Heartland Mexico

StudentUniverse  »  Heartland Mexico

Heartland Mexico

from £1,615
Duration: from 13 days
Countries: Mexico
Whether you’re exploring the World Heritage Site at Chichen Itza or tasting some authentic Mexican food, there’s something for everyone on this trip to the heart of Central America.
Summary

Heartland Mexico

Viva Mexico! This place truly has it all! Crammed full of rich cultural tradition and diverse geography, there is something for everyone - from the hot beach playgrounds of Acapulco and Cancun to the jungles of the Yucatan and from the World Heritage Site of Chichen Itza to the thriving metropolis of Mexico City. At every turn, there is so much to see and do! Immerse yourself in adventure activities, water sports, cultural sites, an unbelievable variety of food, and a sizzling nightlife! Mexico turns up the heat!

1  MEXICO CITY TO PUEBLA 
Before arriving World Heritage Puebla, we visit historic Cholula, once second only to the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan (modern Mexico City). The great city stood at the foot of what appears to be an earthen hill that is, in fact, the largest pyramid ever built, covering over 46 acres and spanning an incredible 405 meters on each side! In addition to this great construction dedicated to Quetzalcoatl, the city had a reported 365 temples. We explore the archaeological site and then head to Puebla, where we have lunch (not included). Afterwards we enjoy a walking tour and dinner.

From November 2014 we we expect the itinerary to change back to the below: MEXICO CITY TO MORELIA

Meet up with your fellow travelers and Tour Manager in Mexico’s sprawling capital, before we hit the road and travel to Spanish flavored Morelia.

This gorgeous town is all about colonial heritage. Packed with 16th and 17th century buildings, archways and cute little plazas, Morelia’s picturesque center comes with plenty of character and charm. Learn about its background as one of Mexico’s first Spanish cities on a walking tour of the UNESCO World Heritage listed centre.

You’ll also see the birthplace of the Mexican revolutionary, Morelos, after whom the town is named. We check out Morelia’s sweets and handicraft market, where there’s a chance to pick up some of its famous candy as a tasty souvenir. Tonight, we’ll see the stunning cathedral lit up under night lights and watch the pretty fireworks display. Your Tour Manager will give you the background on the building’s mix of styles and intricate decorations.

Later, get to know the group and your Tour Manager over dinner in a local restaurant that overlooks the central plaza. Try out the tasty specialties of this region, like the famous fruit gazpacho (a cold soup made up of fruits like pineapple, mango and watermelon, topped off with lime juice).

Hotel Dinner

Visit Cholula where the church Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios stands above the buried pyramid Tlachihualtepetl
Dinner in World Heritage Puebla

2  PUEBLA TO CUERNAVACA 
We depart Puebla for Cuernavaca for the Pueblo Magico of Tepoztlan, a longtime home base among precipitous cliffs and temples of the Nahua people. The town is venerated as the birthplace of Aztec serpent god Quetzalcoatl. We explore the town center on foot and then continue onward to Cuernavaca, established by the Olmec over three thousand years ago. We visit the cathedral and then it is time to explore on your own, optionally you can visit the fortress that Cortes built atop an ancient pyramid before a night out in this college town “of the eternal spring.”

From November 2014 the itinerary will change back to the below: MORELIA TO IXTAPA VIA ZIHUATANEJO
Head out West to the Mexican Riviera, which overlooks the Pacific Ocean. We stop for lunch on one of Mexico’s most stunning beaches, Playa la Ropa. It’s dotted with palm trees and is a perfect spot for water sports like parasailing and jet-skiing.

Walk off your lunch in low-key Zihuatanejo and explore this charming fishing village where local restaurants, artisan studios and interesting boutiques line the cobblestone streets.

Tonight, we stay in the modern resort town of Ixtapa.

Hotel Breakfast,Dinner

3  CUERNAVACA TO ACAPULCO 
Today, we head to the popular resort and Mexico’s original party town, Acapulco. With its gorgeous bay and stunning villas, you’ll soon understand why this is a traditional stomping ground for the rich and famous and why people like Sinatra, Elvis and JFK used to come here. After the sun goes down, watch the famous daredevil cliff divers. They’ll jump a heart-stopping 25 or 35 meters from the sheer cliffs surrounding the bay into a tiny cove. Tonight, honor Acapulco’s reputation and dive into the nightlife action. With salsa clubs, meringue bars, discos and nightclubs, there’s something for everybody here

From November 2014 the itinerary will change back to the below: IXTAPA

A free day in Ixtapa means time to relax. Kick back at the hotel and make the most of its fantastic pool and pool bar. Otherwise, head to the beach and soak up some sun or snorkel in the waters of the Pacific Ocean. Your Tour Manager can even help you sort out a boat for hire if you want to get out on the water and do a bit of fishing.

