The Mayan Trail

21-day multi-country trip

Explore the most beautiful places in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and Belize in this 21-day Mayan Trail expedition. Discover Mayan Cities, such as Uxmal, which preserves the glory of what was. Visit Tikal, the most famous Mayan city of Guatemala. Copan, likewise the Paris of the Mayan World in Honduras.

Explore colonial cities like San Cristobal de Las Casas in Mexico which is known for its magnificent buildings and architectural diversity. Antigua Guatemala, the most beautiful colonial city of the Americas in Guatemala. 

Uxmal Mayan City

Cenotes in rainforests

El Sumidero Canyon

Jungle tours

Highlights

See 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Mayan Cities of Chichen Itza, Uxmal, Palenque, Calakmul, Copan, Quirigua, and Tikal, and Antigua Guatemala. Tour Lake Atitlan, one of the most beautiful lakes in the world surrounded by majestic volcanoes. Discover the impressive Castle of San Felipe with its waterfalls and hot springs in Rio Dulce, Guatemala, and enjoy the beautiful white sand beaches with clear turquoise water in Tulum. Certainly, you will enjoy the secrets of the Mayan world.

Itinerary

Day 1. Arrival

A driver will welcome you at the international airport of Cancun. The Mayan Trail excursion starts in Cancun, Mexico. The beaches of Cancún are some of the biggest draws for tourists with their warm, white, powdery, sand and turquoise, crystal-clear waters. Cancún also offers a big variety of restaurants with local and international cuisines, so perfect for everyone’s taste. There are also many shopping centers, bars, and clubs located in Cancún. As a result, this city has a lively atmosphere.

The remainder of the day is free to explore and relax. The city has countless activities; therefore, you will surely never run out of things to do during your stay. Cancun offers a broad range of water activities including snorkeling and diving in the spectacular underwater world. For those who love culture, it has a variety of cultural activities such as museums, Mayan traditions, folkloric shows, and much more.

Day 2. Chichen Itza

Today you will discover the Mayan City of Chichen Itza. The pyramid in Chichen Itza known as The Castle is considered one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. It is one of the most important archeological sites of Yucatan and the entire Mayan World. A massive ancient ceremonial center composed primarily of the ‘Puuc’ construction style. 

Later, we will drive to the community of Yokdzonot, and enjoy its wonderful and unique Cenote. The Cenotes are sinkholes, resulting from the disintegration of limestone rock that uncovers crystal clear water and incredible rock formations. Cenotes were generally used for water supplies by the Mayan cities. The Cenotes tend to have crystal and freshwater. On a hot day in Yucatan, there is nothing better than taking a stimulating swim in a Cenote. They are a pleasure to snorkel or dive in.

The Cenote of Yokdzonot is managed by a cooperative of mainly local women. Take a refreshing dip in the blue waters of the Cenote and relax in this paradise. At the end of the day, we will drive to your hotel in the city of Merida. Merida is known for its magnificent buildings and architectural diversity. As a result, the locals recognize it as a ‘second Paris’. Buildings from the colonial period, light up the evening sun with romance and charm. 

At the market in Merida, you can find anything your heart desires, from everyday objects to beautiful handmade jewelry, scarves, and souvenirs. Merida also offers a broad range of restaurants for everyone’s taste, but especially for traditional Mexican food. 

Day 3. Uxmal, Mayan Treasure

Today, we will explore more of the Mayan underworld. We will visit the Cenotes of Dzonbacal (Dzon-Bacal) and X-Batun. Turquoise waters are surrounded by tropical forests at this beloved swimming sinkholes, they are an excellent getaway if you are looking for an escape from daily life. Get some exercise with a 3-mile (5-kilometer) bike ride through a dirt path to the Cenotes. If it is just too hot and humid, we give you the option to drive as well. Put on your swimsuit the minute you arrive and swim! The water truly is an astonishing color. It will be tempting to spend the whole time snorkeling with the little fish that bound through the hanging tree roots. 

The Cenote of Dzonbacal has a submerged cave, its waters are excellent for swimming, snorkeling, and diving. To go inside the Cenote you have to go down a masonry staircase. The water is turquoise and in the deepest parts, it becomes a blue color. The Cenote X-Batun is an open Cenote, so you can enjoy a combination of freshwater and sunshine.

Afterward, we will visit one of the jewels of the Mayan Empire, Uxmal. The name means “Three times built.” The name comes from the main temple of the city, which was built on existing pyramids. The Mayan ruins seem to come out of nowhere, and the main temple of the Magician rises above the jungle so you can see for miles in all directions. Uxmal is a big set of ruins, the main set is about 150 acres. The Temple of the Magician is one of the tallest Mayan pyramids. It rises 91 feet high, which is only 7 feet shorter than the pyramid of the Castle at Chichen Itza. 

