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Holbox – Mexico

The small island of Holbox (pronounced Hole-Bosh) is a barefoot paradise off Mexico’s Caribbean coast. Though not far from Cancun and the Riviera Maya, it is a World apart from those resorts, more cut-off jeans than designer chic. The ambiance is laid-back and the surrounding turquoise waters inviting. Only accessible by private yacht or the ferry from Chiquila, it is never overwhelmed with visitors. It is best to arrange transport in advance; some hotels will arrange pick-ups from the airport. Once you are there you can get most places by foot or hire a golf buggy taxi. The island is a lozenge 26 miles long by one mile wide. Traffic is not a problem, but after a rain shower the dirt roads can get a bit muddy.

Hammocks are de-rigour but the more active can try snorkelling, stand-up paddleboarding or kayaking. At the right time of year (June – September) take day trips by boat to see the whale-sharks that migrate off the north-eastern Yucatan Peninsula’s coast. These are the largest fish in the World, but harmless gentle giants that feed on plankton. You can see flamingos wading offshore, by walking to the north west of the island near the mangroves.

Holbox is an ideal place to get off-grid, communications are a bit hit-and-miss but that is part of the charm. Street art is popular here, murals abound depicting marine themes, or just pure fantasy. The northern shore is shallow and warm, ideal for kids. There is a sand bar just offshore which adults can walk too. Some hotels arrange romantic meals on tables above the water.

There are no big chain hotels, just small guest houses and boutique hotels. Eating out is not gourmet affair, as there are only a few restaurants, but it is easy to get tasty seafood and a cold beer at one of the beach bars. For home-made ice-cream try Angeles y Diablitos on the main square. For boutique hotels we recommend Las Nubes or Villas Flamingos. Enjoy amazing sunsets from any of the beachfront properties. A true place to relax and unwind.

All images copyright David Horwell 2019

5 PLACES TO GET WINTER SUN IN LATIN AMERICA

The nights are long, cold grey skies loom and the scarves and hats are been pulled out. Winter is here. But the cold weather in the northern hemisphere, means warmth in the south. It’s summer in Latin America and one of the best times to discover the continent’s mountains, beaches, culture and food. Here’s our 7 picks for the best spots to get some winter sun in Latin America

BAHIA, BRAZIL

The northern state of Bahia in Brazil is blessed with some of the best weather in Latin America. Year-round temperatures between 25°C and 30°C and over 250 hours of sunshine every month create the perfect winter getaway. But it’s not just the weather that makes this region such a great place to travel. Wild national parks, hundreds of miles of white sandy beaches fringed with palms trees, sleepy fishing villages, beautiful pastel-coloured colony architecture and UNESCO World Heritage sites and tasty cuisine that perfectly blends the Afro-Brazilian culture. Try visiting Salvador, the capital of Bahia, in February for a unique alternative to Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival. Flying time 12 hrs via Lisbon.

CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA

The colourful city of Cartagena lies on the northern coast of Colombia overlooking the clear blue waters of the Caribbean Sea. Between December and March, the city sees almost no rain and bright sunny days. There’s a wealth of boutique hotels. Many are within old colonial palaces. The city has its fair share of museums, galleries, music venues and restaurants to keep your entertained. For those who prefer to spend their holidays away from cities, there are miles and miles of coastline. Off the beaten track is the Tayrona National Park. Hikers can head inland to walk the challenging trails to the Lost City. The sun-drenched islands of Baru and Rosario are only a short boat trip from the city.

JOSÉ IGNACIO, URUGUAY

Bahia Vik, Jose Ignacio (copyright David Horwell)

Uruguay doesn’t spring to mind for your typical summer holiday. Yet the country is less crowded and has better beaches than neighbouring Argentina. On the coast lies the small fishing village of Jose Ignacio. The town grew around a 19th century lighthouse. Now favoured by jet-setters, the area has become an escape for the super-rich and celebrities. Ultra-modern hotels abound. During the summer months the area booms with pop up bars, concerts and parties. Spend lazy days sunbathing on the beach and swimming in the refreshing Atlantic. At night dine in one of the restaurants or beach-shack bars. Further down the coast there are some even less developed spots. At Cabo Polonio isolated wooden cabins fringe the edge of deserted beaches, the only sound being the crashing of waves.

