Come explore the Yucatán on this wide-ranging itinerary in one of Mexico’s most fascinating regions. Enter the world of the ancient Maya at Chichén Itzá and the incredible jungle ruins of Palenque. Snorkel Caribbean reefs and laze on beautiful white-sand beaches, all while earning professional development credit with other teachers.
GEEO is partnering with the University of Arizona’s Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS) on this program. Accompanying the trip will be Clea Conlin, Senior Coordinator of Outreach and Programs at the CLAS. She will be sharing resources including books, videos, art, and music to give educators a general base of knowledge prior to departure. Clea has an MA in Mexican History and a passion for all things Mexico. She is looking forward to the discussions and ideas for the classroom that will come out of this experience.
Arrive in Playa del Carmen at any time. Check into our hotel and enjoy the city. The day is free to spend at your leisure exploring this coastal resort town until our welcome meeting this evening.
Check the notice boards or ask at reception for the exact time and location of the group meeting, typically 6:00 p.m. or 7:00 p.m. After the meeting, you might want to head out for a meal in a nearby local restaurant to further get to know your tour leader and traveling companions. Please make every effort to arrive on time for this welcome meeting. If you are delayed and will arrive late, please inform us. Your tour leader will then leave you a message at the front desk informing you of where and when to meet up.
Spend the afternoon with a local expert and learn about the history of Chichén Itzá and the beliefs and rituals that defined this ancient Mayan civilization. This dramatic site includes a 30m (98 ft) high temple, known as the Pyramid of Kukulcan, famous for its balustrade of 91 stairs up each of the four sides, a ball court with a grandstand, and towering walls. Visit the highlights of the site including the famous Castillo, the ball court, the cenote, and the Nunnery.
After our guided tour of Chichén Itzá, continue on to Mérida by private vehicle and start with an orientation walk to get acquainted with the city.
Approximate travel time: 2.5 hrs by private vehicle (Playa del Carmen – Chichén-Itzá); 2 hrs by private vehicle (Chichén-Itzá – Mérida)
Today is free for you to explore Mérida. Opt to visit ruins of Uxmal, ride the PUUC Route, go bird-watching in Celestún, hit the beach in Progreso, visit cenotes in the nearby town of Cuzamá, or walk around town and soak in all of the history this city has to offer.
Travel day to Palenque in the lush dense jungle of Chiapas. We recommend to bring a sweater for the bus as they can be overly air-conditioned. There are toilets on the bus and the occasional stop to stretch your legs or pick up snacks.
Approximate travel time: 9-10 hrs by first-class bus
Experience the elegant jungle site of Palenque on a guided tour. See the highlights: the Temple of the Cross Group, Temple of Inscriptions, and the Grand Palace. Howler monkeys sound in the distance as the fog rolls in and out of this mystical site, one of the most important centers for trade and culture during the end of the Classic Maya period.
The afternoon is free for you to explore the area. We can arrange an optional a jungle hike or a trip to the Roberto Barrios Waterfalls.
Settle in and scan the scenery from the convenience of a private vehicle. Transfer to Bacalar and spend time on the beach looking out at the crystal-clear lake. The van is air-conditioned and will make stops along the way.
Approximate travel time: 7-8 hrs by private vehicle
Free day in Bacalar. Opt to kayak around the lagoon or explore the nearby fortress.
We spend the morning traveling back to Playa del Carmen, located on the beach just a 45-min drive south of Cancún. Enjoy some nightlife, buy last minute souvenirs, and relax and swim in the Caribbean.
There is the opportunity for snorkeling and diving, as well as long stretches of sandy beaches which are perfect for walking and relaxing after a hectic day.
Just off the coast is the island of Cozumel, renowned for its world-class diving. Take the ferry from Playa del Carmen (30-75 minutes depending on the boat) across the turquoise waters and explore the town and the reefs of the island.
For a final dose of ruins, Tulúm is just a 45-min drive south of Playa.
Approximate travel time: 4-5 hrs by first-class bus
Our program ends in Playa del Carmen this morning.
Want more adventure? Book two or more GEEO trips in the same year and receive a discount! GEEO will give you 10% off of the lesser value program(s) (up to 3 programs).
If you don’t see a program that interests you that pairs with this trip, but still would like to extend your time abroad, let us know. We will work with you to find a non-teacher trip from our tour operator’s much larger catalog. Even better, if you are an educator, we can still offer you a discounted price on the trip you choose!
