MEALS: B=BREAKFAST, L=LUNCH, D=DINNER
DAY 01 SATURDAY ARRIVE MEXICO CITY
Board our flight to Los Angeles; crossing the International Date Line we will arrive the same day and connect through to our onwards flight to Mexico City.
Upon arrival you will be transferred to your hotel where you will meet your fellow travellers and your Tour Director.
Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico: 4 nights standard room with breakfast
DAY 02 SUNDAY MEXICO CITY (B)
After breakfast we depart this morning on a half day tour of Mexico City. Visit the most important buildings in the historical centre located around the Zocalo- the Cathedral and The National Palace where you can admire the famous murals of Diego Rivera. See the ruins at the main Temple of the Aztecs. Visit a local handicraft centre before continuing onto Chapultepec Park where many of Mexico’s famous artist’s reside. Continue to the modern part of the City where your tour will end at the Anthropology Museum with a guided tour, one of the world’s ten best museums.
Free afternoon to explore Mexico City on your own or join your Tour Director on a Discovery walk.
DAY 03 MONDAY MEXICO CITY (B/L)
Full day sightseeing tour to the famous Teotihuacan Pyramids. On the way to the Sanctuary a short stop will be taken by the Plaza of the Three Cultures, where you will see 3 different kinds of buildings: an archaeological site, a catholic church and a modern building that houses the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Continue onto the Basilica, where you can view the original image of the Virgin Mary that appeared on a simple piece of fabric belonging to the Indian Juan Diego. See the two shrines, the first one built in the 18TH Century and the second shrine that was built almost three decades ago and devoted to the Virgin Mary. Continue onto Teotihiacan ‘where men become gods’. You will have the opportunity to climb the amazing Pyramids as well as visit the place of Quetzal-Butterfly, the Feather Snake Temple and the Avenue of the Dead.
DAY 04 TUESDAY MEXICO CITY (B)
Depart this morning a half day sightseeing tour of the colourful barrio of Coyoacan and the wonderful Frida Kahlo Museum. In Coyoacan, down cobblestoned streets lined with stately mansions you will visit Frida Kahlo’s family home, known as the Casa Azul or “Blue House”, where Frida spent her childhood as well as the final years of her life. The home has been turned into a museum where visitors can admire many of the rooms in the state they were at the time of Frida’s death, decorated with her unique style. You’ll have some free time to explore the streets surrounding the Plaza Hidalgo and admire the colonial architecture and brightly coloured houses before returning to your hotel.
Free afternoon to explore Mexico City on your own or join your Tour Director on a Discovery walk.
DAY 05 WEDNESDAY MEXICO CITY/ PUEBLA (B)
You’ll depart Mexico City this morning, enjoying spectacular views of Popocatepetl and Ixtaccihuatl Volcanoes as we drive out of the city. Just west of Puebla we’ll make a stop at the archaeological site of Cholula, an important pre-Columbian city dating back to around the 2nd century BC. The immense pyramid is the largest such structure in the Americas and the largest man made structure by volume in the world.
After some time to visit the site we continue to the UNESCO World Heritage Listed colonial city of Puebla. Here your guide will take you on a walking tour of the town to see the lively main plaza, ancient baroque palaces and the Cathedral. You will also visit the handcrafts market, an excellent place to shop for the regionally produced talavera tiles.
Free afternoon to explore Puebla on your own or join your Tour Director on a Discovery walk.
El Sueño: 2 nights standard room with breakfast
DAY 06 THURSDAY PUEBLA/ OAXACA (B)
Depart this morning for the nearby city of Oaxaca, travelling over the Sierra Madre Mountain range, and transferring to your hotel on arrival. This is a beautiful and scenic trip- make we’ll make a few stops along the way so you can admire the view and take some photos! Oaxaca, the State Capital, declared Humanity’s Cultural Patrimony by UNESCO, owes its fame to the beauty and harmony of its architecture, the richness of its cultural traditions, the wide variety of its typical foods, and its soft temperate climate, spring-like throughout the year. The Aztecs applied the name Oaxaca to the summit where they built a fortress in 1486. On arrival, the Spaniards founded, next to the old fort, the new Villa de Antequera, and a few years later, returned to the old Aztec fortress to erect, in the same guaje summit, a city that, in 1529 would be founded built, and peopled as Villa de Oaxaca.