TULUM, MEXICO

Cliffside Mayan Ruins at Tulum ca. 2002 Tulum, Mexico

Tulum lies along the Riviera Maya on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula south of Cancun. Comfortable temperatures hover around 28°C and enjoy a light sea breeze during December to February. An excellent choice for a winter getaway. The area is best known for its Mayan temple overlooking the ocean. This idyllic region has vast stretches of white sandy ocean and boutique accommodation. Snorkellers and scuba divers can enjoy exotic marine life. Nearby waters offer swimming with whale sharks, the big gentle giants.

BOCAS DEL TORO, PANAMA

Copyright David Horwell

Bocas del Toro is an archipelago of lush islands. They lie off the northern coast of Panama, near Costa Rica. Winter is the sunniest time. The islands have a distinct laid-back Caribbean vibe. Secluded wooden over-the-water bungalows sit off the coast from the tiny islands. The islands are excellent for hiking and bird-watching. The turquoise waters are great for diving, snorkelling, kayaking, surfing and swimming. Dolphins often jump above the sea and huge shoals of exotic fish inhabit the underwater world. Chill-out on a hammock, relax on one of the deserted beaches and gorge on fresh lobsters.

San Miguel de Allende best small city in the world 2018

Mexico

San Miguel de Allende in Mexico is acclaimed as the ‘Best Small City in the World for 2018’ at the Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards. San Miguel is the only Latin American city in the top-ten cities alongside places like Salzburg, Florence and Edinburgh. The city boasts colourful streets, quality handicraft markets, colonial churches and vibrant nightlife. It’s a great place to explore street food. There is also a lush tropical park, Parque Juarez, right in the centre of the city. Further out is El Charco cactus park on the edge of town. My favourite activity was people watching in El Jardin, the main square.

San Miguel de Allende was also named the ‘American Culture Capital for 2019’. From January 2019, San Miguel will promote its cultural, artistic and foody offerings along with its rich history. Named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008 for its architecture, but also for its role in Mexican Independence. The city has a cosmopolitan vibe due to the large number of foreign residents. It is a popular place for folks to retire due to the pleasant climate and low cost of living.

Select Latin America can design a self-drive or chauffeur-driven Colonial Cities itinerary. Start in Mexico City – including San Miguel de Allende and other colonial jewels.

Related: Interesting Facts about Mexico

Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up

Frida-Kahlo-with-Olmec-figurine-1939-photograph-by-Nickolas-Muray©-Nickolas-Muray-Photo-Archives

Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up is at the V&A museum in London. This is the first exhibition outside of México to display clothes and intimate possessions belonging to the iconic Mexican artist. This offers a fresh perspective on her compelling life story. The exhibition displays personal possessions from La Casa Azul (the Blue House), such as self-portraits, photographs, distinctive colourful Tehuana garments, pre-Columbian necklaces, hand painted corsets, letters, prosthetics, among other objects that will offer a visual narrative of her life. Tristram Hunt, director of the V&A, said: “Frida Kahlo is one of the most iconic and recognisable artists of the last century. We are very excited to bring together Frida’s fashion, medical corsets, make-up and other personal items with her self-portraits to better understand and celebrate this remarkable artist.”

Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up runs from 16 June – 4 November 2018 at the V&A. Sponsored by Grosvenor Britain & Ireland. Aeromexico, Mexico’s global airline, is supporting this exhibition.
Tickets are now available. Admission £15 (concessions available). V&A members go free. Advance booking is advised – this can be done in person at the V&A; online at vam.ac.uk/FridaKahlo; or by calling +44 (0)20 7942 2000 (booking fee applies).
To arrange a bespoke trip to Mexico please contact Select Latin America.

