Best of Mexico & Cuba
Cheers a glass to the vivacious beauty and fiery flavours of Mexico and Cuba. Discover the culture and landscapes of these fascinating countries â with a spattering of enticing stops along the way. Discover Maya history and culture at the incredible Chichen Itza ruins, and visit traditional communities in the charming San Cristobal de las Casas. Indulge in a feast of delicious local food, with a chance to learn some cooking skills of your own. Wander through Havanaâs glittering colonial architecture, soak up the clear mountain air among Soroaâs vibrant mountain orchards, and admire Trinidadâs unrivalled ambience. Cuba's imminent political and cultural change makes it something to experience now before it evolves. From ruins to old cars to fragrant cigars and with plenty of salsa and mariachi in between, this trip has it all.
- Be dazzled by Mexico City's sprawling urban jungle
- Wander among the ancient Zapotec ruins of Monte Alban
- A guided walking tour of Â Old Havana sheds lights on the difference between the lives of city and rural life in Cuba
- A visit to the Che Guevara mausoleum and museum allows you to learn about the iconic Cuban revolutionary in the right contextTrinidad is a real Cuban treat â step back in time on its old-world streets, then hit some fine palm-flanked beaches
- Try your hand at traditional dance moves with an informal salsa lesson
- Journey back through time while navigating Havana's tumble-down neighbourhoods
- Get sashaying to the salsa in Vinales
- Admire the charming colonial architecture of Trinidad
|Physical||Cultural||Max Group Size||16||Duration||22 days|
|Category||Gold||Trips for those who want a tonne of inclusions, better standard accommodation, larger roomier vehicles.|
Day 1 - Mexico City
Settle in and, if you have time, take a stroll to get a feel for this vibrant and rapidly growing capital where the ancient and modern collide.
In the evening, usually around 7 pm, you will meet your leader and other members of your group for a pre-trip meeting. The exact time and place of the meeting can be found at the hotel reception. This meeting will be followed by an optional group dinner at a nearby restaurant.
Day 2 - Mexico City
There are enough activities to do in Mexico City to keep you busy all day. Some of the most popular activities in Mexico City (apart from the ones included in this trip) are:
La Casa Azul (Frida Kahlo Museum) - for a deeper understanding of this renowned Mexican artist. Bear in mind that queues can be long to enter this museum, particularly on weekends. An Uber taxi from your hotel to the museum should cost approximately MXN 160.
Closer to your hotel (about 1km) you'll find Plaza Garibaldi, where for about MXN 200 you can get a Mariachi band to perform for you!
Anahuacalli Museum - In the 1930's Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo's set in motion the plan to "give back" to Mexico two museums: The first one, La Casa Azul (Frida Kahlo Museum) and second one Anahacalli which hosts more than 50 thousand Pre-Hispanic pieces collected by Diego Rivera.
Leon Trotsky Museum - Having come second best to Stalin on the race to the helm of the Soviet Union, Trotski was expelled and found refuge in Mexico City - where he was eventually murdered. The entrance fee includes free guided tours in English. Ask about it at the ticket box. An Uber taxi from your hotel to the museum should cost you approximately MXN 100.
If you prefer to get out of the city and escape the crowds, take a trip to the canals and gardens of Xochimilco. An Uber taxi should cost about MXN 300 to get there.
Day 3 - Teotihuacan/Mexico City
We return to Mexico City for one last night in town.
Day 4 - Puebla/Oaxaca
Continue on to Oaxaca, the beautiful colonial city known for its cuisine and lively art scene. It's also a great place to browse for traditional Mexican handicrafts, with descendants of the Zapotec and Mixtec Indians selling an array of bright woven blankets and shawls.
Enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of the streets and take the opportunity to feast on some regional delicacies. From the delicious banana-leaf-wrapped âtomalesâ to the spicy baked chilli and lime grasshoppers, there's no shortage of unique and delicious fare, usually sold by the lovely old ladies of the markets.
Day 5 - Oaxaca
In the afternoon we'll visit the nearby village of TeotitlÃ¡n del Valle. The settlement is famous for its weaving, particularly of colourful rugs. Here you'll visit a workshop and see a weaving demonstration.
Finish up at an artisanal mescaleria for a taste of some of the best mescal in the area. Salud!
Day 6 - Oaxaca
Season depending, a folkloric ballet performance is a also a great optional activity. There's also the Santo Domingo Cultural Centre which is worth a visit.
