One of the primary reasons for me to come to the Yucatán was to see the ruins left behind by the great Mayan Empire which rose and fell before the Spanish arrived in 1517. The names of the cities like Chichén Itzá and Tulum were part of my childhood. Reading about the famous Mayan calendar and the ‘End of the World’ prophesies had whetted my appetite. Erich von Däniken’s theories of ancient cities built by spacemen also intrigued me and so I jumped at the chance to finally come and see these two different sites.
Tulum is unique in that it is the only Mayan city set above a beach……..and that appears to be its only real claim to fame. It has a nice Temple to the Winds and the impressive Castille, overlooking the sea, which provides great views, and a few other ruins to look at. If you’re in the area it’s worth a visit but if your time is limited then I would suggest seeing one of the bigger sites. A few words of warning. There is no shade so take a hat and plenty of water. The place is swarming with insects so bug spray wouldn’t go amiss either.
Chichén Itzá is an amazing place and I only wish I’d had more time available to explore. The great pyramid or El Castillo de Kukulcán, the Great Ball Court and the Observatory are truly impressive structures and it is no surprise the site is considered one of the new Seven Wonders of the World (although the poll for this was rather unscientific). As well as these great buildings there are so many other smaller ruins to see as well. They are hidden away in the jungle, just waiting for you to explore.
The 2 hours available on my tour was woefully short. I suggest finding yourself a tour with a minimum of 3 hours at the site. On a positive note, the guide, Marcos, had a rich knowledge of the site and his enthusiasm shone through. Much better than just relying on a guide book. As ever, there were plenty of the ubiquitous locals trying to sell you t-shirts and pottery. I did feel perhaps they were a little less pushy than you will find in some countries.
Overall I had a good introduction to Mayan history on this trip. I’ve also saved plenty of ruins for if I ever get a chance to come back. Uxmal, Coba, Palenque….and maybe next time I’ll find those aliens.
The tour to Chichén Itzá was with EKNX tours and the one to Tulum through Dive It! at the Hotel Ocean Coral & Turquesa, Puerto Morales.