21189
Mexico
Yucatan Peninsula Adventure: Hike, Snorkel and Bike the Land of the Maya
See how the “Mayan Riviera” got its name as you float a UNESCO biosphere reserve, snorkel the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef and learn about the cenote sagrado (sacred well) of Chichén Itzá.
Program No. 21189RJ
Length
8 days
Starts at
2,399
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8 days
7 nights
19 meals
8 B 6 L 5 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
In Transit to Program, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Cancun
D
Courtyard Marriott Cancun

Activity note: Program Orientation at 6:00 PM. Flights should arrive no later than 4:30 PM. The Road Scholar hotel offers a complimentary airport shuttle service. All participants are welcome to take advantage of this service. For those on Road Scholar flights, please look for the Scholar representative who will greet you upon arrival and assist with the transfer. The hotel is located approximately 5 minutes from the International airport. Hotel check in usually from 3:00 PM.

Dinner: Program Orientation and Welcome Dinner at hotel. The Group Leader will greet everyone with a warm welcome and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have. Transfers to and from program activities will be by bus, unless specified otherwise. Free time is reserved for your personal independent exploration. Evenings at leisure offer opportunities to make the program more meaningful and memorable through personal independent exploration, engaging in available activities on your own, or simply relaxing and making new friends among fellow participants. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Meals on our program feature local cuisine. In many cases, they will be plated and served set meals; in others, we will have buffets with multiple options. Beverages include coffee, tea, water; other beverages are usually available for purchase. Please note that program activities, schedules, and personnel may need to change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
2
Explore Valladolid, Transfer to Chichen Itzá
Chichen Itza
B,L,D
Hotel Mayaland - Chichen Itza

Activity note: Before breakfast join the group leader in a stretching session by the hotel swimming pool. 2.5 hour drive from Cancun to Valladolid. Light walking, approximately 1 mile, during exploration of Valladolid. Distance between Valladolid and Chichen Itza is approximately 34 miles, about 45 minutes driving time.

Breakfast: At the hotel restaurant.

Morning: We will board our bus for the drive to Valladolid. Upon arrival enjoy a guided walking exploration of the city. Visit the main plaza and Bernandino Convent before stopping for lunch.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: After lunch, transfer to Chichén Itzá Chichén Itzá is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and, without question, one of the nation's best and most visited Maya ruins. The magnificent architectural and sculptural splendor of the city reflects a blend of cultural influences including Maya, Toltec, and Itzá. Arrive at the hotel and check-in. Before dinner, enjoy a lecture on the Mayas of the Yucatan by a local expert.

Dinner: At the hotel's garden restaurant.

DAY
3
Chichén Itzá Ruins, Cenote Swim, Planetarium Show
Chichen Itza
B,L,D
Hotel Mayaland - Chichen Itza

Activity note: Meet in the hotel gardens for a pre breakfast stretching session with your group leader. At Chichen Itza, walking approximately 3 hours with stops over flat trails of dirt and rock. Wear closed shoes or sneakers and a hat. Bring sunscreen, water and bug spray. The planetarium show is held at Hotel Mayaland.

Breakfast: At the hotel restaurant.

Morning: After breakfast, walk to the archaeological ruins at Chichén Itzá. While you explore the impressive temples, ball court, and observatory found in the city complex the Group Leader will provide commentary. El Castillo, the 80-foot pyramid that dominates the complex, is actually a sophisticated calendar. There are four stairways on El Castillo, each with 91 steps, adding up to a total of 365 steps--the number of days in a year. Each year during the spring and autumn equinoxes, shadows form numerous triangles that create the shape of a serpent. As the days come closer to the spring equinox, the serpent gradually climbs the pyramid. When the shadows return in September, the shape of the serpent creeps down the face of El Castillo. Near El Castillo is Chichén Itzá's great ball court--the largest of its kind in Mexico. This official Maya sport had an interesting way of honoring its victors. At the close of each game, the captain of the winning team was decapitated as a sacrifice to the gods! Return to the hotel to briefly freshen up and prepare for swimming at the cenote. We will board a bus for the drive to the cenote.

Lunch: Lunch at Cenote Yokdzonot.

Afternoon: After lunch, we will descend into Cenote Yokdzonot to take a refreshing dip in its cool waters. Cenotes are water-filled, limestone sinkholes found in the Yucatán and some Caribbean sites. Cenotes were an important source of freshwater for the Maya living in the Yucatán Peninsula. They were also believed to be the gateways to the afterlife and were treated as sacred sites Return to the hotel. Once back at the hotel, enjoy some time at your leisure to relax by the pool, catch up on your reading or maybe explore the hotel trails. Before dinner, enjoy a fun merengue lesson in the hotel gardens. Merengue music has an upbeat tropical sound that ranges from slow and romantic to fast, techno-infused pieces. Although the music has evolved into various forms, the distinct two-beat rhythm remains. Closely related to the salsa, the merengue is often felt to be an easier dance to teach since its footwork and sequences are less complicated. Partners face each other, in a closed position, moving in a circular pattern and simultaneously stepping and swaying to the music.

