A Treasured Journey into the Past

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A tour of Chichen Itza is included in Mayan World itineraries. (Mexican Tourism Board)
A tour of Chichen Itza is included in Mayan World itineraries. (Mexican Tourism Board)

Mexico offers a cultural feast of World Heritage sites, including archaeological wonders left behind by the Maya and Aztec indigenous groups that are awe-inspiring, enigmatic and breathtaking.

According to Jennifer Halboth, director of channel marketing for the Globus family of brands, not everyone wants to head to Mexico strictly for a beach vacation. She points to later-in-life honeymooners, for example: “While it’s true that many honeymooners want a little down time after the wedding, many couples getting married in their 30s or even later in life aren’t looking for a beach vacation. They want to explore and experience some place they have never been. A honeymoon is the official start of a lifetime of traveling together and today’s newlyweds are looking for a great story and the opportunity to start checking off their bucket lists.” Halboth also points to multi-generational travelers and history seekers as ideal clients for this type of trip to Mexico. “For those who travel explicitly to uncover the hidden secrets and locations of other cultures, [this type of] vacation is perfect.”

mayan adventures with tour operators
Monograms’ 5-day Mysteries of the Mayan World itinerary (starting at $1,149 pp) includes “a visit to the Museum of Anthropology in Merida; seeing the UNESCO World Heritage site of Uxmal, home to one of the best restored and maintained ruins in the Yucatan; seeing one of the New Wonders of the World in Chichen Itza; and enjoying a Mayan cooking or language class,” points out Halboth. Rachel Wasser, an innovative manager for G Adventures, agrees that Mexico is appealing beyond the beaches: “There’s so much more to Mexico than its beaches and travel agents should reinforce that fact [to their clients].

“Sticking to one resort town isn’t giving you a true overview of the country. For anyone that wants to get out and explore, learn more about the Mayan and colonial culture, eat fantastic food and see many sides to the diverse country, you need to get out from behind the compound wall. What you can do at a resort in Cancun is sit on the beach, eat buffet-style Western food and maybe take a day trip to Chichen Itza. On an adventure tour you’ll swim in cenotes, climb around Mayan ruins in the jungle (think Indiana Jones and wild monkeys!), and wander the cobblestone streets of a colonial city (San Cristobal) and swim in a waterfall, all while enjoying amazing and diverse Mexican cuisine.”

G Adventures’ 11-day Mayan Trail itinerary (starting at $1,119 pp and with a departure from Antigua, Guatemala) includes all of the activities Wasser mentions, plus the opportunity to hit the beach while in Merida, staying in a jungle lodge, taking a boat ride and going on a guided tour of the Mayan ruins of Palenque.

Both Wasser and Halboth note that although Mexico is just a short flight from the U.S., it’s seemingly a world away and that is what makes it so alluring to many Americans. “They feel like they are traveling far away,” says Halboth, because “Mexico’s topography and history vastly differ from much of the U.S.”

And for those clients who don’t want to forego a beach vacation, you can recommend a trip for them that includes some time on the beach coupled with some time exploring the country’s storied past. For example, Monograms adds pre- and post-stays in Cancun to its 5-day Mayan World itinerary; this 9-day package starts at $1,989 pp and includes time at a beach resort in Cancun. Halboth stresses that this sort of vacation “offers a real two for one—relaxation and exploration in one great vacation.” G Adventures throws in a little fun on the sand in its 10-day Yucatan Panorama ($1,399 pp), which visits Chichen Itza and Palenque, plus offers some beach time in Bacalar and Playa del Carmen.

Mexico City’s Museum of Anthropology is a must-visit for  history buffs.
Mexico City’s Museum of Anthropology is a must-visit for
history buffs. (Paloma villaverde de rico)

beyond the mayan world
The Maya people left quite a legacy in Mexico with a prolific amount of ruins found throughout the country (and into Central America), but it’s hardly the only indigenous group whose ruins are worthy of being the backdrop for a few Instagram selfies.

In the very heart of Mexico City, for example, visitors can view the ruins of the Templo Mayor, an Aztec temple, and then get out of the city to Teotihuacan, one of the country’s grandest temple sites.

In the country’s vibrant capital city, Aeromexico Vacations offers your clients a range of hotel options—everything from the chic W Mexico City in the swanky Polanco neighborhood to the Best Western Hotel Majestic in the city’s historic center and only two blocks from the Aztec temples. The company also offers an assortment of tours, including the half-day Guadalupe Shrine & Teotihuacan tour. First stop is at the Plaza de las Tres Culturas (Plaza of the Three Cultures), where tour participants see a blend of pre-Hispanic, colonial, and modern architecture, including the Aztec pyramids of Tlatelolco and the 17th century Spanish Templo de Santiago. They’ll visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and the New Church, where the original image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is stamped on Saint Juan Diego’s cloak. From here, the tour proceeds to San Juan Teotihuacan, 48 miles north of Mexico City and home to the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon. Tours operate daily and depart at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.; pick-up is at the hotel. Roundtrip transportation to the historic sites, admission to the Teotihuacan Archaeological zone and the services of an English-speaking tour guide are included.

contact information
Aeromexico Vacations: aeromexicovacations.com or worldagentdirect.com/login.do
G Adventures: gadventures.com or gadventures.com/agents
Globus family of brands: globusandcosmos.com or agents.globusfamily.com