Visit our blog to see the list of books GEEO recommends reading before your program (this is not required reading). We also have lesson plans and Pinterest boards that may be useful for you as you learn about your destination and prepare to bring lessons back to your classroom.
It is very important for you to visit our Terms and Conditions page before signing up for this program.
All cancellations must be submitted to GEEO in written form by emailing your request for cancellation to email@example.com. If you do not receive a confirmation that we have received your written cancellation request, please call us at 1-877-600-0105. Verbal cancellation requests will not be honored.
All GEEO/G Adventures group trips are accompanied by one of G Adventures’ group leaders, which they refer to as Chief Experience Officers (CEO). The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. They will provide information on the places you are traveling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues, and introduce you to our local friends. Our itineraries often have plenty of free time to explore on your own.
While not being guides in the traditional sense, you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the countries visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious, and social aspects. We also use local guides where we think more specific knowledge will add to the enjoyment of the places we are visiting – we think it’s the best of both worlds.
Trip includes light walking that is suitable for most fitness levels.
Half of the people that travel with GEEO are traveling by themselves, so please don’t worry if you have no one who can join you on your trip. Our pricing is based on double occupancy or, in other words, two people to a room. You never have to pay for a single room unless you want one. GEEO can find you a roommate of the same gender. Most of our trips have a “My Own Room” option, also known as a “Single Supplement,” which is an extra fee that will allow you to have a room to yourself. If you want to room alone, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. To see the price for the “My Own Room” option, please click here where you can look up your trip in the extra services spreadsheet.
Day 1 is an arrival day, and no activities have been planned. Upon arrival to the city on Day 1, or earlier if you have booked pre-accommodation with us, please make your way to the joining hotel. Check-in time will be in the afternoon. Once you arrive at the hotel, look for a note at reception from your tour leader. This note will give the details of your Welcome Meeting on Day 1, usually between 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., where you will get a chance to meet your tour leader and other travelers, as well as learn more about how the tour will run. If you don’t see a note, please ask reception for details!
If you miss the Welcome Meeting, your tour leader will leave a note at reception for you with any information you may need and with instructions for the next morning.
We always recommend printing out the address of the hotel, to show to your taxi driver.
Cancun International Airport is about a 50-minute drive to our start hotel in Playa del Carmen. The approximate cost of a taxi is around 1300 MXP ($70 USD). There is a counter within the airport where you can take an official taxi. You can instead catch an ADO bus from the airport to ADO Terminal Turística Playa Del Carmen, which costs about 300 MXP ($15 USD). From there it should be a few minutes walk to our hotel, depending of course on which start hotel we use.
If you have paid in advance for an arrival transfer, a G Adventures representative will be at the airport to meet you. If for any reason you are not met at the airport, please call our local support line. If you are unable to make contact for whatever reason, please make your way to the joining point hotel via taxi.
If you need to contact G Adventures during a situation of dire need, it is best to first call their local G Adventures office. If for any reason you do not receive an immediate answer, please leave a detailed message and contact information, so they may return your call and assist you as soon as possible.
EMERGENCY CONTACT NUMBERS
G Adventures Office San Jose, Costa Rica
During Office hours (Weekdays 9am-5pm Local Time): +506 4001 8474
After hours emergency number: +506 8322 9140
If you are unable for any reason to contact G Adventures’ local office please call their their Toronto office: Toll free from North America: 1 888 800 4100; Outside North America: +1 416 260 0999
Please read this article on GEEO’s blog for our staff’s suggestions on the best gear to pack for your upcoming travels. You must be prepared to carry your own bags and be comfortable carrying them up and down stairs, on and off transportation, and to hotels. As a rule, we try not to have to walk more than 15-20 minutes with your bags, which is why we recommend keeping the weight of your bags between 22-30 lb. Most travelers carry a backpack or rolling bag of small to medium size. No XXL bags please! A daypack is also essential for carrying everyday items. Space is limited on transportation, so there is a limit of one main piece of luggage per person plus a daypack per person.
Laundry facilities are offered by some of our hotels for a charge or ask your group leader where the nearest laundromat is. If you want to do your own laundry, we suggest you bring your own non-polluting/biodegradable soap.
All GEEO trips require that the participant have a valid passport. Please see our general FAQ for information on obtaining a passport. As with all of our trips, we try to provide the most accurate information we can, but governments sometimes change visa rules. It is your responsibility to double check the information we provide below by searching here.