RELATED: Searching for Sugarman: the ‘70’s Rock Icon Who Never Was

Our picks for the 2018 hotspots in Latin America

2018 is upon us, but have you thought about where you’ll be travelling this year? With a wealth of places to visit in Latin America, it can often be daunting to know where to start. Fortunately, our travel experts have come up with the top places to visit in 2018.

Guadalajara, Mexico

While most travellers fly in to explore Mexico City, those in the know are heading to Guadalajara. If you’re a fan of Mexican culture and cuisine, you’ll want to head here quick before the hordes arrive. The city was the birthplace of tequila, houses the largest market in Latin America and is home to the World Heritage Site of Hospicio Cabañas. Guadalajara is shaking off its past and emerging as one of the top nightlife spots in Mexico. Wander down the pretty streets of Colonia Lafayette.

Look at our sample tours of Mexico here.

Quito, Ecuador

2018 marks 40 years since Quito became one of the first UNESCO World Heritage sites. Now there are some good deals on flight prices, so there’s no better time to visit the Ecuadorian capital. Much of the old town’s 16th century architecture is well preserved or re-furbished. Don’t miss the San Francisco monastery, the Jesuit church or the soaring Cathedral. When you’ve had your fill of culture, you can access the rest of the diverse country. Take a flight to the Amazon or the Galapagos Islands, one of the world’s best wildlife regions.

Look at our sample tours of Quito and beyond here.

Papagayo Peninsula, Costa Rica

Travellers are discovering that the north western Papagayo Peninsula in Costa Rica is the place to go now. Hotel are catching on and the Four Seasons have opened their newest resort there. More hotels will open next year, but more than 70% of the land is protected to keep the region unspoiled. Drag yourself away from the gorgeous beaches to hike up volcanoes, cruise along the coast in catamarans, spot myriad wildlife or whiz through the canopy on zip-lines.

Look at our sample tours of Costa Rica here.

Trujillo, Peru

Machu Picchu is still drawing big crowds every year, but if you want to get off the beaten track, explore Peru’s other cultural wonders. Head north to the coastal city of Trujillo. The city is rich with beautiful Spanish colonial architecture and close to the ancient site of Chan Chan. This pre-Columbian mud city had a big maritime community. The adobe walls and structures are intact thanks to the dry desert landscape. Head for the northern mountains to see the Gocta Falls, one of the highest cascades in the Americas.

Look at our sample tours to Peru here.

La Paz, Bolivia

La Paz’s tourism scene is booming. There are new boutique hotels and trendy eateries celebrating Bolivian national cuisine. The high altitude will take your breath away, so will the soaring backdrop of Andes Mountains. Be sure to jump on the Mi Teleférico to get aerial views of the city and the surrounding scenery. If that isn’t enough to tempt you, the fact that the country is still one of the cheapest in the Americas will. 

Look at our sample tours of La Paz and Bolivia here.

Antarctica

Ok, so it’s not really Latin America, but accessing the White Continent is almost always via Argentina or Chile. It currently takes a 2-day cruise across, the often rough, Drake Passage to visit the Antarctic. In 2018 LADE is launching a regular commercial flight route meaning you can reach the vast icy wilderness in under 2 hours.

Look at our cruises to the Antarctica here.

San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

Chile is becoming one of the most popular spots for tourists visiting Latin America. The narrow country has a dizzying array of landscapes from towering mountains to forests and dry deserts to vineyards. If it’s your first time be sure to visit San Pedro de Atacama. You can explore natural wonders like salt flats, colourful lagoons and steamy geysers.

Look at our sample tours to San Pedro de Atacama and Chile here.

Ready to visit Latin America in 2018? Call one of our travel experts on +44 (0) 207 1478 to start planning your trip or email us here.