Dinner: At the hotel restaurant.

Evening: After dinner, walk to the Planetarium for a show: Tales of the Maya Skies.

DAY
4
Cobá Town & Biking Maya Ruins, Gran Cenote
Tulum
B,L,D
Los Lirios Cabanas Hotel

Activity note: Approximately 1.5 hour drive to Cobá ruins. Biking for approximately 30 minutes at Cobá ruins over terrain of dirt and grass in hot, humid conditions. Wear a hat and closed shoes or sneakers. Bring sunscreen, water and bug spray. Optional 115 step climb to the top of the pyramid at Cobá. Steep stairs can lead to feelings of uneasiness and vertigo, avoid the difficulties on the way down, descend in zig-zag fashion.

Breakfast: At the hotel restaurant.

Morning: Depart to Cobá ruins for a site visit. As we bike through the site, our Group Leader a local guide will provide expert commentary on the ruins. Those who prefer not to bike or are unable to do so can take a tricycle taxi part of the way or walk. Tricycle service is only available until the main pyramid and then participants must disembark and walk for the rest of the site visit. The pyramids and stelae at Cobá resemble the architecture of Tikal (situated over a hundred miles away in present-day Guatemala) and not the style found at neighboring Chichén Itzá. In fact, depictions of Tikal royalty appear on several stelae at Cobá and this has led many to theorize that Cobá and Tikal maintained an alliance for many years. Scattered throughout the ruins are numerous sacbés, a type of avenue paved with stone. The longest remaining sacbé leads to Nohoch Mul, the largest pyramid in the city. Nohoch Mul is the tallest pyramid on the Yucatán Peninsula and was likely constructed during the Post-Classic period (1100-1450).

Lunch: At local restaurant.

Afternoon: Transfer to Gran Cenote for a snorkeling adventure in one of the world's longest underwater cave systems! Gran Cenote is part of the Sistema Sac Aktun, a large underwater cave system in Mexico's Riviera Maya. Participants will have the opportunity to view some of nature's most beautiful creations, as multicolored stalactites and stalagmites protrude from cave ceilings and floors, and are visible above and below the waterline. Arrive at the hotel and check-in. Time to freshen up. Before dinner, take in a lecture: Cenotes and Underground River Systems of the Yucatán Peninsula by a local expert.

Dinner: At the hotel.

DAY
5
Muyil Ruins, Floating at Sian Ka'an Reserve, Tulum Ruins
Tulum
B,L
Los Lirios Cabanas Hotel

Activity note: Approximate 20 mile drive, about 1 hour driving time from Tulum to Muyil and Sian Ka’an. 1 hour visit to Muyil Ruins with approximately 1.5 miles walking on even gravel surfaces. Boating and floating in the freshwater canals of Sian Ka’an for approximately 2 hours. Hot, humid conditions. Wear a hat, bathing suit and water shoes. There are restrooms on site. Bring sunscreen, water, bug spray, and a change of clothes to change out of bathing suit after float.

Breakfast: At the hotel restaurant.

Morning: Board bus and begin transfer to Muyil archaeological site. The site is located on the Sian Kaan lagoon just south of Tulum. Artifacts discovered in Muyil date back to 350 BCE, making Muyil one of the earliest Mayan sites on the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. The style of the ruins is an example of Peten architecture, notable for slender pyramids with steep walls and prominent staircases. At Muyil, a temple sits atop the pyramid. We will disembark and visit the site with our Group Leader who will provide interpretation on the ruins. After visiting the ruins, we will follow a trail within the park that leads to the Sian Kaan lagoon. The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve protects approximately 969,000 hectares of lands between the municipalities of Tulum and Felipe Carrillo Puerto in Mexico’s Caribbean region. Sian Ka’an encompasses the main ecosystems found throughout the Yucatán Peninsula including coral reef, low and medium-growth forests, savannas, and wetlands. So far the park has recorded 103 mammal species (including 5 cat species!), 339 bird species, and 42 amphibian and reptile species. The reserve also protects 23 registered Maya sites. We will board an open-topped boat and ride across the lagoon. Once on the other side, we will navigate to a canal that was hand-made by the Maya and stop to swim in the shallow water. This area used to be part of the Maya’s trade route thus, they built a network of canals connecting the various lagoons in the area to the ocean. We will float down the canal’s gentle current and reach a wooden dock where we will exit the water. A short walk on the boardwalk returns us to the boat. Return to the pier for disembarkation. The bus will be waiting to take us to our lunch venue.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Return to the hotel. Time at leisure. Later in the afternoon, we will transfer to Tulum Ruins. We enter the park just prior to closing and stay for an after-hours visit in the ruins. If the weather is favorable, we will be able to enjoy a beautiful sunset from the ruins. Interpretation on the ruins will be provided by our Group Leader as we enjoy a walking exploration of the site. We will also be accompanied by a guard from the park service. Get a close look at some of Tulum's more notable buildings including the Temple of the Wind, El Castillo, Temple of the Frescoes, and the Temple of the Descending God. Although the ruins at Tulum lack the grandeur of Chichén Itzá and Cobá, its setting is breathtaking. The city was built sometime during the Early Classic Period (250-600) on top of a cliff overlooking the turquoise waters of the Caribbean. When the Spaniards arrived in the early sixteenth century, Tulum still operated as an important trading port. This was one of the last Maya cities to be abandoned after Spain’s conquest. Return to the hotel.