Please make sure you have at least 1 blank page in your passport for the entry and exit stamp.
Americans do not need a visa for travel in Mexico for stays shorter than 180 days. Non-American participants should check with their government to find out if they need a visa.
While US dollars may be accepted at the more popular locations such as Cancun and Isla Mujeres, Mexican pesos are more widely accepted and best to use throughout the duration of the tour. Withdrawing from an ATM will offer you the best exchange rate. A small emergency fund in US Dollars is a good idea to have in the event that you are having difficulty withdrawing money from a local ATM.
Credit cards and debit cards are very useful for cash advances. Visa cards are the most widely accepted cards. While ATMs are widely available, there are no guarantees that your credit or debit cards will actually work in Latin America. Check with your bank. You should be aware that to purchase products or services on a credit card a fee of 5%-10% usually applies. Do not rely on credit or debit cards as your only source of money. A combination of US dollars cash and cards is best. Always take more rather than less, as you don’t want to spoil the trip by constantly feeling short of funds.
CURRENCY EXCHANGE TIP: Please be advised that slightly torn notes, notes that have been heavily marked or are faded may be difficult to exchange. It is best to bring notes in fairly good condition, in denominations lower than 50 USD (or equivalent).
As currency exchange rates can fluctuate often we ask that you refer to the following website for daily exchange rates: www.xe.com
It is customary in Latin America to tip service providers such as waiters, at approximately 10%, depending on the service. Tipping is an expected – though not compulsory – component of your tour program and an expression of satisfaction with the persons who have assisted you on your tour. Although it may not be customary to you, it is of considerable significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels. There are several times during the trip where there is opportunity to tip the local guides or drivers we use. Recommendations for tipping drivers and local guides would range from $5-$10 USD per day depending on the quality and length of the service; ask your tour leader for specific recommendations based on the circumstances and culture.
Also, at the end of each trip, if you felt your G Adventures Tour Leader did an outstanding job, tipping is appreciated. The amount is entirely a personal preference. As a budgeting guideline, $35 to $50 per person per week can be used. Please budget about $30 for tips to local guides on optional activities.
We legally cannot give you any medical advice. It is very important to consult your doctor or a travel clinic about which vaccinations you will need for your trip. Please take this seriously!
We often find the best prices for purchasing flights is 60 days before departure, but of course this varies greatly from route to route and year to year. You must wait until this trip is confirmed with the minimum number of required participants before you book your flights. Typically, we reach the minimum number needed at least 90 days before departure. GEEO and G Adventures bear no responsibility for any flights purchased before the trip is confirmed. You can find out whether this trip has been confirmed here.
Your trip begins and ends in Playa del Carmen, which is about 50 minutes from Cancun International Airport. Please double check our itinerary for the date by which you must arrive in Playa del Carmen. You can arrive at any time of the day you choose, but we strongly urge you to arrive to the starting hotel by 6:00 p.m. on Day 1 for our group meeting. You can depart from Playa del Carmen any time on the final day of the trip
Mexico uses the same plugs and electric current used in the United States.
Before you decide on traveling with GEEO it is important that you read all of the information about the program you are considering. Remember, our programs are quite adventurous.
Hopefully this is the kind of adventure you are interested in!
While it is our intention to adhere to the routes described on our website, there is a certain amount of flexibility built into the itinerary and on occasion it may be necessary, or desirable, to make alterations. The itinerary is brief, as we never know exactly where our journey will take us. Due to our style of travel and the regions we visit, travel can be unpredictable. The information on our website is a general guide to the tour and region, and any mention of specific destinations or wildlife is by no means a guarantee that they will be visited or encountered. Additionally, any travel times listed are approximations only and subject to vary due to local circumstances.
December is the best time of the year to visit the Yucatan for calm, warm weather; snorkeling, diving, and fishing (the calmer weather means clearer and more predictable seas); and for visiting the ruins that dot the interior of the peninsula. Expect highs in the mid-80s and lows in the 70s at night.
Please keep in mind this trip offers some free time to pursue activities that interest you. Make sure you look over all of the optional activities and note these additional costs when deciding whether you can afford this program. Breakfasts and a few dinners are included in this trip, giving you the opportunity to eat out according to your own resources. The prices below are in U.S. Dollars and are rough estimates for budgeting your trip.