How to make Latin American tamales

There are few dishes as iconic to Latin America as the tamale, though their origins are a little less clear. The simple snack of steamed or grilled corn wrapped in banana or leaves date back thousands of years. The first pictorial references are seen on ancient murals in Guatemala created just under 2,000 years ago. Though found in almost all Latin American countries, in some form or other, their original country is not known. They spread from country to country by trading nomads.

Don’t wait to travel to Latin America before trying these mouth-watering snacks, they’re aren’t difficult to make at home. Mexican tamales are often made from lashings of lard which keeps them moist when cooking. Substitute for butter if you’re a vegetarian. Once cooked, you can keep them refrigerated for up to a week.

Serves: 8 (4 each)
Time: 2.5 hours

Ingredients

Masa dough

400 g masa harina (maize flour)
700 ml hot water
225 g lard
100 g butter, softened
2 tsp salt
3 garlic cloves, crushed
½ baking powder
250 ml chicken stock
24 corn husks or banana leaves

Salsa

4-5 tomatoes
1 large onion
2 large serrano chilies
1 bunch coriander
a pinch of salt

Method

Take a large bowl and pour in all the masa. Stir in the hot water and wait until the masa is moistened. Knead the dough until it’s smooth and doesn’t stick.

Add in the lard, butter, salt, crushed garlic, baking powder and knead again until the everything is well mixed. Add the chicken stock a little at a time, mixing as you pour. Stop when the dough is light and fluffy. Put the dough in the fridge for at least an hour. While the dough is cooling, soak the corn husks in hot water until soft, around 30 minutes.

Now for the slightly tricky part. Lay the first corn husk down and add a large spoonful of the dough in the middle and roll the two sides over the top. Bring the narrow side down and fold the wider part over the top. Tie everything together with string. Repeat until they are all complete.

Put to one side and start on the salsa. Put each of the tomatoes into boiling salted water for 10 – 20 seconds. Remove and leave under cold running water. When cool, remove the skin and de-seed. Dice all the tomatoes.

Peel the large onion and chop finely. Cut the chilies in half and remove the seeds. Finely chop them. Take a handful of coriander and wash under cold water. Chop into small parts. Mix everything together in a bowl along with salt, a squeeze of lime and a little olive oil. Leave in the fridge for an hour or so to let the flavours blend together.

Take a large steamer and put an inch of water at the bottom. Put on a high heat and leave until the water is bowling. Put all the tamales in standing up and steam for an hour. Remove and leave to cool.

When cool, open the tamales and serve with the salsa. Enjoy.

Want to try tamales for real? Start planning your trip today by calling one of our travel experts on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 or emailing us here.

RELATED: Argentine empanada recipe

The best bars in Mexico City

Mexico City is one of the world’s largest cities. What better way to meet other travellers and locals than at one of the many top bars in city’s lively neighbourhoods. From jazz clubs to rooftop bars, here’s our picks of the best places to grab a cold one or sip on a tequila.

La Casa de las Sirenas

If you want to taste Mexico’s national alcoholic drink, there really is no better a place than La Casa de las Sirenas. The bar, housed in a lovely old 16th century property, stocks more than 250 different tequilas. Remember, while we’re used to knocking back shots of tequila, in Mexico it’s sipped. When night descends, the bar transforms into one of the hippest places to be seen.

Calle Republica de Guatemala No. 32, Cuauhtemoc, Centro Histórico

Aurora

This cosy restaurant features a large outdoor terrace and a surprisingly good cocktail menu. If you are a gin lover, they have a particularly good selection. A wonderful place to while away an evening, away from the bustle of the city.

Santa Catarina, 04010

Jules Basement

Jules Basement have cleverly branded themselves as the first speakeasy in Mexico City. To reach it, you must first walk through an unassuming fridge door which opens into a large space, perfect for the live music they host. Try one of the excellent cocktails while you are there.