The Zócalo continues to be, besides one of the most beautiful Central Squares in Mexico, the Life Centre of Oaxaca. The arcades that sustain the Palacio de Gobierno (Government Palace) and the surrounding buildings house restaurants, terraces, portals, and coffeehouses. People sit at the little tables, deep in conversation, from very early in the morning to late evening under the shade of enormous laurel trees from India.
Casa del Sotano: 4 nights standard room with breakfast
DAY 07 FRIDAY OAXACA (B)
Today you will enjoy a visit to the archaeological site of Monte Alban. It is one of the most important archaeological sites in Mesoamerica as well as one of the largest monument groups on the continent.
On an artificially flattened hill, there is a great plaza, which is the nucleus of the compound. The buildings stretch out harmoniously. There are remarkable slabs showing relieves of human figures known as “Danzantes” (the dancers). Around the ball game court several burial sites have been found with rich treasures, such as the splendid offering in Tomb number 7. From the heights of this monument there are spectacular views over the surrounding valleys and the city of Oaxaca.
From its amazing location on top of a mountain, the Zapotecs took control of the Central Valleys in every aspect concerning the economy, politics and religion of the area. Its culture reached noticeable progress in sciences and arts like: architecture, astronomy, medicine and engineering. Return to your hotel this afternoon and overnight.
DAY 08 SATURDAY OAXACA (B/L)
Learn the secrets of Oaxacan cuisine! We start with a visit to the market to learn about local produce; this afternoon you’ll be treated to a private cooking lesson. Enjoy the fruits of your labours with lunch at the end of the class.
DAY 09 SUNDAY OAXACA (B)
Depart Oaxaca on a half day touring the surrounding countryside. Our tour begins at Mitla, one of the architectural wonders of Mexico and unique among Mesoamerican sites in the elaborate and intricate mosaic fretwork and geometric designs that cover tombs, panels, friezes and even entire walls. The site was used predominantly as a religious centre, with the Spanish erecting a Catholic Church over the ruins of the former temple when they sacked the site in the 1500’s.
We’ll continue to visit Santa Maria Tule, a small town of potters and farmers famous for El Árbol del Tule (Spanish for “the Tule Tree”); a tree located in the church grounds in the town with the stoutest trunk in the world, with a circumference of over 36 metres. Our tour ends at the Sunday Market at Tlacolula for a chance to experience the colour & vibrancy of a Mexican market! You’ll also have the chance to visit the Chapel of the Lodge of Tlacolula, a 16th century masterpiece of indigenous baroque art.
DAY 10 MONDAY OAXACA/ TUXTLA/ SAN CRISTOBAL DE LAS CASAS (B)
Depart to Oaxaca airport today for your domestic flight via Mexico City to Tuxtla. Transfer overland to the township of San Cristóbal via the Sumidero Canyon. You’ll have a chance to see the canyon from the viewpoints above before descending to the floor of the canyon and taking a boat ride along the river. Enjoy close up views of the canyon walls towering 800m overhead; keep your eyes peeled for the occasional crocodile!!
After visiting the town we continue to San Cristóbal de las Casas, situated in a fertile valley surrounded by mountains. San Cristobal, one of Mexico’s best-preserved Spanish colonial towns, is made up of a series of traditional barrios (neighbourhoods), each of which is known for a particular trade or custom, such as iron working, carpentry and woodcarving.
Due to its altitude, the temperature in San Cristobal is often chilly, but is a refreshing change from the heat of lower valleys. The fog and low clouds that linger over the city in the early morning light gives it an almost surreal, mystical quality. This only adds to the remarkable beauty of this historic little town.
