Yucatán with Katsuji Tanabe

One Exclusive Departure | December 4 - 9, 2022

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Stimulate Every Sense

Experience Yucatán's rich traditions and culinary heritage with Chef Katsuji Tanabe

December 4 - 9, 2022

One exclusive departure—reserve your spot today!

6 Days, 5 Nights

Best of the Yucatán including Mérida, Chichén Ítza, Uxmal, Vallodolid

Price from


Per person based on double occupancy

Questions? Text or call us
+1 (855) 219-8018

You’re floating in the perfectly clear, still waters of a remote cenote, the jungle canopy alive with birdsong and the rhythmic croaks and chirps pounding out a steady beat from the forest floor. Ancient tree roots hang like stalactites dappled with sunshine, a mosaic of colors you’ve never quite seen before. This exquisite natural amphitheater exists only in the Yucatán, a peninsula as wild as it is refined, simmering with centuries of tradition. Just hours ago, you explored Mayan pottery alongside a master artisan and sat down to lunch—a traditional poc chuc of marinated pork topped with charcoal-fired onions–that lingers on your palate like a treasured memory. Tonight you’ll celebrate under a million stars at a luxurious 17th-century hacienda. This is the true Yucatán, and it’s simply the best.

Our travel companion is acclaimed chef and Top Chef star Katsuji Tanabe, owner and creative mastermind behind a slew of award-winning restaurants (from Chicago’s Barrio to Raleigh’s High Horse). Chef Katsuji, a Mexico City native, shows us the Yucatán he knows and loves, one full of flavor and deep cultural traditions. This is not just any trip to Mexico, it’s a six-day discovery of one of the world’s most delicious destinations, with Chef Katsuji sharing the deep and personal connection to his home away from home.

If your idea of the perfect adventure involves slowing down and experiencing a place deeply, join us for a dose of Mexico few outsiders experience. Learn the meaning and tradition behind every bite, and experience the Yucatán at its most timeless and delicious.


Slow-cooked cochinita pibil, traditional street foods, specially prepared Yucatecan feasts


Ancient Mayan temples, underground cenotes, colonial towns and tropical forests


Traditional makers and local craftspeople, and modern artists in home studios


With Yucatán's culture and cuisine, and with like-minded travelers alongside Chef Katsuji Tanabe

3 Reasons to Travel with Katsuji Tanabe

Rarely in life do you meet someone who sees their career not as a profession, but as an absolute passion. Lucky for us, acclaimed chef and TV star Katsuji Tanabe is one of the rare ones. He was born and raised in Mexico City with influences of fish sauce and noodles from his Japanese father, chiles and spices from his Mexican mother. Katsuji moved to Los Angeles at age 18 to start a new life; he's since opened six restaurants, made the finals on Top Chef, and crowned Chopped champion.

Yucatán Love

For Katsuji, Yucatán’s magic lives not only in its Mayan temples and stunning haciendas, but most prominently in its food. "The Yucatán is a very complex part of Mexico, and one of the most under-appreciated. I just get excited when I can show people my culture in a new way.”

Inspired Passion

At the age of seven, Katsuji made his first paella from scratch on a barbecue grill. It sparked a passion and curiosity that led to the first kosher Mexican restaurant in the USA. “I'm a very spiritual person, not religious, but very spiritual, especially when it's food related.”

Don't Call It Fusion

The Mexican-Japanese chef grew up in a home that loved to cook with recipes from both sides of the family. Just one important detail: Don’t ever expect “fusion” cuisine from Katsuji. It’s about finding heritage and harmony in the ingredients, not creating mashups.

Your Experience

“My career is not my job. It's my hobby. So even when I'm not working, I still love cooking. I still love to experience new flavors.”
Katsuji Tanabe

Mérida, Chichén Ítza, Uxmal, Temozón

“For me growing up Mexican, I felt like Mexico was the center of the world. Now I want to showcase my country, my culture, my flavors."
Katsuji Tanabe

Day by Day

Day 1

Bienvenidos a Mérida! This is the glorious heart of the Yucatán, with its French-inspired colonial homes and wrought-iron balconies overlooking streets bursting with open-air music. Mérida is often called the New Orleans of Mexico; and like the Big Easy, it’s not hard to fall in love with Mérida’s historic central district.

Katsuji will lead the way as we weave through traditional markets and grab a lunch of local street-food favorites: salbutes topped with shredded meat, cabbage and pickled onions; cochinita pibil marinated in citrus and spiced with achiote paste, wrapped in a banana leaf; and pavo en relleno negro, simmering in a rich sauce of black recado and cabbage with a hardboiled egg.

