TRAVEL IN TIME – ACIENT, COLONIAL & MODERN MEXICO
Chichen Itza is one of the most visited archaeological sites in Mexico. This pre-Columbian city built by the Maya was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. In 2007 a massive step pyramid, known as El Castillo or Temple of Kukulcan which dominates the ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza was named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
Until the beginning of the 20th century, Valladolid was the third largest and most important city of the Yucatán Peninsula, after Mérida and Campeche. The city is deeply Mayan. Many women wear the traditional Mayan huipil — white cotton blouses or dresses adorned with bright, flowered embroidery and sold in places like the Mercado de Artesanias located across the city’s beautiful, newly refurbished Parque Principal.
Ikkil – one of the most beautiful cenotes in Yucatan. A natural freshwater pool of almost perfect circular shape of 60 meters. The height of the cenote is 27 meters and the water is 50 meters deep. The cenote is surrounded by a beautiful tropical garden which is home to a number of different species of birds. Spider monkeys also live in the area.
The 13th-century, walled Mayan city of Tulum served as a major port for Coba. Jade, obsidian, ceramics, incense burners, gold and copper objects, salt and textiles were among some of the goods brought by traders to Tulum by sea that would be dispersed inland. The ruins are situated on 12-meter tall cliffs, inside the Tulum National Park overlooking one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean.
We start the trip with a visit to the ancient Mayan port of Tulum – a city built on a cliff in a breathtaking scenery.
CENOTE SUYTUN, LAS COLORADAS & RIO LAGARTOS
Cenote Suytun is a semi-open cenote: its swimming hole is located underground and there is a small opening in the roof which allows light and air to flow in. It is the viewing platform that makes Cenote Suytun unique. A narrow stone walkway leads to a circular platform that sits directly under the opening in its roof –
standing on the platform when the light beams are directly overhead.
Río Lagartos (Alligator River) is a fishing village populated by crocodiles, flamingos (and Mexicans). A paradise for all nature lovers, Río Lagartos is home to a great diversity of flora and fauna: 400 species of birds including pelicans, frigates, ospreys, herons, 100 species of fish, about 105 species of reptiles and 57 of mammals.
Neighbouring village Las Coloradas is famous for pink waters of the nearby salt mines.
SIAN KA’AN UNESCO HERITAGE BIOSPHERE RESERVE
Sian Ka´an is one of Mexico’s largest protected areas, established to manage 528,148 hectares of intricately linked marine, coastal and terrestrial ecosystems. In the language of the Mayans Sian Ka’an means ‘Gate to Heaven’.
The biosphere reserve contains tropical forests, mangroves and marshes, as well as a large marine section intersected by a barrier reef. It provides a habitat for a remarkably rich flora and a fauna comprising more than 300 species of birds, as well as a large number of the region’s characteristic terrestrial vertebrates, which cohabit in the diverse environment formed by its complex hydrological system.
The diversity of life in Sian Ka’an is exceptional. The tropical forests are home to charismatic mammals such as jaguar, puma, ocelot and central american tapir. The property also provides habitat for a large number of resident and migratory bird species. There is a great diversity of marine life, including the west indian manatee, four species of nesting marine turtles and hundreds of fish species.
Holbox an oasis of peace and tranquility is a part of the Yum Balam Nature Reserve. It is separated from the mainland by the Yalahau Lagoon, which is home to flamingos and pelicans.
Most of the people of Holbox Island make their living fishing. The streets of Holbox Island are made of white sand, common of Caribbean islands, and there are very few cars. Electricity reached the island in 1987, and even now, visitors should expect spotty cell and WiFi signals. Google Maps doesn’t recognize the sandy pathways that function as informal streets.
Holbox is a great destination for street art. Many homes are painted in bright colors, and it’s not unusual for local businesses to hand-paint signs or decor for their restaurants and shops.
Ek Balam – Coba – Tulum
Ek Balam is an unique, interesting and lesser-known Mayan Ruins site with impressive structures that is surrounded by dense jungle. In Maya language The word Ek Balam means “black jaguar”. The city is composed of several temples, two palaces and a large pyramid (El Torre) which is located in the center. Buildings were designed in the northern Petén architectural style.
Cobá was one of the most important Mayan cities on the Yucatan Peninsula. The city is hidden in the heart of the jungle. Visitors can enjoy shaded walkways that are the original sacbeos (white roads), three settlements that show the architecture of this once large city, 2 ball courts and admire the highest (42m) Mayan pyramid in the Yucatan, Nohoch Mul. The archeological site contains numerous stelae (free-standing carved stone slabs), that document ceremonial life and important events of the city.