Day 7 - San Cristobal de las Casas
Once in "SanCris" take a walk and soak up the strong old-world atmosphere of this town, which is due in no small part to the grand Spanish colonial architecture, prominent indigenous cultures and winding cobblestone streets.
Time permitting you may want to visit Sumidero Canyon, a gorgeous, 800-metre-deep canyon carved out by the Sumidero River. It's roughly as old as the Grand Canyon!
Day 8 - San Cristobal de las Casas
The rest of the time in SanCris is free for you to explore town. You may want to pay a visit to the Na Bolom Museum, a small museum/research centre which was the home of anthropologist and photographer Gertrude Duby-Blom and her archaeologist husband Frans Blom. While Frans explored Mayan sites all over Chiapas, Trudy studied, photographed and fought to protect the scattered Lacandon people. Today, apart from a hotel and a museum, the house provides free accommodation to Lacandon people that make their way to San Cristobal for work, studies or medical reasons.
Alternatively, you may want to visit the amber (jade) museum, which displays and sells beautifully carved items and insect-embedded pieces.
Day 9 - Palenque
Once in Palenque, enjoy some free time exploring the town.
The local Zapatista movement in the region around Palenque has been quite active in recent months, occasionally holding protests or blocking roads. Our local operations team is constantly monitoring this situation to ensure the safety of our passengers and leaders. In some cases we might need to use an alternative route from San Cristobal to Palenque to avoid this activity - more so to bypass long traffic delays than any real danger. It's also possible that the Misol-Ha and Agua Azul waterfalls will not be accessible at the time we are scheduled to visit.
Day 10 - Palenque/Merida
In the early afternoon we drive north to Merida (approximately 7 hours).
Day 11 - Merida
In the afternoon thereâll be some time to explore the many sights of Merida. Perhaps visit some of the museums, including the impressive Regional Anthropology Museum of the Yucatan, and stroll the city streets which are alive with art and culture. Hang out in the green and shady Plaza Grande, with the 16th-century cathedral on one side and City Hall, State Government Palace and Casa Mantejo on the other.
For a taste of Merida's 19th-century glory, go for a walk along the mansion-lined Paseo de Montejo. The outdoor market is another essential visit, with an array of hammocks and Mayan replicas for sale, plus a selection of enticing local cuisine, including the dish cochinita pibil ('little pig') or the mind-blowingly spicy El Yucateco hot sauce.
If you can't visit enough Mayan sites, you may want to head for the ancient ruins of Uxmal. Here you'll visit the amazing Palace of the Governors, considered by many to be the best example of classic Mayan architecture. You'll also see the mystical Pyramid of the Magician, comprising five super-imposed temples
Day 12 - Chichen Itza/Playa del Carmen
Day 13 - Tulum / Playa del Carmen
On the way back to Playa del Carman, we'll stop at a hidden cenote for a refreshing swim. These stunning natural sinkholes are filled with crystal clear fresh water and make for a memorable dip.
Day 14 - Playa del Carmen
Day 15 - Playa del carmen / Havana
If you arrive to Havana early in the day, please note most activities in Cuba can only be booked through the tourist desk in the lobbies of the larger hotels or direct with the venue. Otherwise, there are plenty of good museums to check out, including the Museo de la Revolucion and the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes.
There will be a welcome meeting at approximately 6pm this evening. Please expect a letter in your room or a phone call on Day 1 from your leader to confirm the time and place of your meeting. The briefing is generally followed by an optional group dinner.
Day 16 - Soroa â Vinales
Day 17 - Vinales
Vinales is a small and charming rural village. It's probably the easiest place to mingle with locals in Cuba, who are very sociable.Â Many of them love nothing better than to drink rum and dance the night away. An informal salsa lesson is included so you are confident to be involved. There are only three bars in this town, so you probably won't find yourself getting lost!Â Later head to an ecological farm for an included dinner.Â
Day 18 - Bay of Pigs - Cienfuegos
Then the short drive to your destination for the night, Cienfuegos. This is the gem of the south, a seaside town of relaxing streets and dazzling buildings that strike a beautiful pose by the water. You will enjoy a photo stop at Palacio del Valle, which is Cienfuegos' architectural pride and joy. Learn more about its history as you take in the beauty of its intricate carvings of Venetian alabaster. If you haven't done so already, perhaps try some Cuban coffee while you're here â it's served black, strong and super sweet.