Mexico and Belize: travel itinerary in words and photos – part 1

Many of you are asking me questions about our travel to Mexico and Belize, so I decided to write a bit longer article with more details about out trip. I hope that you will be encouraged for new adventure, this time overseas.
If you are a visual type of person, you should look at photos, and maybe you will place those two destinations on your wish list because of them 🙂 . Yes, that´s how beautiful it was 🙂 .

When did we travel around Mexico and Belize?

We traveled from 12 January until 2 February 2017, that means 22 days, but we were there actually 20 days due to longer flight there and back. That is enough for easy-going, full of experience and relaxed journey. Of course we wouldn´t mind a few more days, but unfortunately we are limited with number of holiday days. It is possible to see those countries in shorter amount of time, if you don´t have three weeks, but maybe it would be better to go only in one of them.

Where did we travel?

We traveled around Yucatan peninsula, Mexico and north part of Belize. First, we intended to go to Guatemala as well, especially to see Mayan pyramids Tikal, but we decided to leave Guatemala out this time.
Main reason were expenses of crossing Belize-Guatemala border that would be high even in case of short trip – more than 100 euros. We would have to pay Belizean visa twice (you have to pay every time you leave a country), additional taxes and permits for the car in amount of at least 200 euros (that Guatemala charges) – in case that we decided to go by our car, otherwise we would have to get expensive package tour from San Ignacio (at least 500 euros for a family of four). The entry fee for Tikal is not cheap as well. Beside expenses, there was another reason –we found great Mayan pyramids in Belize jungle as well, not so crowded but really magnificent. So we were not motivated enough for this expensive and short visit of Guatemala. However, we believe that it has a lot to offer and is still waiting for us.

What was our plane connection and the price of plane tickets?

We already bought plane tickets in spring 2016 and got them for 395 euros. It is important for us that we fly at night and have short connection times. Therefore, we took Spanish Iberia on route Venice – Madrid – Mexico City – Cancun. Our connection times were shorter than two and a half hours and the trip was fast and easy.
Our way back was even faster and easier as we took British Airways on route Cancun – London – Venice. We had night flight and we came home in a flash.

In addition, we will present our itinerary with photos so it will be easier to feel the countries 🙂 .

Travel itinerary

Day 1: flight Venice – Madrid – Mexico City – Cancun

Day 2: Cancun – Tulum

V came to Cancun in the morning and it is always something special to look from plane to the country that awaits us. Even more if the weather is clear.

We quickly rent a car and left to Tulum, where we already had reservations for four nights. Back home I was searching Google map to find more hidden places in over touristic Mexican Riviera and so our first contact with Caribbean Sea was in nature reserve near beach Venado. It lies between Cancun and Tulum and it is great place to start exploring the country on not so touristic side. Access to this part of the beach is possible from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. past the security guard without any payment, but you have to leave before 6 p.m. This experience was great alternative to touristic beaches of Mexican Riviera. Coordinates of Venado beach: 20.547339, -87.156713

Day 3: Tulum

Time difference when traveling to the west means that you are awake early in the morning and sleepy soon in the evening, so we took advantage of early mornings. Tulum is a little too touristic for our taste, but it offers quite a lot of beautiful experiences. Tulum ruins are must see (those are Mayan pyramids in Tulum), but it is recommended to come early, as soon as they open at 8 a.m. At that time, no one is there, as tour groups come at 10 a.m. In the morning, you will have this beautiful area of pyramids with exuberantly vegetation by the Caribbean Sea almost just for yourself. There will probably be just a handful of travelers and some attractive lizards in its natural habitat.

Besides Mayan pyramids is Yucatan Peninsula well known by cenotes, that are natural underground and above the ground caves, great for bathing. There are many cenotes, but we picked up those that are not so crowded. So first day we went to Cenote Azul, where we got free fish spa and enjoyed in beautiful natural pools. In Tulum we found wonderful, local, simple and authentic Mexican restaurant, the best on our trip – La Coqueta. You should go if traveling around there.

