march 2-12 | 2019
Developed in conjunction with the National Peace Corps Association and Next Step Travel, this itinerary will engage travelers in an intimate experience of Chiapas, Mexico. Meet with historians, artists, archeologists, diplomats, and development organizations, on an insider’s journey to explore the magical fabric of this one-of-a-kind region. Visit ancient pyramids and ruins, tour world-class museums devoted to art and antiquity, and savor delicious Mexican delicacies. Enjoy Mexico beyond the headlines and away from resorts, including staying for an optional extension with Water Charity on the Sierra Madre Water Program near the Guatemala border.
Archeological Treasures. From ancient Mayan pyramids to more recent Spanish-built cathedrals, Chiapas offers an unparalleled concentration of wonderfully preserved historic sites.
Expert Storytellers. Meet with local scholars, storytellers, as well as cultural and development organizations. Be regaled with tales of the Mayans by expert archeologists and historians.
Peace Corps Connections. Learn about the impact of the Peace Corps, with special access visits to water projects that are supported by NPCA in the area. Meet with local communities and partner NGOs who are doing fantastic work.
Accommodations are charming, locally-owned 3- and 4-star hotels and country lodges. Prices are based on double occupancy. As a solo traveler, if you prefer, we can also pair you with another traveler (two twin beds, requiring no single supplement, based on availability).
While this trip is accessible for most healthy travelers, please note that the trip can involve the following: somewhat long days, a good amount of walking (including stairs, varied elevations, and uneven surfaces) and non-technical hikes. It’s critical that all travelers pack appropriate all weather gear (additional details and recommendations will be provided after registration in a suggested packing list). If you have any medical conditions or other concerns, there will be opportunity for you to make us aware of them, and then we can determine if the trip is appropriate for you.
- All activities, sightseeing, and entry fees listed in the itinerary.
- Accommodations as described in the itinerary.
- All meals listed in the itinerary.
- Transportation by private, air-conditioned motor coach, as well as transfers for the group as appropriate.
- Bottled water during all excursions.
- Comprehensive cultural information and reading materials.
- The services of an exceptional, bilingual local guide as described in the itinerary.
- All gratuities for participants and staff to cover drivers, wait staff at group meals, guides, and tour directors.
WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED
- Flights from U.S. to Villahermosa International Airport (VSA) and return flights from Tuxtla Gutiérrez International Airport (TGZ).
- Expenses of a purely personal nature (including cab fares, laundry and other personal items, room service charges, passport application fees).
- Transportation of luggage in excess of weight allowance.
- Travel insurance (we strongly advise that each participant arrange for their own travel insurance).
- Food and beverage other than that specified in the itinerary.
- Medical expenses.
- Costs associated with trip interruption or modification due to weather, travel conditions, political/civil disputes, medical emergencies or other causes beyond our control.
Trip Price - $2,199 ($499 Single Supplement)
Extension Price - $999 ($299 Single Supplement)
Maximum travelers: 20
This trip is coordinated by RPCV Mary Bruce of tour operator Insider Expeditions.
Final payment is due 90 days before departure. Reservation fee will be credited towards full ticket.
Day One—March 2, 2019—¡Bienvenidos a Chiapas!
Depart the U.S. for Villahermosa International Airport. Your guide will be waiting when you arrive to take you to our hotel to freshen up. Tonight enjoy a welcome reception with your fellow RPCVs and a briefing on the area from experts on the local history. Meals: Welcome Reception
Day Two—March 3, 2019—The Olmec
Visit La Venta Olmec Museum, Carlos Pellicer Museum of Anthropology to take in Olmec heads and statues, and the infamous 2012 Mayan Calendar. In the afternoon, journey to the town of Palenque, Our hotel is nestled in the forested "La Canada" area and within walking distance of downtown. Enjoy free time in the evening to relax in the lush jungle rainforest or explore the sights, sounds and cuisines of the city.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Day Three—March 4, 2019—The Ruins of Palenque
Explore the spectacular ruins of Palenque—a UNESCO historical monument, Ancient structures rise out of the lush rainforest on multiple terraces set against the mountains. Explore pyramids newly uncovered and studied. This afternoon, take an optional visit to the the Palenque Archaeological Museum with its extensive collection. Enjoy dinner and discussion at a fantastic local restaurant, and learn about the ongoing digs in the area from a local expert. Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Day Four—March 5, 2019—The Art of the Maya
Head to Bonampak, home of the most famous Mayan murals. Float down the mighty Usumacinta River to the mysterious ancient Maya site of Yaxchilan. Meet members of the tribe to understand exactly how traditional practices inform their modern identities. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Day Five—March 6, 2019—Natural Splendor
Journey to San Cristobal de las Casas, the cultural capital of the region. Stop at the beautiful Miso Ha waterfalls and visit the ruins at Toniná. Toniná may have been built as early as 350 A.D. and the building technique is unique. Take in the very well preserved—if somewhat macabre—fresco. Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Day Six—March 7, 2019—San Cristobal de las Casas
Visit the huge outdoor community market, which caters almost exclusively to locals, is the heartbeat of the Chiapas highlands. Visit a weaver's cooperative adjacent to the Santo Domingo Temple. Enjoy the stunning vistas of San Cristobal after a gentle hike up to the Temple of the Virgin of Guadalupe church. Visit the village of San Juan Chamula with its famous Maya church and meet local practitioners. Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Day Seven—March 8, 2019—¡Hasta Luego!
