Nowhere in the world offers such a variety of scenery, culture, wildlife and adventure.
We have been offering holidays to Latin America since 2002 and are established as one of the UK’s leading operators to the region.
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Established in 2002, we are one of the UK's leading specialist tour operators, providing high quality holidays at the lowest possible prices.
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Travelling to Mexico
All the practical information you need regarding your trip to Latin America is found here. From how to prepare before you leave and travelling to your destination, to advice on travelling within your country of choice.
Before you Go
Travelling with children
Some countries in Latin America have strict regulations regarding the entry and exit of children under 18 when not travelling with both parents, or if the child has nationality of the country you are visiting. If you are travelling with children who are not entering or leaving the country with both parents, or if the child has nationality of the country you are visiting, please contact the consulate of the country you are visiting to check requirements.
Children require a polio vaccination certificate to enter Brazil.
Visas & Passports
Visas are not required in advance for British citizens for any Llama Travel destination. To visit Mexico, British citizens do not need to apply for a visa prior to visiting as a tourist. However, a tourist card is provided upon arrival which you must present when leaving the country. The international departure tax is included in the airline ticket. For British passports endorsed in any way and all other passports, please ask the appropriate consulate: Mexico (020 7499 8586), Peru (020 7838 9223); Ecuador (020 7451 0040); Argentina (020 7318 1340); Chile (020 7222 3434); Brazil (020 7659 1550); Colombia (020 7637 9893); Costa Rica (020 7706 8844); Guatemala (020 7351 3042). You need a full 10 year passport valid for 6 months after your return to the UK. If you are flying via the US, you need to comply with US immigration requirements. Ask us for details.
There is an immigration entry fee to enter Chile and Argentina for citizens of the US, Australia, Canada and some other countries. Please check with the appropriate consulate. To enter Argentina, this fee must be paid online prior to travel. This can be done at either www.migraciones.gov.ar or www.provinciapagos.gov.ar. Once the fee has been paid, you must print out the proof of payment and take this with you when you enter Argentina. If you do not have the form you will not be allowed to enter Argentina.
To visit Brazil (even Iguazu Falls from Argentina), citizens of the US, Australia and some other countries must obtain a Brazilian visa before travel.
If children are not travelling with both parents, some countries require a letter of consent to enter or depart. Please consult the appropriate consulate. To issue some tickets, we require passport details and ages when you book. If you subsequently change your passport, please let us know as soon as possible.
What to pack
The climate around Mexico City and Oaxaca is mild, with relatively consistent temperatures year-round. March, April and May are the warmest months, and November to February tend to be the coolest, with averages of 14°C. Most rainfall occurs during the summer months of June to September. The months of December, January and February are usually dry, but rain can fall throughout the year so waterproofs are advised.
Due to its elevated location, San Cristobal also has a mild, spring-like climate, with an average temperature of around 15°C. On sunny days, the city can feel quite hot, but the temperature drops considerably during wet weather, so a mix of warm and cooler weather clothing is advisable.
Descending into the tropical climate of the Chiapas lowlands (for Palenque), the Yucatan (for Merida) and the Riviera Maya, humidity is high year-round and temperatures sometimes exceed 30°C. There is an average of 12 daylight hours and high factor sun protection is essential. Waterproofs are advised year-round, although the wettest months are from June to October.
Insect repellent is recommended for visiting the jungle around Palenque, Merida and the Caribbean Coast. Closed, comfortable shoes such as trainers or lightweight walking shoes are suitable for day excursions. Be sure to bring beachwear for your time on the coast.
You can bring whichever luggage you feel most comfortable with: suitcases, soft bags and rucksacks are fine.
Electricity in Mexico is 11V, and plugs are of the flat two-pin type.
Having a photocopy of your passport with you at all times is recommended.
Please bring any medication you may require from the UK.
Receiving your tickets
You will receive tickets approximately 10 days before departure, along with information on accommodation, transfers and excursions. Our agents in Latin America will give you your hotel and excursion vouchers when you arrive. Please check airline tickets carefully in case timings have changed after we issued your confirmation.
Health & Fitness
Age and Fitness Limitations
For most of our holidays, age is not a concern. However, a reasonable level of fitness is required, as most holidays require some walking, sometimes on uneven ground. Even relatively mild activities can be strenuous at altitude. High altitude trekking is more strenuous than an equivalent length walk at low altitude.
Vaccinations and Medical Requirements
Please consult your GP or a travel clinic about health and vaccination requirements. The NHS website www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk gives good advice about travelling in each country.