Day 4: Xel-Ha

There is often windy on Mexican Riviera and the sea is too wavy (that was the case when we were there) we decided to go to natural park Xel-Ha. At first, I was skeptical, as park (although in natural environment) is one of tourist attractions and entry fee for a day is not so cheap. However, we liked the whole experience, kids (small and big ones 🙂 ) enjoyed swimming between mangroves, sailing on the river, zip-line, good food and rest in hammocks. Experience of touristic attractions is always more quite, simple and authentic in early mornings.

Day 5: Coba and cenotes

Coba. Great Mayan pyramids surrounded by jungle, where you can find quiet and calm places even in the middle of the day, unusual trees, animals and the view from the highest pyramid, on which you can climb. For even better adventure, you can ride rent-a-bicycles on the paths in the jungle, as it is quite large area. There are three beautiful cenotes around Coba. We were the most thrilled by Multun-Ha cenote with crystal clear water, silence, no one nearby. It was special and mystical. This day was one of the peaks of our Mexican journey.

Day 6: Tulum – Valladolid

It was time to go further. We went to Valladolid, a little authentic town that charmed us. If you are going to travel on Yucatan, you should go there. Especially nice was sitting in mail square, listening to local musicians and culinary indulgence in restaurant El Atrio, that we highly recommend.

Day 7: Rio Lagartos, Las Coloradas – Isla Holbox

From Valladolid we went to the north to Rio Lagartos and nature reserve Las Coloradas, where are the most beautiful salt pans we have ever seen so far and something the most beautiful that I ever seen before – pink salt pans and flamingos walking on them. And no one around. Not anybody. We were alone. Beautiful.

From Las Coloradas we drove to Chiqila, where is the port for ferry to Isla Holbox, wonderful island protected as nature reserve, which is known by backpackers and not by mass tourism. Must do, when traveling in this area. Little island without cars, just roads made with white sand and white sand beaches with many birds and rays of all sizes swimming in shallow waters of beautiful lagoons. I will write a special article about this island, as it deserves it. Here are just some photos.

Day 8 and 9: Heavenly days on Isla Holbox

How to do nothing and enjoy every moment? It wasn´t hard.

Day 10: Isla Holbox – Chichen Itza – Merida

We left the island with heavy hearts. If we would make the decision again, we would spend less time in Tulum and more on Isla Holbox. That is maybe the best advise we can give about traveling around Mexico and is worth comply with, you won´t regret it 🙂 .
Our journey continued to famous Chichen Itza, the biggest Mayan pyramid that is under Unesco protection. It is worth seeing it. It is impressive, magnificent, that is all true. But that is it. We had better time early in the morning in Mayan pyramids in Tulum or jungle of Coba. But if you are here, you go see the touristic Chichen Itza. That´s what they say. You go there so you won´t question yourself back home – what if…That was also the hottest day on our travel, 38°C, on sun even more. The ride, the heat, the crowd and for the final touch me and Lan got sik because of some food. Where? In official restaurant of Chichen Itza! We finished our day in Merida, the town we didn´t like (contrary to Valladolid), but we were there with purpose, that a day after performed well…

Day 11: Merida – Celestun – Chetumal

That purpose was nature reserve Celestun. Merida is its starting point. In our winter months, Celestun is home for hundreds of pink ducks – as kids jokingly named them. Flamingos, of course. I thought that I will see one, two, maybe ten, with many luck 50 flamingos. But we saw hundreds of them. And I don´t exaggerate a bit 🙂 . Truly unbelievable. And worth all the effort and energy invested. As the final touch, we were sailing by boat, exploring natural canals between mangroves and walk among them. Crazy.

After wonderful adventure among flamingos and mangroves, we were heading on the longest ride of our travel. We had to go from seaside Celestun to Chetumal near Mexican-Belize border. The ride was long and hard, mainly because of many villages and roadblocks in central Yucatan.
We were tired when arriving to Chetumal but we knew that the next day another country is waiting, Belize.

To be continuing….