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Itinerary

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Tour Itinerary

Make Mexico your amigo with this 15-day exploration from the sprawling megacity of Mexico City out to the coastal sounds of Playa del Carmen. This overland adventure covers the best of the mex - from colourful colonial architecture and weaving cobblestoned laneways of Oaxaca, the highland culture and charm of San Cristobal de las Casas, the lush jungle and ruins of Palenque, the lively hub of Merida, to discovering the gems of the Caribbean. All of this, with the added bonus of as many tacos, tostadas and tejates you can devour. Experience the real Mexico, by immersing yourself in the culture and history, eating the delicious food and travelling alongside communities of joyful locals. You know, life could be worse.

Countries Visited

Mexico

  1. Day 1
    Mexico City
    Bienvenidos! Where better to start a Meh-i-co exploration than in Mexico City – one of the world's largest urban centres. Forget about the crowds and the smog, Mexico City has got museums, galleries and diverse architecture for you, along with pumping nightlife and delicious street food. Let’s kick things off with a welcome meeting today at 6 pm. If you arrive into the city early, head to the Zocalo, the city's huge central square to see Aztec ruins and colonial architecture, or relax in one of the many parks, plazas or gardens. Another great thing to do is to hop on one of the colourfully painted boats that cruise through the canal district of Xochimilco, or head to the National Palace for a look at the intricate murals painted by Diego Rivera. After the meeting tonight, you’re definitely going to want to seek out some tacos for dinner, and with an informal lesson from your group leader, try to place your order in Spanish!
  2. Day 2
    Mexico City
    Maybe grab some chilaquiles (a type of breakfast nachos) in the morning, then join your leader for an orientation walk around the historic centre of the city. Mexico City can feel overwhelming due to its sheer size and volume of people, however your group leader will know where to go. Walking makes you hungry, so it’s time to head on an included taco crawl, sample a couple of tacos from local street food vendors. It’s nothing fancy, but they sure are delicious. The afternoon is free for you to enjoy – if you like art, the Frida Kahlo Museum is a must-see, and for all museum lovers there's the Museum of Anthropology or the Palace of Fine Art. Don’t forget to snack your way around the city too, munching on tostadas, tortas, and chicharrones all day long. Alternatively, you can choose to take an optional day trip to the archaeological ruins of Teotihuacan, 50 kilometres out of the city. A local guide will lead you down ‘The Avenue of the Dead’, pointing out the historic Pyramid of the Sun and Pyramid of the Moon.
    Meals:   Dinner
  3. Day 3
    Oaxaca
    Take a public bus to the smaller but no less beautiful city of Oaxaca (around 7 hours). Pronounced ‘wuh-haa-ka’, this colourful town in the south is full of colonial buildings, colourful arcades and busy markets. Your group leader will provide an orientation walk to get your bearings, before giving you the time to visit at your own pace. With two full days to come, you’ll have heaps of time to explore the narrow, cobbled streets in the city, as well as the culture and natural beauty of the surrounding area. Descendants of the Zapotec and Mixtec Indians selling colourful woven blankets and shawls populate the markets – a great place to shop for textiles, as well as margarita flavours. Here you’ll also find some tasty regional food specialties, everything from cactus fruit, to spicy baked chilli and lime grasshoppers and the heavenly Oaxacan cheese. Make sure you pick up a tejate – a maize and cinnamon flavoured chocolate drink served cold. On your walk, be sure to look out for any reference to Oaxaca’s renowned arts scene, including folk art, fine art and dance. Get lost admiring the spectrum of coloured buildings or sit in the main square listening to a street performer, sipping a mezcal and watching the world pass by.
  4. Day 4
    Oaxaca