Calle Julio Verne 93, Polanco, Polanco IV Secc, 11560

Condesa DF

This romantic rooftop bar is situated in La Condesa district. Enjoy cocktails, cold Mexican beers and wines while taking in the breath-taking views from the decked rooftop. Bars don’t get much better than this in Mexico City.

Av. Veracruz 102, Roma Nte., 06700

Zinco Jazz Bar

This jazz club would surely rival any in New York City. Hosting live performances almost every evening, it’s one of the best places to see music in Mexico. Housed in the basement of a former bank in the historic centre, it’s got the décor and atmosphere to match.

Calle Motolinia 20, Centro, 06050 Cuauhtémoc

Wallace Whisky Bar

While Mexico is best known for tequila and mezcal, this cosmopolitan city caters to all tastes. Tickle those taste buds with interesting tapas-style dishes in the trendy Wallace Whisky Bar while you sample some fine whiskies from around the world. They also stock some excellent local craft beers.

Tamaulipas 45, Condesa, 06140 Cuauhtémoc

Bellini

The Bellini holds the title of earth’s largest revolving restaurant, and it doesn’t disappoint. Located on the 45th floor, the restaurant bar offers an extensive list of drinks, great food, and views across one of the world’s largest cities accompanied by soothing piano music.

Montecito 38 Piso 45, Torre WTC Cd. de México, Col. Nápoles

Miralto

Literally translating to ‘high view’, this rooftop bar is a favourite amongst locals and tourists. It’s central position in Zócalo means it is easy to reach and the views over this enormous city from the 41st floor are astonishing. They also do some excellent international cuisine.

Eje Central Lázaro Cárdenas 2, Centro Histórico, Centro, 06000

La Unica

Not only does La Unica serve up some incredible Mexican fare, the restaurant bar has one of the best selections of wine in the city. Sip on reds and whites paired with dishes created from fresh local produce as well as seafood. It may not be cheap, but it’s worth the extra. They also have a mean cocktail menu to kick off the evening.

Anatole France 98, Miguel Hidalgo, Polanco, 11550

Puebla 109

This exclusive bar restaurant, housed in an early 20th century building, is popular with the city’s elite. Dine on mouthwatering Mexican cuisine washed back with some inspired cocktails. If you want an evening of sophistication in Mexico City, this is the place to come.

Esquina, Puebla, Roma, Cuauhtémoc, 06700

Articbar

Cool down at the first ice bar in Mexico. No need to bring a coat with you, the bar has warm clothing, so you won’t freeze in the -26˚C. Shoot a vodka in an ice glass and then make your way over to the dance floor for a below freezing boogie. It’s as unique as it sounds and well worth an evening to visit.

Av Nuevo León 73, Condesa, 06140

Area Bar

Located on top of the Hotel Habita, by day, the rooftop Area Bar serves as a relaxing spot complete with pool. By night, it transforms into one of the city’s most trendy night spots with live music and excellent cocktails.

Av. Pdte. Masaryk 201, Polanco, Polanco V Secc, 11560

Hostría La Bota

Situated in the historical centre, this lively bar is popular with locals who descend every evening to sip on cold Mexican beers and cocktails. They regularly host live music, particularly on weekends. Be sure to get there early or you might not get a seat. For such a centrally located bar, the drinks are surprisingly good value.

Peatonal San Jerónimo 40, Cuauhtémoc, Centro, 06050

Want to visit the bars of Mexico City? Call one of our Mexico travel experts on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 or email us here.

RELATED: 6 Gastronomic Experiences in Mexico

Authentic Mexican steak quesadilla recipe

Flickr: Hungry Dudes

Quesadillas are a street food favourite in Mexico. The basic recipe are floury tortillas toasted with cheese, but they can be filled with everything at the back of the fridge. Their origins stem back to the colonial Mexico, though the recipe has changed and evolved somewhat over the years. Here’s our authentic recipe including steak, a luxurious version of the humble quesadilla.

