let yourself be immersed fully into this Latin American paradise
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Mayans, Aztecs and conquistadors - many have experienced the charms of Mexico both ancient and modern, but discover it for yourself on a tour featuring some of its lesser-known attractions as well as knock out wonders such as the Copper Canyon and Chichen Itza. From the cities to the coast, let yourself be immersed fully into this Latin American paradise.
Our adventures into Mexico begin as we board our flight at London Heathrow, travelling straight to Mexico City where we land on the morning of Day 2.
After some time to transfer and check in to our hotel, the 4-Star Hotel Galeria Plaza, this afternoon we head out into the city to start exploring the proud capital of Mexico. From its colonial roots to trendy neighbourhoods, whose streets are adorned with bright and abstract murals, Mexico City is large and diverse - a place where there is more than enough room for chic restaurants as well as old-school cantinas. A guided tour allows us to dip our toes into this destination, one that more than 25 million people call home. Our visits include the city's central square, Zócalo, a cornerstone of history both ancient and modern with its current municipal buildings sitting on a site once occupied by Aztec palaces. We also enjoy entrance to the National Palace here, allowing us to see the frescos painted by Diego Riviera, artist and husband to Frida Kahlo. Another of our discoveries is Templo Mayor, the ruined temple that once stood in the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan - modern day Mexico City.
Following breakfast, today we return to the airport for our internal flight to Los Mochis, where we are picked up by coach for the journey to El Fuerte, in the northwest of the country. This brightly coloured town has many appealing features, including the nearby canyons awash with silver, and the subtropical rainforests that encompasses it like a lush, warm blanket. Our base here is the Hotel Posada del Hidalgo, and after time to look around the town, we enjoy dinner together this evening.
We are escorted to the train station this morning in time to board the service to Posada Barrancas station - a tiny settlement on the very edge of Mexico's Copper Canyon. High in the Tarahumara Mountains, this natural wonder stretches as far as the eye can see, its copper-green hue and sheer size marking it apart from anything you may have seen before. Las Barrancas del Cobre, as it's known in its native tongue, began its transformation into the spectacle you see today more than 30 million years ago. But this is not an inhospitable environment, many indigenous tribes still thrive in the area, using the mountains as a source of food, shelter and companionship. We are offered a glimpse into such a lifestyle, visiting a village inhabited by the Tarahumara tribe. Having hewn their homes out of the solid rock, these descendants of Native Americans have chosen to live apart from modern society, helping to preserve their unique way of life. We spend tonight at the Hotel Mirador Posada Barrancas, an establishment perched at one of the highest points on the canyon and affording every guest incomparable views of their magical surroundings.
On Day 5 we walk to the Piedra Volada lookout point, taking a cable car ride out over the precipice to soak in the sights of both the Tararecua and Urique Canyons. Then, from the station situated just outside of our hotel, we catch the Copper Canyon Railway to Creel, a sunken town surrounded by mysterious rock formations and pine forests - our home for two nights. The train stops en route, giving us time to look out from the amazing Divisadero viewing point.
Heading out by coach into the uneven landscape, today we make our way to the Valley of Monks. Following the Cusarare River up into the Sierra Tarahumara, we reach the point at which it cascades down on to the boulders below. This jagged-edged waterfall's tumultuous journey provides a beautiful curtain of water for us to admire, and accompanied by a local guide we are sure to learn all about the geological intricacies of this habitat. On our return to Creel, there's some free time for lunch before we embark on a guided walking tour that includes the Museo Casa de las Artesanías. Giving us a chance to understand more about Tarahumara culture, it's also a great place to pick up locally made crafts.
Day 7 brings us to the intriguingly named Valley of Mushrooms - though it will soon become clear that its origins lie in the toadstool shaped rock formations littering the valley floor. We also make a visit to the u-shaped Lake Arareco, up in the Sierra Madre Occidental range. We continue our travels around Mexico later this afternoon, taking the train to Chihuahua for one nights' stay.
Flying from Chihuahua this morning, we return to Mexico City for our connecting flight to Mérida, the largest city of the Yucatán Peninsula. We begin discovering the ancient civilizations of Mexico on Day 9, visiting Uxmal a prehispanic town filled with Mayan ruins. The soaring religious structures here date back to between 700 and 1000 AD, and have been laid out in such a way as to suggest a working understanding of astronomy.
Stepping forward in time, we take a guided tour of Mérida this afternoon, a hotspot of Spanish colonialism. With its parks, plazas and brightly decorated houses, it's a far cry from the town founded by conquistadors in the 1500s, and walking around we experience its many different cultural influences, including Mayan, Spanish, French, British, and even Dutch.
We take the scenic route to Playa Paraíso today, a quiet resort on Mexico's beautiful Mayan Riviera with resplendent white-sand beaches. We enjoy three nights here, staying at the 5-Star Iberostar Paraíso del Mar on an all inclusive basis.
One of the highlights of our tour comes today with a visit to Chichen Itza, the world-famous complex of Mayan remains. The most recognisable archeological treasure we'll see is the Kukulkan Pyramid, or El Castillo - one of the new seven wonders of the world. With a guide to show us around, we'll be treated to an insight into the forward thinking Mayan way of life. We'll also get to see, and swim in if you choose, Cenote Ik Kil. Just a short way from Chichen Itza, this natural, open-water pool hidden away in the rainforest was often used by the Mayans during religious ceremonies. Back at the hotel, Days 11 and 12 are at leisure for you to relax and unwind, making the most of the on-site facilities, warm Caribbean waters and nearby market.
Our travels draw to an end today. After breakfast we transfer to Cancun airport, flying firstly to Mexico City where we connect with our flight to London Heathrow, arriving on Day 14.
You may check in at the first hotel on your itinerary anytime after 14:00; this is where you will meet your Tour Manager.
An escorted experience and all travel arrangements
Comfortable accommodation in your destination
Delicious meals included
Exciting excursions and free time to explore
let yourself be immersed fully into this Latin American paradise