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Mexico: Playa Del Carmen <-> Chichen Itza (Pics)  
User currently offlineKeysman73 From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2005, 46 posts, RR: 0
Posted (10 years 4 months 4 days 16 hours ago) and read 10260 times:

This trip report concerns a flight that my partner and I took when we were on holiday in Mexico recently.
One of the tours on offer was to the Mayan remains at Chichen Itza either by bus(4 hours) or plane(45 mins). We went for the flight option as it meant a more relaxed day and more time at the beach when we got back

Aircraft : Cessna Caravan 208B
Reg : XA-UBL
Flight time : 40 mins

We were bussed in from our various hotels to Playa Del Carmen airport which is just on the outskirts of the town and is quite literally just off the main road.
Got out of the coach and walked onto the airstrip and onto the plane. There were 12 of us and the plane was configured in a 1-2 layout with 4 rows of seats.
There was quite a large area behind the seats for baggage etc and a big cooler of bottled water which came in very handy later on. Air con was delivered to each and every seat which was great.






We all got on and the plane taxied out to one end of the runway before spinning round and heading down towards the other end at great speed.
Take-off was around half-way down the runway and we went out over part of the town and then over the sea before heading back inland for Chichen Itza.
The weather was great and visibility was excellent


Our flight path was mostly over uninhabited jungle areas, but still interesting nevertheless. Very smooth as well for most of the time.
The plane was so small you could actually see the pilots instruments and make out some of what they were doing which was good - bit of a change from the norm.



As we neared Chichen Itza, the pilots flew over the site and gave us some great aerial views. The flight started to get a bit choppy at this point and I don't mind saying that I was glad we'd be landing soon.


Not long after, we were landing at Chichen Itza International Airport and I have to say it was the most deserted international airport I've ever been in!!!

Nice just walking through security with no-one there for a change.

All in all a great day - certainly much better than sitting in a hot bus for 7 or 8 hours and we got some nice views of Chichen Itza that you don't normally see.
Smallest plane I've ever flown in, but even when it got choppy it was still enjoyable. I'd highly recommend it.

17 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineTheredbaron From Mexico, joined Mar 2005, 3333 posts, RR: 26
Reply 1, posted (10 years 4 months 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 10220 times:

Man this is something Ill try on my next trip!

How much was the fare ? (if possible)


The best seat in a Plane is the Jumpseat.
User currently offlineKeysman73 From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2005, 46 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (10 years 4 months 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 10216 times:

Our fare was around £150 ($270 American), but you can probably get it cheaper going direct to the airline.
Ours was part of a package through the tour operator which probably had commission on top and all that.

Still worth it though!!


User currently offlineJafa39 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (10 years 4 months 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 10051 times:

Looks like fun!! Pity you couldn't land at the site though.

User currently offlineKLM685 From Mexico, joined May 2005, 1577 posts, RR: 17
Reply 4, posted (10 years 4 months 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 9867 times:

WOW!! Amazing!! I have to try it!!


KLM- The Best Airline in the World!
User currently offlineFreedomtofly From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 750 posts, RR: 5
Reply 5, posted (10 years 4 months 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 9732 times:

Oh wow I almost did this very thing when I was in Playa Del Carmen in late 2004, but instead we took the bus. Looked like fun though, very nice pics!! Thanks for sharing.


You are now free to move about the world.
User currently offlineGhost77 From Mexico, joined Mar 2000, 5299 posts, RR: 48
Reply 6, posted (10 years 4 months 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 9693 times:

Quoting Theredbaron (Reply 1):
How much was the fare ? (if possible)

Try www.aerotucan.com.mx

CUN-CZM-CUN is @ 100USD.

But it's Playa-Chichen doesn't shows up!! Perhaps around 150USD.

ghost77 APM

Ricardo Morales - flyAPM - ¡No es que maneje rapido, solo estoy volando lento!
User currently offlineFlyingchoirboy From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 285 posts, RR: 4
Reply 7, posted (10 years 4 months 2 days ago) and read 9647 times:
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nice trip report! it's nice to hear about trips on small airlines with small planes...makes me jealous!


User currently offlineDesertAir From Mexico, joined Jan 2006, 1557 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (10 years 3 months 4 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 9538 times:

Thanks for the photos. I visited Chichen Itzá and Tuluúm last summer. I left three days before Hurrican Emily hit. Wow...the Cancún airport was a panic.

User currently offlineKeysman73 From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2005, 46 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (10 years 3 months 4 weeks 16 hours ago) and read 9477 times:

Ha ha - it was chaos when I was there...and that was just with a normal charter flight!

I can only imagine what it must have been like round about the time that the hurricane hit.

User currently offline9VSPO From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 10, posted (10 years 3 months 4 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 9424 times:

When we were there it was about 130 degrees with no shelter. The pyramid is a lot steeper than it looks too. It took me ages to come back down. Did you climb it? It was a bit scary seeing an ambulance parked up there just in case.  scared 

User currently offlineDesertAir From Mexico, joined Jan 2006, 1557 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (10 years 3 months 3 weeks 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 9357 times:

I climbed the Pyramid in the high humidity. Going up is like crawling but while coming down I watched my footing and held onto the rope.

