Road Trip to Mayan Ruins – Part 1


Recently I went on a Road Trip with three friends. We visited ten of the Yucatan’s most special locations.

In order, we visited the archaeological zones of Ek Balam, Chichen Itza, Uxmal, Kabah, Sayil, Xlapak, aka Xlapac, Labna, Izamal and Coba. We also visited the famous caverns of Grutas de Loltun (31 km after Labna).

Join us on our journey . . .

. . .  We began early on a Friday. Hopping on the toll road it was an easy 1:45, 150 km / 95 miles to the Tizimin exit. This is immediately before the loop exit to Valladolid. There is a toll of $241 pesos a bit before the exit.

Mayan Ruins at Ek Balam

Mayan Ruins at Ek Balam

Heading north, you take a right after about ten minutes.

This road is a slow drive with lots of potholes.  After about 20 minutes you enter straight into the park. Parking is free here but there will be young boys who will “watch” your vehicle for a tip. $1 or $2 dollars or the peso equivalent is fine.The best alternative transportation would be a private van. You can also take the public bus to Valladolid and from there a collectivo van to Ek Balam.

Ek Balam means Black Jaguar and we did not see any, nor did we expect to.  Sort of like not expecting to see Kennedy at the Kennedy Center. Excavation has only been going on for the last 15 years or so. El Torre, the tower, is about 100 feet high, making it taller than El Castillo, the majestic pyramid at the more famous Chichen Itza. It is a few steps more than 100 and you can climb at your own pace.

About 60% of the way up, you can get off the steps to the left and see beautiful carvings (& take a rest) under a mostly covered palapa roof.

Mayan Ruins at Ek Balam

Mayan Ruins at Ek Balam

At the top you can see jungle all around you. To the southeast you will see a distant mound. This is actually Coba, home of the tallest ancient building in the northern Yucatan.

No matter what else, always take a full bottle of water to each place you visit. Another hint is to climb the steps at an angle, sort of zigzagging your way to the top. Coming down is simple enough and you can rest one hand above you on the steps if needed.

You can roam around and see the other structures, including ones that have yet to be restored. You can tell by lots of big rocks scattered on and around small hills.  I have been to Ek Balam a few times and it is more enjoyable to me than the more touristy Chichen Itza.  But you will love the splendor of Chichen Itza and its spectacular El Castillo.

Next stop:  Chichen Itza

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