21189
Mexico
Yucatan Peninsula Adventure: Kayak, Snorkel and Explore the Land of the Maya
See how the “Mayan Riviera” got its name as you kayak a UNESCO biosphere reserve, snorkel the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef and learn about the cenote sagrado (sacred well) of Chichén Itzá.
Program No. 21189RJ
Length
9 days
Starts at
2,750
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9 days
8 nights
20 meals
8 B 7 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. Two arrival transfers provided this day. Pick-up times to be scheduled by the Road Scholar Program Provider approximately 30 days prior to the program start date, will be based on the most popular flight schedules. Note, the Road Scholar hotel offers a complimentary round trip airport shuttle service. 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 motorcoach, 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: 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: Join your group leader in a stretching session by the hotel swimming pool before boarding our bus for the drive to Valladolid. Upon arrival in Valladolid, 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 history of the Yucatan and the Mayan calendar by a local expert.

Dinner: At the hotel's garden restaurant.

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

Activity note: 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: Meet in the hotel gardens for a stretching session with your group leader. After warming up, 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! Before lunch, we will drive two miles to 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.

Lunch: Lunch at Cenote Yokdzonot.

Afternoon: 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
Punta Laguna Spider Monkey Reserve, Cobá Town & Maya Ruins
Tulum
B,L,D
Los Lirios Cabanas Hotel

Activity note: Trekking for more than 1 hour over uneven forest trails of dirt, mud and rock at first field trip site. 2 hour walk at Cobá ruins over similar terrain. Hot, humid conditions at both field trip sites. 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: This morning we will take a 2 hour drive to the Punta Laguna Spider Monkey Reserve for a forest trek guided by a local community member. For the next hour and a half, we will learn about local flora and fauna while walking on forest trails. Be on the look out for spider monkeys and howler monkeys--the main stars of this little-known park. Although the small and unassuming nature sanctuary is known for protecting hundreds of black-handed spider monkeys and a lesser number of howler monkeys, it also provides a safe haven for all nature of native wildlife and flora. An exploration of the forest trails reveals tall ceiba trees, zacate trees, fruiting ramón trees (a squirrel monkey favorite) and colorful epiphytic bromeliads. Ancient stone mounds and stone dwellings blend into the forest and offer interesting clues about the people who once inhabited the area. Depart to Cobá ruins for a site visit.

Lunch: At local restaurant en route.

Afternoon: Walking field trip at Cobá ruins. 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). Transfer to Tulum. Arrive at the hotel and check-in.

Dinner: At hotel restaurant.

DAY
5
Boca Paila Lagoon, Kayaking at Sian Ka'an
Tulum
B,L
Los Lirios Cabanas Hotel

Activity note: Approximate 35 mile drive, about 1 hour driving time from Tulum to Sian Ka’an. 2 hours kayaking in the freshwater canals of Sian Ka’an. Hot, humid conditions. Wear a hat and water shoes. Bring sunscreen, water and bug spray.

Breakfast: At the hotel restaurant.

Morning: After breakfast, depart to Boca Paila and arrive to the freshwater lagoon of Sian Ka'an. During the next 2 hours, kayak in the freshwater canals of Sian Ka'an. This activity will provide a good workout and give us an opportunity to examine local vegetation and spot wildlife. 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.

Lunch: On the beach

Afternoon: Return to the hotel. Time at leisure to explore the local town, spend time at the beach or enjoy the gentle sea breezes from the comfort of a hammock. Before dinner, take in a lecture: Cenotes and Underground River Systems of the Yucatán Peninsula by a local expert.

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

DAY
6
Tulum Ruins, Cave Snorkeling, Merengue Lessons
Tulum
B,L
Los Lirios Cabanas Hotel

Activity note: Rocky, uneven dirt road at Tulum ruins. Spend approximately 1 hour 30 minutes walking at field trip site. Snorkeling gear provided at no extra cost during visit to Cenote Nohoch. Hot, humid conditions. Wear a hat and water shoes. Bring sunscreen, water and bug spray.

Breakfast: At the hotel restaurant.

