Trip Overview

Trip Overview

  • Explore some of the most influential cities of the Maya world, including four UNESCO World Heritage sites: Chichén Itzá, Uxmal, Palenque, and Tikal.
  • Witness the ongoing National Geographic-sponsored excavations of Bonampak’s wall murals, depicting vivid scenes of Maya warfare.
  • Enjoy a private sunrise tour of Chichén Itzá before it opens to the public, and gain expert insight on the ruins from National Geographic Explorer Guillermo de Anda, who joins us at the site.
  • During a special after-hours visit, get an in-depth look at Palenque’s illuminative hieroglyphs.



Nestled within the jungles of Mesoamerica, soaring pyramids, hieroglyphs, and long-hidden murals attest to the magnificence and mystery of the ancient Maya. Discover monuments of this fabled civilization showcased in once-grand cities like Tikal and concealed in the remote temples of Bonampak and Yaxchilán. Meet modern-day Maya and encounter traditions that have survived through the centuries.

Day 1: Guatemala City, Guatemala

Arrive in Guatemala City and transfer to our hotel.

Accommodations:Westin Camino Real
Days 2-3: Guatemala City/Flores/Tikal

Tour Guatemala City’s historic district, then fly to Flores and enjoy a welcome dinner at our hotel. Encounter Tikal, one of the largest cities in the Classic Maya world. Decipher carvings and hieroglyphs with our expert.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Daily
Accommodations:Camino Real Tikal
Day 4: Yaxchilán, Mexico/Frontera Corozal

Travel to Bethel, Mexico and cruise the Usumacinta River to Yaxchilán. Discover the site’s jungle-shrouded ruins, then continue by boat to our hotel in Frontera Corozal.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:Hotel Escudo Jaguar
Days 5-6: Bonampak/Palenque

Journey to the remote ruins of Bonampak, home to stunning frescoes that were unearthed in the 1940s and featured in National Geographic magazine in February 1995. The next day, venture into the ancient city of Palenque, where archaeologists have found rare Maya texts. After a free afternoon, return to the ruins for a specially arranged after-hours visit.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Daily
Accommodations:Villa Mercedes Palenque
Days 7-8: Palenque/La Venta/Mérida/Uxmal

Visit the Palenque archaeological museum, and explore La Venta, known for colossal stone sculptures of Olmec heads. Then, fly to Mérida. Spend the following day at Uxmal, and examine the ornate carving on the Pyramid of the Magician. Afterward, cool off with a refreshing dip in a nearby cenote.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Daily
Accommodations:Hacienda Temozon Sur
Days 9-10: Izamal/Chichén Itzá

In the colonial town of Izamal, explore the impressive Franciscan monastery and Kinich-Kakmó pyramid. Rise early to visit Chichén Itzá before it opens to the public, and hear from National Geographic Emerging Explorer Guillermo de Anda about the ruins.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Daily
Accommodations:The Lodge at Chichén Itzá
Day 11: Ek Balam/Cancún

Visit the ancient ruins of Ek Balam, then continue to the Cancún airport and catch your flight home.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch