Do a lap of the Central American circuit. Explore the hotspots of Mexico & two of our newest destinations Belize & Guatemala in-between. Live it local as you explore a mix of stunning sites, local food & diverse experiences, you’ll be wanting to do a few extra laps!
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Itinerary + Inclusions & ME Time Optionals
ME Time Optionals
ME Time optionals will take your trip to a whole new level with unforgettable experiences unique to the places you visit. See more, do more, live more & go home completely regret-free. Costs for these aren’t included in your tour cost & are payable to your Trip Manager in local currency.
On our trips we don't just take you to the destinations, we make sure you get under the skin of every place you visit. From amazing food & accommodation, to exclusive access to incredible experiences, with Contiki you'll get unbeatable value & a completely unique travel experience.
This morning meet your Tour Manager and fellow travellers as 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.
- City sightseeing tour, including the National Palace, the Zocalo & Chapultepec Park
- Visit the ancient Aztec city of Teotihuacan
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.
- Walking tour of Merida's sights
- Horse & carriage ride
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.
- Turn back the clock at the ancient ruins of Chichen Itza
- Swim in a Cenote
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.
- Relax on the white sand beaches
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. If you’re keen, you can even swim with dolphins here. 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. Later why not 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.
- Experience the legendary nightlife
- Jungle Maya Expedition & Zipline USD $119.00
- Maya Encounter USD $159.00
Adios Mexico, but we’ll be back! This morning we leave Cancun and head to Chetumal for some exploring & maybe bite to eat, before boarding our water taxis into Belize. We’ll park up on this Caribbean island, where the motto is “go slow.” Tonight it’s dinner we’ll offer a feast of fresh seafood & your chance to sample the reggae nightlife!
- See the Belize Barrier Reef
The day is all yours! Fuel up at breakfast, then you get to make the most of our ME Time optionals, like swimming with sharks at Belize’s World Heritage Barrier Reef, Kayaking the mangroves or lazing on “The Split” (a break in the island), where sipping and sunbathing is the scene! Tonight, rejoin the crew in the evening for an amazing sunset sail! Enjoy included snacks, drinks and music during for our last night on the island.
- Sunset boat cruise
- Dive or snorkel on Belize Barrier Reef TBC
- Kayak the crystalline Caribbean TBC
Enjoy a hearty breakfast before we ride a water taxi to Belize City, then it’s an overland journey to the forests of Guatemala’s Peten! We’ll arrive at our awesome Jungle Lodge inside the park late afternoon, where there’s the option to fly through the rainforest canopy on ziplines… why not! You can also head into the ruins yourself and go exploring, before dinner. Tonight relax as you drift to sleep to the sounds of the forest. Rest up, cause tomorrow has a lot to offer!
Contiki Special Stopover Breakfast,Dinner
- Stay in Tikal National Park
- Jungle ziplining experience TBC
We rise before the sun to watch daybreak unfold from atop the Mayan ruin, Templo IV… so prepare for amazing! Enjoy an included guided tour of the area or explore the magnificent jungle ruins, before our afternoon trip to the island of Flores, built atop another ancient Mayan center known as Tayasal. Make the most of your time, and opt for a lake cruise on arrival if you feel like getting out on the water before more relaxing over tonight’s dinner.
- Locally guided tour of Tikal National Park
From the relaxed Flores to Guatemala’s bustling capital city! Today we’ll skip the queues and make a beeline for the unique beauty and relaxed vibe of World Heritage Antigua. You’ll be shown many of the historic and beautiful facets of town, among rooftop flowerbeds and horse drawn carriages bouncing over cobblestones. We get to spend two nights in this stunning town beneath towering volcanoes.
- Sightseeing tour of Colonial Antgua
- Ride a horse drawn carriage through World Heritage Antigua TBC
The day is yours to explore and take advantage of the awesome ME Time optionals we serve up! Get lost in the city, see the sights and tick those boxes, your Tour Manager will help you get where you want to be. If you’re looking for an adventure why not hike a volcano or ride mountain bikes? Then, if you want to relax you could try making local native chocolates, enjoy some international cuisine or shop for some beautiful traditional textiles. There are so many things to do today… its up to you on how you want to enjoy it.