Serves: 4
Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

8 flour tortillas
½ kilo sirloin steak
1 medium onion, finely chopped
400 grams Mexican cheese
2 avocados
1 lime
Vegetable oil
Salt & pepper

Method

Add a little of the oil to a frying pan and heat over a medium flame. Add the chopped onion and fry until soft and translucent.

While the onions are cooking, chop the steak into thin slices and season with salt and pepper. Add the meat to the frying pan and cook with the onions for a few minutes until the meat has browned.

Grate the cheese. Lay out four of the tortillas on a clean surface. Add one quarter of the steak and onion mix onto each tortillas, and top each one with a quarter of the grated cheese. Add the other tortillas on top.

Clean at the frying pan and place back on the heat. Don’t add oil this time. When the frying pan has heated, carefully life the quesadilla onto the frying pan and leave to toast on one side. It should take a couple of minutes. Flip carefully with a spatula and toast the other side allowing the cheese to fully melt. You can press the tortilla gently on the top to help it cook and seal everything together. Take out when the cheese starts to ooze out.

Quickly cut in half and top with a squeeze of lime and top with sliced avocado. Eat immediately while the melted cheese is hot. Optional extras include topping the quesadilla with fresh zingy salsa and Mexican cream.

RELATED: Argentine empanada recipe

This traveler captured all 147 underground stations in Mexico City

 

Mexico City is geographically one of the biggest cities in the world, and the largest metropolitan area in the western hemisphere. It’s an astonishing 1,485 square kilometres with more than 8 million inhabitants and it is surprisingly, sits at quite a high elevation of 2,250 metres above sea level. It’s one of Latin America’s most interesting cities, with baroque Cathedrals, museums, colonial squares, and galleries including the Palacio Nacional which holds artwork by Diego Rivera.

It’s no surprise then that it has many underground stations to help commuters and travelers cross this vast city. Mexico City underground, called the Sistema de Transporte Colectivo, in second in size only to the New York City metro. It also carries the ninth largest number of tourists for any subway with a staggering 1.6 billion travelers riding the trains every year.

The Mexico City Metro is known as the Sistema de Transporte Colectivo or STC, and is the largest second largest metro system in North America after New York’s subway. As of 2015 it also ranked 9th in the world for number of passengers with 1.623 billion travellers riding the rails.

Flickr: 16:9clue

In 2011, 31-year-old Australian expat Peter Davies from Australia decided to visit and record all 147 underground stations. After travelling to over 20 countries in the Americas, Davies settled in Mexico City for a while. During his travels he’d lived in Valparaiso, worked as a volunteer project in Granada and wrote about his travels in online publications.

Over a 6-month period, Davies got off and explored every single station on every line on the Mexico City underground. This meant a visit to 175 stations, but many of these crossed over and the actual number was 147. He recorded these stops in great detail on his blog mexicocitymetro.com. The site was popular with over 100,000 visiting and following his updates. Along the way, Davies visited and saw some pretty wacky things including being led through crowds by stray dogs, visiting a museum housed inside an enormous model of Benito Juarez as well as photographing some incredible street art. This much travelling is hungry work. Plenty of street tacos were eaten along the way.

18 months after the end of the project, Davies revisited Mexico City to complete the new lines. His very last station on Line 12 was Estacion Lomas Estrella. In his last piece, the blogger takes a look at the graffiti, tries a torta cubana (a sandwich filled with meat, eggs and accompaniments), wandered the districts streets, saw a circus and talked about the amenities of Lomos Estrella. For now, Davies has left Mexico City and is working on other projects, but we are looking forward to his return after the creation of new underground stops in the city.

Want to explore Mexico City? Take a look at our Mexico tour suggestions, speak to one of our travel experts at +44 (0) 207 407 1478 or contact us by email here.