Diego de Mazariegos: 3 nights standard room with breakfast
DAY 11 TUESDAY SAN CRISTOBAL DE LAS CASAS (B)
Depart this morning on a walking tour of the city; visit the main plaza with the gorgeous Cathedral and City Hall.
Visitors should respect the local traditions and customs and be especially sensitive when taking photographs (photography is forbidden in Zinacantán).
DAY 12 WEDNESDAY SAN CRISTOBAL DE LAS CASAS (B)
Depart this morning on full day tour to the nearby villages of San Juan Chamula and Zinacantán. These two highland villages are the home of the Tzotzil people, descendants of the ancient Mayans, and some of Mexico’s most traditional indigenous communities. Each village has a distinctive highland dress as well as a weekly market and numerous festivals honouring their patron saint and other special religious days.
San Juan Chamula is the centre for religious festivals. Its main attraction is the church on the plaza where, every Sunday, the village comes alive with streams of villagers, men in loose homespun white woollen ponchos and women in embroidered finery, who pour down the hills into the candle lit, incense-filled church, and then congregate together for the weekly market. Their religion is a fascinating mixture of Catholic and traditional Mayan rituals.
The typical dress of the Zinacantán villagers is a red and white striped poncho decorated with tassels and a flat, round hat decorated with ribbons. Geranium is a revered plant that is used in ritual offerings and the countryside is dotted with crosses and offerings dedicated to their ancestor gods or the Earth Lord. You’ll return to your hotel at the end of the tour.
DAY 13 THURSDAY SAN CRISTOBAL DE LAS CASAS/ PALENQUE (B)
Today you’ll travel overland to the township of Palenque, with a stop at the Agua Azul Falls en route. Rio Xumul-Ha (meaning River of Blue Water, or in Spanish, Agua Azul) features a series of torrential cascades and fast flowing waters rolling down a limestone ridge to form pools and small streams. The river is surrounded by breath-taking green valleys, and as you leave the area on the road upwards, you can look left into the valley below and see the river winding through it.
You’ll have some free time to relax and swim in the pools. Please follow your guide’s directions about which pools are safe for swimming; the waters here can be deceptive.
Continue overland to the township of Palenque. Palenque is one of the most frequently visited archaeological zones in the country. The setting for this spectacular ancient Mayan city is splendid, a hauntingly beautiful site engulfed in the endless tropical jungle that bristles with the shriek of insects. The architecture is fantastic and for many Palenque is the most remarkable of the major Mayan sites. The city was at its peak from 600 to 700 AD, an important ceremonial centre and the provincial capital. The buildings that are visible today form only a small part of what it once was, and only a few of the remaining buildings have been properly excavated. The reason for the city’s decline is still a mystery. Early morning is the best time to capture the setting at its most photogenic, when swirling vapours encircle the temples and the jungle.
Villa Mercedes: 1 nights standard room with breakfast
DAY 14 FRIDAY PALENQUE/ CAMPECHE (B)
Depart this morning on a guided tour of the Palenque ruins, set in the midst of exuberant, endlessly green tropical jungle and one of the most important and spectacular Mayan cities of ancient Mexico.
Palenque is one of the most frequently visited archaeological zones in the country. The setting for this spectacular ancient Mayan city is splendid, a hauntingly beautiful site engulfed in the endless tropical jungle that bristles with the shriek of insects. The architecture is fantastic and for many Palenque is the most remarkable of the major Mayan sites. The city was at its peak from 600 to 700 AD, an important ceremonial centre and the provincial capital. The buildings that are visible today form only a small part of what it once was, and only a few of the remaining buildings have been properly excavated. The reason for the city’s decline is still a mystery. Early morning is the best time to capture the setting at its most photogenic, when swirling vapours encircle the temples and the jungle.
