Very educational and interesting experience. Sergio, our guide, was very informative as well as entertaining and personable which made the long drive almost 2 hours feel much shorter. I usually like long car/bus trips because it is a good opportunity to see the natural countryside, but in the Yucatan, the only thing you see is heavy shrubs no rainforest plant life
Our first stop was Chichen Itza. I have read many reviews with complaints about large crowds, but I did not get that impression. In late February, the weather was hot but not uncomfortable. The ancient structures did not disappoint and one could not help but wonder what the culture and scene was like 700 years ago.
Next, we traveled less than a half hour to the buffet lunch and Cenote. The lunch was surprisingly good possibly, because it was traditional Mexican food I would rate it 3. There was also entertainment during lunch, Mexican folk dancing, which was a nice plus. After lunch, we took a plunge in the Cenote. It was not interesting or spectacular and the water was very cold, but the thing here was the Mayan warriors who would let you take a picture with them for tips. These guys looked like the real deal and I started to wonder if Mel Gibson got the Idea for Apocalypto on a tour like this one. I definitely had to get my picture taken with them.
After the Cenote, we got back on the bus for about 15 minutes and arrived at Ek Balam. This place was as amazing as Chichen Itza for the huge staircase alone. Very scary and more than a decent workout that you can climb to see the landscape of the Yucatan to the horizon.
All-in-all I thought the tour was very well executed, defiantly worth the money we paid, and I didnt really mind the long day we left at 7 am got back to our hotel past 10 pm. In fact, I thought that we didnt get enough time to enjoy the sights so the only solution to this is just see one site per day. The only thing I would recommend is that they attempt to arrange seating on the bus so that people who are traveling together can sit together.
Great trip. Takes all day but is worth it. We traveled in a small group. Well organized, all was on time. Early visit of Chichen Itza was a good choice. Crowd was low and we were able to listen to the sophisticated speech of our tour guide. Hubiku cenote was clear water and very nice experience. But the most interesting was the Ek Balam site. We were able to climb on a top of the pyramid, view beautiful jungle scenery and because of later afternoon visit, there were almost no people present.
Really good tour and Carmen was a top top host but a few things important to note if you are staying in Cancun!!!!! as it is a long long day!
The good stuff. The tour itself was excellent, Carmen who was our tour guide for the day really knew her stuff and we thoroughly enjoyed seeing Chichen Itza, Hubiko cenote and Ek Balam, the latter very impressive, not as busy as Chichen but you can climb structure 10 the acropolis giving you an amazing view over the jungle. 10 out of 10 for that part of the tour.
The bad stuff
We were disappointed to find out that after a 6am wakeup pick up from our hotel near Playa Mujeres, we were picking up a few guests on the way.. however this quickly turned into a drive all the way to Playa del Carmen where the tour operator merged us with other groups from another tour operator AlisTours. This extended pick up and meeting point added 2 hours as we only left Playa de Carmen at 0800 for our drive to Chichen. This was not well managed our expecatation as we were led to believe that we would only have a few pick up near our hotel . Cancun and not that we were due to go to Playa del Carmen first 85km from our hotel. It added a lot of time and travel that was not clearly communicated before hand.
The same in the evening at the end of the day, were led to believe we would be back in the hotel by 1900, but that turned out to to be 21:15... again manage your paying guests expectations correctly. We left Ek Balam at 17:15 and that is a 2.0 - 2.5 hour drive max to our hotel but again, meeting guests again on other tours in Playa del Carmen, switch busses etc, and then and endless number of drop off on the way to our hotel - where we finally arrived at 21:15. ie 4 after leaving the last site
Tour great but that is all due to Carmen the guide... would not go again with this tour operator as they simply mislead you on the real travel time.
Absolutely loved this tour. We got to Chichen Itza before it got really busy, although it was quite crowded when we got there. The only negative was the amount of souvenir stands all over the place. We had about 45 mins free time after our guided tour then headed to the incredible Hubiku Cenote. What a refreshing swim and most of all, beautiful spot. Lunch was quite good as well. Unfortunately we didn't have enough time to browse the artisan stands. Ek Balam was absolutely incredible.... we liked it more than Chichen Itza!! Definitely no crowds and the beauty of it is that you can climb the structure to marvel at the carvings... and of course the view is stunning. This tour is highly recommended by us... you get 3 incredible locations in one day. Quite a long tour/day but well worth it. Our tour guide was really nice and our driver so patient and friendly! The only downside to our transport was that we were picked up at 6am as our hotel was at Punta Sam and then we were the last ones dropped off at 10pm because half of the group were staying at Playa del Carmen which is an hour's drive. I suggest the transport company to divide the group for drop off: Playa del Carmen and Cancun. Otherwise, we highly recommend this tour!
This tour was great. Carmen from Yalku tours is fantastic. They picked us up at right time. She even helped with hotel front desk to collect required towels etc. She is very knowledgeable and meticulous in planning while being considerate about the participants. van was very comfortable. Carmen explained historical facts and culture in details and very well, She knows the places very well. The trip is planned such a way that we avoided the rush hour at all the sites. I will strongly recommend this trip by Yalku travels.
The reviews for this trip were very good and we decided to book it. We are at Villa Del Palmar hotel and our pickup time was 5:45 am most of the other hotel pickups are in Playa Del Carmen. From our hotel we went to the Iberostar hotel, Princess Hotel and a food place to pick up 4 other Spanish people who were always late coming back to the van by this time it was 7:30-8:00 before we started.
