The travelogue Mexico (June/July 2011)
I leave Guatemala after more than a month and a half, sorry for not having met Carlos, my childhood friend from Taormina who has become a rock star in this country. And I’m sorry to leave this quiet and cool Guatemala where I have never suffered from the heat.
But Viva Mexico! I have arrived at the border and there is no going back. A boat trip, of those of which I am now familiar with, and, within a day, here I am in Palenque.
I am in Chiapas, among the follies in the churches and the torrential rains at night, it is said to be the poorest region, and here I decided to stay…
…It’s been a month since my entrance in Mexico, a short flight to New York and I feel the journey in the enchanting Central America turn to an end.
Mexico turned out to be much bigger than I imagined, but the contrast of Chiapas/Yucatan makes me appreciate this colorful but also desert land, made of American postcard city, it is true, but also of authentic and reserved sites, of beautiful beaches, some remote, colored lagoons, of Mayan traditions and natural beauty.
And then, if you like the spice and the fun, here there is food and drink.
The upcoming rainy season is coming, the Caribbeans are so beautiful with the sun and so disturbing with the grey sky, the other night the rains were so strong that I saw a palm tree bending, literally, weakened by the virulent water falling down like boulders.
The electricity went off of course, and all of us in the hostel, gathered together to watch in silence this universal deluge, playing cards holding torches on our heads.
I will miss the music of Mexico, that so predictable way to bargain, the beautiful and different Chiapas and the wonderful sea of the Caribbean, the too spicy tacos, the whale shark. ”
Practical details of Travel in Mexico
Car rental – Cost for 14 days €268 on Rentalcars – From Cancun Airport to Cancun airport
Buses and public transport –Rome2Rio compare different means of transport considering the price and duration of trip
Hostels – from €10 in a shared room on Hostelworld
Hotelsstarting at €25 for a double room and a private bathroom on Agoda e Booking
Currency: Pesos messicano
Visas: For EuropensNot required – Maximum stay 3 months
Two weeks in the Yucatan and Chiapas – Travel Itinerary
Day 1 – Arrival to Cancun and Puerto Morelos
Day 2 – Cenote Dzitnup & Chichén Itzá – Izamal
Day 3 – Izamal and Mérida
Day 4 – Celestún & Uxmal
Day 5 – Campeche
Day 6, 7 e 8 -9 – Palenque and San Cristóbal de las Casas
Day 10 – Laguna Bacalar
Day 11 -12 – Tulum & Akumal
Day 13 – 14 – Isla Mujeres
Day 15 – Back home
*** This itinerary is rather sustained. Mexico is very large and very diverse. This is an idea of variable itinerary also depending on the season, including the season of whale sharks.
Two weeks in the Yucatan and Chiapas – Travel Itinerary
The streets Yucatan and connections between major destinations are pretty good, so as to allow the creation of a travel itinerary articulated and complete the entire peninsula.
If you are moving counterclockwise so you will have to spend the last days at sea and then conclude with the best of the best in the country or the beautiful Caribbean sea that from my point of view is one of the most beautiful in the world (after that of San Blas in Panama, I admit!).
Day 1 – Arrival in Cancun and shifting to Puerto Morelos for the night
Cancun is definitely not the place you want to stay in, not even for a single day, it is worth it to land and proceed immediately to Puerto Morales.
A bus that leaves from the airport in just 25 minutes will take us to the beautiful Yucatan coast in a less “ugly” context of Cancun, as well as offering immediately a wonderful place to make the first snorkeling near the coral reef.
What I like about this small fishing village are the contained cost, the small, family environment and the tranquility compared to the big city nearby.
Day 2 – Dzitnup Cenote, Chichen Izamal – Izamal
Departure to arrive in Izamal at the end of the day, going through Valladolid, since 2012 part of the Pueblo Magico of the Pueblos Mágicos program, initiative advanced by the department of the Mexican tourism aimed at defining the most influential towns according to their natural, historical, architectural and cultural beauty.
The guide continues along the old road with a stop at the splendid Cenote Dzitnup.
The cenotes, that abound in the peninsula, are natural geological formations due to a very porous ground suddenly collapsing, the underground waters form, in this way, the lakes beneath the ground where it is obviously possible, indeed obligatory, to bathe. The guide then goes on to visit the beautiful ruins of Chichen Itza and to then end the day at Izamal.
Day 3 – Izamal – Mérida
Time to head to the north of the peninsula and reach Izamal, called the Yellow City, name due to the color of its buildings, but also the City of Hills, which more than real hills are probably the remains of now buried pyramids.
To then continue to Mérida, the cultural center of the region and characterized by old buildings of more than 500 years old and built on the ruins of a Mayan town called Ichcaansihó that in Mayan language means “five hills.”
