Sol Mexico News Travel Section features a different Mexican destination every issue. If you would like to share an article or blog, write us co/ [email protected] You can find other articles about Mexican destinations here
Medical Issues while Travelling in Mexico
We encourage everyone to do their medical homework before they travel anywhere. Visit you family doctor and get all the shots necessary for the country and regions that you travel. Speak to your doctor about what you should do to avoid or what you should use to treat ailments common to the area you plan to travel.
For general travel to Mexico, it would be advisable to discuss “Montezuma’s Revenge,” children’s health, and various shots for the regions you plan to visit. You may be advised to take certain precautions (look in your shoes before you put them on for tarantulas or scorpions) use a mosquito net etc. You may also be advised what to take for stomach cramps and diarrhea.
A knowledgeable physician will advise you with specific advise regarding the region you intend to visit. Inform the your doctor whether you plan to travel through high altitudes, jungle or desert. Ensure he or she is aware that you will be spending a great deal of time outdoors – possibly in extreme heat. Mention whether you will be using a tent or not.
Go here for information regarding immunizations
Determine if your medical plan will cover your visit or if you feel you require additional coverage such as evacuation coverage. Make you decisions after you have explored:
a) your medical plan
b) your employee extended health coverage
c) your credit card coverage (Gold plans)
d) your AAA, Good Sam, and/or other plans
e) your Mexican vehicle insurance.
Ensure you make arrangements and inquiries for all passengers including children. Make your decisions accordingly.
Mexican Medical and Dental Services
Mexico has a very good medical system with high standards. You often see IMSS hospitals and clinics as you travel through a community. It is a socialized system and residents are allowed to buy into the system at very reasonable rates.
Throughout Mexico you will see private hospitals and medical and dental clinics usually with the notation “English Spoken.” These are exceptionally reasonable and offer a can offer a variety of services including extensive dental work and plastic surgery. Many Americans and Canadians come to Mexico for specifically these services.
For day to day medical or dental attention, we suggest you ask the RV park operator or resident RVers for local recommendations.
It is sound advise to bring all the prescription medicine you need with you for your first trip. While you can purchase many drugs over the counter that would require a prescription at home, why take a chance. Take what you need the first time.
Having said that, once you are in Mexico you should check the prices of your prescriptions. Often they can be purchased for up to 20-30% less for the exact same product at home. You can purchase an extra supply and can confidently determine whether to bring an additional supply for your next trip or purchase it directly in Mexico.
Many visitors are surprised that you can purchase many prescriptions directly over the counter. Antibiotics for example can be purchased without a doctors prescription. Codeine, on the other hand, is restricted in Mexico but is openly sold across the counter in Canada.
For an emergency you will be taken to an IMSS clinic or the nearest place to help you. Be prepared for consideration and concern from all involved.
We have lots of examples. Bill fell off the motor scooter. He was fine except that the scooter and our then 11 year old daughter fell on top of him. He heard some crunches just before he passed out for a few moments.
We were visiting Bahía de los Ángeles – a community that is both small and somewhat remote. It doesn’t even have a gas station. A nearby merchant saw the accident, helped Bill into his truck cab and the scooter into the truck bed. He sent Dylan to fetch me.
Bill was taken to an IMSS clinic where a young (30 year old) resident doctor immediately attended him. The doctor spoke some English and impressively informed and treated Bill as required. He gave him a shot of pain reliever, some anti-inflammatory, a prescription and advise regarding pain and further medical attention.
The facility was as spotless. The needle was packaged and the medicine bottle was sealed. Bill was treated with immediate and considerate care. The treatment cost $10 US including the medication.
Magdalena de Kino Sonora
Santa Marie Magdalena Mission
Magdalena de Kino is the first small city you pass when you pass the border and drive south down Highway 15. And therein lies the problem for this charming town of 23,000 inhabitants. People drive by as they rush to the beaches to the south and inadvertently miss this tiny historic town.
