Where to next: Latin American Adventure

Where to next: Latin American Adventure

I am excited to announce that I will be heading across to the other side of the world to Mexico, Belize and Guatemala.

First up is Mexico where I will be spending just over two weeks. I’ll be travelling with Peregrine Adventures as part of my educational on the 15 day Best of Mexico tour. Peregrine Adventures are an Australian based tour company specialising in adventure and small groups- no big coach tours here! After the Mexico Tour I’ll start an Intrepid 17 day Mayan Encounter tour that starts in Playa del Carmen and enda in Antigua.

latin american adventurePhoto credit: Peregrine Adventures

latin american adventurePhoto credit: Intrepid Travel

How am I getting there?

I’ll be flying with Qatar Airways and American Airlines for the first time with an overnight flight from Perth to Doha. With 3 hours in Doha there is enough time to stretch my legs and get some breakfast before sitting on a plane for almost 16 hours to Miami. A short stop in Miami before getting on my third plane to Mexico City and landing just after 9pm. My total journey time from Perth to Mexico is 36 hours and 5 minutes.

Pic-46Photo credit: Qatar Airways

Mexico City

Day 1: Isla de las Munecas “Island of the Dolls”

latin american adventurePhoto credit: Kevin (CC license)

After reading a book with my Dad called “Almanac of the Uncanny” this spooky island has been in my mind and on my bucket list for a long, long time. The book features stories of the supernatural through the centuries and whenever I start planning a trip I have a flick through to see if there are any places to visit where I’m going.

The island of the dolls is just south of Mexico City between the canals of Xochimico, ut not easy to get to as it isn’t a normal tourist destination. The island is dedicated to the lost soul of a little girl who died in strange circumstances and is filled with hundred of dolls hanging from the trees with severed limbs, decapitated heads and insects crawling through the eye sockets.

Local legend says that the dolls move their heads and arms and even opened their eyes.
Read more about the Island of the Dolls in this article by Rough Guides

Once getting back into the city I’ll meet my tour leader and the people I’ll be spending the next two weeks with.

Day 2: City Tour

This morning will be spent wandering around the city with the group. We’ll visit the Metropolitan Cathedral, Zocalo, National Palace and the Museum of Anthropology. The rest of the afternoon is free so I’ll do some more wandering before the nights adventures:

Mexican Night Out: Cantinas, Mariachi & Lucha Libre with Urban Adventures

latin american adventurePhoto credit: Brian & Dane (CC license)

Tonight I will be sipping some tequila, listening to some Marischi music and putting on my wrestling mask while I watch the Lucha Libre (Mexican Wrestling). Lucha Libre is the second most watched sport in Mexico. Read more about the Mexican Night Out tour with Urban Adventures.

Day 3: Teotihuacan & Puebla

Today we head to Puebla by miniva, stopping in at Teotihuacan on the way where we will discover the Aztec ruins known as the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon.Teotihuacan was once the country’s biggest ancient cities and the Aztec capital. We’ll continue to Puebla, to spend sometime at the local markets, eat mole Poblano, the local specialty and learn how to cook during a cooking class.

latin american adventure

Photo credit: Juan (CC license)

Day 4: Oaxaca

 Moving on to Oaxaca, a city famous for its cuisine and art scene. It is also a great place to purchase Mexican handicrafts, as descendants of the Zapotec and Mixtec Indians sell thei bright woven blankets and shawls. There won’t be a shortage fo great food here, with the mole saicers, banana leaf wrapped tomales, baked chilli and lime grasshoppers.
latin american adventurePhoto credit: pdstrnad  (CC license)

Day 5: Monte Alban & Oaxaca

 Today we’ll explore the Zapotec ruins of Monte Alban, which looks out across the three legs of the valley of Oaxaca before returning to the city for free time.
latin american adventure

Photo credit: Roman(CC license)

Day 6: Tehuantepec

Today we head down to the Pacific coast on the way to Tehuantepec. Aongg the way we will stop to see the Tule Tree, a Mezcal factory and the ruins at Mitla. The latter, meaning ‘underworld’ in Nahuatl, is an important Zapotec archaeological site and was the main religious centre for the Zapotec people. It was originally built as a gateway between the world of the living and the world of the dead.
latin american adventure
Photo credit: Alexei (CC license)