After a tour of the site and some time to explore on your own, you will be transferred overland to the city of Campeche, about five hours by road. Transfer to your hotel on arrival.
Holiday Inn Campeche: 1 nights standard room with breakfast
DAY 15 SATURDAY CAMPECHE/ MERIDA (B/L)
Depart for Merida this morning, with a visit to the ruins of Uxmal (‘three times built’) en route. As a World Heritage site, it is one of the best restored and maintained ruins in the Yucatán, and certainly one of the most magnificent. Its architecture, some of the most majestic of the Yucatán ruins, is characterized by low horizontal palaces set around courtyards, decorated with rich sculptural elements and details. Visit the famous Diviner Temple, The Nun’s Quadrangle and the Governor’s Palace and see the masks from the god Chaac and the Mayan Vault.
After your tour of the site we continue to Kabah, connected to the city of Uxmal by a grand 18 km long raised pedestrian causeway five meters wide, with monumental arches at each end. Kabah is the second largest ruin of the Puuc region after Uxmal and best known for the “Palace of the Masks”, a façade decorated with hundreds of stone masks of the long-nosed rain god Chaac. Lunch is included on today’s tour. After lunch continue overland to Merida and transfer to your hotel.
Gran Real Yucatan: 2 nights standard room with breakfast
DAY 16 SUNDAY MERIDA (B)
Enjoy your day at leisure to explore the city on your own.
DAY 17 MONDAY MERIDA/ CHICHEN ITZA/ PLAYA DEL CARMEN (B/L)
This morning you will depart for a full day tour travelling across the Yucatán Peninsula to the UNESCO Heritage Listed ruins of Chichén Itzá, set amidst lush green vegetation. This fascinating city has recently been named on the ‘New Seven Wonders of the World’.
Chichen Itza has two distinct architectural zones. The southern zone dates back to the 7th century and showcases Chichen Itza’s early construction in the traditional Puuc Maya style of the Yucatan region. The central zone was constructed after the arrival of the Toltecs around the 10th century and showcases a unique fusion of highland central Mexican and Puuc architectural styles.
Chichén Itza’s most impressive sights and structures are located in the central zone. Here you’ll find the Juego de Pelota (Ball Court), several platforms, temples and the spectacular El Castillo (Pyramid of Kukulkan), a massive 25m stone representation of the Maya calendar. Toltec warriors are represented in the carvings around the doorway at the top of El Castillo.
Enjoy a guided tour of the ruins and buffet lunch before continuing overland to your hotel in Playa del Carmen. The afternoon is at leisure to relax and explore 5th Avenue and the lovely Caribbean beaches.
Las Palapas: 2 nights standard room with breakfast
DAY 18 TUESDAY PLAYA DEL CARMEN (B)
Day at leisure to explore 5th Avenue and the lovely Caribbean beaches or to relax and enjoy the facilities of the hotel.
DAY 19 WEDNESDAY PLAYA DEL CARMEN/ CANCUN/ HAVANA (B/D)
Depart today to Cancun airport for your international flight to Havana, Cuba. Upon arrival you will be met, greet and transferred to your hotel located in the historic centre. Dinner is included tonight.
Raquel: 3 nights standard room with breakfast
DAY 20 THURSDAY HAVANA (B/L/D)
After breakfast your local guide will meet you at your hotel and take you on a Colonial Walking Tour of Old Havana. Step back in time through the cobblestone streets of Old Havana where you can enjoy the live “theatre” of La Habana Vieja, offering you a fascinating viewing of this wonderful city’s historical and cultural heritage. Walk the most important streets of the historical centre & visit the main plazas, markets, Parque Central and Capitolio Nacional. Enjoy lunch at an old classic Havana restaurant.
This evening you will be transferred to Miramar district for your dinner at a Cuban Family restaurant. Continue to Tropicana for a Cabaret show. Transfer back to your hotel.
