracting salt from coastal lagoons in the Yucatan for centuries. This salt is distinctively different from mined salt and according to some, far superior. Visit Las Coloradas Salt Dunes this afternoon on your way back to Valladolid. Overnight at Meson de Marques. (B)

Flamingos in flight - Mexico

DAY 8: Valladolid/ Cancun/ Departure ~ Enjoy a final morning in Valladolid before returning to Cancun in time for your flight home. (B)

Whale Shark Extension: Between the months of May and September, whale sharks, the largest fish on the planet, congregate off the coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. If your trip coincides with whale shark season (June-August recommended for greatest numbers of sharks), an extension to swim with whale sharks can be added at the beginning or end of your trip.

Swimming with whale sharks - Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico


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DETAILS

Meals: B=Breakfast; L=Lunch; D=Dinner

Pricing from $2365 per person based on double occupancy.

Package includes airport meet and greet upon arrival, private guide and transportation Days 1-8, accommodations, tours and meals as listed. A donation to support local conservation efforts will be made on behalf of each participant.

Exclusions: international airfare, optional activities, add-on extensions, passport/visa fees, gratuities, taxis on Isla Mujeres, and travel insurance.

This sample itinerary is a suggested outline.  It can be customized to best suit your travel plans.