Tulum – the 13th-century, walled Mayan city served as a major port for Coba. Jade, obsidian, ceramics, incense burners, gold and copper objects, salt and textiles were among some of the goods brought by traders to Tulum by sea that would be dispersed inland. The ruins are situated on 12-meter tall cliffs, inside the Tulum National Park overlooking one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean.
Tulum & Yal-Ku Lagoon
The 13th-century, walled Mayan city served as a major port for Coba. Jade, obsidian, ceramics, incense burners, gold and copper objects, salt and textiles were among some of the goods brought by traders to Tulum by sea that would be dispersed inland. The ruins are situated on 12-meter tall cliffs, inside the Tulum National Park overlooking one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean.
A great place to spend some relaxing time Yal-Ku is a little lagoon with a mixture of salt and fresh water. Yal-Ku is inhabited by many species, who find in it a place to grow and develop their offspring safe from predators. Before reaching a certain maturity and transitioning into open sea, this species coexist in a spectacular, natural aquarium.
The Yucatan Peninsula is characterized by its mainly limestone bedrock. The porous bedrock does not allow for fresh water to accumulate above ground in forms of rivers and lakes. Instead, rain water filters through the perforated rock and collects underground. At times, the bedrock destabilizes and it collapses creating a cenote.
There are different types of cenotes. Some are deep and narrwo, some are shallow and wide. they can be semi-open or entirely cavernous. For ancient Mayas cenotes provided year-round access to fresh water. They were vitally important for the survival of the local population and were embedded into the religious belief system. The Maya believed cenotes to be a gateway to Xibalba, the underworld, and the god of rain, Chaac, was believed to live there.
In Pre-Columbian times the island was sacred to the Maya goddess of childbirth and medicine, Ixchel. When the Spanish arrived in the 16th century they named it “Isla Mujeres” because of the many images of goddesses. The island was also a favorite stopping place for pirates in the early 1800’s. Isla Mujeres tempts with wide beaches and the surrounding turquoise Caribbean Sea.
Catamaran trip is full of fiestas and fun, music and dancing. The tour includes: Catamaran cruise through the waters of the Caribbean Sea. Snorkeling at the coral reef with an opportunity to admire the underwater marine life fauna and flora. Open bar included. Relax on the beach. Walk around the cliff of the south coast of the island. Sightseeing: lighthouse, traditional Caribbean village and the temple of the goddess Ixchel. Opportunity to make photos of the splendid view of the island and the sea. Lunch. Transfer back to the catamaran for the continuation of fiesta. Return to the hotel.
Yucatan in Two Days
Yucatan State is home to many natural and cultural attractions, including archaeological sites, haciendas, cenotes, and wildlife. Merida, the state capital, is nicknamed the White City. It arose from the merger of three major cultures: Mayan, Spanish and Lebanese.
Yucatan State is home to two Pueblos Mágicos, Valladolid, and Izamal. Until the beginning of the 20th century, Valladolid was the third largest and most important city of the Yucatán Peninsula, after Mérida and Campeche. The city is deeply Mayan. Many women wear the traditional Mayan huipil — white cotton blouses or dresses adorned with bright, flowered embroidery and sold in places, like the Mercado de Artesanias located across the city’s beautiful, newly refurbished Parque Principal.
Chichen Itza is one of the most visited archaeological sites in Mexico. This pre-Columbian city built by the Maya was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. In 2007 a massive step pyramid, known as El Castillo or Temple of Kukulcan was named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
Uxmal was one of the largest cities of the Yucatán peninsula on the Ruta Puuc (Puuc Route), and was home to approximately 20,000 Maya. Uxmal is an UNESCO World heritage site. Govenor’s Palace 98 meters long mosaic facade is one of the longest in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica and features 103 stone masks of the rain god Chac.
Havana in Three Days
Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean, and its capital, Havana, is a vibrant and colorful destination. La Habana Vieja (Havana Old City) was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982. It is known for its bright colors and rich cultural heritage.
“My mojito in La Bodeguita, My daiquiri in El Floridita,” reads a handwritten sign, seemingly autographed by Ernest Hemingway, which hangs at La Bodeguita Del Medio in Havana’s Old Town. In general, Havana is a great place for book lovers – and not just because of Hemingway’s legacy. The city has an abundance of secondhand book markets, especially the one at Plaza de Armas. Havana is known for its rum and tobacco.
In fact, the Bacardi family used to run operations here before leaving the country after the Cuban Revolution. But rum production persisted, and now the biggest producer, Havana Club, is the thing to order while in Havana, a city trapped in time, where you can hop in a vintage Buick or Chevy and cruise down the Malecón (eight km oceanfront stretch of road) for a quintessential Cuban experience.