Yellow Fever precautions are usually recommended when visiting the Iguazú Falls region in Argentina and Brazil. Some GPs do not recommend yellow fever vaccinations for travellers over 60 years old.
There have been reports of the Zika virus, a mosquito-borne virus, in various Latin American countries. Please check www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk for latest advice regarding this. If you are pregnant, or planning on becoming pregnant, it is recommended that you speak to a medical professional prior to travel.
When visiting Latin America, stomach illnesses are not uncommon due to changes in diet. We suggest you only drink bottled water and avoid ice. If you are unsure if salads and fruit have been washed in purified water, it is best to avoid them.
If you have any health problems on holiday, please speak to our local agents or hotel staff. They will arrange for a doctor or hospital if necessary.
A holiday in Latin America inevitably means long haul flights, and at least one overnight sector. Air fares vary from date to date and between airlines. Our holidays are scheduled to use the most advantageous air fare.
You can choose which airline you prefer, we will let you know if a supplement is payable. Levels of onboard service and facilities, such as entertainment, vary by airline and route. Please ask us for details. Opinions change over time, but in the past year, Llama Travel customers’ preference was for Air France, KLM, British Airways and Virgin, followed by United and Iberia. Flights are sometimes operated by another airline in the appropriate airline alliance.
Most airlines offer the option of flying from regional airports in the UK, avoiding the need to make your own way to London. Due to the timing of flights, in some cases this may involve an overnight stop in London or another intermediate airport. There is usually a supplement for regional departures. Please note that most of our flights depart from London.
You can upgrade to business class or premium economy on most airlines. Prices start from £199 each way for Premium Economy and £699 each way for Business Class. Call us for prices for the route and airline you are interested in.
British Airways World Traveller Plus, Air France Premium Voyageur and Virgin Premium Economy seats are available. These provide more comfortable seats which recline further and have more legroom. There are better meals and a bar service.
KLM, Iberia and United offer standard economy class seats with extra legroom for additional cost. KLM seats can be booked through Llama Travel. United and Iberia seats can be reserved with the airlines one month prior to departure.
British Airways Club World has seats which convert into full flat beds and have a privacy screen.
Iberia Business Plus between Madrid and Latin America offers seats which convert into flat beds. Between the UK and Madrid, seats are usually the same as in economy class.
KLM World Business Class offers seats that convert into flat beds. Between the UK and Amsterdam, seats are usually the same as in economy class. Air France Affairs Class offer seats which convert into virtually flat beds. Between the UK and Paris, seats are usually the same as in economy class.
United Business First between the UK and the US offers seats which convert into full flat beds. Between the US and Latin America, seats are more spacious than in economy.
Most scheduled airlines have a baggage allowance of 23kg per passenger for international flights, but internal flight allowances can be less. Exact limits can be found on airline webpages. Please bear this in mind when packing, as carrying excess baggage will normally incur an expensive additional cost payable at check in. Additionally, certain excursions have a limited baggage allowance. Where this is the case, you will usually be able to leave the rest of your luggage in storage. Llama Travel accepts no responsibility for the delay, loss or damage of luggage.
Selecting your seats on flights
Many airlines now charge a fee to select your seat prior to checking in for your flight, even when travelling in premium economy or business class. Alternatively, you may choose your preferred seat free of charge when online check-in opens 24 hours prior to departure or at the airport. Please ask us about the options available at time of booking.
We all want a comfortable journey, particularly on long haul flights. If you would like a seat with some extra leg room or a larger recline please let us know. Airlines have introduced a range of “economy comfort” seats that may be purchased in advance. In some cases, these seats may only be purchased online directly with the airline once Llama Travel has issued your ticket approximately 30 days prior to departure.
For flights within Latin America, and for connecting flights in Europe, it is usually only possible to select seats when you check-in online or at the airport.
It may not be possible to always use online check-in systems, especially when using a codeshare flight. On occasion, your preferred seat may be changed by the airline for operational reasons such as a change of aircraft or to facilitate a disabled passenger on the day you fly and as such, Llama Travel cannot always guarantee specific seats.
Breaking up the journey with stopover
If you would like to break your journey to or from Latin America and add a stopover to your holiday, this may be possible.
Depending on which airline you choose, stopovers may be possible in Miami, New York, Houston, Madrid, Amsterdam or Paris.
