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Highlights of the Yucatan

Itinerary Overview

  • 9 nights at luxury hotels and haciendas in Merida, Izamal, and Isla Holbox.
  • Highlights including visiting with a Mayan community, exploring a wildlife refuge, staying in a private hacienda, and relaxing on Isla Holbox.
  • English-speaking private guide & driver for touring and transfers.
  • Itinerary crafted by a regional specialist, pre-departure advice, as well as 24/7 in-country support.

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Day 1

Welcome to the Yucatan!

Upon arrival, you’ll meet your Almaz Journeys driver and English-speaking guide for your private transfer to your accommodations in Merida.

Merida is the best jumping off point for exploring the culturally rich state of Yucatan. While most travelers who come to this part of the world are in search of a beach vacation what they miss when they stick to the coast is the chance to connect with this areas unique culture. With distinct regional cuisine, sacred underground cenotes (caves), ruins that rival Chichen Itza, and incredible hacienda stays dotted throughout the region Merida is a city that shouldn’t be missed.

Lodging Option: Boutique by the Museo 

Located in the heart of Merida, this family friendly property is a great option for groups looking for larger multi-bedroom style suites. The beautiful property is a restored historic building centered around a large and inviting pool, with an onsite spa and various common spaces to enjoy. Made complete with unique Caribbean touches – think high ceilings, dark wood, and colorful tiled floors. This is a truly wonderful boutique property that will make it clear you are in the Yucatan.

Day 2

Merida City Tour

Today will begin with a culinary experience Kool Kaab, a center for cultural culinary preservation with a focus on honoring the importance of heritage corn. You will get to try various ‘antojitos’, small dishes distinct to the Yucatan state in Mexico.

Afterwords you will explore Merida, a city rich in architectural heritage and distinct history. You will explore its shady avenues, lined with exquisite mansions from the end of the 19th century, when henequen (sisal) wealth reached its zenith and the fiber’s producers sought to reaffirm their prestige and architectural design. You will also visit the cathedral and famous restored buildings in the city center.

The late afternoon and evening will be free to enjoy the city at your own pace.

Day 3

Journey to Celestun Wildlife Refuge

Travel out of the city for a beautiful day exploring the natural world. Celestun is a wildlife refuge with both fresh and salt water reserves, it is home to a large variety of bird species and most famously over 27,000 flamingos flock here every year.

You will start your day with a boat tour of the mangroves, guided by a local naturalist you will learn about the flora and fauna of the area. At certain times of the year you will be able to see large gatherings of pink flamingos and marvel as they gracefully fly throughout the area. You will get the chance as well to explore a small fishing village, take a dip in the sea, and visit historic monuments and lighthouses in the area.

In the afternoon you will travel back to the city, stopping en-route at a beautifully restored hacienda. You will get to enjoy the property and learn about the restoration process which received the Venice Architecture Biennial award. You will be able to swim in the pool and indulge in a traditional three course Yucatanean meal before returning to your hotel.

Day 4

Mayan Community Culinary Experience

Today you will visit the community of Granada located about an hour south of Merida. You will be received by a group of Mayan women who will host you for the day and share with you their rich culinary traditions. You will have the opportunity to learn about the land, the importance of planting and harvesting, as well as preparing your own traditional food; from handmade tortillas, to a regional appetizer and of course the main course.

You will also learn about the importance of the Melipona bees, venerated by the Mayans, and considered today to be the best honey in the world for its extraordinary medicinal benefits.

First you will sow and harvest ingredients for the days dishes, this will of course depend on the season and what is currently growing. You will then prepare tortillas, learning about the importance of corn and the traditional ways of making them by hand. Lastly, before eating, you will learn about the Melipona bees and have the chance to taste their rich honey.

After enjoying an incredible meal which you helped to create you will have the chance to learn about the communities traditional handicrafts which include hammock weaving, henequen, filigree and embroidery.

Day 5

Journey to Izamal

Today you will travel to one of Mexico’s ‘pueblos magicos’ towns across the country that have been deemed magical and that possess a unique quality. Izamal is known for being the ‘yellow city’ as most of it’s buildings have been painted a vibrant golden yellow. With a certified historian you will get the chance to stroll through this beautiful town, of course stopping for photos, while learning about the town and its various stories. You will stop at buildings of significance, the towns impressive ruins Kinich, as well as small artisan workshops dotted around town.

You will spend the next two nights in Izamal, getting the chance to watch as village life ebbs and flows over the course of the day. You will be staying at Casa Azul, a one room private hacienda, complete with a private pool and your own chef who will prepare breakfast, lunch, and dinner for you. The hacienda is located in the middle of town and includes the use of bicycles for further exploration.

Lodging Option: Casa Azul

This private hacienda is located in the center of charming Izamal. This historic property has been restored to offer luxury in one of the country’s most beautiful off-the-beaten path locations. The hacienda is a one bedroom home with a large spa bath, private plunge pool, complete kitchen and living room area. The grounds include various al-fresco dining areas and even small private Mayan ruins to admire. The space comes complete with a personal chef who will prepare all meals to your liking (sticking to more classic food of the region).