Dinner: On your own to explore local fare. Your Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: Prepare for check out and transfer tomorrow morning.

DAY
6
Canoeing, Canopy and Cenote Rappelling, Mayan Ceremony
Puerto Morelos
B,L
Hacienda Morelos

Activity note: Transfer about 40 miles, approximately 1 hour to Pac Chen. Rocky, uneven dirt road at Pac Chen. Spend approximately 1 hour walking at field trip site. Hot, humid conditions. Wear a bathing suit, hat and water shoes. Bring sunscreen, water and bug spray. Approximately 2 hour drive to Puerto Morelos.

Breakfast: At the hotel restaurant.

Morning: Check out and depart to Pac Chen. Pac Chen was once a community devoted to logging. With the support of local companies, it is now devoted to eco-tourism and offers some fun activities for adventure-seekers. At Pac Chen, we will have time to canoe in the lagoon, zipline, rappel into a cenote and attend a presentation by a community leader about the importance of cenotes and spirituality in Mayan culture. The rappelling activity will be led by a local expert. We will receive instructions and safety information from the local guide prior to the activity. Then, we will secure a harness around our waists and the local guide will attach a rope that will be used to lower us into the cenote one by one. The distance between the top of the cenote and the water is no more than 30 feet and there will be a local guide in the cenote waiting to hand us an inner tube. For those who wish to skip this activity, the Group Leader can suggest other activity options such as canoeing or walking the park's trails. The zip lining activity consists of zipping between platforms that are between 20 to 40 feet high and 90 to 120 yards long. The speed can be controlled to an extent by the participants and local guides will be present throughout the activity to give safety instructions and assist us.

Lunch: At local restaurant.

Afternoon: Transfer to Puerto Morelos. Upon arrival, check in and enjoy some time at leisure. Before, dinner we regroup for a salsa lesson led by a local expert.

Dinner: Dinner will be on your own, for a chance to explore local dining options.

DAY
7
Snorkeling, Botanical Garden Visit and Lecture
Puerto Morelos
B,L,D
Hacienda Morelos

Activity note: For snorkeling - bring a hat, biodegradable sunscreen and water. Towels will be provided. Please wear sturdy water proof sandals for entering the water at Puerto Morelos Marine Reserve Please, no flip flops. For the visit to the botanical garden please bring a hat, insect repellent and closed toe shoes.

Breakfast: At the hotel restaurant.

Morning: We will walk about 15 minutes from our hotel to a nearby pier to board the boat we will use for snorkeling along the Great Mesoamerican Reef that lies just offshore in front of Puerto Morelos. We will receive a brief orientation on safety procedures and the use of the equipment. Then, we will have the opportunity to enjoy two 45-minute snorkeling sessions at different spots on the reef. The small seaside community of Puerto Morelos is situated on Mexico’s Caribbean Coast. The Great Mesoamerican Barrier Reef is the world’s second largest barrier reef and extends all the way from Mexico to Honduras. The reef reportedly harbors up to 500 different species of fish and 60 species of coral. During our snorkeling activity, we will have the opportunity to see firsthand the biodiversity that thrives in these waters. At the end of the activity, the boat will return us to the pier and we will walk back to the hotel.

Lunch: Lunch at local restaurant.

Afternoon: We will transfer to the Dr. Alfredo Barrera Marin Botanical Garden nearby Puerto Morelos. Here we will enjoy a walk on the interpretative trails and learn about Mayan medicinal plants, local flora, and traditional gum tree production. If lucky, we will also have the opportunity to spot the Spider monkeys that live inside the 160 acre park. During the visit, a local guide will accompany us and provide expert commentary. Return to the hotel. Time to freshen up before dinner.

Dinner: Farewell dinner at a local restaurant. We will have a plated meal plus one alcoholic beverage and water. Other drinks available for purchase.

DAY
8
Program Concludes
In Flight
B

Activity note: Check out is 12 Noon. Driving time from Puerto Morelos to Cancun International Airport is 16 miles, approximately 30 minutes.

Breakfast: At the hotel restaurant (dependent on flight times).

Morning: Transfer to the international airport in Cancun for flight back to the U.S. Arriving to the airport 3 hours before scheduled flight time is highly recommended. Participants with independent travel arrangements and/or scheduled on later flights can keep their hotel rooms until check-out time on this day. Except for breakfast, all other meals are on your own on this day. This concludes the program.If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoyed your Road Scholar adventure! When you get home, remember to stay in touch via the Road Scholar Social Network; share memories, pictures, and comments about your recent travels.






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