Day 7: San Cristobal de las Casas

We start driving east into the state of Chiapas visiting Sumidero Canyon, an 800-metre deep canyon carved out by the Sumidero River on the way. We then continue on to San Cristobal de las Casas to take in the distinctive old-world feel here, which comes from the Spanish colonial architecture and pretty, cobbled streets. I’ll look at hiring a bike and also visit Lagunas de Montebello
latin american adventurePhoto credit: David (CC license)

Day 8: San Cristobal de las Casas

We’ll embark on a tour to the Mayan villages of San Juan Chamula and Zinacantan today. These villages, nestled in the highlands, serve as marketplaces and religious ceremonial centres for the indigenous people who live in the surrounding hills. The local people have retained their traditional way of life and are often seen dressed in their own distinctive colourful costumes.

latin american adventurePhoto credit: Juan Ignacio (CC license)

Day 9: Palenque

We will depart San Cristobal de Las Casas and head for Palenque today and enjoy some time to explore the town. We will visit the Misol-Ha and Agua Azul waterfalls and I could even go on a jungle trail tour.
latin american adventurePhoto credit: Jolanta (CC license)

Day 10: Palenque

Today we will visit the ruins of Palenque. These are situated on a hilltop in an area of hot jungle and are some of the most incredible Mayan ruins in the region, dating back as far as AD 600.latin american adventurePhoto credit: Igor  (CC license)

Day 11: Campeche & Day of the Dead

On our way north towards the Gulf of Mexico we get to go swimming. Then we’ll continue to Campeche and have a walk around the city and visit the San Miguel Fort.  Today is also the Day of the Dead, or Dia de Muertos in SpanishThe multi-day holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died, and help support their spiritual journey.latin american adventurePhoto credit: Jack (CC license)

Day 12: Merida & Day of the Dead

We head for the ancient ruins of Uxmal this morning where we will visit the amazing Palace of the Governors, considered by many to be the finest example of classic Mayan architecture, and the mystical Pyramid of the Magician, which consists of five super-imposed temples. Then we’ll continue to Merida and take a tour of the ‘white city’.
latin american adventure
Photo credit: Baptiste (CC license)

Day 13: Merida

Free time in Merida today to explore and wander the city and markets.
latin american adventure
Photo credit: Berlyjen (CC license)

Day 14: Chichen Itza – Playa del Carmen

One of the places I’m most excited about visiting, Chichen Itza. This is arguably the most famous Mayan site in Mexico. We will view the Temple of Kukulkan which stands over the ruins. Then we continue to Playa del Carmen where I’ll snorkel among the mangroves, dive in underground caverns and relax on the beach. I may even jump out of a plane. Tonight is also out last night as a group so we’ll go out for dinner and e sure to hit the town.
latin american adventure
Photo credit: Siggi (CC license)

Day 15: Playa del Carmen

The Peregrine tour comes to an end this morning so I’ll have the day free to do what I like. I will most likely head ovet to Cozumel and go diving before meeting my new tour group on the Intrepid tour.
latin american adventure
Photo credit: Garth (CC license)

Day 17: Tulum

Today we travel by local bus to Tulum, a beach paradise on the Caribean coast. If by now I’m not sick of Mayan architecture I will go visit the ruins of Tulum which sit atop a cliff amid palm fringed white sand beaches- sounds like paradise.latin american adventure

Photo credit: Guilia (CC license)

Day 18: Tulum

Today is free to relax, take part in optional activities and to generally do as you wish. I might hire a bike or go for a snorkel at Akumal Bay.
Photo credit: Amecoli (CC license)

Day 19: Mexico- Belize- Caye Caulker

We leave Mexico today and head to Belize and spend around 8-9 hours driving including the border crossing. Once we arrive in Belize city we’ll take a water taxi to Caye Caulker.

latin american adventurePhoto credit: Brandon (CC license)

Day 20: Caye Caulker

With free time in Caye Caulker I’ll spend my time diving and explore some of the other Cayes. The thing I want to do most in Belize is dive the Blue Hole with stingrays and nurse sharks.latin american adventurePhoto credit: Larry (CC license)

Day 21: Caye Caulker

Another free day in Caye Caulker to spend diving, kayaking and maybe a charter flight over the Blue Hole.

latin american adventurePhoto credit: Tynka (CC license)