Visa Requirements if travelling via the US
Additionally, if the passport was issued, renewed/extended between October 26, 2005 and October 25, 2006 it must contain a digital photograph. If the passport was issued, renewed/extended on or after October 26, 2006, it must be also include an integrated circuit chip capable of storing the biographic information from the data page, a digitized photograph and other biometric information.
Please note, holders of passports indicating that the bearer is a British Subject, a British Dependent Territories Citizen, British Overseas Citizen, British National (Overseas) Citizen or British Protected Person do not qualify for travel without a visa. A passport which states that the holder has Right of Abode or indefinite leave to remain in the UK does not quality for visa-free travel.
If you have been arrested, even if the arrest did not result in a criminal conviction, or if you have a criminal record, you will need a visa.
If you have any doubts about whether you qualify for the Visa Waiver Program, please check with the US embassy. Full details can be found on the US embassy’s UK website at: http://london.usembassy.gov/vwp3.html
Many European, Australian and New Zealand passport holders also qualify for the Visa Waiver Program as long as the passport is machine readable and complies with the relevant criteria. Please see the US embassy website for a list of countries which qualify for the Visa Waiver Program. It is important that you check the website of the US Embassy in the country of passport nationality for any further changes before you travel.
ESTA Visa Waiver Program - **** Action by you may be required ****
The US State Department has introduced a mandatory electronic system to help speed up the US immigration process for travellers on the Visa Waiver Program. All Visa Waiver Program travellers must fill in a form on the US State department website. This can be found at (https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov). Please enter this into the address bar on your web browser. There is a $14 charge per person to apply for this. DO NOT search for this website via a search engine, such as Google, as it will take you to an incorrect website. Although this can be filled in up to 72 hours before travel, we recommend that you fill in this form as soon as possible so any issues can be identified immediately. To apply please scroll to the bottom of the green area and press the apply button on the left hand side of the page. Please make sure that this form is filled out for all the passengers on your booking. If you require more detailed instructions, please visit www.LlamaTravel.com/ESTA.
If you do not qualify for the Visa Waiver Program, or if your passport does not meet the relevant criteria, then you will require a US visa before you travel. Even if you are given authorization on the ESTA website, some travellers may not be eligible to enter the United States visa free under the Visa Waiver Program. If in doubt, please consult the US embassy website.
Advanced Passenger Information - **** Action by you is required ****
The US Transportation Security Authority requires anybody flying through the United Sates to supply specific passenger information prior to their international flight. This is in addition to the information to be submitted for the Visa Waiver Program which you may have already completed. Please visit our website where you will find details on how to submit this information using the airlines website. www.LlamaTravel.com/USAPI.
Please complete this procedure as soon as possible. If your passenger information is not entered into the flight booking we are unable to issue your flight tickets. This may result in your flight booking being cancelled and high charges being incurred.
Adequate travel insurance is essential. We do not sell or recommend any specific policy. A list of insurance companies that our customers have found suitable is available from us. Please advise your insurer of any pre-existing medical conditions and, if you are booking a holiday involving high-altitude trekking, such as the Inca Trail, make sure that you are covered for this. If you are planning on carrying out any other activities, please ensure your insurance policy will cover you for these. Note that cancellation cover is often only available if insurance is purchased within two weeks of booking your holiday.
Travelling in Mexico
Safety & Security
Most people who travel to the countries where Llama Travel operates experience no problems on holiday. However, as is the case anywhere in the world, crime can be a problem, especially in large cities. Tourists can appear attractive targets to criminals. To minimise the risk, use common sense. Do not display signs of wealth, such as expensive looking jewellery or cameras. Avoid empty streets, especially on your own. Take a taxi after dark. By taking sensible precautions, you should have a trouble-free holiday.
Each country has its own standards for health and safety, but these are often not as good as in the UK. We take this into account when selecting hotels and request that they comply with all local regulations, but cannot guarantee that these are equivalent to British standards. Please take reasonable precautions to protect yourselves whilst on holiday, e.g. by locating fire exit routes.
Please also check the Foreign Office travel advice for the countries you are visiting at www.fco.gov.uk.
The Mexican currency is the Mexican Nuevo Peso, known simply as the Peso. Sterling isn’t easy to exchange in Mexico so carrying US Dollars is advised. Note that it is only possible to exchange cash in banks or at bureaux de change. UK debit and credit cards are widely accepted in shops and restaurants, and ATM's are readily available, although it is good to carry a small reserve of cash.