In the afternoon we’ll get a Mayan history lesson at the city’s epic Gran Museum, followed by cocktails at our hotel, a luxurious spot built in an old artist’s gallery. Dinner tonight is at one of Mérida’s culinary highlights, in the historic center, where we’ll toast our time together over a meal of the finest Yucatecan dishes.

Day 1 Highlights

  • Arrive in Mérida
  • Market tour & lunch
  • Welcome dinner
  • Stay at Künük Hotel Boutique

Day 2

After breakfast, we go back in time at Mexico’s most famous Mayan site: Chichén Itzá. The 5th-century, jungle-clad expanse of mighty pyramids, temples and ball courts connected by ancient roads is a World Heritage Site. We’ll explore and learn about the recent discovery of a hidden pyramid within the iconic Kukulkan, the step-pyramid that dominates the center of the Chichén Itzá.

In the afternoon we’ll explore colonial Valladolid, a flaneur’s dream town brimming with cafes, shops and leafy parks. Over cocktails we’ll sample an array of botanas, the small-plate snacks that Valladolid is noted for—everything from beets with lime juice and cilantro, to pigs knuckles and pureed pumpkin seeds—before heading back to Mérida to relax back at the hotel, or maybe to dive into Mérida’s vibrant nightlife.

Day 2 Highlights

  • Chichén Itzá
  • Valladolid botanas & cocktails
  • Stay at Künük Hotel Boutique

Day 3

Our final morning in Mérida begins with a breakfast to remember, at a ‘morning only’ taqueria. Papadzules sauced with pumpkin seeds and chiltomate, panuchos and salbutes, and polcanes bursting with the flavors of suckling pig, relleno negro and huevos motuleños, all bringing the essence of traditional Mayan cuisine to our lips.

Next stop: tranquility. Just an hour away, our jungle-clad hacienda sits behind brilliant coral walls, the perfect retreat for our souls. The afternoon is ours to wander the pristine grounds, take a dip in its on-site cenote or grab a drink poolside. This evening, we’ll meet back up with Katsuji for a full-on Mayan cooking workshop and private dinner.  

Day 3 Highlights

  • Traditional taco breakfast
  • Transfer to hacienda
  • Hands-on cooking & dinner led by Katsuji
  • Stay at Hacienda Temozón

Day 4

Today we experience Yucatán culture through an artist’s eye. We start in the village of Maní, exploring its magnificent 16th-century Church of San Michael Arcangel, and meet local weavers who hand-embroidered blouses synonymous with Mayan style. Next we’ll meet, and learn alongside, a master at his home and studio, where he produces his highly prized works rooted in ancient Mayan techniques.

Lunch today is a serious treat. We dine at humble, legendary El Príncipe Tutul Xiu in Maní, one of the region’s most storied kitchens, for their signature poc chuc: charcoal fired with grill-roasted onions, a sharp marinade, a dash of roasted habanero salsa. After lunch, we’ll take a dip in a pristine cenote, where ancient tree roots and imposing stalactites hang like an upside-down world. When we return to our hacienda, we’ll be full of inspiration and ready to relax for the evening.

Day 4 Highlights

  • Maní village and weavers
  • Master potter studio visit
  • Cenote swim
  • Stay at Hacienda Temozón

Day 5

The beauty is in the details. And today we’re getting up close and historical with Yucatan heritage, beginning with arguably the region’s best Mayan site, Uxmal. Here we see the ornate Puuc-style carvings adorning the gated temple walkways and bulbous pyramids that inspired Frank Lloyd Wright. Afterwards, we have a feast we won’t soon forget—the local cochinita pibil—pit-roasted, smoky and succulent, prepared just for us.

We return for a peaceful afternoon at our hacienda, but hopefully not too full! This evening, dinner is an equal treat: a farewell feast prepared by Katsuji to celebrate his love of Yucatán and Mexico, and of our time together.

Day 5 Highlights

  • Uxmal Mayan site
  • Traditional Mayan pit-roasted pork
  • Farewell dinner by Katsuji
  • Stay at Hacienda Temozón

Day 6

Alas, our time together is done. After a final breakfast we pack up and say K’a’ak’ate to the wonderful hacienda, our new friends, and especially Katsuji. We’ll transfer you to the Mérida Airport for flights home. Till next time!

Day 6 Highlights

  • Breakfast
  • Transfers to Mérida Airport (MID)

Where We Sleep

Footsteps from colonial city scenes or tucked inside a tropical forest, our boutique hotels make you feel right at home in the Yucatán's most stunning locations.