    The city (and state) of Oaxaca is yours to explore on this free day, full of optional experiences. Perhaps head to the spectacular mountain top temples of Monte Alban just outside the city. Monte Alban was inhabited for 1500 years by the Olmec, Zapotec and Mixtec peoples, and is an outstanding example of a pre-Columbian ceremonial centre. The settlement's terraces, dams, canals and pyramids were literally carved out of the mountain. You’d better have your camera ready, because up here you can get an amazing view across the three legs of the valley of Oaxaca. Alternatively, you could take a day tour out to the nearby Mitla Ruins. Mitla (the Nahuatl word for ‘underworld’) is an important Zapotec archaeological site and was the main religious centre for the Zapotec people. For something more relaxing on your way from Mitla, drop by the springs of Hierve el Agua – a series of mineral pools and calcified waterfalls dotted on top of a mountain, providing sweeping panoramic views of the Mexican countryside. Perhaps on the way back to Oaxaca, you could stop into a mezcaleria (mezcal distillery) to learn about the lesser-known but more and more popular hermano (brother) of tequila. It is mainly produced in Oaxaca, but is not for the faint-hearted as it’s generally enjoyed straight-up. Bottom’s up!
  5. Day 5
    Oaxaca / Overnight bus
    Today is another full day in Oaxaca, but be prepared to board an overnight bus later to travel to the mountain-top village of San Cristobal de las Casas. You’ve got today to bask in the colour and sights of Oaxaca, so why not test out your culinary skills at a delicious cooking class? Otherwise, check out the artisan stores in the markets and around town, and head to the historic Templo de Santo Domingo – a grand stone church with a large forecourt. This evening the group will take an overnight bus to he highland town of San Cristobal de las Casas – a journey of approximately 13 hours. Reclining seats and toilet are available on the bus. They are always air-conditioned, so make sure you take a warm layer with you, as it may get cold on board. While the bus is very comfortable, the road from Oaxaca to San Cristobal has some very winding sections. If you suffer from motion sickness, this will be a good time to have your medication ready.
  6. Day 6
    San Cristobal de las Casas
    Say ‘hola’ to San Cristobal, your pastel-hued highland home for the next two days. Arrive early in the morning – check-in at the hotel isn't usually until midday, so leave your luggage and start exploring the city. Today and tomorrow are at your leisure here. Your group leader will point the main things out on a leader-led city tour, and afterwards, will help you arrange any optional activities. With its winding cobblestone streets snuggled in the Chiapas highlands, San Cristobal de las Casas has an old-world feel mixed with strong pre-hispanic roots. Wander to a local cafe and check out their baked goods or try some pox – a traditional corn-based liquor, often flavoured with other ingredients.
  7. Day 7
    San Cristobal de las Casas
    Head out of town this morning and take a tour of the nearby San Juan Chamula, a traditional Maya village that serves as a centre for the indigenous folk around here. The villages are home to Tzotzil and Tzeltal groups, who maintain their tribal origins through their traditional dress and customs. Your leader will take you to a church where the floor is covered with pine needles and the air is heavy with incense. Shamans come here to carry out cleansings with firewater, ancient prayer and chickens. Please be aware of a strict ban on cameras as the local people maintain their traditional customs. Afterwards, there's an option to take a trip to Sumidero Canyon, where you can take a boat down the mighty Rio Grijalva. Or you might like to get things pumping with further exploration of the villages by mountain bike. For something more adventurous, try a canyoning trip to ‘El Chorreadero’. This 6-hour excursion will see you venture a kilometre inside a (dry) cave and return following the river through a number of cascades, pools and rappels. A truly memorable experience, but probably not recommended for the claustrophobic or those with fear of heights.
  8. Day 8
    Lacanja River
    Today travel along a windy road by private vehicle to Lacanja River (approximately 6 hours). You will stop at Agua Azul (blue water) waterfall on the way (providing road conditions allow), where you'll have an option to swim in the cascading pools. Once you've arrived, the afternoon and tomorrow is free for you to relax or explore. There are a few optional activities on offer, including a rafting experience over Lacanja River waterfalls and backwaters and to the nearby archaeological site, then travelling back through the jungle and past the waterfalls of Moctuniha. There are also some awesome guided hikes available to book, so ask your group leader if you would like to organise this. Coming from the city today, you’ll have a much different experience – staying right in the middle of the jungle in an eco-cabana.
    Meals:   Breakfast   Dinner
  9. Day 10
    Palenque