It is always recommended to inform your bank that you are travelling abroad and to which countries. This will allow them to authorise money withdrawals on your account when you are away. Some banks say that this is not necessary; however we would still recommend contact with your bank as in some cases people have had difficulty in withdrawing currency.
Tipping in Mexico is customary but by no means obligatory. In most circumstances, such as restaurants and tour guides, 10 -20% is appropriate. Drivers should receive US$3-5 per day for group tours and $10 for private tours. It is not customary to tip taxi drivers.
Most people are familiar with the concept of tacos, guacamole and enchiladas, but arriving in Mexico you will discover that Mexican food is a lot richer than the Tex-Mex movement would have you believe. The cuisine is understood to be a fusion of traditional local ingredients, and those ingredients and cooking styles introduced by the Spanish. Staple ingredients include corn, beans, avocados, tomatoes, chilli peppers and rice, as well as meat, cheese and a rich variety of herbs and spices.
The style of food varies across Mexico, with different spices and other ingredients adapted according to the local conditions. For example, the Yucatan Peninsula cuisine is based on the Maya culture, with influences from a diverse range of cultures from Middle Eastern to Caribbean, and uses local ingredients such as tropical fruits and traditional cooking methods such as pit ovens. By contrast, Mexico City for the most part relies on produce brought in from other parts of the country. Here street food reigns supreme with taco stands and Torterias (tortas are sandwiches similar to subs) battle it out for passing trade. While the ingredients and style of cooking varies from area to area, staples like the aforementioned tacos and tortas are found in most parts of Mexico. Another staple found across the country is mole (pronounced mo-leh), an umbrella term for sauce. Moles also vary from place to place, but usually they contain a fruit, chili pepper, nuts and spices.
Budgeting for your stay
Hotels in Mexico include breakfast. Besides that, a simple set-menu lunch will cost US$3-4.50 per person, while a nice dinner with alcoholic drinks will set you back about US$11-16 per person.
Llama Travel Groups
Probably the best way to describe our holidays is flexible tours, so you can choose where to visit by combining different extensions and excursions, and which hotels to stay in. In most cases, you will be with other Llama Travellers, but not necessarily the same people throughout. This allows you to get to know like-minded people, but not have to spend all your time with the same group. If we don't have anyone else taking a particular part of a holiday, we will still operate this just for you. All our holidays are guaranteed to operate if we have two passengers or more.
Excursions are usually taken together with other Llama Travel customers in groups of no more than 18 people. If we have more than 18 booked, we operate two groups. In some places, the excursions are operated by one of our local partners, so you may be with people other than Llama Travel customers and the group may be a mix of English and other languages. In these cases, group sizes can sometimes be larger. If you would like to know the likely situation for your holiday, please ask us and we will be able to check. Transfers may be with more than 18 people.
We get a wide range of people taking our holidays, with probably the largest group being couples aged in their forties to sixties, or even older. However, we also have a large number of customers in their twenties and thirties, especially for some of the more active holidays. What unites everyone is a sense of curiosity and a desire to discover new cultures, landscapes and wildlife. Although most of our customers travel with friends or family, we also have quite a few single travellers who are happy to mix and match as described above.
Making Calls to the UK
To phone the UK from Mexico, dial the international dialling code for the UK (0044) and then the UK telephone number, leaving out the ‘0’ in the area code. To phone Mexico from the UK, dial the international dialling code for Mexico (0052) and then the Mexico telephone number.
Extensions & Excursions
Excursions are operated together with other holidaymakers. These will usually be in English, although groups are sometimes a mix of English and Spanish or Portuguese speaking. A minimum of 2 people is required for some excursions. On some occasions, the order of excursions may vary.
- When to Travel: October to August
- Population: 126 million
- Area: 1,972,550 km2 (over 8 times the size of teh UK)
- Capital City: Mexico City (population 9 million; the population of greater Mexico City is approximately 21 million)
- Languages Spoken: Mainly Spanish; however around 6 million citizens speak indigenous languages such as Nahuatl and Yucatec Maya
- Time Difference: GMT - 5 hours
- Flying time from UK: 12 hours direct to Mexico City or Cancún, approximately 15 hours including a change of plane
- Bordering Countries: USA, Guatemala, Belize
- Key Destinations: Maya sites in the Yucatán such as Chichén Itzá; the archaeological site of Palenque; indigenous communities of Chiapas; historical and cultural Mexico City; regional gastronomy of Oaxaca and Puebla; beaches of the Riviera Maya; the colonial cities of San Cristóbal and Mérida; the mountainous and lowland jungle landscapes of southern Mexico