Day 4 – Celestun and Uxmal
From Mérida leave for Ria Celestun Biosphere Reserve, another protected area and UNESCO site, located in a coastal area north-east of the peninsula, between the State of Campeche and Yucatan. Continue south to reach the incredible Mayan ruins of Uxmal. The path to Uxmal if done by car, will take you through small Mayan villages, crumbling Spanish haciendas, and numerous archaeological finds. It is worth visiting the ruins early in the morning when the temperatures drop.
Day 5 – Campeche
Campeche is the best preserved walled city in the Americas to the point that it was declared a World Heritage site in 2000, thanks to the splendid little streets that unravel throughout the city, the colonial-era and painted in pastel colors buildings. This city was the seat of the ancient Mayan culture so much so that from here you can visit many ruins, among which, Calakmul, Chicanna, Becan, Edzna, Xpujil, Hormiguero, Balamku, El Tigre.
The region of Campeche is the ideal destination for those who want to escape from the masses of tourists and love the sea, not the Caribbean but the Gulf of Mexico this time.
Days 6, 7 and 8 -9 – Palenque and San Cristobal de las Casas
The route from Campeche to Palenque is long but we are going to delve into the Mayan heart and most rustic of the country.
A riot of natural beauty and ancient culture. Before you reach the beautiful colonial city San Cristobal de Las Casas, there is a stop in Palenque where you can visit the magnificent pyramids here and if you want, the ruins of Bonampak and Yaxchilan, the next day before heading to San Cristobal de las Casas.
In addition to losing yourself around the fantastic city center, it is definitely worthwhile visiting the fascinating Mayan communities of San Juan Chamula and Zinacantan (for these, it is advisable to go with a local guide).
Day 10 – Bacalar Lagoon
Xpujil marks the halfway point of our journey, we’re going back in the Yucatan but this time we’re not on the Caribbean Sea, although to be honest, it seems quite the opposite.
The lagoon of seven colors, a unique place in the world that has just started to be a tourist attraction in a small and still dormant village.
Beyond the lagoon, well worth a visit is the Pirate museum where you will discover a pretty interesting story of the very famous, but about which little known, pirates of the Caribbean.
Day 11 and 12 – Tulum and Akumal + Cenotes
One of the most beautiful and evocative places of the Riviera Maya and it would be a shame to skip it because in delirium of “the desire of the less beaten tracks“, Tulum and its surroundings are fantastic and it is indeed a pity to be able to dedicate them so little time.
We will then reach the most fascinating of the Caribbean cities of Mexico characterized by the famous Mayan historic site overlooking the bluest sea ever.
Not far from Tulum are the Sian Ka’an Biosphere, just south of the city and accessible by collective taxi, of the beautiful cenotes and the Akumal beach, famous for the large population of marine turtles among which to swim a few meters away from the shore.
Day 13 – Puerto Morelos
There is only a day left before the departure and so it is time to draw closer to Cancun. But instead of returning directly to the capital it would not be a bad idea to go back exactly from where we started: Puerto Morelos, a seaside village just 31 km south of Cancun.
Day 15 – Flight from Cancun
Time to leave Mexico and not everything has been visited … at this point I’m sure that the famous “I will be back” thought will come to mind, there is still so much to do and see, and this country is too large and complex to be written off in such a short time.
As an alternative to Chiapas in period of whale sharks, between May and September, it is worth substituting the three days in Palenque and San Cristobal de Las Casas with Isla Holbox where you can swim with the biggest fish in the oceans.
Travel extensions (4 days) – Relax, sea and whale sharks
For those who have a few days more, the possible, and wonderful extensions are the Isla Mujeres and Isla Holbox.
Isla Mujeres is easily accessible by hydrofoil from Cancun, for more information click here.
Isla Holbox takes at least half a day to travel, you can reach it by bus, direction Chiquila, lasting about 4 hours. Buses leave daily at 5:30 am, 7:30 am, 12:40 and 13:30 pm (cost about $6). The boats from Chiquila to Holbox depart daily at the following times: 6:00, 8:00, 10:00, 11:00, 12:00, 14:00, 16:00, 17:00, 19:00.
Alternatively, for those interested in Mayan culture and attracted not yet invaded tourist area as is the Mayan Riviera from Bacalar you can enter Guatemala and visit Tikal.
Have you been to Mexico? What else would you add to the travel itinerary? What places should not be missed? Leave a comment and let me know what your thoughts are!
I travel independently taking mainly public transport. A world trip began in 2011 is not yet finished, my mission is to explore the world and write about it. Travel consultant Galapagos, Argentina, Morocco, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Namibia.