The hiking trails of the world are no longer the exclusive domain of the hard-core outdoor enthusiast. Increasingly, modern travelers are turning expectations around by combining the best experiences of the day hike with the amenities of the luxury resort. As travel trends evolve, holidaymakers are becoming savvier all the time, demanding more control over their own experiences. U.S. News & World Report cites “transformational travel” as a trend to watch out for in 2018. Travelers are breaking out of their comfort zones, creating meaningful experiences that connect them to the local culture and environment. Nowadays in the Mayan Riviera, a holiday trend is growing: a more adventurous kind of day packing excursion which highlights exploration of the jungles, beaches and local culture. And to complete the unique experience, many amateur expeditioners are taking advantage of the Iberostar hotels in Mayan Riviera, using them as luxury base camps to unwind and relax in style after a day's trek.
SUBTERRANEAN LAKES AND CONSERVATION
In the Yucatan Peninsula, there is more than beaches and palapas. The Mayan Riviera boasts a vast network of cenotes lined with nature trails in the jungle and pathways among ancient Mayan architecture. The cenotes are deep, natural freshwater reservoirs that dot Quintana Roo, and the “Cenote Route” includes many courses through the wilderness that are a short jaunt from Cancún, most of which offer swimming.
Also, just south of Tulum, the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve boasts 1.2 million acres of trekker´s bliss away from the crowds. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is the outdoor enthusiast´s archetypal setting, showcasing hundreds of jungles flora and fauna and an extensive system of trails, where tours can be arranged for the environmentally conscious hiker.
MANGROVES, FLAMINGOS AND VISTAS
Rio Lagartos Flamingo Sanctuary is mangrove swamp and tropical forest around a 2-hour drive from Cancún, and provides habitat to those famous pink-feathered creatures, as well as white sea turtles, crabs and many species of flowering plants and ferns. Explore the flat trail that weaves through the reserve, perfect for amateur daypackers. And at the ruins of the Mayan city of Tulum there waits a rare combination of ancient structures and spectacular ocean views. Here, a network of walkways weaves through the only Mayan city built on the coast, wowing hikers with 500-year-old frescos and the iconic and picturesque Castillo perched above a sugar-white beach.
5-STAR LUXURY IN THE YUCATAN
Whether it be a day stroll or an arduous journey, hikers have realized that there is no reason to rough it all the time. Quality pampering and treatments surround the natural beauty of the Mayan Riviera, particularly near Tulum and Cancún, where tired hikers can come back to the room for pampering and well-deserved indulgences. An evening swim in one of the largest swimming pools in the Mayan Riviera at Iberostar´s Paraíso del Mar. An outdoor jacuzzi with a waterfall. An amenity-filled suite with an ocean view. A spa which offers essential after-work out therapies, perfect for the hiker´s aching limbs.
Following the model of ancient indigenous culture and health practices, a Mayan Imperial Experience massage at Iberostar´s Paraíso Beach administers a deep manipulation and stretching using traditional Mexican cloths. Or perhaps that day hike requires an Aloe Experience, which utilizes local succulent plants for relief of skin battered by the tropical sun.
The Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraíso channels the age-old Mayan reverence for cacao in the Chocolate Scrub, enriching the skin and eliminating toxins as locals have done for generations. Chocolate was long an aspect of the well-to-do in ancient societies on the peninsula, an aspect of ultimate comfort that fits perfectly into the lifestyle of the active tourist with a taste for luxury.
DINNER AND A NIGHTCAP
When in the lap of luxury, a fine dining experience makes for the perfect finale to an active day out. L’Atelier Gourmet at the Grand Hotel Paraíso stands out as a fine example of haute cuisine, serving up signature French fare in the heart of the Mayan Riviera. After your mini expedition in the jungle, follow it up with a hydro massage or an essential oil treatment, and then top it off with a relaxing dinner in one of the 22+ restaurants at Iberostar´s Playa Paraíso resort, and finally enjoy a late cocktail at an open air bar. The Venezia restaurant is an ideal classy and intimate setting to reflect on the day's events of exploring the wilder side of the Yucatan.