Later we will drive to the colonial city of Campeche. This delicate colonial city is a people-pleaser, no matter what your tastes are, you will be delighted by the variety of Mexican attractions to sink your teeth into here. 

Day 4. Calakmul

After breakfast, we will drive to Calakmul Ruins and Biosphere Reserve. 

Upon arrival, we will explore the great Mayan city of Calakmul. Not many travelers make it down to the ruins of Calakmul as to the other famous Mayan pyramids in Mexico, mainly due to its very isolated location. Calakmul is far from any tourist cities, demanding a very long and dedicated trip to visit a city such as this one, which we have prepared for you so you don’t travel a long distance to have the chance to visit it. It is a real hidden jewel for travelers who wish to get off the beaten track. The ruins are huge and cover 2 square kilometers. Many areas have never been excavated, and because it only receives about a dozen travelers per day, we will have the site almost by our-self.

Live a unique experience and explore one of the main capitals of the Mayan world and discover the unbelievable wildlife from the surrounding jungle, where you can see toucans, monkeys, mount turkeys, deer, and if you are lucky enough, pumas and jaguars. 

Discover more of this fascinating Mayan site surrounded by jungle and over 6,500 ancient structures and one of the tallest Mayan temples of Mexico. Walk the trails while learning about the uses and meanings of buildings as well as the history of this once powerful Mayan city. It mixes adventure and archeology during this expedition and learns about this site that has been recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. 

Day 5. Drive to Palenque

Today, we will drive to Palenque, which is situated on a ledge overlooking the swampy plains that stretch northward to the Gulf coast. Palenque has a mystical charm that enchants scientists and tourists. The soaring jungle-swathed temples of Palenque are a national treasure and one of the best examples of Mayan architecture in Mexico.

Day 6. Discover Palenque

After breakfast, you will explore Palenque with a professional guide. This Mayan site is located at the western frontier of the lowland Mayan region. The architecture of Palenque was truly inventive. During this tour, you will view many impressive ruins, and you will not miss out on the most notable structures of Palenque: the “Palace” and the “Temple of Inscriptions”.

Day 7. San Cristobal

Today we will drive to the colonial city of San Cristobal de Las Casas. The state of Chiapas has enormous biodiversity and weather that varies from fresh in the highlands hot and humid in the jungle lowlands. Home to some of the most extraordinary Mayan ruins and a broad indigenous population, it is one of Mexico’s most diversified districts both in nature and Mayan heritage. 

Close to the Lacandon jungle, dozens of delightful waterfalls dot the landscape. Two of the most majestic of these falls have to be Misol-ha and Agua Azul. We will visit both of them on the way to San Cristobal. 

Waterfall of Misol-ha: Waterfalls down off a high wall and crashes into a stone below. The bounce-back splash ends up in a big pool at the base of the waterfall. The mist from the gigantic waterfall covers a small hiking track that goes beneath the waterfall. The trail leads into a cave, which has a river flowing out of it and another waterfall is hidden within.

Agua Azul: the waterfalls got their name, Agua Azul, meaning Blue Water, perhaps rather certainly because the water thundering down it has a blazing blue complexion. Their unbelievable color is, indeed, due to the large mineral content of the water, which deposits itself on the limestone rock. The limestone-rich accumulations also give the falls an attractive, waving shape. During the rainy season, when water pounds down the falls with stronger energy and picks up silt, the blue color is less intense, but the falls are still extraordinary. 

Day 8. El Sumidero Canyon

In the morning, we will embark on an expedition to El Sumidero Canyon. The sheer stonewalls of Sumidero Canyon rise hundreds of meters. At one point they rise a full kilometer above the tranquil river below, creating an awe-inspiring channel. Therefore, it is one of ‘Chiapas’ most recognizable and impressive natural wonders. Later in the afternoon, we will discover San Cristobal. The colonial city of San Cristobal is set in a gorgeous highland valley surrounded by pine forest.

Day 9. Lake Atitlan

After breakfast, you will continue your journey to Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. The lake is famous for its natural beauty and colorful Mayan villages. The lake is surrounded by natural beauty. It floats in the sky, a mile above sea level, relying on three majestic volcanoes. Upon your arrival, you will have free time to relax at the lake and have dinner.

Day 10. Boat Excursion

Today, you will go on a boat tour to discover Lake Atitlan and the indigenous villages of Santa Catarina Palopo, Santiago Atitlan, and San Juan. Lake Atitlán is truly a jewel of the Guatemalan highlands. Surrounded by three majestic volcanoes, it is considered the most beautiful lake in Latin America. With its stunning scenery and lively shore-side villages, the famous novelist Aldous Huxley considered Lake Atitlán to be “one of the most beautiful in the world.”