The Pima and Papago Indians inhabited the territory around the valley of the Magdalena River and the present day site of Magdalena de Kino long before the arrival of the Spanish.
1541 – The settlement was known as a Buquibavic. Spanish expeditionary Francisco Vazquez de Coronado said the farming village of Buquibavic had a population just over 300 Indians and described them as not surpassing the Stone Age.
1688 The Jesuit missionary Eusebio Kino figures founded the Santa Maria Magdalena de Buquivaba Mission on the site inhabited by the Pima Indians.
1700 Lieutenant Juan Bautista Escalante founded the municipality.
1711 Father Kino passed away at the mission
1966 the city was renamed Magdalena de Kino. The Plaza Monumental was constructed after discovery of Kino’s remains
Tourist Services and Attractions
Magdalena has six hotels and six restaurant/bars. One of the hotels, Hotel Kino, provides hookups for RV’s
Plaza Monumental, constructed in 1966, is the center of cultural activities of the town. Here you can find the Crypt of Father Kino, Saint Mary Magdalene Temple (and the venerated image of San Francisco Javier) and the cultural center.
Father Eusebio Kino Museum has diverse objects exhibited representing indigenous culture, photographs, weapons and other objects of great value.
The Mausoleum of Luis Donald Colosio and Diana Laura is located in the municipal cemetery where the remains of the would- be (he was assassinated) Mexican presidential candidate and those of his wife.
Every October 4 the town celebrates San Francisco Javier a co-founder of the Jesuit order. The celebration is the largest fiesta and religious event in the Sonoran desert. Thousands of pilgrims come to worship and party annually during Catholic feast days. Festivities include regional foods, traditional dances, and music and important rituals for the Church.
Eusebio Francisco Kino was an extraordinary explorer and humanist. As a priest he founded 24 missions and chapels throughout the Baja, Sonora and Arizona. His curious mind and subsequent talents in writing, mathematics, astronomy and cardiology have influenced the discovery and development of Sonora, Arizona and Baja California. He was the first to prove, for example, that the Baja was a peninsula rather than an island.
Born August 10, 1645, Eusebio Francesco Chini (Kino is the German version of Chini) in Segno Italy and was educated in Austria. After a serious illness he joined the Jesuit order and was ordained June 12, 1677. While he wished to serve in the Orient, his superiors ordered him to establish missions in Baja California and North West New Spain; present day Sonora and Arizona. In 1681 at the age 36 he departed Spain for Mexico.
After establishing a mission in San Bruno Baja California Sur, Kino arrived in Sonora in 1687 to work with the Pima Indians. He established the first church in the area and also explored areas to the north including modern day Arizona and California. It is said that his horseback expeditions covered over 130,000 km2 (50,000sq miles) – much of which he mapped.
Padre Eusebio Kino
Kino the humanist taught European agriculture techniques and animal husbandry to the indigenous groups. He was known to create positive relationships with the Indians; he opposed slavery and mandatory work in the silver mines and instead taught them trades and skills to assist their lives. The 20 cattle herd of cattle he imported, developed grew during his lifetime to over 70,000. The Zinfandel grapes are still common to the area.
Kino died suddenly in the town bearing his name; Magdalena de Kino. His remains were lost for many years and after a concerted search were discovered in 1966 near the site of his mission. The city proudly encased his remains in a crypt located in the Plaza Monumental.
Agriculture is the main economic engine providing the majority of economic and employment opportunities. A well/river irrigation system ensures a healthy harvest of 18,000 tons of vegetables, fruit, wheat, and sorghum.
Animal husbandry is also important; 20,000 head of cattle are raised to produce the “best in Mexico” Sonoran Beef.
Due to its proximity to the border, maquiladoras (tax-advantageous assembly plants) thrive in the municipality. Magdalena also has a thriving furniture industry.
Meeting the demands of the local population, Magdalena also has a healthy construction and service sector; grocery, hardware, liquor, clothing stores and restaurants.
