Skip the line and gain private entry to Chichen Itza after 9am pickup from your Merida hotel by minivan. Then, embark on a small-group tour of the archeological park with your knowledgeable guide and discover this ancient capital of the Mayan Empire, founded in 514 AD.
Follow your guide to the Great Plaza, the heart of Chichen Itza, to see the excavated temples of the Yucatan’s most important archaeological zone. Explore El Castillo (the Castle) and the Pyramid of Kukulcán, which reveals an astronomical phenomenon each equinox when shadows resembling a serpent project over the architectural features of the building.
Your guide will regale your small group with stories of priests and Mayan kings who once stood atop the pyramid overlooking the entire city. Then, head to the Great Ball Court, the largest in Mesoamerica – 537 feet (164 meters) long and 224 feet (68 meters) wide – with perfect acoustics. Walk to the Temple of the Jaguars at one end of the ball court, where a steep stairway leads to the second story.
Next, visit the Sacred Cenote, where sacrifices took place, and see Tzompantli – Wall of Skulls – a Toltec structure where the heads of sacrificial victims were displayed! Your guide will take you to a set of buildings constructed during the Mayan classical period, including the nunnery, La Iglesia (the Church) and Akab Dzib, meaning ‘The House of Mysterious Writing’ in Mayan. Admire the circular observatory known as El Caracol, and view the Temple of the Warriors and the Thousand Columns.
After your small-group tour, you’ll have extra time to explore the site on your own. Then, head to Mayaland Hotel for a delicious buffet lunch, featuring traditional Yucatan dishes, and watch a regional dance show accompanied by folklore music. Enjoy all of the Mayaland Resort facilities, including the swimming pools, lounge chairs, botanical gardens and access to the resort’s sacred Xtoloc Cenote.
Be ready to depart by minivan at 3:30pm, arriving back in Merida around 5pm.