The jewel in the Yucatán crown, Chichen Itza is brimming with ancient Maya ruins, temples and pyramids. This exclusive tour has an early morning start so that you arrive at this UNESCO-listed archaeological site before the crowds do. You'll also visit a cenote and a traditional Maya village. Benito, one of our local guides, says, ‘What you hear is just as impressive as what you see in Chichen Itza. For example, El Caracol was an observatory used by Maya astronomers. You'll find out all about their precise calendars, which charted everything from fertility to harvests.'
Clawed back from the jungle by archaeologists, Chichen Itza is a sight to behold. Its name means Mouth of the Well of the Water Wizards, inspired by its sacred cenotes. Everywhere, you'll see representations of Kukulkan, the plumed serpent that was the top Maya deity. The pyramid dedicated to him dominates the complex. Benito says, ‘The Temple of Kukulkan has four staircases of 91 steps plus the single step on the summit makes 365. The ancient Maya calculated everything.'
You'll also see the temples of the Warriors and of the Jaguars as your guide gives you the lowdown on Maya history, culture and legends. There are artisans making handicrafts in the site, so any purchases help the local community. Plus, you'll unearth the secrets of Xibalba – the Maya god of the underworld – as you delve into a freshwater cenote. After a traditional lunch, it's time to get to know the locals with a visit to the village of Yalcoba.