User currently offlineKeysman73 From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2005, 46 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (10 years 3 months 3 weeks 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 9310 times:

Actually, the weather when we were there was bearable. There was a fair amount of cloud and only later on did the sun really come out on it's own.

I agree that the pyramid is a lot steeper than it looks, however it is now closed for the forseeable future beacuse the week before we got there, someone fell down the steps and died!! No-one is allowed up there just now other than the people looking after it.

Bit of a shame as I was really looking forward to climbing it.


User currently offlineFly727 From Mexico, joined Jul 2003, 1803 posts, RR: 16
Reply 13, posted (10 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 9145 times:

All I can say: GREAT!

I enjoyed your report a lot. I happen to know the pilot, Ricardo Enciso, who took you on that flight. He is a very close friend of mine, a very skilled and professional guy.

Aerotuc?n is a recently-established operator in the Cancun area. It is currently offering non-scheduled services, which are filling the gap for regional on-demand charter left by previous operators (such as the failed attempts of Vuelabus, subsidiary of also ill-fated Vuelamex, millennium and Avioquintana). They do have, however, in my understanding another set of Caravan(s) for their runs in the state of Oaxaca, where it was founded.

A lot of their business in southeast Mexico (that is, not their niche in Oaxaca) is done via local travel agencies or ground operators who take advantage of the huge amount of traffic of "day-stay" cruise ships in the Cozumel, Playa del Carmen and the recently developed Mayan Riviera area. Their sales staff offer the tour packages to tourists, some of which include admissions to the archeological parks, meals, drinks and of course transportation to and from the ships and/or resorts.

This little airline lacks the technical stuff (and honestly the market has reduced ever since some time) to allow scheduled operations, even in the once-profitable Cancun/Cozumel air shuttle, which during some time had 20 flights a day. They do, however, offer safe, reliable and fun rides such as the one Keysman73 took.

The views departing any place in the Mexican Caribbean are absolutely breathtaking; but it takes special mention taking off from Playa del Carmen's 600 meters (roughly around 1850 feet) and narrow runway. Both from the view and because of the knot-feet-degree precision it demands from the pilots. I flew in and out of there several times and there is never something that doesn't challenge one's skills. Though it was designed for single-pilot operation, in Mexico whenever the Caravan is used under a commercial service certificate and registration it is required to have a co-pilot. Chances are that your first officer was building time on his logbook for a little or no pay. Either way a blast of invaluable experience is gained.

About Chichen Itz? International, there are a few facts to mention. Designed as a relief airport for the congested Cancun airport (it would take the flow of some flights from Europe whose passengers are more in the search of eco-archeological experiences rather than the noisy mess of Cancun) it never quiet got important customers as the new owners of nearby CUN saw their interests threatened. Money and political issues in which grupo ASUR was involved (CUN's operator) avoided Chichen Itz? International from getting the traffic. A total shame as CZA was probably one of the finest and most expensive airport projects in Mexico of the last decade. Nice hydraulic-concrete runway, state of the art underground fueling facilities, modern navigational aids... all of them bleeding red ink right now.

Hope the info helps. Got a little carried away with this topic. Hope not have bored you to death.

RM  Smile

There are no stupid questions... just stupid people!
User currently offlineKeysman73 From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2005, 46 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (10 years 3 months 1 week 17 hours ago) and read 8934 times:

Fly727 - Great detail, not boring at all.

I agree with your comments regarding Playa Del Carmen airport - I can see why it could be demanding.

When we were coming back into land, I managed to get a good view out of the front windshield to see the plane lining up with the runway. Definitely not a landind for the faint-hearted with all the buildings around and what looks like a relatively tight runway!!

Thanks once again.


User currently offlineTPAnx From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 1021 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (10 years 3 months 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 8837 times:

Brings back memories. Back in the late 80's , we flew from PdC to Cozumel. Walked up a path from the Balam Ha hotel to the airstrip, watched someone
laboriously enter our names on the manifest, and boarded a Trislander..three engine prop plane..two wing-mouinted, the third in the tail..DC-10 style.Fixed gear, IIRC.Flew to Cozumel, stopped on the runway where the pilot left the aircraft, picked up something from the runway, and continued his taxi to the gate. Took the flight after sitting on the porch of the hotel, and watching the plane barely clear it for several mornings. Looked like fun(!?). Heard from one of the passengers that the airline, the name of which I don't recall, had lost an aircraft near Cancun. Thanks for the pix..don't recall the PdC airport being paved..but it was a long time ago.
And yes, the Cancun airport was a true zoo when we left..when we arrived, the Mexicana f/a offered me a "deal" on pesos....

I read the news today..oh boy
User currently offlineSemsem From Israel, joined Jul 2005, 1779 posts, RR: 2
Reply 16, posted (10 years 3 months 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 8795 times:

You indicated the tour costs about 150 pounds. Do you know how much the tour by bus was in comparison. I am guessing 50 pounds.

User currently offlineKeysman73 From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2005, 46 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (10 years 3 months 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 8790 times:

IIRC, the bus tour was around £75GBP. We were kind of put off because of the 7-8 hour return journey time.
You probably see more of the coutryside, but I thought it was worth the extra money to take the flight.

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