Many villages surrounded the lake. Consequently, the Mayan culture is thriving at the lake. Every town has its traditional Mayan dress, demonstrating how rich and diverse Guatemalan culture is. A very important part of the Mayan trail excursion is to get to know the living Mayan culture. 

Day 11. Antigua Guatemala

We will have a local breakfast with the best organic coffee in the world. After that, continue your journey to the colonial city of Antigua Guatemala. Antigua is the most outstanding and best-preserved colonial city in Central America.

Upon your arrival, you will explore the city together with a local guide. This city has natural beauty and impressive historic monuments. Antigua is a city of charm and color where you can see and buy an overwhelming variety of attractive, handmade products that honor the traditions of generations of artisans. 

Certainly, the most beautiful colonial city of the Americas. Famous for its well-preserved Spanish architecture as well as some stunning ruins of colonial convents and churches. In Addition to the fascinating culture, the city is also home to immense volcanoes like Agua, de Fuego, Pacaya, and Acatenango. They form a majestic background to the city.

Day 12. Copan, Honduras

After breakfast, We will leave Antigua and drive to Copán, Honduras. Upon arrival, we will have a tour of Copan ruins together with a professional local guide. Copan was the dominant Mayan city in the south of their territory. Its rich stone sculptures and intricate hieroglyphs make Copan a feature attraction along ‘The Maya Route’. The majority of archeologists agree that Copan formed part of the three largest and most lavish cultural centers of the new world.

This magnificent Mayan site is located in the heart of the Copan Valley. It is perhaps the greatest source of information the world has of the ancient Mayan civilization. The acropolis is divided into two plazas, and the Ball Court on this site is the second largest to be found in Central America. The most famous monument of Copan is the Hieroglyphic Stairway. Copan is a UNESCO World Heritage site for humanity. 

Day 13. Quirigua

Today, we will drive back to Guatemala. First, we will visit the Mayan ruins of Quirigua. Quirigua has an extraordinary number of Maya treasures including the two tallest stelae in the world. The temples here are mostly unexcavated, and you should pay attention to the intricately sculptured stelae instead. This is one Mayan site where the micro supersedes the macro.

The UNESCO World Heritage site of Quirigua consists of two main areas. The most splendid is the Central Plaza that has all the stelae. The other section is the partially restored Acropolis. Stela F stands a colossal 7.3 meters tall, and only comes second to Stela E on the planet. Stela E is the monolith you came to contemplate. It is 10.6 meters long, and it weighs 65 tons. Approximately 3 meters is buried to keep it vertical, but it still rises above more than a 2-story building.

Later, we will drive to Rio Dulce, where we will visit by boat the Castle of San Felipe. The castle is a Spanish fort located on a peninsula between Lake Izabal and Rio Dulce. It is an impressive castle designed to defend the area against the pirates who came during the colonization. 

Day 14. Rio Dulce

After breakfast, we will go on a boat expedition through Lake Izabal to visit Finca Paraiso, which is the highlight of Rio Dulce. These hot springs are so magical to swim in. When you first swim in the water it is cool, but as you swim your way to the waterfall it warms up. The hot water comes down from the 12-meter waterfall, so you can stand beneath it and get a hot shower. The mix of cold and hot water is a one-of-a-kind experience that you will not see anywhere else on the planet. 

Later, we will go by boat to Rio Dulce (Sweet River) which has a stunning diversity of wildlife harmonized by the beauty of unique geography and hydrography. Rio Dulce is an underrated destination of Guatemala. It flows from Lake Izabal to the Caribbean Ocean, surrounded by a tropical jungle full of wildlife. 

We will have lunch in Livingston, a small Caribbean town where the river meets the Caribbean Sea. It is a truly authentic spot to see in Guatemala as it is the only Garifuna town in the country. Experience a laid-back Caribbean atmosphere, and eat the traditional Tapado dish, a taste of the Garifuna and Caribbean flavors. 

Afterward, we will go back to Rio Dulce by boat and drive to Tikal

Day 15. Sunrise in Tikal

Today, we will get up early to visit one of the most beloved Mayan treasures during sunrise, Tikal. The massive ruins of Tikal are concentrated at the center of Tikal National Park, a carefully preserved area of 222 square miles with some ruins still undiscovered.

While it is still dark, you will walk through the jungle to arrive at the highest temple at the site, Temple IV, in time to watch the spectacular sunrise over the Mayan ruins. As the sunrise reaches its peak, you will hear how the jungle canopy wakes up. Monkeys, birds, and other species create a fantastic cacophony. In other words, a truly magical experience. Then, you will see the top of the impressive temples rising above the jungle canopy. This is an experience not to be missed. Today, we will have enough time to explore the Mayan city of Tikal. 

Day 16. Xunantunich, Belize

Today you leave Guatemala and the next destination of this wonderful expedition is the neighboring country Belize. In Belize, you will explore a tour of the Mayan City of Xunantunich. You can decide whether you prefer to do the tour on foot, or by riding a horse. 