Viator used a local company called Yalku Tours for the tour. The guide Jerry was very good and our driver outstanding. The tour was very good except when we were driving back we did not use the toll road but the local road towards Tulum which took at least an extra hour or more. After a long day of touring an estimated 12 hour tour getting back to our hotel after 15 1/2 hours it was too much. I spoke with Raul the manager of Yalku Tours and asked why he didn't take the toll road back he informed me that it cost about 600 pesos. When we arrived back in Playa Del Carmen after dropping off the Spanish people, we were told that the company was doing us a favor by meeting our van with another van to drop off the people from the Princess hotel but refused to drop off the people at the other hotel and take us directly back to our hotel. Yalku tours was suppose to email us with an estimated pickup time I did not hear from them and had to call them myself. It would of been nice of them to tell us that it would of have been better to take a private tour so we would not have to spend 4 hours picking up and taking people back to their hotels. Raul informed me that at least I was in a comfortable van, it isn't so comfortable when your sitting in it for HOURS we could of taken a tour from our hotel but heard so much about Viator and decided to use them. Very disappointing
Overall - GREAT EXCURSION! I will explain why it went from 5 star to 4 star for our experience... We feel that it's important information for both Yalku Tours, and potential tour patrons
We were picked up from our hotel promptly at 6AM, which is exactly what we expected. This tour fits in A LOT of great stuff, so it's a VERY long day. Totally understandable and expected. Carmen was our tour guide and she is VERY experienced and highly knowledgable about the Yucatan and Mayan people. Very educational tour indeed. Chichen Itza is breathtaking, but we would have loved to be able to see all of it. Carmen took us to the main pyramid, the ball courts, and some of the nearby areas, but then we were given about 40 minutes to explore the rest. We decided to go to the sacrificial Cenote, but were unable to see the observatory and other areas. That was a bit disappointing, but I digress. Next was the Hubiku Cenote which was amazing! We were blessed by a Shaman, and welcomed to swim in the beautiful Cenote. Was a very cool experience. Lunch was right there on the Cenote grounds and was delicious! Next was Ek Balam. Ek Balam was a way more intimate and explorational experience than Chichen Itza. Chichen Itza is now a world heritage site, so it's understandable. At Ek Balam, you could go pretty much wherever you wanted. We climbed all sorts of things and it was amazing.
Since we were the first ones picked up, we expected to be the first ones dropped off. That way, the day would be evenly distributed between all travelers. That was not the case... We stayed at Excellence in Puerto Morelos amazing resort by the way, highly recommended. We were within 30 minutes of Cancun, between Cancun and Playa Del Carmen. For some reason, we were grouped with a tour that had three other pick up stops that were all in the Playa Del Carmen/Tulum area... We were picked up first at 6AM, and then we worked our way down the coast picking up the others, which was no problem. On the way back, there are two different ways of traveling from the ruins and back to the coast. There is a sort of fork in the highway that takes you either South East to the Tulum/Playa Del Carmen area, or more North East to the Cancun area. Unfortunately for us, we went South East back to Tulum/Playa Del Carmen to drop off all of the others first... If we had gone the other way, we could have easily been dropped off first and everyone would have had about a 12-13 hour day equally... Since we went back the way we came, our day was about 16 hours long.... Only us. On top of that, we were also held up because we had to stop for more gas and wait for a Yalku Tours rep to bring the credit card needed to get the gas. Traffic was horrific, as we had to go to a certain gas station off of the highway. I understand that gas was needed to get us back to our resort, but we feel that we should have been dropped off first. We only feel this way because it should have been made a priority to maintain fairness and equal tour length for all travelers. This could have been easily avoided, and was poor logistical planning. Maybe grouping us with a Cancun tour van would have been the best option.
All of that being said, Carmen and the driver were excellent! The tour fit in almost everything we wanted to do, and came very close to our expectations. The lack of time at Chichen Itza, and most of all, the circumstances of the travel time to and from, are our only complaints.
We had Carmen and Martin as our guides. The whole day was excellent. They picked us up around 6 am from our hotel and drove us to Chichen Itza. We had a couple hours there to walk around and shop a bit and then we went to Hubiku. The Cenote was amazing! The water was very refreshing after walking around Chichen Itza in such heat. We finished with Ek Balam which was personally my favorite part of the tour. It is a recent discovery and as such you are still able to climb the structures. Overall, this was our favorite day of our vacation and I highly recommend the small group tour!
This was an excellent albeit long tour! Alex was our guide and Diego was our driver. Both were outstanding! We found the tour to be very informative with plenty of time in Chichen Itza, then traveling to the Cenote for a nice swim, followed by lovely buffet lunch with music/dance entertainment at the same site. The highlight for many of us on the tour was Ek Balam - not crowded, beautiful recently discovered monuments. The tour was long 6 AM until 8 PM, but very pleasant. Van was comfortable, clean and air-conditioned. My only suggestion is to bring a snack or 2. Breakfast was light - a very small can of juice and a banana. Lunch was not until 2:30 PM. Bottles of cold water were kindly offered frequently during the trip by our driver, Diego. If you want to see as much as you can in one day, this is a great tour! One caveat - this tour includes a good deal of walking and some climbing.