WE ARE GRATEFUL THAT SO MANY
TOUR OPERATORS KNOW AND
APPRECIATE YUCATAN AND ARE
PROVIDING WONDERFUL OPTIONS
FOR THE TRAVELER.
— JORGE ROMERO HERRERA, DIRECTOR OF PROMOTION, STATE OF YUCATÁN
Federico Moreno-Nickerson, Classic’s
Director of Caribbean & Mexico Product
G Adventures also offers a number of
tours to Mayan sites in Yucatán, including
a “Mexico Civilizations” tour of Uxmal
and Chichén-Itzá and “Yucatán Panorama,” featuring Chichén-Itzá and either
Uxmal or the cenotes of Cuzamá.
Specialty operator Catherwood Travels
is offering several short itineraries for
2012 that provide a unique overview of
the Mayan world. The three-night tours
include an “Initiation into Maya Culture”
tour of Ek Balam and Xocnaceh, featuring a Maya ritual cleansing at a sacred
cenote; “Understanding the Collapse and
Renewal of the Maya,” which explores
the Puuc hillside region with a local
archaeology expert, and a “Pilgrimage to
Sacred Sites” tour of Mayan underground
caves and the famous Oxkintoc Labyrinth, accompanied by an underwater
Yucatán for a day
A number of mainstream and specialty
operators offer popular day trips to key
sites in Yucatán. Travel Impressions’
“Chichén-Itzá Deluxe” tour picks guests
up from their hotels in Cancun or the
Riviera Maya and includes several hours
at the archaeological site as well as a
cenote visit. Pleasant Holidays, Apple
Vacations and Funjet Vacations also
offer daily Chichén-Itzá trips from the
popular beach destinations.
Yucatán’s connection to the Mayan world dates back to the 3rd century, when
the Maya first inhabited the region. In the centuries that followed, the Maya
established the great cities of Chichén-Itzá, Izamal, Motul, Ek Balam and
Ichcaanzihó (later Mérida).
Founded in 514, Chichén-Itzá is the most widely-visited Mayan site in Mexico,
with 18 restored structures that include the Pyramid of Kukulkán, the ball
court, the Observatory, sacred well and Group of the Thousand Columns. The
immense complex is expected to draw record numbers of visitors this year,
especially during solstice and equinox dates the Maya deemed significant.
The Mayan site of Uxmal is in the Puuc hills, location of a number of ancient
Mayan cities. Today, the “Puuc Route” includes the sites of Kabah, Xlapak and
Labná, Sayil, and the Loltún Caves, but Uxmal remains the most noteworthy.
Like Chichén-Itzá, Uxmal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with key features
that include the Pyramid of the Magician, Palace of the Governor and Quadrangle of the Nuns.
Additional prominent Yucatán sites include the jungle ruins of Ek Balam,
whose name means “Black Jaguar,” famous for its huge acropolis pyramid;
Mayapan, the last great Mayan city and Dzibilchaltún, known for its Temple
of the Seven Dolls and, Cenote Xlakah.
Natural attractions, such as cenotes also feature prominently in Yucatán tours.
To the Maya, these underground sinkholes represented a doorway to the spiritual underworld. Cenote swims are a popular option on both mainstream and
specialty tours. Celestun, the nature preserve filled with crocodile, egret, and
brilliantly-hued flamingo, is another top tour attraction.
Yucatán’s Mayan heritage is on display in notable museums, such as the
Museum of Anthropology and History in Merida. The state will also open
two new museums in 2012 dedicated to its Mayan legacy: the Museo del
Mundo Maya in Merida and the Palacio de la Civilizacion Maya in Yaxcaba,
near Chichén-Itzá. Another museum, the Eco Museo de Cacao, recently
opened on an organic cacao plantation, celebrating (with samples) the history
of one enduring Mayan discovery: chocolate.
LEF T TO RIGHT:
COCHINI TA PIBIL,
T YPICAL YUCATAN
PLATE; ROOM AT
THE HOTEL HACIENDA XCANATUN;
SITE; A FLAMINGO
• “Yucatán is perfect for clients interested in culture, language and
cuisine. There is so much that people don’t know about. I’m planning to
set up a blog so I can help spread the word.” — Kilbourne Craddock, travel
counselor, New Act Travel, Century City, CA.
“Haciendas in Yucatán are phenomenal. You can book a deluxe suite
for $300 that would be $1,500 in Europe. It’s a great way to convince high-end clients to consider a Mexico trip. Everyone appreciates great value.”
— Marianne Braly, owner, Now Voyager Travel, Huntington Beach, CA.
“Gastronomy is pretty hot throughout Mexico. In the Mayan areas, there
are pre-Hispanic markets and Mayan dishes that will make the entire trip
worthwhile.” — Adamarie King, Connoisseur’s Travel