If you decide to take the horseback riding option, we will drive to the Mayan site of Xunantunich on a 4-hour excursion from a beloved riding stable in San Ignacio. Follow your guides along the mellow Mopan River, and look for howler monkeys and tropical birds in the trees. You will have a wide range of views of the Xunantunich ruins, then explore with your guide this captivating extinguished city; contemplate the gigantic El Castillo temple and enjoy the calmness of the countryside as you ride through the partly excavated ruins before going to your jungle lodge.

Day 17. ATM Cave

Today, you will explore ATM Cave. The cave is located in the heart of the Belizean rainforest and was a sacred place to the prehistoric Mayas of Belize. ATM cave is a vastly long cave that ends deep under the mountain rock. In addition, they found the most incredible remains of Maya sacrifices. You will explore this cave not just by walking, but also by swimming. Additionally, we offer you the opportunity to take the gentil tubing excursion to the Barton Creek Cave for those travelers who don’t want an adventure tour. Afterward, we will drive to your hotel in Orange Walk where you can rest and relax. 

Day 18. Lamanai & jungle River

After breakfast, we will leave on a jungle river cruise to the Mayan site of Lamanai. This is the best way to discover this magical place, where you can observe wildlife along the river’s bed. When arriving in Lamanai you will have the opportunity to climb the pyramids. This is a journey through the magical New River Lagoon to explore thousands of years of Belize’s Mayan history. Meet turtles, crocodiles, tropical birds, and howler monkeys on a jungle river cruise as you go deep into the jungle, where an impressive ancient civilization once prospered. Later, you will return to your hotel where you can do bird watching, or just rest and relax. 

Day 19. Tulum, Mexico

The Belizean part of the Mayan trail was finalized today and you will go back to Mexico. Following breakfast, we will drive to the border of Chetumal. This town is the midpoint between Mexico and Central America, which blends the best of both destinations; it is located on the border with Belize. After that, we will drive to Tulum, which is a well-known city on the Riviera Maya, approximately 130 kilometers south of Cancun, located directly on the Mexican Caribbean coast. Upon your arrival in Tulum the rest of the day you will be free to rest.

Day 20. Tulum ruins

Today, you will discover the Mayan site in Tulum. You will be shown the most famous temples such as The Castle, which is the highest building in Tulum. Also, see the Temple of the Down-Rising God. Do not miss out on observing the breathtaking Temple of the Paintings and the Temple of the Wind. What makes Tulum so special is its location. It is the only Mayan site located in front of the Caribbean sea. 

Day 21. Return home

Unfortunately, the Mayan trail expedition ends today. Today, a driver will take you to the international airport of Cancun for your flight back home. Not ready to go home just yet? If you would like to extend your holiday, contact one of our knowledgeable agents to begin customizing your itinerary. 

map, expenses & price

The Mayan Trail

Expenses included:
-Ground transportation and boat transfers.
-Twenty nights of hotel accommodations.
-Professional certified guides.
-All park entrance fees.
-Tours and excursions as listed.
-Daily breakfast.

Per person starting at $3,200

Extensions
El Mirador Helicopter Tour

The views mixed deep in the jungle canopy of the colossal Mayan Biosphere give a glimpse back in time. As the helicopter will pull above the treeline, the sight of Lake Peten make you already joyful if you choose this tour. The color of the water is turquoise blended with greens that change almost yellow near the shallow shore. It’s almost an hour of flying to the site, so settle back and observe the fields thin, the farms dissolve, and then it’s just jungle. No fields, no roads, no houses, just endless, magnificent jungle as far as you can see.

Laguna Brava

See one of the most delicate and unknown lagoons in Guatemala, plus three Cenotes. The tour to the lagoon is a hike where you come in contact with nature with exquisite views. Once at the lagoon, you will realize how clean it is and be able to see all the color tones of the lagoon. This expedition provides you with an intimate experience in the rural forest and a chance to enjoy splendid views along with this excursion off the beaten path. 

Farm El Cisne

An exclusive opportunity to experience authentic rural Honduran life at this century-old plantation. Set in the wonderful western highlands, this family-owned farm offers an insight into the daily life of a working ranch. Go on a cacao, cardamom, and coffee plantation excursion, learn about cattle ranching, enjoy delicious home-cooked farm meals, and round off your experience with a stop in the natural hot springs. Duration: 1 day. Price: $85

Coba Ruins

A tour to the archeological zone of Coba is a visit that you certainly should not miss. The ruins of this ancient Mayan city have been increasingly popular and one of the most visited in the Yucatan peninsula. Among its best advantages, the site has an exceptional location in the middle of a lustrous jungle, easy access, and its impressive structures are surprisingly well preserved. Price: $100

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