Why Go: Just off the scenic backroads of the Yucatán Peninsula lie unexcavated Maya ruins, thriving Maya villages, and the warm, sapphire waters of underground swimming holes called cenotes—which the ancient Maya believed to be portals for communicating with the gods. The Haciendas del Mundo Maya Foundation has meticulously restored six 16th- and 17th-century haciendas in the region to serve as bases of operation. "Our goal was to connect the restoration of the haciendas with the economic and social well-being of the local Maya people," says Marilu Hernandez, president of the foundation. Each day, the activity menu includes mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, and meeting local Maya shamans. The evening menu? Aged tequilas and cochinita pibil, achiote-marinated pork cooked in banana leaves.
Need to Know: Leave your rental car at Hacienda San Jose and bike 45 miles (72 kilometers) to the stately Hacienda Temozon. Your hosts will transport the rest of your gear, but they don't advertise the ride: You'll have to ask them to arrange it.
Outfitter: The Hacienda San Jose www.thehaciendas.com
Photograph courtesy of the Haciendas
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