Sunday, 30 October 2011

20 Maya ruins in 20 days

If you are visiting Southern Mexico you can't miss to visit some ancient Maya sites. Here you can find useful info on what we have seen in 20 days around the Yucatan peninsula and Chiapas.



1. Coba' (extended site)

Open 8-17 Ticket: 51 mex pesos
A bit touristic. Great pelota ball court. Highest pyramid in Yucatan peninsula (accessible for visitors) with dramatic views from the top. Bicycle taxis available.

2. Chacchoben (small site)
Open 8-17 Ticket: 41 mex pesos
Perfectly kept. Very friendly and helpful manager. Not touristic at all. Peaceful.



3. Kohunlich (medium sized site)
Open 8-17 Ticket: 49 mex pesos
Best preserved and most beautiful decorative masks (mascarones) we have ever seen. Magical and scary atmosphere due to a tropical storm.

4. Dzibanche' (large site)
Open 8-17 Ticket: 42 mex pesos
Stunning tropical jungle and spider monkeys all around (django). A few carvings on the pyramids. We found a lot of workers restoring parts of the site.

5. Kinichna' (very small)
Open 8-17 Ticket: entrance included with the ticket of Dzibanche'
Mostly not excaveted. Only one pyramid to see. Stunning jungle all around. Quite isolated.

6. Calakmul (extra large)
Open 8-17 Ticket: 56 mex pesos
Outstanding sub-tropical journey into the jungle. Amazing, huge pyramids. Plenty of stelaes to see (most of them not in good conditions). Strong mosquito repellent required. this site is rich in flora, birds chirping, parrots, spider monkeys and colourful butterflies.

7. Balamku (very small)
Open 8-17 Ticket: 30 mex pesos
Great and well preserved stucco masks in a small tunnel inside one of the temples.

8. Chicanna' (medium-small site)
Open 8-17 Ticket: 30 mex pesos
Large, impressive doorway with hideous fanged visage that gives the name to the site (Chicanna': House of the Serpent Jaws). This site is a little gem of Rio Bec style Maya art.



9. Xpuhil (small)
Open 8-17 Ticket: 37 mex pesos
Famous for its Rio Bec style three towered building. Entertaining gardener on site.

10. Becan (large site)
Open 8-17 Ticket: 41 mex pesos
Huge main palace and extended tunnel network. Walls all around the site partially excavated.

11.Bonampak (a small jem)
Open 8-17 Ticket: 41 mex pesos plus transportation costs (75 pesos pp with little van)
Very well preserved stelaes. Unmissable rare and colourful Maya murals in little temple. One of the rooms was under under restoration therefore not visitable (Oct '11)

12. Yaxchilan (medium)
Open 8-17 Ticket: 41 mex pesos but reachable only by boat (approx. 1 hour trip). Transportation costs depending on the amount of people (700 pesos for 2). Entrance tickets can be bought only at the nearest village (Frontera Corozal) where you can also arrange the boat trip.
Site located on the shore of  the  Usamancita river, natural border with Guatemala. Haunting labyrinth inhabited by bats and insects of all kinds (bring a torch if you dare to adventure inside!). Huge ancient trees adorning the site. Best lintels we have seen and fantastic stelaes. Massive stone stair into the jungle leading to the Great Acropolis characterized by imposing statues and carvings.

13. Palenque (very large)
Open 8-17 Ticket: 51 mex pesos plus 25 pesos park entrance fee
Very touristic. A few bazaars inside the site, which make it quite unpleasant. Small cascades. Stunning temples with carvings; one of them - the most important - not visitable. unique tower, perfectly preserved, again not accessible. Series of tunnels under the main palace. Very rude guardians and dodgy ticky-tacky vendors at the entrance  (some of them offering hallucinogenic mushrooms)

14. Edzna (big)
Open 8-17 Ticket: 40 mex pesos
Relaxed site full of huge iguanas. Large plaza dominated by a massive temple (not accessible). Couple of masks found in the early '90s.




15. Sayil (medium-small)
Open 8-17 Ticket: 37 mex pesos
On the Ruta Puuc. Big palace in Puuc style decorated with columns and anthropomorphic stone masks. You need to walk almost 1 Km to reach the various buildings. Big god of fertility statue with impressive penis.

16. Xlapak (very small)
Open 8-17. Free entrance (Oct '11)
Site under restoration and excavation. Puuc style palace.

17. Labna' (medium size)
Open 8-17 Ticket: 37 mex pesos
Outstanding Puuc style decorations. Big temple with hidden masks. Beautiful observatory (el Mirador). Unique arch.

18. Dzibilchaltun (medium size)
Open 8-17 Ticket: 109 mex pesos - including cenote
White Maya roads. Huge arch 'Arc de Triomphe' style! Magic and peaceful where you can chill out for hours. Entrance with food and drinks not permitted.

19. Chichen Itza' (huge)
Open  8-17 Ticket: 116 + 51 mex pesos
Confusing double ticket to pay (one for the government and one for the state...unbelievable). Over crowed (even in low season) site with extremely rude staff. Ultra-touristic. This is a 'bazaar site' not an archaeological. Not possible to climb the pyramids or palaces. Beautiful skull-decorated sacrificial platform Toltec style. Sacred cenote not remarkable. Interesting display of columns dedicated to the Maya warriors. Stunning and well preserved pyramid surmounted by temple. Due an interesting architectural design, if you clap your hands between the platform and the 'El Castillo' you can hear a very funny and unusual sound effect. 'Palace of the Nuns' on the outskirts of the site not to be missed. Pelota ball court, big as an American football ground, closed for restoration (Oct '11)

20. Isla Mujeres temple
Free
Only a small  and almost destroyed temple on the beautiful cliffs of the island.