The Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed

Explore the spectacular Maya ceremonial centers of Mexico's Yucatan—Chichen Itza, Uxmal, Tulum and Coba—and more remote sites such as Labna, Sayil and Mayapan with an expert educational team. Learn about Mayan art, architecture and mathematical and astronomical systems. Visit Merida’s Sunday market and discover the rich natural world of the Maya at the Sian Ka’an Biosphere.

Dec 7 - Dec 15, 2019  (9 Days)

$5,990 per person, double occupancy

For more Information

(415) 597-6720

Saturday, December 7
Home / Merida, Mexico

Arrive in Merida and transfer to our hotel near the historic center. Gather for a welcome reception and dinner, savoring the Yucatan’s regional specialties. Intercontinental Hotel (R, D)

Sunday, December 8

After a welcome lecture, enjoy Sunday in Merida, when the colonial city center is closed to auto traffic. Stroll around Mérida’s social gathering place, Plaza Grande, and its nearby colorful market where modern-day Maya sell colorful hammocks and embroidered huipils, or traditional blouses. Learn about Merida’s colonial history at the Cathedral, Palacio Montejo and Casa Museo Montes Molina. Continue to the Parque Santa Lucia and its restaurants and lively atmosphere. The rest of the afternoon and evening are free to enjoy Merida. Intercontinental Hotel (B,L)

Monday, December 9

Travel south to meet local artisans in the village of Muna before lunch at Hacienda Ochil, a restored henequen plantation. Continue to the ruins of Uxmal for our first encounter with the magnificent vestiges of the ancient Maya. Built into the rolling Puuc landscape, Uxmal is one of the only Maya cities without a geometric layout. Explore the complex, examining the ornate carvings on the Pyramid of the Magician and the magnificent two-headed jaguar throne at the entrance to the Governor’s Palace. The Lodge at Uxmal (B,L,D)

Tuesday, December 10
Labna, Sayil and Kabah

Visit the nearby outlying ruins of Labna, Sayil and Kabah.  The ancient monuments share the same beautiful Puuc architectural style, and yet each site reflects its own distinctive and special character.  Of particular interest are the remarkable three-story, colonnaded Palace in Sayil with its richly decorated friezes depicting mythological figures, and the fantastic Rain-God-covered facade of the Kodz Pop (“rolled mat”) palace in Kabah. Return to Uxmal this evening for an impressive sound and light show.  The Lodge at Uxmal (B,L,D)

Wednesday, December 11

Visit the archaeological site of Mayapan, the administrative center of the Yucatan Peninsula in Postclassic times. The ground plan and architectural style of the largest structure is thought to have been fashioned after the Castillo in Chichen Itza. Afterwards, cool off with a refreshing dip in a nearby cenote (natural well) and help make tortillas for a delicious lunch prepared on-site by local chefs. This afternoon, learn about the culture and customs of modern-day Maya people on a visit to a local village. Arrive this evening at your hotel adjacent to Chichen Itza. The Lodge at Chichen Itza (B,L,D)

Thursday, December 12
Chichen Itza

Spend the day exploring Chichen Itza, often dubbed one of the new seven wonders of the world. Enter a world of fascinating mythology as you discover the southern complex, including the Observatory, the Tomb of the High Priest, and the Nunnery. In the large complex of North Chichen, see towering pyramids and temples surrounded by smaller sites, including the ancient marketplace, the sweat bath, and the largest Maya ball court ever found. The Lodge at Chichen Itza (B,L,D)

Friday, December 13
Valladolid / Coba / Tulum

Visit Valladolid, a quaint Yucatan town which figured importantly in the Caste War during the 1800s. Continue onwards to Coba, one of the leading Maya centers, where the earliest stela dates back to the year 623 A.D. With towering temples (including one over 130 feet), and lush tropical vegetation, this city is strikingly similar to many found in the Guatemala lowlands. Arrive at your hotel overlooking a beautiful Caribbean beach near Tulum late this afternoon. Los Lirios Hotel (B,L,D)

Saturday, December 14
Tulum / Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve

Explore the splendid Maya city of Tulum this morning. These ruins are spectacularly situated on a cliff that rises high above the teal-blue Caribbean water. Tulum is an excellent example of the very late Postclassic form of compact settlement within fortified walls. Of special note here are the carvings at the Temple of the Descending God. Continue to the pristine natural beauty of the Sian Ka’an Reserve and explore its lagoons and wetlands by boat. Celebrate your journey this evening with a farewell reception and dinner at the hotel. Los Lirios Hotel (B,L,R,D)

Sunday, December 15
Cancun / Home

Transfer to the Cancun airport for flights home. (B)

$5,990 per person, sharing
$1,690 single supplement

Group Size
Minimum 15, maximum 28 participants

8 nights of deluxe hotel accommodations; All accommodations, meals, and excursions as specified in the itinerary; Full program of briefings, lectures and presentations; Group airport transfers on group arrival and departure days; Baggage handling; Gratuities to porters, waitstaff, guides and drivers; Entrance fees; Welcome and farewell wine receptions; House wine, beer, and soft drinks with welcome and farewell dinners; Bottled water on motorcoaches; Professional tour manager

