We visited two major Mayan archeological sites during our trip: Chichen Itza and Calakmul. Chicken Itza gets more tourists because it’s at a convenient distance from the resorts in Quintana Roo (Cancun, Tulum, etc.). Lots of vendors everywhere (and we did buy a few things from them) and it’s easy to get a guide who speaks English or French. It’s a huge complex with almost no tree cover so you get hot fast. You aren’t allowed to climb the main pyramid.
Calakmul is in the jungle, closer to Guatemala. Accessible but much further. Calakmul was my favorite of the two. Actually, it was my favorite of the whole trip. My camera’s battery also happened to die the day we went there so I only have the pictures I took with my phone and shared on Instagram. This site is less restored than Chichen Itza. It’s practically completely hidden in the forest. There are trees growing on some of the buildings! I just love that combination of ruins and nature. Only the three main pyramids poke out from the top of the trees. And you’re allowed to climb the pyramids so we got some amazing views from up there. I also tripled the amount of white hairs on my head going down. On my third and last pyramid, I turned myself around to get down backwards, like a ladder, and I was much faster and calmer. We also got lucky enough to see and hear howler monkeys and see the spider monkeys that chased them away. There are apparently jaguars in this jungle (it’s a bio reserve) but our guide told us the jaguars were more likely to see us than we would be to see them. And we didn’t see them.
So here are my pictures of Chichen Itza, which was also fantastic if severely lacking in howler monkeys. There were several tour buses in the parking lot but the site itself didn’t feel overcrowded. And our guide was good.
Apparently, the main pyramid was in a bit of a bad way when it was found. They managed to restore two sides with the blocks that were all around but the two other sides are missing a lot of them. They’re my preferred side.
After the main pyramid, we went toward the arena and I kinda lost track of what was what because our guide wasn’t very loud and I kept drifting away to look at things. I can’t help it. Yes, I want to know the history and everything but I also like examining all the details up close and figuring out the best way to do the site justice in my pictures.
After this section, the guide asked us if we wanted to stop. I guess he thought the kids were getting bored? They weren’t. So we did the last section that isn’t nearly as well restored and if you’ve learned anything about me, you’ll know it was my favorite part. Even though I was hot, sweaty, and hungry (not thirsty because we bought tons of water). I think the kids may have complained about hunger a bit but we got them a snack and they were fine.
I realize this is a lot of pictures but I swear I pared it down as much as I could. We visited three smaller sites a few days later so there will be more in a couple weeks (I’m giving you a break from the ruins and doing the cenotes next week).