DAY 21 FRIDAY HAVANA (B/L/D)
This morning depart on a panoramic city tour through modern Havana, riding in a vehicle of your choice. Havana’s eclectic architecture offers visitors some unforgettable sights. During the tour, you’ll travel through neighbourhoods such as Central Havana, Vedado and Miramar, as well as visit the Capital Building, Revolution Square, Hotel Nacional and the University of Havana among others. After a visit to a local museum, enjoy refreshments at a typical house in the suburbs.
Today depart on a tour following the steps of Hemingway. During one of his visits in Havana, the North American writer, Ernest Hemingway wrote The Old Man and the Sea. This story earned him the 1952 Pulitzer Prize and helped him win the 1954 Nobel Prize for literature. During this tour, you’ll visit the Hemingway Museum and Room 511 at the Ambos Mundos Hotel where Hemingway wrote the first few pages of For Whom the Bell Tolls in the 1930’s. Continue on for a panoramic tour through the fishing village of Cojímar, the inspiration behind his novel. The Old Man and the Sea. The tour includes a visit to La Terraza restaurant where Hemingway frequented with his close friend, Gregorio Fuentes. No Hemingway tour would be complete without a visit to his favourite bars in Havana, El Floridita and La Bodequita del Medio.
Tonight dinner will be at a typical Cuban cuisine at Restaurant Comedor Aguiar, at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba.
DAY 22 SATURDAY HAVANA (B)
Free morning to explore Havana at your own pace. This afternoon visit the Havana Club Rum Museum followed by a 90 minute Salsa lesson with a qualified instructor in Old Havana.
DAY 23 SUNDAY HAVANA/ LAS TERRAZAS (B/L/D)
Travel to Rancho Curujey and learn about the area’s sustainable development project. Visit the ruins of Cafetal Buena Vista, a coffee plantation founded by French immigrants in the 19th Century. Learn about the history of coffee in Cuba, including the various processes.
Visit the community of Las Terrazas, including the workshops of local artists and then a stop for lunch at a local restaurant. Later, travel to the Río San Juan baths for a refreshing dip in the clear, natural pools.
Moka: 2 nights standard room with breakfast
DAY 24 MONDAY LAS TERRAZAS – PINAR DEL RIO & VINALES (B/L/D)
Transfer from hotel by road to Pinar del Río Province. Travel through the spectacular Sierra del Rosario and stop for a short while at Cafetería Las Barrigonas to visit a small tobacco plantation. After arriving in the city of Pinar del Río, visit a cigar factory and learn about the manufacturing process. Later, continue on to beautiful Viñales and take in the spectacular views from the lookout Los Jazmines. Spend some time touring the town of Viñales, Dos Hermanas valley, visit a prehistoric mural and then tour Cueva del Indio.
Once here, you’ll board a boat and travel along the underground river. At the end of the journey, enjoy a typical Cuban lunch at a local restaurant before returning to your hotel.
DAY 25 TUESDAY LAS TERRAZAS/ PENINSULA DE ZAPATA/ CIENFUEGOS (BL)
Peninsula de Zapata is synonymous with unspoiled nature and luxuriant tropical vegetation. The tour starts at Boca de Guama with a visit to Cuba’s largest crocodile breeding farm where visitors will find around 100.000 animals kept in separate pools according to size, age and species. Next to the farm, at the Treasure Lake, you will get on boat and enjoy a 20-minute trip to the Indian Village, a reproduction of a Tainos (Cuban native Indians) community with 25 life-size statues captured in their daily activities.
The village is an unusual holiday resort consisting of 18 huts standing on several small islands in the lagoon, all connected by hanging bridges. The tour continues to the Bay of Pigs with a drive along this scenic part of the Caribbean coastline while enjoying the great views of the beaches Playa Larga and Playa Giron, the latter being the site of the American- backed landing in 1961. A visit is included to the small Museo Giron, which covers the Anti-Castro invasion using photos, documents, weapons and the wreckage of aeroplanes that took part in the battle.