    This morning, drive to Palenque by private transfer (approximately 2.5 hours). After arrival, head to the archaeological zone and visit the ruins of Palenque. Sitting on a hilltop surrounded by thick trees, the ruins date back to AD600 and are some of the most impressive Mayan relics in Mexico. As you take a self-guided walk among the temples, listen out for the eerie calls of howler monkeys and screeching parrots echoing from the jungle. There are many ruins that are still un-excavated and remain concealed in the forest. You can opt to take a guided tour of the ruins or through the surrounding jungle to a hidden waterfall (at an extra fee). The area gives you a great idea of what the Spanish invaders must have seen when they first arrived. This feels like real Tomb Raider stuff.
  10. Day 11
    Merida
    Today, travel by public bus and head north up to the old-world charm of Merida (approximately 7-8 hours in total). Founded in 1542, this city has a large indigenous population, with approximately 60% of Merida residents of Maya background. Take use of an orientation walk on arrival and wander through the Old Town, checking out some museums 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 others. For a taste of Merida's 19th-century glory, go for a walk along the mansion-lined Paseo de Montejo. Mornings are the best time to visit the outdoor markets, where you can stock up on hammocks and Maya replicas. This is also a great place to sample local food specialities, such as cochinita pibil (slow-roasted barbeque pork) or the extremely spicy El Yucateco hot sauce. For a snack, there's a bicycle cart on almost every corner in Merida selling elotes (corn on the cob) doused in salt, chilli, cheese, lemon juice or other toppings. If you haven’t noticed already: yeah, they like corn.
  11. Day 12
    Merida
    Make the best of these two free days to explore Merida. Merida is the gateway to the Maya ruins of Uxmal. Perhaps today a tour of the ruins is on the cards, including a guide and shared transport. Little is known about the site’s origins but it’s thought the city was founded around AD500. Much of the site is decorated with masks of the rain god Chac. Otherwise, you can also visit a nearby bird sanctuary or a variety of other ruins, or hunt down one of the hidden cenotes (stunning natural sinkholes filled with water) and take a dip in the crystal clear fresh water. If you decide to stay in the city, know that Merida's locals love dancing. Every Sunday the town's streets are transformed into an open-air dance floor, with salsa and merengue bands providing the music.
  12. Day 14
    Playa del Carmen
    Today, travel to Izamal by private bus (approximately 2 hours), which is known as the City of Yellow, because of the yellow ochre and white hues painted on many of the buildings, as the local’s way to preserve its light and project it to the future. Enjoy a leader-led city tour with a visit the San Antonio de Padua Convent – an imposing colonial structure at the centre of town adorned in the city’s distinct colour. Then continue to visit the most well-known archaeological site in Mexico: Chichen Itza. Listed as one of the new seven wonders of the world, Chichen Itza is considered the most important example of a fusion of Maya and Toltec tradition and civilisation in Yucatan. See the Caracol (a circular stellar observatory), the Great Ball Court (the largest field in Mesoamerica) the main sight in El Castillo (a step pyramid dominating the centre of the site) and many more historic ruins. Lastly onto the resort hub of Playa del Carmen (approximately 2.5 hours). Blessed with azure waters, powdery beaches and a European feel, Playa del Carmen is relatively close to Cancun but with less of a young party atmosphere. Here you can spend your time snorkelling among the mangroves or in underground caverns, tanning, or strolling along the white sands of the playa (beach). Your group leader will provide an orientation walk to the city, with a visit to a Mexican ice-cream store for an included tasting (of course). You’ll lean more about the fruits, flavours and the traditional combinations. With a free afternoon at your leisure, why not pull up a towel and bask in this tropical paradise? It is also possible to take a ferry from here across to Cozumel, an island famous for its reef. In the evening, feast on seafood, kick back with your group and watch the waves with a margarita in hand.
  13. Day 15
    Playa del Carmen
    With no activities and no accommodation planned for the day, you are welcome to check-out at any time. Today is a perfect day to travel south on a half-day tour to the Tulum archaeological site, quite unique because of its placement on the side of a cliff overlooking the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea. If you wish to spend more time in Playa del Carmen, we'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).