Not Included
U.S. domestic and international airfare; Passport/visa expenses; Medical expenses and immunizations; Airport transfers outside of group arrival and departure days; Travel insurance; Optional excursions or deviations from the scheduled tour; Excess baggage charges; Meals not specified in the itinerary; dishes and beverages not part of the included meals; liquor or soft drinks except as noted; Laundry or dry cleaning; Telephone, fax, internet and email charges; Room service; Other items of a personal nature

What to Expect

In order to make the most of what each locale has to offer, our daily program will be active. Much of the time each day will be spent outdoors, often in the sun, exploring archaeological sites where walking will range from easy walks on level paths to more strenuous walks on hilly, uneven terrain. While we maintain a moderate pace throughout the program, you should be in good overall health and able to walk and stand for several hours at the archaeological sites (although there are resting spots along the way). There is a fair amount of traveling during the program, which will be by modern, air-conditioned motor coach on roads that range from modern superhighways to narrower, winding roads. Daily drives range from one to two hours when traveling from one site to another. Temperatures will tend to reach into the mid to high 80s (°F) during the day, dropping into the 60s in the early mornings and evening, and with the high humidity it can feel even hotter

Trip Educators
William Saturno
Study Leader William Saturno has received numerous National Geographic grants to support his excavation of ancient Maya murals and artifacts. His breakthrough discovery at San Bartolo of the oldest intact Maya murals yet found became the focus of the January 2006 National Geographic magazine article “The Dawn of Maya Gods and Kings," and the June 2012 issue described his recent unearthing of murals at Xultún. Bill has also served as Field Director of the Río Amarillo Archaeological Project in Western Honduras, examining the relationships of Maya cities around Copán.
Margaret “Wiggie” Andrews
A native Yucatecan, Tour Manager Margaret “Wiggie” Andrews is the daughter of the late well-known archaeologist E. Wyllys Andrews. She is a graduate of Tulane University with a degree in art history, and has studied in France, Italy, and Egypt. Wiggie has worked extensively at Chichen Itza helping to interpret and record Maya glyphs and stone carvings and has co-authored two papers on this subject. She is fluent in French, Spanish and English. Wiggie’s husband, Chris Holder, is assisting her on this trip.

Air Arrangements
PLEASE NOTE: U.S. domestic and international airfare is not included in the program rates. Airtreks can help with airline arrangements for this trip and can be reached at (800) 350-0646. You are also welcome to book your air transportation through your local travel agent, an online travel site, or the airline of your choice. Further information about making flight arrangements will be sent to all participants.

We require membership to the Commonwealth Club to travel with us. People who live outside of the Bay Area may purchase a national membership. To learn about membership types and to purchase a membership, visit membership or call (415) 597-6720.

Terms & Conditions
Complete Terms and Conditions including Statement of Responsibility will be made available to you at time of registration, or in advance upon request. A signed release is required from each applicant prior to participation on the tour. 

Travel insurance for trip cancellation and interruption, medical problems, baggage loss and delay, etc., is highly recommended. Trip cancellation policies that apply to this expedition are included in this brochure. Information about travel insurance will be sent to confirmed participants. Please be sure to carry the details of your travel insurance coverage with you on the program.

Reservations and Deposits
To reserve space, please complete the reservation form and mail it with your check or credit card information to the address at the top of the form. You may also fax the form to (415) 597-6729 and your reservation will be held pending receipt of your check or credit card information. If you have questions, please call (415) 597-6720 or email travel@ Final payment deadline is August 9, 2019, 120 days prior to departure. 

A Note About Cost
Tour costs are based upon current airfares, taxes, tariffs, currency values, and on the basis of a minimum of 15 participants. While we will do everything possible to maintain the listed prices, they are subject to change. Due to fluctuations in oil prices and/or tax rates, a surcharge may be added to your tour fee (e.g. internal flights, cruises, VAT, etc.). If there are significant changes, details and costs will be advised prior to departure.

Cancellations & Refunds
Upon payment of a $1,000 deposit per person, all reservations are subject to the cancellation provisions set forth below and by which the passenger agrees to be bound. Cancellations shall not be effective until they are received in writing and confirmed by the Commonwealth Club. Deposits are refundable (less a $250 per person administration fee) if written notice of cancellation is received within 30 days of reservation; after that, deposits are 100% nonrefundable. Final payment is due August 9, 2019 (120 days prior to departure). Cancellations within 120 days of departure are 100% nonrefundable. For this reason, we strongly urge participants to purchase trip cancellation insurance. If the program is cancelled by Criterion Travel, you will receive a full refund, without further obligation on our part. No refunds will be made for any part of this program on which you choose not to participate. Neither Criterion Travel nor The Commonwealth Club of California accept liability for any airline cancellation penalty incurred by the purchase of a nonrefundable ticket in conjunction with this tour.

California Seller of Travel Program CST #2088800-40 CST #2096889-40