La Union: 1 night standard room with breakfast
DAY 26 WEDNESDAY CIENFUEGOS/ TRINIDAD (B/L/D)
The city of Cienfuegos is an architectural jewel located in the central southern region of Cuba. Known as “The Pearl of the South” and “Beautiful City by the Sea”, Cienfuegos has carefully laid out streets framed by French buildings. Founded in 1819 and now a UNESCO listed city, this tour of Cienfuegos will delight any visitor.
Enjoy a panoramic tour through the National Monument (La Punta), El Palacio de Valle, El Paseo del Prado and after a stroll along the boulevard, visit the monument to one of Cuba’s most treasured musicians, Beny Moré. Spend time in the city’s heart to visit the Cathedral as well as Thomas Terry Theatre, one of the Cuba’s oldest and most beautiful theatres. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. Return to the hotel. Tonight you will have a Colonial night orientation tour.
Iberostar Grand Trinidad, La Ronda or Brisas Trindad: 2 night standard room with breakfast
DAY 27 THURSDAY TRINIDAD (B/L/D)
Wander through the historical centre of Trinidad, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a city full of spectacular colonial architecture. Tour Plaza Mayor, Museo Romántico, stop at La Canchánchara bar to sample a Cuban cocktail made with rum, lemon and honey. There’ll be time to shop at the craft markets before lunch. Afterwards, travel to Tope de Collantes, a nature park in the Escambray Mountains where the endemic flora and fauna is beautiful. Stop at La Casa del Café to taste some of Cuba’s finest coffee.
DAY 28 FRIDAY TRINIDAD/ SANTA CLARA/ HAVANA (B/L/D)
Depart today on an overland transfer to Havana via Sugar Mill Valley and Santa Clara. Situated in Central Cuba, Santa Clara is steeped in history as a result of the battles that took place during the Cuban revolution. The journey takes you to the memorial of Ernesto “Che” Guevara, Monument to Tren Blindado (armoured train), Plaza Leoncio Vidal and Boulevard de la Ciudad. Enjoy a night out at Café Taberna Beny Moré in the heart of the old town, listening to the music of a great band reminiscent of the 1950’s music. Excellent dancers accompany the band to let you have a glimpse into Cubans great dancing skills. After lunch continue to Havana.
Tonight say goodbye to Cuba with a farewell Dinner at Café Taberna Beny Moré in the heart of the old Havana town, listening to the music of a great band reminiscent of the 1950’s music. Excellent dancers accompany the band to let you have a glimpse into Cubans great dancing skills.
Raquel: 1 night standard room with breakfast
DAY 29 SATURDAY HAVANA/ MEXICO CITY (B)
Today you will be transferred to Havana Airport for your International flight to Mexico City. On arrival in Mexico Airport you will be transferred to your accommodation.
Camino Real Airport Hotel: 1 night standard room with breakfast
DAY 30 SUNDAY MEXICO CITY/ LOS ANGELES/ AUSTRALIA (B)
Transfer to the airport for your flight to Australia via Los Angeles. Arriving in Los Angeles, you’ll clear customs & immigration and connect through to our onwards flight back to Australia.
DAY 31 MONDAY IN FLIGHT
DAY 32 TUESDAY ARRIVE AUSTRALIA
Arrive home this morning
HERE ENDS YOUR GREAT ADVENTURE
|DEPARTURE DATE||PRICE||SINGLE SUPPLEMENT|
|28-Feb-15||AUD $12,999||AUD $1,550|
|11-Apr-15||AUD $12,999||AUD $1,550|
|22-Aug-15||AUD $12,999||AUD $1,550|
|3-Oct-15||AUD $12,999||AUD $1,550|
|31-Oct-15||AUD $12,999||AUD $1,550|
2016 Departures and Pricing are available upon request
Operated by Contours Travel and is subject to their terms and conditions.
All information is correct as at 19 September 2014 and is subject to change without notice. Credit card and booking fees may apply.