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Inclusions

  • Mexico City - Leader-led City Tour of Historic Center
  • Mexico City - Leader-led Taco Crawl
  • Leader-led Informal Spanish Lesson
  • Oaxaca - Leader-led orientation walk
  • San Cristobal de Las Casas - Leader-led City Tour
  • San Juan Chamula - Maya Church (entrance fee)
  • Zinacantan - Maya Church (entrance fee)
  • Agua Azul - Waterfall Visit
  • Palenque - Archaeological site (Entrance fee & Transport)
  • Merida - Leader-led orientation walk
  • Playa del Carmen - Leader-led Orientation Walk
  • Playa del Carmen - Paleteria visit (Mexican Ice-cream store)
  • Izamal - Convento de San Antonio de Padua (Entrance)
  • Izamal - Leader-led walking tour
  • Chichen Itza - Archaeological site

Meals
1 Breakfast(s) Included
1 Lunch(es) Included
1 Dinner(s) Included

Style: Basix

Health and Safety Protocols for Intrepid Tours

Protection against COVID-19 as well as other transmissible diseases requires enhanced protocols in hygiene and sanitation. We will put in place additional measures, in line with government health advice and with global health authorities (including the WHO and CDC) to ensure that we maintain the highest standards of cleanliness and hygiene.

Hand Hygiene
Handwashing is one of the most important safety measures to prevent the spread of disease. Intrepid will actively reinforce its importance by:

  • Implementing a handwashing policy that dictates when, how often and for how long all staff, leaders and crew must wash their hands on-trip.
  • Promote the importance of hand hygiene to customers through signage and online customer material.
  • Contract suppliers that have hand hygiene protocols in place
  • Contract suppliers that provide hand sanitizer in public places (where applicable)
  • Educate staff, leaders, crew and suppliers on the importance of hand hygiene via training.

Respiratory Hygiene
Practicing good respiratory hygiene prevents the spread of disease by reducing the number of droplets in the air when you sneeze or cough. Intrepid will:

  • Actively reinforce its importance to customers through signage and online customer material.
  • Educate staff, leaders, crew and suppliers on the importance of respiratory hygiene via training.
  • Contract suppliers who have respiratory hygiene protocols in place.

Masks
In addition, in areas with high community transmission and/or places that are difficult to maintain physical distancing, we recommend the the following at-risk people also wear them. Intrepid follows the advice of the World Health Organisation (WHO) that masks should only be used as part of a comprehensive prevention strategy and that the use of a mask alone is not sufficient to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Physical distancing, hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene must also form part of the strategy.

Medical/Surgical Masks
On our trips, regardless of destination, the following people must wear medical/surgical masks:

  • Anyone who develops symptoms of COVID-19 regardless of whether or not they have been tested yet.
  • People caring for people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases (outside of hospitals/clinics).

In addition, in areas with high community transmission and/or places that are difficult to maintain physical distancing, we recommend the the following at-risk people also wear them.

  • People over 60
  • People with underlying health conditions
Intrepid will:
  • Provide medical/surgical masks as part of the First Aid Kits carried by leaders.
  • Educate leaders, crew, staff and customers on the correct method to wear, handle and dispose of a mask.
  • Require all customers, leaders and staff to comply with any local regulations or requirements that require the use of a mask in public or in certain places

Fabric Masks
Intrepid follows the advice of the World Health Organisation (WHO) that it is not necessary for the public to wear fabric masks generally.

However in certain circumstances, in places where community transmission of COVID-19 is high and/or physical distancing is not possible (e.g. on public transport, in shops or in other confined environments) then a fabric mask can be a useful barrier to prevent the spread of virus.

Fabric masks be purchased commercially or handmade, and are generally not standardised like medical masks. Fabric masks should:

  • Cover the nose, mouth, and chin
  • Be secured with elastic loops or ties
  • Include multiple layers
  • Be washable and reusable.