Turn the energy levels up with an optional horse ride along the beach, then maybe go for a late night stroll through the luxurious hotel district and get a taste of the high life. Dance the night away at one of the nightclubs or grab a quiet drink at a local bar.

Hotel Breakfast,Dinner

See the death-defying cliff divers

4  ACAPULCO 
Today we chill out at the awesome Acapulco beach. There's also the opportunity to see local neighbourhoods of Acapulco on the way to a Borat Ride through Canals at Coyuca Lagoon. Otherwise, why not travel outside of Acapulco and explore some of the natural treasures of the area as well as a visit to a Turtle farm and Botanical Garden.

Later this afternoon, relax on our included sunset boat cruise, hang out with the group and get another angle on Acapulco from the water.

From November 2014 the itinerary will change back to the below: IXTAPA TO ACAPULCO

Today, we head to the popular resort and Mexico’s original party town, Acapulco. With its gorgeous bay and stunning villas, you’ll soon understand why this is a traditional stomping ground for the rich and famous and why people like Sinatra, Elvis and JFK used to come here.

After the sun goes down, watch the famous daredevil cliff divers. They’ll jump a heart-stopping 25 or 35 meters from the sheer cliffs surrounding the bay into a tiny cove.

Tonight, honor Acapulco’s reputation and dive into the nightlife action. With salsa clubs, meringue bars, discos and nightclubs, there’s something for everybody here.

Hotel Breakfast

Sunset Cruise
Coyuca Lagoon
Tropical Birds, Sea Turtles & Botanical Garden
 

5  ACAPULCO 
With a free day, soak up more of Acapulco’s vibes, its 50s glamor and its beach life. Hit the calm waters of Hornos or Papagayo beaches or else watch surfers take to the waves at Playa Revolcadero For a slice of the local lifestyle, head to the open-air market and shaded zocalo (central square). With little, traditional eateries this is a great place to people-watch and to taste different dishes. Try out some pork tacos, chicken mole (chocolate and chilli sauce), garlic shrimp or even some Pacific lobster.

Acapulco is an adventure lovers paradise - kayak, snorkel or learn to scuba dive.

Hotel Breakfast,Dinner

Kayak
US45.00
Snorkel
US$38.00
Discovery Scuba Dive
US$70.00

6  ACAPULCO TO TAXCO 
Travel through the Sierra Madre Mountains this morning to the pretty, hill-side town of Taxco. With its dramatic backdrop of cliffs and mountains, and its pretty stucco buildings with terracotta roofs, this is the perfect place to wander about in.

Get lost in the winding cobblestone streets and uncover cute little plazas and flower-filled courtyards. Keep an eye open for VW Beetle taxis and check out the stunning Santa Prisca Cathedral on the central square. Pull up a table at an outside café, where you can sit back with a beer and take in the colonial architecture. Maybe try some pozole (pork and vegetable stew).

With a tradition in silver going back to before the Spanish Conquest, Taxco is the perfect place to pick up some jewellery. Your Tour Manager will organize a silver demonstration and give you tips on the best places to buy. Then rummage through the many platerias (silver shops) and find some great presents for back home.

Hotel Breakfast

Watch a silver demonstration

7  TAXCO TO MEXICO CITY 
This morning we return to the chaotic capital, Mexico City. This metropolis fuses the festive, the ancient and the quirky. First up: a visit to Xochimilco canals and markets. Board our own brightly colored flat bottom boat and cruise along the canals, past gardens and floating Mariachi bands. Vendors jump from boat to boat with souvenirs, so you can kick back and shop while you ride along the canals.

