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Go off the Beaten Track in the Yucatan Peninsula

Have you ever wanted to go further afield and explore more of the Yucatán Peninsula during your Grand Residences vacation? A world of wonders awaits discovery beyond the spectacular beaches of Cancún and the Riviera Maya and the Concierge desk can help you arrange private tours with a vehicle, driver and guide so that you can see more of the area at your own pace and leave the driving to someone else.

Yucatan’s Magical Towns

How about spending the day in the Yucatan’s colonial twin towns and Pueblos Magicos (Magical Towns) Valladolid and Izamal? Both are rich in history and traditions and surrounded by cenotes, archaeological sites and haciendas.

In Valladolid you can stroll through the main square, visit colonial churches and a 16th-century monastery and see two amazing collections of Mexican folk art.

Casa de los Venados is a privately owned hacienda-style home on Calle 40 a few steps from the main square that is filled with the owners’ collection of over 3,000 items of art from all over the country. Colorful ceramics and textiles share space with woodcarvings, copper, sculptures and paintings, treasures of creativity and humor. Guided tours are available at 10 a.m. (Valladolid time)

Located on Calle 41, The Mexican Ethnic Clothing Museum (MUREM) has a collection of over 40 traditional outfits from 12 different regions of Mexico and is still growing. The beauty and color of everyday garments and ornate dresses worn for fiestas is on display and every garment has a story to tell.

On the outskirts of Valladolid is the Mayapan distillery that produces a liquor from the blue agave of tequila fame. Tours are available and you can see how the boles of the agave or piñas are cooked and crushed to extract the sugar-sweet sap, which is then fermented and distilled using a time-honored artisanal technique.

Two historic monuments dominate the Izamal skyline: the Kinich Kakmo pyramid, one of the largest ancient buildings in Mesoamerica, and the 16th-century Convento de San Antonio de Padua painted in dazzling yellow and with a white trim. Built by the Franciscan order, this sprawling monastery has one of the largest atriums in the world and is a shrine to the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception, patron saint of the Yucatan.

Izamal is also home to families of craftsmen and women and you watch them at work during a walking tour of neighborhoods in different parts of town. Some are hammock weavers or earn their living embroidering traditional huipil dresses and blouses. Others make papier mâché butterflies and birds or silver jewelry from the woody tips of henequen leaves.

Merida and Uxmal

Head for Merida, capital of the Yucatan, and after you have explored its colonial churches and opulent 19th-century mansions, museums, galleries and markets, use it as your base for exploring the southern part of the state. Tour the Puuc Route, famous for the ancient Maya city of Uxmal and the smaller archaeological sites of Kabah, Sayil, Xlapak and Labna, all of which share UNESCO World Heritage status. Visit some of the restored haciendas in the area and Loltun Caves. You can return to Merida via the Convent Route, a chain of villages with colonial churches, caves, cenotes and archaeological sites that starts with picturesque Mani and includes Mama, Teabo, Mayapan and Acanceh.

Southern Quintana Roo

Alternatively, turn your sights south from the Riviera Maya and head for central and southern Quintana Roo. Discover the ancient Maya sites of Muyil and Chacchoben and the historic town of Felipe Carrillo Puerto in the Zona Maya.

If you would like to meet the Maya and learn more about their lives, Maya Ka’an is a collection of community and nature tours taking you to villages in Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve and the Zona Maya such as Tihosuco, Señor, Chunhuhub and Noh Bec.

Divers and fishermen should head for the Caribbean fishing villages of Mahahual and Xcalak on the Costa Maya. Dive trips are available to Banco Chinchorro, a spectacular coral atoll rich in marine life that has been the downfall of many a ship down the ages. Spanish galleons, 19th-century merchantmen and modern cargo vessels have all foundered on its jagged reefs.

Further south is spectacular Bacalar, the Lagoon of Seven Colors, the state capital Chetumal and the archaeological sites of Oxtankah, Kohunlich and Dzibanche.

For an unforgettable trip into the wild, visit the ancient Mayan capital of Calakmul in southern Campeche, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its monuments and the biodiversity of the jungle protected by the vast Calakmul Biosphere Reserve.

If you want to go exploring contact your Concierge for more information about private tours and sightseeing itinerary ideas.

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