Sanitation
Protection against COVID-19 as well as other transmissible diseases requires enhanced sanitation processes. Intrepid will take the following measures:

  • Require all suppliers to detail their cleaning and sanitation protocols
  • Audit/monitor all suppliers on their cleanliness and sanitation.
  • All cleaning and disinfecting products must be approved by health authorities (e.g. WHO).
Accomodation
  • All rooms must be thoroughly cleaned between guests with all high touch surfaces in shared areas regularly cleaned and disinfected.
  • Hand sanitizer should be available in public areas.
  • There must be a process in place for customers to escalate any concerns regarding hygiene or sanitation.
  • Staff must be trained and able to answer questions regarding safety protocols in place.
Camping
  • All tents must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between use.
  • If staying at a campground, ensure all bathrooms are well stocked with hand soap and paper towels. If the area is remote, with limited facilities and/or minimal staffing, then customers should be informed to bring their own hygiene equipment.
Transport
  • All mini buses, transfers, charters, overland trucks must be thoroughly cleaned between guests with all high touch surfaces in shared areas regularly cleaned and disinfected.
  • Hand sanitizer should be made available
  • Close top bins with bin liners should be available on board and disposed of at every stop
Restaurants
  • Must be thoroughly cleaned at the end of each day
  • Tables and chairs must be disinfected after each guest use
  • Avoid buffets where possible. If buffets are used, prevent customers from handling food and operating machines (e.g. self-serve coffee stations)
  • Either disinfect shared use objects (e.g. table salt) between guest use. Where possible, Intrepid will try to source safe alternatives to single serve packaging.
  • Staff must be trained and able to answer questions regarding safety protocols in place.
  • Preferred: Provide hand sanitizer to guests at the door before entry
Activities
  • All equipment must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between guest us
  • Staff must be trained and able to answer questions regarding safety protocols in place.
Contactless/low touch
Limiting the number of surfaces touched by large numbers of people helps prevent the spread of disease. Therefore, it is important to proactively move towards contactless or low touch solutions for travel. Intrepid will:
  • Prioritise contactless/low touch as a key feature when sourcing new tech or solutions.
Brand Material
  • Remove any paperwork required on the ground (e.g. signing forms, feedback cards)
  • If details must be entered using a shared device (e.g. insurance details), then it must be disinfected between each customer. Preference is to move entirely to digital solutions.
Contracting
  • Accommodation should provide online check in (no paperwork)
  • Contactless keys (e.g. QR codes)
  • Contactless tech (e.g. lights)
  • Online ticketing for attractions and transport
  • Online payment

Physical Distancing
Physical distancing is important in the preventing the spread of COVID-19 as it can be transmitted via droplets sprayed when coughing, sneezing, singing, yelling etc…
Intrepid will take the following measures:

  • Require all suppliers to detail their physical distancing protocols
  • Follow local regulation and advice on the need for physical distancing.
Accommodation Intrepid operates product that is based on twin share accommodation and allows single travellers the chance to share accommodation with a stranger.
We will continue to offer this as an option. Single supplements are available for single travellers who do not wish to share a room. We will work closely with accommodation suppliers to ensure increased availability of single rooms.

Camping
  • Consider whether it is appropriate to offer single tents for solo travellers as customers will be much closer together then in a traditional room.
  • Consider whether staggering meal times may reduce the number of people sharing a dining tent.
Transport
Intrepid will consider the following factors when designing or amending transport options on trips.
  • Local laws or requirements regarding physical distancing on transport
  • Hygiene protocols of the transport provider
  • Level of active community transmission in the destination
Possible risks include:
  • Using designated seating on transport. Customers have assigned seats throughout the trip.
  • If trip is longer than 15 minutes and air conditioning is available, it must be set to external airflow rather than to recirculation or windows should be opened for the duration of the trip.
  • Designing or amending itineraries to reduce the duration of travel.
  • Increasing the size of the vehicle, using multiple vehicles.
In Public
  • Educate all leaders, crew, staff and customers to maintain a 1.5m distance wherever practical in public (e.g. queueing at a museum).
  • Proactively design product to avoid crowds by visiting attractions at off-peak times.
  • Proactively design product to avoid crowds on public transport or at airports where practical.
Restaurants
  • Follow local regulations on table spacing and guest seating in restaurants. Wherever possible, try to ensure groups are sitting at their own table without strangers in restaurants.
  • Proactively design product that focuses on experiences that assist with physical distancing (e.g. picnics over crowded marketplaces) if relevant for that destination.
Health Screening & Tracking
Screening for COVID-19 helps isolate anyone with COVID-19 symptoms and stops the spread of disease. It is likely to become more common for future travellers.