See price in top right corner
Roughly $400-$1,000 USD
If you require assistance in booking your international airfare, we would be happy to help you.
Please note: It is mandatory for all of our travelers to have Emergency Medical insurance that covers both emergency evacuation and repatriation to the sum of $200,000 USD. We also strongly recommend purchasing cancellation insurance as well.
We recommend $50 USD for your G Adventures tour leader. Budget another $30 for tipping local guides.
Make sure you budget for these types of expenses
Variable. Please consult your doctor.
Variable. At your personal discretion.
$100 USD (Suggested donation)
This is only for non-educator guests traveling with an educator on a GEEO trip. Educators and retired educators should not make this donation.
Most optional activities are booked and paid for locally in the local currency. You do not have to decide in advance for which activities you would like to sign up. The prices listed are based on the latest information we have received from our participants and G Adventures. They are not guaranteed to be accurate. Please feel free to use them as a guide for budgeting your trip. The prices below are in U.S. Dollars (USD) or Mexican Pesos (MXN).
Your hotel is just a short walk to amazing beaches and warm, crystal blue water.
Snorkelling and Diving: Varies
There are many diving and snorkelling tours available that you can book on location. For diving, you may consider making reservations in advance because this is the busy season.
Tequila Tasting: 850-1100 MXN per person
Mexico is the birthplace of tequila, and there is nowhere better to learn about the iconic drink. Join a certified sommelier to learn about the history of tequila and the production process, before the main highlight – a tasting session. Sip, don’t shoot!
Cenote Visit: 45 USD per person
Swim in crystal-blue mineral underground swimming holes that are formed as sinkholes when porous limestone bedrock collapses. Come prepared with your swimsuit so you can dive in and enjoy. The clarity of the water and depth of cenotes makes swimming a unique experience.
Uxmal Ruins Visit: 800 MXN per person
Founded in 700 AD, magical Uxmal was once home to as many as 25,000 Mayans. Located 62km (38 mi) south of Merida, in Yucatán’s Puuc (“hill” or “chain of low mountains”) region, this UNESCO World Heritage site represents the pinnacle of late Maya art and architecture. Wander the site, see the Pyramid of the Magician, and visit nearby Kabah, one of three neighboring sites.
Celestún Bird Watching: 45-50 USD per person
Drive approximately 2 hrs to Celestún and take a boat ride in search of pink flamingos and other birds in the Parque Natural del Flamenco Mexicano (or Celestun Biosphere Reserve). This wetland is the winter home to flocks of thousands of flamingos, as well as herons, ducks, and pelicans; more than 200 species migrate or live here year-round. Celestun is also a hatching ground for endangered sea turtles.
Day Trip to Progreso Beach: 10 USD per person
Roughly an hour drive from Meridá, Progreso is a perfect spot for relaxing on the beach or strolling along the boardwalk. You can reach Progreso on your own by public bus. Consider stopping along the way at the Dzibichaltun archaeological site.
Jungle Trail Hike: 25 USD per person
Only two percent of the ruins in the Mayan capital of Palenque are out in the open. Follow a local guide into the jungle along a trail, visit ruins that are now overgrown with moss and vines. Learn about the wildlife and different medicinal trees and plants that grow in and around the Usumancinta River of this mountainous forest area of Chiapas.
Roberto Barrios Waterfalls: 35-50 USD per person
Visit the Zapatista community of Roberto Barrios, Chiapas, have a swim and explore the cascading waterfall. If it hasn’t rained for a few days, you will be astonished how bright the light blue water can get.
Kayaking: 10-12 USD per person
Throw on a lifejacket and paddle the pale blue waters of Laguna Bacalar. Bring a camera to capture the surreal beauty of the mineral-infused lake.
Fortress Exploration: 10 MXN per person
Built in 1729, the San Felipe Bacalar fort was built by the Spanish hoping to fend off further pirate attacks. See the original stone walls, with cannons facing out to the sea. The fort is built in the form of a four-pointed star and is surrounded by a moat.
Cenote Azul: No Estimate Available
Cenote Azul is south of Puerto Aventuras in the Mayan Riviera. It’s a great place to swim and people watch. Test your cliff diving skills as you leap into the main cenote (natural pool) — it’s 91m (300 ft) deep and 183m (600 ft) wide — so there’s no fear of hitting your head. Enjoy the clear clean water, it’s 100% pure rainwater that’s been filtered through limestone.