- Hike the Pacaya Volcano TBC
- Make your own chocolates from locally-sourced cacao TBC
Wake up in Anitgua for the last time and continue north into the Highlands, to see the magnificent Lago Atitlan! We’ll journey by private boat to a lakeside Mayan community where we will meet local artisans and learn to make tortillas by hand. And taste them too, of course. Afterwards, relax on a hammock or enjoy the thrill of gliding in the sky… with our ME Time optional - paragliding with local professionals for epic views of the landscape. Tonight we’ll get amongst the traveller vibe and hit the main street, lined with cafes and shops, for a fun night out.
- Visit a Mayan community among the volcanoes of Lake Atitlan & learn to make tortillas
- Paraglide Lake Atitlan TBC
There will be few good snaps to be taken on route today. We’ll make our way through small Mayan communities of Guatemala’s highlands en route to the Mexican border, where we enter the beautiful and rugged territory of Chiapas. You’ll get the chance to explore Comitan and try some of the local cuisine and maybe sample a traditional drink Tascalate (made from chocolate, toasted corn and achiote). Later we heads to the evergreens in the cool cultural capital of San Cristobal de las Casas!
- Visit the cute town of Comitan
It’s time to get up and discover all city has to offer! Adventurers can take to the landscape for horseback riding or mountain biking this morning. After your Backstage Pass will take you to the Mayan hillside communities of San Juan Chamula and Zinacantan, learn about the untold generations of merging Native American and European cultures. Tonight you’ll get to try some traditional Tamales Chiapanecos at an included dinner, before hitting the town to move to local rhythms. Get festive!
- Enter a sacred highland temple to experience ancient traditions in Chiapas
- Horseback ride the evergreen highlands of Mexico TBC
- Mountain bike the evergreen highlands of Mexico TBC
This morning you could be relaxing by the pool under mango trees, exploring iconic monuments and indulging in great traditional food! From Mexico’s southern highlands, we make our way toward the country’s great center. The isthmus of Tehauntepec is the narrowest stretch of land that sits between the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean. We’ll descend from the forested hills into the beautiful coastal plains of Tehuantepec, where you’ll visit the city square, before a delicious local dinner with your crew.
It’s time to take on this amazing destination. First up we head to World Heritage Oaxaca for some exploring then it’s onto Matatlan, the world capital of the traditional alcoholic spirit Mezcal, where we’ll learn how this agave spirit is produced. Then it’s back on the road to the former Zapotec religious center of Mitla, where sacred rites were once carried out among the geometrical stonework, still intact. Before arriving at our hotel, we get to check out one of the largest trees in the world! Tonight is the first of two nights in the celebrated culinary capital. Enjoy an included walking tour among magnificent colonial architecture this evening, stopping by the market for some delicious and nutritious Chapulines…yum!
- Visit the Zapatec religious center Mitla
- Taste fiery mescal & sample spicy chapulines in the valley of Oaxaca
- Locally guided walking tour of colonial Oaxaca
This morning is the last full day of the trip! So enjoy the last day with the crew and make the most of some ME Time, discover some of the fantastic local museums and shops in the area. This afternoon, we visit World Heritage Monte Alban, built on a mountaintop overlooking the modern capital. This area is famous for extraordinary traditional crafts and we will visit a local workshop, before returning to town for dinner. It’s time to celebrate one last time… Salud!
- Visit the UNESCO site Monte Alban
- Shop for traditional masterpiece ceramics and textiles
- Visit a local workshop
The trips not over yet, after our final breakfast, we travel to the center of the ancient Aztec universe. We’ll take a panoramic tour of World Heritage Puebla, then head to Cholula. This is where the church Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios stands above the buried pyramid Tlachihualtepetl. After you can choose to enjoy a relaxed lunch in the small town plaza or enter the ruins and explore the ancient tunnels. This evening, we arrive Mexico City, where you can say adios to your amigos!
- Visit Cholula where the church Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios stands above the buried pyramid Tlachihualtepetl
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