Pre-Departure (Brand Material)
Customers should be informed as part of ‘Essential Trip Information (ETIs) or other similar trip notes if their trip is likely to include any of the following:
  • Testing for COVID-19 before being able to pass through immigration and/or board planes.
  • Negative test results to be uploaded for visa purposes.
  • Thermal temperature checks in airports, train or bus stations, major hotels or attractions.
Pre-Departure (Customers)
Pre-departure, all customers are required to fill out an online questionnaire (“self- declaration/assessment” form) to identify any high-risk customers before travel.

Extra qualifiers will be included to address customers with symptoms that can be contributed to pre-existing conditions (e.g. breathlessness to asthma).

Customers answering YES to any question should be removed from the departure and appropriate arrangements made.

COVID-19 Testing
Intrepid will not require a negative COVID-19 test as proof of health from customers or leaders at this stage unless it is required by local law or regulations.

This is partially due to the lack of availability of testing for people with no symptoms in many parts of the world and may change in due course.

On Trip
  • Ask customers, leaders, crew and staff to monitor their own health
  • Display appropriate signage on COVID-19 symptoms
  • Educate leaders, crew and staff on how to identify COVID-19 symptoms
  • Describe COVID-19 symptoms in group meetings
Removal of customers, leaders, crew
If customers, leaders or crew show symptoms of COVID-19 and are either unable to or unwilling to be tested, Intrepid reserves the right to remove them from our trips to prevent any risk to others.

Flexible Booking Conditions
Customers will be supported by flexible booking conditions to stay home if unwell or displaying symptoms

Flexible Work Conditions
Intrepid will support leaders and crew to stay home rather than lead a trip if they are unwell or displaying symptoms. Schedules will need to be created with back up availability of leaders/crew.

Data Collection & Health Tracking
Intrepid will assist government health departments in tracking and tracing any customers, staff, leaders, crew or suppliers at risk of contracting COVID-19 via exposure to a known case and/or outbreak by providing relevant details in line with privacy laws and regulations.

COVID Tracking apps
Intrepid strongly recommends that customers and staff download COVID tracking apps (e.g. COVIDSafe in Australia, StayHomeSafe in Hong Kong) to assist in reducing the spread of disease within their communities.

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Accommodations

Hotel (11 nights), Overnight public bus (1 night), Cabin (2 nights)

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Questions & Answers

Question: How many suitcases can I take with me on my trip?

Each person is allowed one "check-in," and one "carry-on." Remember to take all valuables with you as "carry-on", because electronic equipment, cameras, laptops, jewelry, business documents and money are not covered by the airlines' liability, so always carry them aboard with you.

Question: Is Airfare Included in the Price?

Airfare from your point of origin to and from the trip is not included in the land price.

Intrepid Tours Customer Reviews

Overall Rating
4
Accommodations
3.6
Itinerary
4.3
Professional Staff
4.4
Repeat with Operator
4.2
Value for Money
3.8

Ratings based off 132 reviews about Intrepid Tours - currently showing 7 reviews with comments only

Intrepid tour is great company. Will use this company again.

The trip was both both educational and exciting. I very much enjoyed the sights and culture.

The itinerary was just as I expected! The guide was very good as were the accomodations

Intrepid did such a great job. I never had to worry about where I was supposed to be and it felt so good not to worry about a thing but just to enjoy myself. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable about culture and history.

Taiwan people very friendly. Accommodation were centrally located and easily accessible. Did extra activities then in brochure which was greatly.

Larus our tour guide did an excellent job and was very attentive to our needs. He is very knowledgeable and has a great sense of humor.

Our guide Tarang chandola was exceptional. Courteous, knowledgeable, organized, polite, professional and went above and beyond taking care of our needs and requests offen anticipating what that might be. He made sure we all had the best possible time and offered suggestions to meet the needs of everyone on the tour. This made the trip even more enjoyable.

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