Day 22: San Ignacio

Today we travel by local bus through the forested hills of the highlands to San Ignacio, which takes around three hours and the rest of the day free. The local buses in Belize are a little more basic than in Mexico.13132968183_0edbac1411_kPhoto credit: Misty  (CC License)

Day 23: San Ignacio

Today is a free day to discover San Ignacio, go on a day trip to Xunantunich, a Mayan ceremonial centre or to the cave of Actun Tinichil Muknal. There are also plenty of waterfalls, swimming holes and cave systems around this area. In the late afternoon and at night, there are lots of little street barbecue stalls open.8443952559_2555a21158_kPhoto credit: Lindsay (CC license)

Day 24: Tikal

Today we cross the border into Guatemala and then onto Tikal National park. Towering above the jungle, Tikal National Park, the five granite temples of Tikal are one of the most magnificent Mayan ruins. We can climb to the top of the ruins for amazing views over the jungle canopy where we may see toucans, macaws and other colourful birds. There is also a zip-line through the jungle. Tonight we set up tents and camp under the stars by the Mayan site.

latin american adventurePhoto credit: Erik (CC license)

Day 25: Rio Dulche

We head to the town of Flores on Lake Peten Itza. After lunch we get on a local bus and head to Rio Dulche, which takes around 5 hours. We then head to our hotel by boat.

latin american adventurePhoto credit: Ultravision (CC license)

Day 26: Rio Dulche

With a free day in RIo Dulche there are plenty of activities to get out and about incuding a scenic boat to Livingston, hiking combined with yoga at the Shaman Tower, sunrise kayake to visit the howler monkeys,  swimming in a natural hot waterfall or head out by boat on the lake to spot the manatees.

latin american adventurePhoto credit: Peter (CC license)

Day 27: Antigua

We make the 8-9 hour journey to Antigua today where we’ll spend the night eating street food. latin american adventurePhoto credit: Elyse (CC license)

Day 28: Chichicastenango & San Jorge La Laguna

We start the day by travelling to the famous market in Chichicastenango, taking around two and a half hours. Home to perhaps the most colourful market in the country, on Thursdays and Sundays locals come from the surrounding villages to sell their wares, and the streets are lined with stalls offering multi-coloured textiles and fresh produce. After visiting Chichi we head towards San Jorge La Laguna, a small Maya village overlooking Lake Atitlan. We we arrive in San Jorge La Laguna, we meet our host family for tonight’s homestay.15211350692_931ce02d4b_bPhoto credit: Stefano (CC license)

Day 29: Panajachel

We move on to the neighbouring town of Panajachel, located on Lake Atitlan with distant volcanoes in the background. Panajachel has a thriving and colourful market, good eateries, water- based activities and hiking to San Pedro Volcano.

8647731767_d5cde8bd10_hPhoto credit: Daniel (CC license)

Day 30: Antigua

We make the three hour drive back to Antigua. In 1773 the city was destroyed by an earthquake, but many of the colonial buildings have been restored. We’ll walk through the quiet cobblestone streets, through markets and museums.14943966043_4da45ebdce_bPhoto credit: Stefano (CC license)

Day 31: Antigua

have another day to explore the city. Maybe I’ll take a salsa lesson or hike a volcano. Tonight we’ll have a group dinner and say our farewells.9629823350_73397f5ecf_bPhoto credit: Matt (CC license)

Day 32: Antigua

I only have the morning in Antigua before having to head to the airport to head back home.

The LONG journey home

I depart from Guatemala City early afternoon and head back to Miami with another 2 hour stop. The  flight from Miami to Doha takes just under 14 hours with me landing at 5.30pm, I then have just over 9 hours in Doha airport. Oh man! Usually Qatar Airways offer a free STPC (Stopover package) when your in transit for more than 2 hours but I booked on the cheapest booking class meaning I miss out. Not to worry, there is a complimentary city tour of Doha leaving at 8pm thanks to Qatar Airways and Qatar Tourism Authority. I’ll visit four key landmarks including the Pearl- Qatar, Katara Cultural Village, Souq Waqif and the Museum of Islamic Art. For more info on the complimentary Doha City Tour. Once I return from the tour, I’ll have a few hours to kill in the lounge before departing just before 3am. The 11 hour flight brings me into Perth just before 7 pm after 38 hours of travelling.peral-01-detail

Have you been to Mexico, Belize or Guatemela? I’d love to hear what you did and any suggestion you may have

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