Have you ever visited Chichen Itza in the evening, listened to the sounds of the forest and gazed up at the heavens imagining Mayan priests and astronomers charting the stars and searching for portents? There is a palpable air of mystery in this ancient city and now the temples spring to life with the spectacular new Light and Sound Show called Noches de Kukulcan. Thomas More Travel has a trip to Chichen Itza for this evening event that also gives you the opportunity to explore the World Heritage Site, visit a cenote and the colonial town of Valladolid.

Departure time is at 11 a.m. and the first stop is the Gran Cenote Hubiku, near Temozon, a village just outside Valladolid. This immense natural well is filled with cool, crystal-clear water and you won’t be able to resist the temptation to jump right in!

After your swim it’s time for a buffet lunch of Yucatecan and Mexican dishes and then it’s on to Valladolid for a short tour of the main square, the Cathedral, City Hall and the San Bernardino Church and Sisal Convent.

You’ll arrive at Chichen Itza in the late afternoon with plenty of time for a guided tour of this huge archaeological site without the crowds. See the famous Pyramid of Kukulcan, the Ball Court, Temple of the Jaguars, the Temple of the Warriors, Tzompantli and other buildings lining the Great Plaza, walk to the Sacred Cenote, the Observatory and the Las Monjas group of temples.

As night falls over the ancient city, the Noches de Kukulcan Light and Sound Show commences and, with the latest video screening technology, the temples become a canvas upon which scenes from the history of this ancient capital and the Mayan civilization are depicted.

This new tour is available on Wednesdays at the Cancun resorts and Thursdays for members and guests staying at The Royal Haciendas. For more information contact the tour desk at your resort.


Exploring at your own pace

If you would prefer to explore Chichen Itza and the eastern Yucatan at your own pace and spend more time in Valladolid, why not arrange a private tour with Thomas More Travel or rent a car?

Founded in 1543 by the Spaniards, Valladolid is a peaceful pueblo magico steeped in history and tradition. Start your visit with the impressive Zaci Cenote; stroll through the main square to the Cathedral and take a guided tour of Casa de Los Venados, a 17th-century restored mansion that is a private home and a museum with a collection of more than 3,000 pieces of Mexican folk art. Guided tours are given at 10 a.m. and admission is a $60-peso donation for charity.

Then continue your tour by strolling along Calzada de Los Frailes, the street leading to San Bernardino Church and Sisal Convent. You’ll pass more restored mansions, craft shops, a workshop where cacao is transformed into chocolate using traditional techniques, and a perfumery.

To the north of Valladolid, a side trip to the Mayapan artisanal distillery gives you a glimpse of the world of the blue agave, the plant that is the origin of tequila. Native to the state of Jalisco, the plant is thriving in the fields surrounding the distillery.

When the agave plants are seven years old they are harvested for their root stem or piña, which is then roasted. The sugary liquid crushed from the cooked piña is fermented, distilled and stored in wooden barrels until ready to be bottled as blanco, reposado or añejado varieties of Mayapan. At the end of your short tour of the distillery you can sample the different brands and there is a shop if you wish to take some home as a souvenir.

Mayapan is not the only spirit produced in Valladolid, the town is also famous for Xtabentun, the fragrant anise-flavored liqueur of the Yucatan, which is made from honey and a native flower.

More impressive cenotes await you en route to Chichen Itza; Dzitnup and Samula are in villages on the outskirts of Valladolid and Ik-Kil is just outside the archaeological site.

For more information on Chichen Itza tours and private trips contact tourdesk@royalresorts.com www.thomasmoretravel.com