RELATED: 6 Gastronomic Experiences in Mexico

Visit 5 UNESCO World Heritage sites on this Yucatan self-drive

Self drive map

The Yucatán peninsula in eastern Mexico borders both Belize and Guatemala and offers a diverse range of flora, fauna and vast host of UNESCO World Heritage sites including the Mayan ruin of Chichén Itzá, now one of the ‘New Seven Wonders of the World’. The best way to visit the UNESCO ruins and colonial cities is by self-drive which offers the chance to spend as long or as little in each place you visit.

Arrive in Cancun, pick up your car hire and begin the journey. The first drive to Chichén Itzá takes around three hours.

Chichén Itzá

Chichen Itza MexicoThe remarkably well-preserved Mayan ruins of Chichén Itzá are one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. It’s best known for the huge step pyramid known as El Castillo. This ancient city thrived between 600 A.D. and 1,200. The complex includes a ball court, the Temple of the Warriors and the Wall of the Skulls all of which have graphic stone carvings. Each night, a sound and light show illuminates the complex.

Drive west for two hours to Merida.

Mérida

Merida Mexico

Flickr: Luiz Eduardo

Mérida is the capital of the Yucatan and one of the largest cities in Mexico and has the highest percentage of indigenous people of any Mexican city with over half the population being of Maya ethnicity. Though the city is not a UNESCO World Heritage site, this colonial city is well worth taking some time to explore.

Drive south for two hours to the ruins of Uxmal.

Uxmal

Uxmal Mexico

This ancient Mayan town founded in 700 A.D. once had over 25,000 inhabitants. The complex which was built between 700 and 1000 A.D. reveals that the people had knowledge of astronomy and includes the Pyramid of the Soothsayer, the Quadrangle of the Nuns, the Governor’s Palace, the House of the Tortoises, the Ball Court and ceremonial sites.

Drive for three hours to the coastal down of Campeche.

Campeche

The fortified harbor town of Campeche is a fine example of Spanish colonial architecture. The old city is surrounded by walls and a system of fortifications which are deigned to defend against piracy and attacks from the sea. It was once the most important seaport in Mexico and played a major role in the conquest of the Yucanatan Peninsula and Guatemala from the Spanish conquistadors.

Drive for four hours to Calakmal Municipality.

Calakmul Biosphere Reserve

The Calakmul Biosphere Reserve was only granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 2006. It remains the largest forest reserve in Mexico comprising of over 700,000 hectares of protected land. This is not untouched forest. The Mayans were some of the first group to live in the forests with the ruins of city complexes abandoned in 900 A.D. The group consists of the largest populations of flora and fauna in the country and includes the jaguar, puma, white-lipped peccary, howler monkey, king vulture, gray brocket deer and ornate hawk to name but a few.

Drive for four hours to Reserva de la Biósfera Sian-Ka’an.

Reserva de la Biósfera Sian-Ka’an

Flickr: DaseinDesign

Flickr: DaseinDesign

Sian-Ka-an means ‘Origin of the Sky’ in the language of the Mayan people who once inhabited the region. Located on the eastern coast of the Yucantan peninsula, the reserve is made up of a series of tropical forests, mangroves, marshes and a barrier reef. Inhabiting the reserve is a remarkable number of flora and fauna including 300 species of birds.

Drive an hour up the coast to Tulum.

Tulum

Tulum

The Mayan ruins of Tulum is not a UNESCO World Heritage site, but it’s well worth taking some time to explore them on the drive up the coast to Cancun. The ruins are situated on 12-metre high cliffs overlooking the ocean and were one of the last cities to be built by the Maya. It managed to hold off conquest by the Spanish for around 70 years but Old World diseases brought by the settlers resulted in the city being abandoned.

Continue up the coast for two hours to Cancun. Drop off the car hire and fly back home.

Want to take this self-drive? Get in touch with our Mexico travel experts on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 to discuss your travel plans or see our example tours here.

RELATED: 6 Gastronomic Experiences in Mexico

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