Künük Hotel Boutique


The perfect basecamp in colonial Mérida, this intimate boutique hotel offers soft-spoken luxury and a glimpse into the city's storied past. The walls of all 13 rooms are lined with chocum, both an aesthetic complement to the colonial aura and a homage to Mayan architecture. Exquisite add-ons include a pristine pool and a can't-miss cocktail bar.

Hacienda Temozón


Arriving to this forested hacienda wonderland will stop you in your tracks. Green gardens and candle-lit walkways lead to this stunning, sophisticated hotel refashioned from a hacienda built in the 1600s. Dark-wood furnishings and century-old black-and-white tile floors adorn the high-ceiling rooms. Sitting areas look through shuttered doorways into a sea of tropical forest and a row of stray pillars jutting from the expansive pool. Is this real? Yes, and it’s the ideal base for our Yucatán adventures.

I loved eating goat just after it was lifted from the pit, sipping on a mezcal.
Diana C.
This is more than just a trip. It’s authentic and joyful, and a powerful reminder of why we travel.
Scott M.
The meals made for us in local homes were just heavenly.
Andrew B.

Book Yucatán with Katsuji Tanabe

Number of Travelers


Reserve your spot today with a $1,000 per-person deposit plus room supplements (if relevant). Full payment is due 180 days prior to your trip departure date. We’ll email you a reminder. If your trip departs in less than 180 days, we’ll collect full payment either 30 days from when we receive your deposit, or 60 days prior to your trip departure date, whichever is sooner. For details read our Deposit FAQs

Price from


Per person based on double occupancy

Can't travel on these dates?
Call us at

+1 (855) 219-8018


That’s OK, we have answers. Read our FAQs below. Or text or call us at +1 (855) 219-8018 to speak with a Modern Adventure Trip Specialist.

  1. What does the price include?

    Five nights at luxury boutique accommodations; private travel for all day trips and excursions; private tours with local guides and cultural experts; exclusive VIP access and tastings; guided activities, adventures and expeditions; entrance fees; daily breakfasts, lunches and most dinners; local beverages with meals.

  2. What does the price not include?

    International roundtrip airfare; travel insurance; transportation to the trip’s starting point; activities not included in the trip itinerary; hotel incidentals including room service, laundry service and hotel bar tabs; activities, food and beverage not included in itinerary; gratuity for tour leader.

  3. Where does this trip start and end?

    Our adventure begins at the Künük Hotel Boutique in Mérida, Mexico. The closest airport is the Mérida International Airport (MID). Our trip ends at our hacienda in Temozón; on our last day, we’ll organize an airport transfer to Mérida’s MID airport. Your flight home should be scheduled to depart at 1pm or later.

  4. Who is going on this trip?

    Our adventures typically have between 10 and 20 guests, and our Modern Adventure Team. Our experiences are fun and inclusive and you can expect to be joined by a diverse group in terms of age, background and interests—including solo travelers, couples and friends traveling together. This adventure is for travelers age 18 and above.

  5. Who is leading this trip?

    This trip is led by an expert Modern Adventure Trip Leader. They’re an experienced travel guide, a representative of Modern Adventure and your go-to person for questions or concerns on the trip. We’ll be joined throughout our adventure by local, expert guides who are deeply knowledgeable with respect to local cultures, customs and history and are passionate about sharing that with us.

  6. What travel documents are needed?

    US citizens are not required to have a visa for tourist visits to Mexico, but are required to show a valid US passport. It is recommended that your passport is valid for six months after your travels are over. On arrival in the airport, you will be issued a visitor’s permit, known as a FMM (Forma Migratoria Multiple). For citizens of other countries, please check with the Mexico Embassy or Consulate for information and requirements.

  7. Do I need to pay a solo traveler supplement?

    For solo travelers, there is a $1,500 single-supplement fee—paid at the time of booking to secure a private room.

  8. Do I need Travel Insurance?

    We highly recommend purchasing travel insurance. Travel insurance allows you to seek reimbursement for your trip costs; if your trip plans change for unforeseeable reasons, or if you need to get medical help, emergency transport, and for theft, loss or damage of items while traveling. For best coverage, always insure the full trip cost within two weeks of your initial trip deposit and note that most ‘Cancel For Any Reason’ policies must be purchased on the date of your initial deposit.

  9. What is the cancelation policy?

    You may cancel before August 6, 2022 and receive a full refund minus a $500 per-person service fee. If you cancel on or after August 7, 2022, there is a 50% cancellation fee. On or after October 5, 2022 there is a 100% cancellation fee. We highly recommend purchasing travel insurance as we are not able to make exceptions to this policy in cases family/medical emergency or cases of the trip being cancelled (see our Terms and Conditions for full details).

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