* Hacienda will be upgraded to Casa Madera (4 bedrooms) when more than 2 people are traveling.

Day 6

A Visit to Chichen Itza

After breakfast you’ll head out by private car to Chichen Itza, one of the seven wonders of the modern world. Chichen Itza is arguably the Yucatan’s most impressive site of Mayan ruins and one of the most important religious sites of the empire. At Chichen Itza you will be guided by a local historian who will make the stories of the past come alive for you. You will learn not only about the ruins and their uses, but also about the ways of the Maya and the ancient astrological significance of the site. You will have the chance to view the caracol observatory, the ball court, the sacred cenote, the Chaac sculptures, the Casa de las Monjas (Nun’s house), among other impressive buildings.

After exploring the ruins you will travel on to the Xocempich cenote where you will dive into the magic of the underworld. A cenote is a freshwater pool contained within an underground cave system, these mystical turquoise blue swimming holes are dotted across the Yucatan and are sacred sites for the Mayan people. You will also be able to partake in hiking and birdwatching around the site.

The day will end with a culinary experience. You will learn how to prepare a few traditional dishes and learn the art of tortilla making. You will then dine alfresco, enjoying your creations as well as your new perspective on the ancient ways of the Maya. After your late lunch, return to the hacienda and enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure.

Day 7

Ruins, Cenotes, and the Beach!

After breakfast you and your guide will travel to the Mayan ruins of Ex Balam. This site is distinct from others in the area as it is still immersed in the jungle making it easier to imagine what life would have been like here. Not only will you get the chance to explore the ruins but also to spot tropical birds, monkeys, and other wildlife. The ruins themselves are known for their intact tomb, known as Sak Xok Nahh, which was built for UkitKan Le’t Tok, who was buried with a rich offering made up of more than 7,000 pieces such as ceramic vessels, shell objects , snail and tumbaga. The site also has various large structures many of which can be climbed up offering incredible views of the surrounding area.

After exploring you will be driven to Xchen cenote, a private cenote that you will get to enjoy at your leisure while lunch is prepared. Having the cenote all to yourself, you will have the chance to appreciate the rejuvenating nature of these underground water sources and perhaps understand why they were such spiritual centers for the Mayan. You will be able to swim in the cenote or hike around the site. Lunch will be served at the cenote, you will be served a three course traditional meal prepared by a local chef.

You will then travel on by local ferry to Isla Holbox where barefoot chic meets the soft waters of the gulf of Mexico. With more golf carts than cars this island is perfectly laid back but still equipped to handle travelers looking for boutique hotels and elevated dining experiences. There isn’t much to do on Isla Holbox but that’s part of the appeal – book a massage on the beach, paddle around the calm waters by kayak, or simply enjoy a cocktail as the sunsets.

Lodging Option: Ser Cassandra 

Isla Holbox is all about the beach and Ser Cassandra is the best place to enjoy it. This boutique ocean front property is perfectly located to capture sunrise over the sea and is just a short walk into town. The property is barefoot beach chic, with white washed suites and dreamy hammocks with ocean views. Local art is beautifully displayed throughout every room and a holistic wellness center invites you to slow down. There is also a highly regarded restaurant, a happening beach club, and a laid back pool bar to chose from.

Day 8

Relaxing on the Beach

Enjoy today at leisure on Isla Holbox. Some activities can be pre-arranged if you prefer, just speak with your Almaz specialist.

Day 9

Enjoy Isla Holbox

Enjoy today at leisure on Isla Holbox.

Day 10

Transfer Home

You will be picked up by golf cart from your hotel and assisted with getting your luggage back to the ferry dock. The ferry ride itself will take about 30 minutes (this part of the journey will be unassisted), back to the dock in Chiquila. Once in Chiquila you will look for your private driver (holding a sign with your name on it) who will drive you the 2 hours and 15 minutes. The journey is done on a straight paved road and your driver will be willing and able to make stops along the way for refreshments or to simply stretch your legs.

Private Journey PricingPer Person

Pricing Level
From Price Per Person
2 Guests Traveling -


4 Guests Traveling -



  • 4 nights at Boutique by the Museo in a deluxe room.
  • 2 nights in a private hacienda – exact hacienda varies based on the group size.
  • 3 nights at Ser Cassandra in a superior standard.
  • Breakfast daily.
  • Lunch on days 3, 4, 5 & 6
  • Dinner on days 5 & 6
  • Private arrival and departure transfers (assumes all guests on same flights.) English-speaking guide included when specified in itinerary.
  • Private, local English-speaking guides for all activities as described in the program.
  • Cost of entrance for all sights and experiences specifically included in your program.
  • 24/7 local emergency contact during your journey.
  • Full-service advance tailoring of your itinerary and assistance with restaurant reservations.

Not Included

  • Air travel.
  • Lunches, dinners and alcoholic beverages unless otherwise specified in your program.
  • Gratuities to guides, drivers, hotel porters, etc. unless otherwise specified in your program.
  • Travel or medical evacuation insurance.
  • Any other items or services not specifically included in your itinerary.

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