Then we head to the historic heart of the city, where ancient civilization, political power and religion combine around the enormous Zocalo (central square). Get inspired as our expert Local Guide uncovers the nation’s core spots and shows off this living time line. Step inside the largest cathedral in Latin America and learn why the tilting Catedral Metropolitana is a spiritual hub for Mexicans. Get up close to Mexico’s Aztec past as you explore the bare ruins around Templo Mayor. Our Local Guide will peel back the layers and explain how a new temple was built here every 52 years, one on top of the other.

If you’re keen, you can go into the Temple Mayor for a closer look. See the sinking Palacio Nacional (National Palace), home to the Mexican government. Enjoy a crash course in this country’s history by checking-out Diego Rivera’s famous murals that decorate the palace walls. These colorful paintings tell the story of Mexico in a nutshell, from the nation’s mythical beginnings to the early 20th century.

Tonight, go out and explore and feast on Mexican specialities then wash it all down with some tequila, Mexico’s national drink.

Hotel Breakfast

City sightseeing tour of Centro Historico, including the National Palace, Metroplitan Cathedral & Templo Mayor
Visit Coyoacán, birthplace of Frida Kahlo
Cruise on a colorful 'trajinera' & discover Xochimilco from a different angle
Shop the colorful markets of Xochimilco

8  MEXICO CITY 
We turn back the clock this morning with a trip to Teotihuacan, the largest archaeological city ever to exist on the American continents. Climb the impressive pyramids and imagine how this was once central America’s greatest city.

Our Local Guide will fill you in on the Teotihuacanos beliefs and rites as you walk around the site and see the Sun and Moon Temples. This afternoon, discover another side of vibrant Mexico City with a visit to the easy-going, old barrio (neighborhood) of Coyoacan. Take in the old colonial mansions, fountains and quiet squares of this cultural quarter. See the paired studios of artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera and maybe visit Frida Kahlo’s famous Blue House, which is filled with colorful art, pre-Hispanic artifacts and a beautiful garden.

In your free time, live a slice of the local lifestyle and head to the Coyoacan Markets – the buzzing food stalls are perfect for trying authentic Mexican food, like a torta (Mexican sandwich), enchiladas and tacos. Shopping-wise, this town has it all, from big brands to bargains. Get some tips from your Tour Manager before you splurge. Rummage through the colorful La Merced, the largest market in the city. See piles of dried chillies, tropical fruits and other vibrant food displays as well as local crafts.

Otherwise, walk the streets and get a feel for the city’s bustling street life, where cafes spill out onto the pavements, pushcart kitchens cook up fantastic food and sidewalk vendors sell anything from t-shirts to jewelery. Take a break and taste Mexican coffee in a traditional coffeehouse or sip on some tropical juice at a jugeria (juice bar). If you’re hungry, try a rosticeria for some crispy roast chicken Mexican style or a hole-in-the-wall taqueria for a burrito. For something different, find out if there is lucha libre (Mexican masked wrestling) on while you’re in town and go check out a match.

For a dose of culture, walk through Mexican history with a visit to the famous Museo Nacional de Antropologia (Museum of Anthropology). It has an incredible collection of artifacts, starting from pre-historic times. The museum grounds are also great for taking a break from the buzzing down town area, so hang out in the gardens, read beside the lake or check out the zoo.

Hotel Breakfast,Dinner

Guided tour of the ancient Aztec city of Teotihuacan

9  MEXICO CITY TO MERIDA 
Today, it’s a total change of scene when we leave behind Mexico City and fly to the beautiful white-stone city of Merida. Laid-back and pretty, it’s perfect for a wind down after the hectic hum of the capital. Get a real feel for this small, stylish town on our walking tour through the center as your Tour Manager gives you the story behind the haciendas, palaces and gorgeous buildings.

We'll ride through town old-style on our included horse & carriage ride. The local driver will show off Merida’s core spots as you sit back and soak up the atmosphere. Use your free time to explore the buzzing market district, where you can pick up handicrafts, hammocks and traditional travel treasures like ponchos and sombreros.

Hotel Breakfast,Dinner

Walking tour of Merida's sights
Horse & carriage ride

10  MERIDA TO CANCUN VIA CHICHEN ITZA 
We kick start the day with a trip to UNESCO World Heritage-listed Chichen Itza – the best preserved and most famous Mayan ruins in Mexico. Hear from our expert Local Guide about the time temples and how the Mayan calendar worked as you explore the spectacular ancient ceremonial center and the fascinating snail-shaped observatory.

Back on the coach, we continue on to glitzy Cancun, Mexico’s super resort. This party paradise is a high energy destination, loaded with outdoor activities and a buzzing nightlife. Use your free time to relax with an evening siesta. Then head into town to the Mercado 28, a lively market serving up homemade foods. Sit yourself down in a fondita (little café) and order various specialties from throughout Mexico or try the regional Yucatan dish, chicken pibil (chicken in a special marinade).

For some live, local music, make a move to Parquet de las Palapas with some friends. Grab a cold cerveza (beer) from one of the food stands and take it all in. Then explore what’s on offer party-wise in Cancun.

Hotel Breakfast

Turn back the clock at the ancient ruins of Chichen Itza
Swim in a Cenote

11  CANCUN & PLAYA DEL CARMEN 
Take a trip with the group to the hip, hot beach of Playa del Carmen. A popular spot for snorkeling and diving, Playa del Carmen has underwater caves and mind-blowing offshore coral reefs. Take a swim in the azure waters, chill out on the beach or even jump on a ferry to the Island of Cozumel.

Back in Cancun, wrap up the day on the beach watching the sun set over the Caribbean Sea. Some ideas for dinner include hitting an open-air restaurant for some fresh seafood or heading to the central plaza for some authentic island specialties.

Hotel Breakfast

Relax on the white sand beaches

12  CANCUN 
Today, your Tour Manager will take you to hidden spots and show off tropical jungle and watering holes. Then with a full free day, make the most of Cancun’s action and crystal clear waters.

We get away from it all and head to the pint-sized Isla Mujeres. With no cars and little development, this is the place to wind down on pristine beaches and soak up the sun. Experience its fabulous coral reefs on our optional Garrafon Natural Reef Park excursion. You could head to Punta Nizuc for some more snorkeling. For something different have a look through La Casa des Artes Mexicanas (House of Mexican Art), where you’ll see musical instruments, handmade kids’ toys and traditional costumes.

Opt for a trip to Xcaret Ecopark, where Mayan ruins, a stunning inlet and jungle combine to make this place so special. Have a swim in the underground river and see colorful birdlife and a butterfly farm. Make your last night on tour one to remember with the group. Get into the fun, festive vibes of Cancun and settle in on an open terrace beachside or at a small, local bar. Keep it moving until the sun comes up if you want – Cancun nightlife is the stuff of legends.

Hotel Breakfast,Dinner

Experience the legendary nightlife
Jungle Maya Expedition & Zipline
USD $119.00
Maya Encounter
USD $159.00

13  DEPART CANCUN 
The tour ends after breakfast and it’s time to say farewell to your new friends.

Breakfast


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Details

Further Details

More information about this gap year opportunity...

Price details:

from £1,615

Phone:

Call 0333 333 9923 to enquire or book

Route

Mexico City >> Morella >> Ixtapa >> Zihuatanejo >> Ixtapa >> Acapulco >> Taxco >> Mexico City >> Merida >> Cancun via Chichen Itza >> Cancun & Playa del Carmen >> Cancun

Inclusions

Walking tour of the colonial city of Morelia
Visit the Mercado de Dulces y Artesanías (Sweets & Handicrafts Market)
See the spectacular light, music & fireworks show over the Morelia Cathedral
Soak up the sun on Playa de Ropa
Laze in the sand & surf
See the death-defying cliff divers
Sit back with a cocktail in hand on an Acapulco catamaran cruise
Watch a silver demonstration
City sightseeing tour of Centro Historico, including the National Palace, Metroplitan Cathedral & Templo Mayor
Visit Coyoacán, birthplace of Frida Kahlo
Cruise on a colorful ‘trajinera’ & discover Xochimilco from a different angle
Shop the colorful markets of Xochimilco
Guided tour of the ancient Aztec city of Teotihuacan
Walking tour of Merida’s sights
Horse & carriage ride
Turn back the clock at the ancient ruins of Chichen Itza
Swim in a Cenote
Relax on the white sand beaches
Experience the legendary nightlife

Additional Inclusions

12 nights twin-share accommodation
Modern, air-conditioned coach
Flight from Mexico City to Merida
Sightseeing tours of all major cities
Local taxes & service charges

An experienced & professional Tour Manager & Driver team

18 meals: 12 breakfasts & 6 dinners

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