Morning: Ride to the historic Tulum ruins. Interpretation on the ruins will be provided by our Group Leader as we enjoy a walking exploration of the site. Get a close look at some of its 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. Transfer to Cenote Nohoch for a snorkeling adventure in one of the world's longest underwater cave systems! Cenote Nohoch is part of the Sistema Sac Aktun, a large underwater cave system in Mexico's Riviera Maya. Visitors who are fortunate to spend time swimming and snorkeling at Nohoch have the opportunity to view some of nature's most beautiful creations. Multicolored stalactites and stalagmites protrude from cave ceilings and floors, visible above and below the waterline.

Lunch: At local restaurant.

Afternoon: Return to the hotel. Late in the afternoon, put your recently acquired dance skills to the test during a follow-up merengue lesson at the hotel.

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

DAY
7
Snorkeling, Transfer to Playa del Carmen, Free Time
Playa del Carmen
B,L
Hacienda Real Caribe

Activity note: For snorkeling - bring a hat, sunscreen, water and a towel. Please wear sturdy water proof sandals for entering the water at Tankah Bay. Please, no flip flops. Transfer from Tankah Bay to Playa Del Carmen is 35 miles, approximately 50 minutes.

Breakfast: At the hotel restaurant.

Morning: Check out of hotel. Board the motor coach and depart for snorkeling activity at Tankah Bay. After arriving at Tankah Bay, receive a brief orientation on safety procedures and the use of the equipment. Enjoy the morning snorkeling in the warm, clear water of the Caribbean Sea looking for marine wildlife in the nearby reef and bay.

Lunch: Lunch at local restaurant.

Afternoon: After lunch, transfer to Playa del Carmen. Playa del Carmen, the focal point of the Mayan Riviera, has matured from a coastal fishing village to a vibrant town with an eclectic and carefree island feel. With dazzling beaches and an offshore reef, it is the ideal destination to conclude our energizing venture. Arrive at the hotel and check-in. Enjoy the rest of the day at your leisure to enjoy the beach, explore Playa del Carmen's main strip (Avenida 5), or lounge by the hotel pool.

Dinner: Dinner will be on your own, for a chance to explore local dining options. Your Group Leader is happy to offer suggestions.

DAY
8
Selvatica Park, Reef Snorkeling, Farewell Dinner
Playa del Carmen
B,L,D
Hacienda Real Caribe

Activity note: The drive from Playa del Carmen to Selvatica Eco Park is 28 miles, approximately 45 minutes. Swimming in a cenote - bring a bathing suit and a towel. Wear a hat, closed shoes or sneakers, sunscreen and bug spray.

Breakfast: At the hotel restaurant.

Morning: After breakfast, we will take a drive to Selvatica Eco-Park for a rainforest adventure that includes gliding through the jungle on a zip line, and swimming in a cenote! Experience the thrill of coursing through and above the tree tops for a bird’s eye view of the jungle. Selvatica Eco-Park has two miles of zip lines threaded through the forest and connected by tree platforms. Zip lines are installed on an incline and work by using gravity to propel the user who wears a special harness clipped onto the cable. After donning your safety gear and learning the do’s and don’ts of zip lining, you will have the opportunity to try it for yourself with help from the park’s staff.

Lunch: At Selvatica Eco-Park. Buffet lunch plus water and soda.

Afternoon: Transfer to Puerto Morelos National Park for snorkeling on the reef. 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, between Cancún and Playa del Carmen. The world’s second largest barrier reef, the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, lies a short distance from the town’s shore 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. After the snorkeling activity, the rest of our afternoon will be at lesiure. Spend time with your new Road Scholar friends, finish your packing, or freshen up for the farewell dinner tonight.

Dinner: Farewell dinner at local restaurant with mariachi music.

DAY
9
Program Concludes
In Flight
B

Activity note: Driving time from Playa del Carmen to Cancun is 44 miles, approximately 1 hour. Please make sure your international flights are departing at 12:30 pm or later. Group transfer to Cancun International Airport will depart at 8:30 am from the hotel.

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. The group transfer from the hotel is scheduled for 8:30 am. Please make sure your flights are departing at or later than 12:30 pm. Other arrangements can be made at an additional cost. 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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