The Maya

Join archaeologist William Saturno in Chiapas and discover the rich cultural traditions and dazzling Mesoamerica archeology and architecture of the Maya. Explore the UNESCO world heritage site of Palenque. Marvel at more remote sites such as Yaxchilan and Tonina to see remarkably well-preserved murals. Chiapas is one of the most biologically diverse regions in the world and we venture to the heart of the Lacandón jungle, with scarlet macaws and howler monkeys swinging along the treetops above you. Enjoy San Cristobal de la Casas, a stunning colonial city nestled in mountainous central highlands.  

Dec 4 - Dec 12, 2022  (9 Days)

$6,690 per person, double occupancy

For more Information

(415) 597-6720

    Sunday, December 4
    U.S. / Villahermosa, Mexico

    Depart home and fly to Villahermosa, Mexico. Gather with fellow travelers in the evening to savor local cuisine at a special welcome reception and dinner. Hyatt Villahermosa (R,D)

    Monday, December 5

    Begin the day with a welcome orientation and lecture, followed by a visit to La Venta Park to see colossal Olmec sculptures. Drive to Palenque this afternoon and settle into the hotel, which is immersed in the jungle. Amenities include a full-service spa and cenote-inspired pool. Chan Kah Resort (B,L,D)

    Tuesday, December 6

    Explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site Palenque, one of the most important Maya sites in the world. Enjoy a full day at the Palenque ruins, including the Temple of Inscriptions, Temple of the Sun, and Temple of the Foliated Cross, which holds the most comprehensive sources of Maya text known to exist. After dinner, enjoy a private after-hours sunset tour of the site. Chan Kah Resort (B,L,D)

    Wednesday, December 7

    Drive to Frontera Corozal overlooking the Usumacinta River. This journey takes you down the river by small motorized boat to remote Yaxchilán—said to be named for its green stone. The city’s position on the water gave it a central role in river commerce during the Classic period. Discover the site’s jungle-shrouded ruins, paying close attention to its ornate building facades and roof combs and keeping an eye out for the scarlet macaws and troops of howler monkeys that inhabit the surrounding treetops. Return to Palenque this afternoon. Chan Kah Resort (B,L,D)

    Thursday, December 8
    San Cristobal de las Casas

    Visit Misol Ha waterfall en route to the archaeological site of Tonina and its spectacular mural of the Four Eras. Venture along paths carved through the jungle to the main sites, gnarled tree roots at your feet and howler monkeys swinging in the trees above your heads. Marvel at the jungle-shrouded ruins and remarkably well-preserved murals, where carved stone lintels span temple doorways and ornate hieroglyphics flank stairways. Your guide will decipher the scenes and explain how the Maya were able to create such vibrant hues using natural materials. Continue to San Cristobal de las Casas, arriving early this evening. Hotel Bo (B,L,D)

    Friday, December 9
    San Cristobal de las Casas

    Explore the Spanish colonial city situated in a small valley surrounded by hills in the central highlands of Chiapas. Enjoy a guided walk of the historic district and the town’s traditional market. Visit the Na Balom Museum and meet with local artists. The afternoon and evening are free for independent exploration, with time to wander and soak up the atmosphere at your own pace. Hotel Bo (B,L,D)

    Saturday, December 10
    San Cristobal de las Casas

    Delve into the local economic landscape of the region with a special focus on textiles, iron, silver, and handmade paper. Visit the smaller indigenous Tzotzil towns of San Juan Chamula and Zinacantan and learn about traditional weaving and metal works. Hotel Bo (B,L)

    Monday, December 11
    San Cristobal de las Casas

    Spend the morning with local artisans and learning more about the colorful textiles of Chiapas. The afternoon is free for independent exploration. Gather to celebrate your journey at a farewell dinner this evening. Hotel Bo (B,L,D)

    Tuesday, December 12
    San Cristobal de las Casas / U.S.

    Transfer to the Tuxtla Gutierrez airport for flights home. (B)


    $6,690 per person, double occupancy
    $1,990 single room occupancy supplement

    All accommodations, meals, and excursions as specified in the itinerary, including eight hotel nights • Meals (8 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 6 dinners) • Comprehensive program of briefings, lectures, and presentations • Transfers for all participants on group arrival and departure dates • Gratuities to guides, drivers, porters, and wait staff for all group activities • Entrance fees • Welcome wine reception • Baggage handling • House wine, beer, and soft drinks with all group lunches and dinners • Water on motorcoaches • Comprehensive packet of pre-departure information • Professional tour manager throughout the program.

    U.S. domestic and international airfare • Passport/visa expenses • Medical expenses and immunizations • Travel and trip cancellation insurance • Private transfers or airport transfers outside of group arrival and departure days • Personal excursions or deviations from the scheduled tour • Airline 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

    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 motorcoach on roads that range from modern superhighways to narrower, winding roads. Daily drives generally range from one to two hours, with two longer drives of about five to six hours with some stops and site visits along the way. Temperatures should 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 hotter. All participants and tour staff will be required to be fully vaccinated for SARS-COV-2 (COVID-19), plus follow safety/sanitization protocols set forth by the tour operator, local staff, and host country laws.

    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.

    Complete Terms and Conditions including a Statement of Responsibility will be made available to you at the time of registration, or in advance upon request. A signed “Terms & Conditions, Release from Liability, Assumption of Risk and Binding Arbitration Clause” is required from each applicant prior to participation on the tour.

    U.S. domestic and international airfare is not included in the program rates. Valerie Wilson Travel, Inc., can help with airline arrangements for this trip and can be reached at 877-376-1754. You are also welcome to book your air transportation through your local travel agent, an online travel site, or the airline of your choice.

    This program is limited to 24 participants.

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

    We strongly recommend the purchase of trip cancellation insurance, which is available for coverage of expenses in conjunction with cancellation due to illness or accident. Baggage insurance is also recommended. In the event you must cancel your participation in the travel program, trip cancellation insurance may be the only source of reimbursement. Information will be sent upon registration and can be viewed Travel Insurance Services website

    Tour rates are based upon current fuel prices, currency values, taxes, tariffs, and a minimum number of participants. While we will do everything possible to maintain the listed prices, they are subject to change. If there are significant changes, details and costs will be advised prior to departure

    A deposit of $1,000 per person is required to reserve space on this program.

    Final payment is due September 5, 2022, and needs to be by check or bank transfer. For those who register after September 5, 2022, full payment is due upon registration.

    Upon payment of the $1,000 per person deposit, all reservations are subject to the cancellation provisions set forth below and by which the passenger agrees to be bound. Cancellations shall not be in effect until they are received in writing and confirmed by Commonwealth Club Travel. Deposits are refundable until September 5, 2022.

    Cancellations after September 5, 2022: All payments are 100% non-refundable, regardless of the booking date. Trip cancellation insurance is strongly recommended.

    NOTE: Neither the Commonwealth Club nor the tour operator accepts liability for any airline cancellation penalties incurred with the purchase of nonrefundable tickets.

    All participants should be in good health and capable of keeping up with an active group of travelers. By forwarding the deposit for passage, the passenger certifies that he/she does not have any physical or other condition or disability that would create a hazard for him/ herself or other passengers. SARSCOV-2 (COVID 19) vaccinations are a requirement for participation on this program. Up-to-date COVID-specific protocols and requirements for this destination will be sent to confirmed participants and are available upon request. Every reasonable effort will be made to operate the program as planned; however, should unforeseen world events and conditions require the itinerary to be altered, the tour operator reserves the right to do so for the safety and best interest of the group. Any extra expenses incurred in this situation are the responsibility of the participant.