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Wonders of Chiapas

 

Explore the exuberance and beauty of Chiapas Rainforest, spectacular Mayan Ceremonial centers and time-on-hold inhabitants. 

This 7 day/6 night tour features the spectacular ruins of Palenque and Tonina. Included also are the beautiful Cascades of Agua Azul and Misol Ha waterfalls.  The colonial city of San Cristóbal de las Casas with its heavy Mayan influence and the nearby Mayan communities of Zinacantan and San Juan Chamula offer a rare glimpse into both the ancient and modern worlds of the Maya.

This exceptional cultural experience will not only take us to the cradle of Mayan civilization but also through the spectacular Chiapas Rainforest eco-system.

Begins and ends in Villahermosa.

Physically active program; light hiking, 2-4 hours per day on undulating trails; climbing old, uneven steps at some ruins.

 

  • Day 1: Arrival in Villahermosa, transfer to Palenque  Tour members will be transferred to the hotel selected in Palenque.  Here you can look forward to a journey through majestic, unspoiled landscapes and magnificent archaeological sites. There will be an evening orientation in the gardens of the hotel where tour members will meet the guide that will lead the trip for a short briefing about the excursion routine.

             

  • Day 2: Palenque   Morning is a magical time at Palenque and, for the early-risers, we will walk the last two kilometers that lead to the ruins, spellbound by the strange and beautiful music of tropical birds or startled by the blood-curdling roars of Howler Monkeys awakening in the tree tops. We may be lucky enough to spot a Keel-billed Toucan with its rainbow bill, or a giant Pale-billed Woodpecker with its ostentatious crimson crest. Entering the ruins while the day is still cool, we will guide you through the most significant buildings, reconstructing the fascinating stories of dynasty, succession, and intrigue that are revealed in their inscriptions. We will also visit the modern site museum that houses a full-scale replica of the tomb of Pacal the Great that lies deep within the magnificent Temple of the Inscriptions. Afternoon free. (B, L, D)

                  

  • Day 3:  Agua Azul, Misol Ha, Tonina and San Cristóbal de Las Casa - Early departure to Tonina, halfway between Palenque and San Cristóbal de las Casas we will reach this barely visited by tourists archaeological site. Famous for is its stucco relief of the Four Suns from Tonina, which depicts the God of Death holding the severed  head of a prisoner.

       

    Agua Azul is one of those places where the magic is real, and the real is magical. It is as if the aquamarine waters of the Caribbean had tunneled beneath the ground to burst forth in cascades amongst the rainforest. After descending from Tonina we will break our journey here and have time to explore and swim among this spectacular series of waterfalls. Refreshed and dried off, we will continue on to the secluded waterfall of Misol Ha that cascades into a pool surrounded by tropical forest. At both places, it will be hard to ignore the presence of colorful tropical birds, such as parrots, trogons, hummingbirds, motmots, tanagers, and oropendolas. Contact with nature is essential to an understanding of the Mayan world, for it was knowledge of the natural rhythms of life in the tropics, knowledge accumulated through centuries of village life, that underpinned the awesome power of the kings and spawned perhaps the greatest civilization of ancient America. Continue to San Cristóbal de las Casas and overnight at the Hotel. San Cristóbal de las Casas it’s a magic village. The ethnic population mixed with the Caucasian Spanish has created a unique atmosphere prevailing the respect for the Indigenous costumes and the respect to the imported costumes of the Spaniards. (B,L,D) 

  • Day 4: San Cristóbal de Las Casas and the Mayan Communities of Zinacantan and San Juan Chamula - As well as a fascinating display of local agricultural produce and crafts, the market at San Cristóbal has for long been a focal point for the communities inhabiting the valley and mountains beyond. Here Tzotzil Maya peoples gather to ply their wares and garner provisions before dispersing back to their villages and homesteads. Often, they proudly sport the traditional dress of centuries, and their attire may identify them as belonging to a specific community. Among these, the Chamulans of San Juan Chamula, and the Zinacantecans of Zinacantán are often conspicuous. Both these villages are only a few miles from town, but here we step into a more hermetic world that is in stark contrast to cosmopolitan San Cristóbal. Though tourists are welcome, these communities have taken a series of measures to ensure that their traditions and beliefs are respected by outsiders. Photography is restricted and entrance to their churches and shrines is strictly controlled. We support the efforts of these communities to preserve their traditions and to ensure that their shrines continue to be revered as places of worship. In the morning, we will drive the short distance to San Juan Chamula. The Chamulans are well aware of the double-edged sword that goes by the name of tourism. On the one hand, tourism is a welcome addition to their economy, but its influence can also pose a threat to traditional values. Over the centuries, they have had good reason to be suspicious of outsiders. A visit to the church here never fails to leave a lasting impression on visitors and will leave us in no doubt that the Chamulans take their religion seriously. Though nominally Catholic, the religious syncretism so characteristic of indigenous beliefs is clearly evident. Inside the plain and unassuming church, the air is often thick with the heady scent of pine needles that carpet the floor, and the smoke of candles and copal incense burned as offerings. The faithful kneel before one of their favorite saints, a gallery of whose effigies flank the nave, and arrange offerings of alcohol, herbs, and food to accompany the candles and incense. In some cases the alcohol and food may be "shared" with their patron as they converse aloud and beseech favors and blessings. Our experience here will provide insight into why Catholicism was apparently so fervently adopted by indigenous communities. We will also explore the craft market here and then continue on to colorful Zinacantán who are close neighbors of the Chamulans. The Zinacatecans are said to be descended from a mixture of Tzotzil and Aztec blood. They themselves were formerly inveterate travelers and traded between the great Aztec market of Tlatelolco, Chiapas, and Central America beyond. After lunch back in San Cristóbal, you will have the rest of the afternoon to explore the town at your leisure. We recommend a visit to the Na-Bolom Museum, where the Danish archaeologist and explorer Frans Blom and his wife Gertrudis Duby established a library and research center. The Bloms were famous for their work at Palenque and among the Lacandon Indians of the lowland rainforests. Gertrudis documented their disappearing way of life in a series of stunning black and white photographs. For those interested in nature, we can arrange a walk through the private cloud forest reserve of Huitepec. The luxuriant cloud forest with mighty trees and a profusion of orchids and bromeliads has disappeared from many areas in Chiapas. This private reserve, run by the local conservation group, PRONATURA, gives us a taste of this magical habitat without having to hike miles into the mountains. Several rare and endemic birds are found here, such as the Bearded Screech-Owl and Pink-headed Warbler – characters that sound as if they have come straight from a Lewis Carroll fantasy.  In the afternoon we will provide you with a tour of the town center and some of its most notable buildings, as well as visiting a local cooperative that produces fine textiles. After helping you get oriented, you will be free to explore the town at your leisure. Dinner at the hotel. "fiestas" (celebrations). (B, L, D)