Enjoy an early-morning boat ride through the massive Sumidero Canyon. The waters of the Grijalva River will sweep us through the dense deciduous forest. Discuss the impact of ecotourism, the predominant economic driver on the area, with local leaders and conservationists. Reflect on our time spent together and the new friends we have made! Catch our flights back to the U.S. and destinations homeward. Meals: Breakfast
Since 2014, the National Peace Corps Association has been proud to partner with Water Charity on the Sierra Madre Water Program in Chiapas and across the border into Guatemala. The program seeks to provide safe water and sanitation to hundreds of villages throughout these rural regions.
This three-day extension program offers the unique opportunity for travelers to visit these villages, meet with locals and their fellow RPCVs, and witness firsthand the good work that are being done in the area.
Day Seven—March 8, 2019—Down the Grijalva
Travelers on the extension program will continue on towards Comitan. Explore the city or head to the nearby Parque Nacional Lagunas de Montebello and sit by the beautiful multihued lakes. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Day Eight through Day Nine—March 9 & 10, 2019—Community and Connections
On day eight, we journey together towards the Guatemalan border for a truly special reason. Exclusively for Next Step Travel, we will be visiting ongoing NPCA water project sites in the area. Over two days, meet and learn from the local groups doing this amazing work and the people who live in the Siltepec, La Grandeza, Motozintla, and El Porvenir villages. Share meals in a local home. We’ll sample local delicacies like tamales, homegrown vegetables, and the fantastic molé for which the region is known. This is an amazing opportunity to view the ongoing impact of the Peace Corps program first-hand! Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Day Ten—March 11, 2019—¡Adios, Chiapas!
Say goodbye to our friends in the area before starting the drive toward the city of Tuxtla Gutiérrez, stopping for a short break along the way as we pass the shore. Arrive in time for our afternoon flights home. You’ll take with you a unique view of Mexican life along their Southern Border. Meals: Breakfast
Cancellation by Traveler
The $250 trip deposit is non-refundable.
- 25% non-refundable 120 days or more prior to departure
- 50% non-refundable 119 to 90 days prior to departure
- 75% non-refundable 89 to 60 days prior to departure
- 100% non-refundable 59 days or less prior to departure
If a traveler leaves the trip for any reason after it has commenced, we are not obligated to make any refunds for unused services. If a travelers fails to join a tour, join it after departure, or leave it prior to its completion, no refund will be made.
Cancellation by Trip Operator - Insider Expeditions (IE)
IE may cancel a trip at any time prior to departure if, due to terrorism, natural disasters, political instability or other external events, it is not viable for us to operate the planned itinerary. If IE cancels the trip, traveler can transfer amounts paid to an alternate departure date or alternatively receive a full refund. In circumstances where the cancellation is due to external events outside our reasonable control, refunds will be less any unrecoverable costs. We are not responsible for any incidental expenses that you may have incurred as a result of your booking including but not limited to visas, vaccinations, travel insurance excess or non-refundable flights.
This particular tour has been designed with specific individuals and events in mind, whose schedules and availabilities may change without notice. While we do our best to adhere to the itinerary, traveling to Chiapas requires flexibility, and changes to specific interactions and other activities may occur. In addition, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and changes to timetables and transport routes, which can happen with little notice. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary from time to time. Each day we will update you on the program and keep you informed throughout the trip.