The Yucatán peninsula may at first sight seem to be a low, flat pan of marsh-fringed land covered with low forest and jungle, but it reveals a multi-layered history which you can explore by self-drive car hire while based at luxury countryside retreats and first class beach accommodation. Your car is pre-booked, your luxury accommodation reservations made in advance and maps provided.
The region was enriched during the Spanish colonial era during a boom in the production of sisal, and vast estates (haciendas) supported grand residences. These fell into disrepair after the boom but have been revived as first class hotel properties retaining the style and character of their origins.
Based there, you’ll discover vestiges of the once supreme Maya civilisation. Sites replete with temples and pyramids festooned with sacred carvings were, once abandoned, swallowed up by a rapacious jungle but are now gradually being revealed. The best known sites, Chichén Itzá and Uxmal are easily accessible; smaller, less well-known sites are always close to minor roads and with your own car you can explore at will.
You’ll also visit graceful Spanish colonial towns with their friendly Maya inhabitants. At your beach hotel base on the soft-sand Caribbean coast, the luxury Belmond Maroma resort, there is time to laze on the beach, practice water-sports or visit other sites and villages.