Title: Tzotzil girl       

  • Day 5: San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapa de Corzo, Villahermosa - Chiapa de Corzo is only 15 kilometers east of Tuxtla Gutiérrez and 98 kmts from San Cristóbal de las Casas. An important colonial town in its own right, it boasts a fine Dominican monastery and the attractive Church of Santo Domingo. It is also the embarkation point for boat trips through the Sumidero Canyon. From here the road winds steeply into the highlands, climbing over 5,000 feet in the forty miles that separates us from the town of San Cristóbal de las Casas. Founded in 1528 as "Ciudad Real", San Cristóbal lies at almost 7,000 feet in a cool mountain valley surrounded by pine-oak forests. Its current name honors the friar Bartolomé de las Casas who was a champion of Indian rights, a role the Catholic Church has energetically played to this day. The fierce conservatism of the Indian communities of highland Chiapas endows this town with a special mystique, and this, along with its charming colonial architecture, narrow cobbled streets, red-tiled roofs, and high quality textiles, have made it irresistible to travelers for hundreds of years. In 1994, San Cristóbal was surprisingly seized by Zapatista rebels and the charismatic Comandante Marcos became an international celebrity almost overnight. The violence connected with this uprising clearly dissuaded many travelers from venturing into the region and tourism not surprisingly suffered a sharp decline. With the arrival of Mexico’s first democratically elected government and improved communications between Indian leaders and government officials, it is hoped that future disputes can be negotiated more peacefully. San Cristóbal and the surrounding area have been safe for some years now and travelers are once again returning in numbers. After leaving our hotel in San Cristóbal de las Casas, we will drive the short distance to Chiapa de Corzo and board a boat that will take us on a spectacular trip through the Sumidero Canyon. Now the canyon walls and forest soar above us and waterfalls have created strange mineral deposits on the rock face. We may be lucky enough to spot one of the Morelet’s Crocodiles that often haul up on shore to sunbathe or glide quietly through the water with only eyes and nostrils visible. We will spend some time exploring the town of Chiapa de Corzo before driving the scenic road to Villahermosa, where we will arrive in time for Dinner. In the afternoon we will provide you with a tour of the town center and some of its most notable buildings, as well as visiting a local cooperative that produces fine textiles. After helping you get oriented, you will be free to explore the town at your leisure. Dinner at the hotel. Continue to Villahermosa for overnight. (B, L, D)

 

  • Day 6 - Villahermosa - The tour will start the day dedicated to the Park and Museum of La Venta. This park is an open-air museum that contains most of the stone sculpture excavated at the Olmec site of La Venta. There are 28 Olmec carvings at this beautiful outdoor museum with an interesting zoo and lake. Each piece was set carefully for optimum viewing.  The huge and amazingly well crafted Olmec heads, intricate altars, and intriguing stele and statues there makes one appreciate these ancestors of the Maya.  Coatimundis, agoutis and other tropical wildlife wander the grounds among some of the last native vegetation in the area.  In the park we also find the Museum History and we will visit the anthropology Museum "Carlos Pellicer" which displays a wonderful collection of artifacts belonged to the Olmecs and Mayas. (B, L, D)

  

  • Day 7 - Villahermosa  - Depending on your flight schedule you may have time today to check on the city's excellent shops. If your flight leaves late, your room will be available until 2 p.m. (B)

 

Begins and ends in Villahermosa.

 

Per Person Tour Prices - Standard Category Accommodations - Double Occupancy

Number of Tour Participants

2 Persons - $2,553; 4 Persons - $1,615; 6 Persons - $1,434; 8 Persons or More - $1,243

Hotels on tour are 4* or similar and will be confirmed according to the availability.

Economy and Deluxe accommodations are available as well.

Single and triple rates are available.

 

This Tour Includes:  

·        Services of a professional archaeological guide.  

·        Hotels and lodges, hotel taxes service charges, and tips for baggage handling.

·        Breakfasts (B), Lunches (L) and Dinners (D) as detailed in the tour itinerary.

·        Carefully maintained air-conditioned motor coach; maximum 10 tour members per vehicle.

·        Experienced driver. 

·        All entrance fees to parks and archaeological sites are included in the program.

·        Complete program of sightseeing and cultural events as described.

 

Please call us at 1-888-843-6292 or email us at info@MexicoColonialCities.com with your questions or for more information or click the button below to go to our Tour Information Request Form. 

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