- Grand Tour of Mexico
Mayan and Aztec ruins sit within view of snow-capped volcanoes, tropical rainforests and dramatic mountain canyons. Approach the coast and pretty colonial towns give way to desert coastlines and breath-taking beaches.
Depart London on your scheduled flight to Cancun. Upon arrival, meet your guides, transfer to your hotel and enjoy tonight's welcome dinner.
Spend a morning at leisure in Cancun before a late morning flight to Mexico City. Upon arrival, admire the world's largest collection of Mexican art, and be led along a journey through the country's ancient history at the Museum of National Anthropology, before continuing to the idyllic lakes and sculpture garden of Chapultepec Park - a green oasis amidst the bustling capital. Above this impressive park looms Chapultepec Castle.
Flanked by the twin volcanoes Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl, embark on a city tour of Mexico City with a visit to the Presidential Palace, Central Plaza and Cathedral, before making a visit to the Teotihuacan Pyramids, crowned by the 3rd largest Pyramid in the world - the Pyramid of the Sun. Later discover the Roman Catholic pilgrimage site where both an old and new national shrine majestically stand side by side; catch a glimpse of the symbolic cloak enshrined within the modern Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, before taking a leisurely stroll through the World Peace Rose Gardens at the rear of the Basilicas.
This morning, embark on a guided tour of the colonial city of Puebla, passing by some of the seventy churches located in its historic centre, including the Cathedral and the Plaza de la Constitucion.
Travel to Oaxaca, which, situated 1500 metres above sea-level and surrounded by green hills and mountains, is one of Mexico's most beautiful colonial towns. On the way, discover the Jardin Botanico in Zapotitlan Salinas, an unspoiled landscape dotted with tall cacti, palms and elephant foot trees.
Step back in time with a visit to the world of the Zapotec who ruled Oaxaca from Monte Alban in around 500AD. Surrounded by a circle of temples and tombs on the slopes of a flattened hilltop, explore its magnificent ruins before visiting the beautiful 16th century Museo Cultural de Oaxaca, located in a former Dominican monastery. Continue through the old cobbled streets of Oaxaca, visiting the grand Church of Sant Domingo de Guzman.
Set in a luscious highland valley and located 2,133 metres above sea level, journey into the heart of San Cristobal de las Casas. Following the narrow cobblestone streets surrounding the Zocalo, arrive at the city's emblematic mustard coloured cathedral before heading to the Iglesia de Convento Santo Domingo, whose ornamented facade is considered one of the best examples of colonial baroque architecture.
Head to the Mayan Medicine Museum for a unique glimpse into Mayan spiritual healing rituals and herbal medicines which are still exchanged in indigenous villages today. Later, cruise through the magnificent Sumidero Canyon, where waterfalls plunge from the imposing canyon walls. End the day uncovering worship practices in Chamula's local church. Following a visit to the colonial Church of San Lorenzo in neighbouring Zinacantan, prepare to be welcomed into the weaving mill of the three sisters to observe the process of this skilful art.
After breakfast, travel towards the mystical town of Palenque. Concealed amidst a subtropical jungle, experience a cascade of turquoise water at the Roberto Barrios waterfalls and immerse yourself in the serenity of the natural spas.
Enveloped in an early morning mist, listen to an echoing chorus of tropical birds and uncover a treasure trove of architectural wonders at the mystical ruins of Palenque. Astonishingly dating from 226BC to 799AD, begin at the largest pyramid of the collection, admiring the hieroglyphic engravings on the Temple of Inscriptions' richly adorned facade, before marvelling at a monumental staircase at the Grand Palace and exploring the 7th century Temple of the Sun. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure.
Travel to Isla Aguada and embark on a cruise from the fishing port of Terminos Lagoon, looking out for dolphins en route to the Isla de Pajaros. After gliding along the Estero Sabancuy, admire the towering twin steeples of the baroque Cathedral of La Conception during a guided tour of Campeche's historic centre.
Once considered the best defence in Latin America, witness the impressive hillside fortress of San Miguel, where an archaeological museum now exhibits a wealth of glistening jewellery and symbolic Jade masks of Calakmul. Later, wander amongst the historic ruins of Kabah. Embellished with over 300 masks of Chaac, this fierce devotion to the God of Rain is overwhelmingly evident at the Palace of the Masks. Arriving at Uxmal, gaze-in-awe at the unravelled terraces, columns and archways at the best-preserved archaeological collection in Puuc, before transferring to Merida later this evening.
In a local home in the heart of Merida, learn about the production and enjoy a fiery tasting of the famous Salsa Picante Dzemul, which uses some of the spiciest chillies in the world. Later, enjoy a captivating tour of Yucatan's cultural capital commencing at one of Latin America's oldest Cathedrals, before catching a glimpse of the Palacio Municipal's distinctive pink exterior and admiring the sculptured facade of the Casa de Montejo.
Breakfast & Dinner
This morning, admire the brightly painted monastic church in the 'Yellow City of Izamal' before witnessing a collection of swaying tree roots which are suspended 18 metres above the incredible emerald waters of Cenote Yokdzonot. Continue onwards to experience a spectacle of architectural glory at Chichen Itza, declared one of the new seven wonders of the world. Spanning a staggering 6.5 kilometres, witness the impressive Mayan ruins including the 'snail shell' El Caracol observatory and most famously El Castillo. Dedicated to the feathered serpent God, this colossal 79-ft high pyramid welcomes its namesake during the spring and autumn equinoxes, where shadows create the illusion of a snake sliding down its megalithic steps. Continue to Valladolid.
Enjoy a walking tour of the picturesque colonial town of Valladolid, passing by Can Gervasio Cathedral and the Convent of San Bernardino before heading to the vibrant local market at Mercado Municipal for an authentic taste of daily life. Transfer to Cancun Airport for your flight home.
We strongly recommend that you and all members of your party are suitably insured as soon as you book your holiday. It is a condition of booking that you must have suitable travel insurance. It is important that you purchase travel insurance that suitably covers your participation in whatever activities you may undertake at the time that you make your booking. To assist you with this, we have arranged travel insurance in partnership with Holiday Extras. To arrange your travel insurance with Holiday Extras, please call 0800 781 4237 and quote 'WK830' for preferential rates. Please ensure you provide us with the name of your insurer, policy number and their 24-hour emergency contact number as soon as possible. Mercury Holidays will not be liable for any costs incurred by you due to your failure to take out suitable travel insurance from the date of booking.
If booking more than 10 weeks before departure a deposit of £250pp will need to be paid at the time of booking with the full amount payable at 10 weeks prior to departure. The deposit applies to adults and children. If you are within 10 weeks of travel then the full balance of the holiday will be payable.
It is your responsibility to check any health and vaccination requirements applicable to your booked arrangements. We can only provide general information about this. Health and hygiene facilities and disease risks vary from country to country. You should take health advice about your own needs as early as possible and in good time before your departure. Sources of information include; www.fco.gov.uk, http://travelhealthpro.org.uk/, www.hpa.org.uk, your General Practitioner or a specialist clinic.
This tour is accessible to most people with an average level of fitness and normal mobility. It involves full days of sightseeing, often on foot, and includes some climbing of stairs and getting on and off coaches and boats. This tour is not suitable for anyone with walking difficulties.
The currency in Mexico is the Mexican Peso, known as MXN. We recommend that you exchange your currency before you depart. US Dollars are also widely accepted in Mexico should you wish to keep an alternative currency on you.