The valley of: Magdalena has water year-round and boasts a “medium dry climate” with more rainfall than the surrounding desert locations. With a 3000ft (1000 Meter) elevation, Magdalena has a comparably moderate climate considering it is in the middle of the Sonoran Desert. Maximum daily average temperatures range from 80F in July and August to 52 F in December and January.
Drive 85 kms (53 miles) South on Highway 15 from Nogales to KM 190.
Bonampak “Painted Walls”
Named in Yucatan Maya after the beautiful world famous murals in structure 1 – The Temple of Murals
Bonampak was a never a major city or powerhouse in the Mayan world. Bonampak, Yaxchilán, Piedras Negras and Palenque used the Usumacinta River bound for commerce and trade and at the same time competed for territory and dominance.
K’inich Tatb’u Skull I, leader of Yaxchilán, a Mayan city -30 kms to the North, defeated Bird Jaguar of Bonampak in 400 AD. Later many nobles were captured and eventually in 514 Yaxchilan’s leader Knot-eye Jaguar I was captured and taken to the city of Piedras Negras in Guatemala. In 526 Bonampak was attacked again and more nobles were captured.
Bonampak became a satellite community and was governed by Yaxchilan. The Yaxchilán ajaw, king/leader Itzamnaaj B’alam II (Shield Jaguar) appointed his nephew Chan Muwaan II to govern the community in 790 AD. Chan Muwan was married a princess / noblewoman from Yaxchilán. Shield Jaguar hired Yaxchilán artisans to construct the Temple of Murals. Most of the monuments at the site today were created under Chan Muwan’s rule are physically oriented towards Yaxchilán.
Bonampak is famous for the Temple of Murals with three rooms that house the world famous murals. The turquoise, yellows and rust colors are bright and clear depicting royal life. No other painting or mural from that time gives as much information. The vivid colored frescos give Bonampak its name: Painted Walls. Beyond this particular city, the murals give archeologists solid information and detail about Mayan life and beliefs.
Bonampak was rediscovered in February 1946. John Bourne, heir to the Singer sewing-machine fortune and Charles Frey, a young WWII conscientious objector were led by Chan Bor, a Lacandon to the site. The site was still a place of worship for the Lacandón Indians who still prayed at the temples and no other outsider had ever seen these temples. That same year Chan Bor led American photographer Giles Healey to the Temple of Murals.
Early Classic Period 250 BC
400 AD defeated by Yaxchilan
514 AD Yaxchilan suffered a defeat to Piedras Negras – a Guatemalan city to the North
526 AD More nobles attacked and captured
700 AD Yajaw Chan Muwaan I appointed as lord in Bonampak. Reoriented building to orient towards Yaxcilan. Acroplolis built.
790 AD Chan Muwaan II appointed to govern, Temples constructed, Yaxchilan artists commissioned for murals
800 AD Murals completed. Region was suffering from overpopulation, deforestation and exhausted farmland. Bonampak collapsed with Yaxchilán.
LOCATION & DESCRIPTION
Location – In the Lacandon jungle on Usumacinta River in Chiapas Mexico, the Bonampak site abuts the Reserva de la Biosfera Montes Azules. It is 30 KMs south of Yaxchilán or 148KMs from Palenque.
The land is relatively flat with dense jungle vegetation.
The site is approximately 2.4 square kilometers. Currently visitors are restricted to viewing the main ruins at the Gran Plaza. The Acropolis to the south of the plaza, houses the murals.
At the entrance gate to the park you will find rest rooms, parking and refreshments. You are charged and entrance fee to the park and a ruins fee. Free on Sundays for nationals and Mexican residents.
The entrance is approximately 8 kms (5 miles) on a gravel road to the ruins so it is necessary to take a bus or taxi. You can also rent a bike.
Major Groupings & Descriptions
The Gran Plaza
The Gran Plaza measures 110 meters long and 87 meters wide and is surrounded by various platforms and structures. It is oriented towards Yaxchilán. In the center of the rectangle are two stelae under palapa canopies to protect them from the elements.
At the far southern end is the Acropolis is fitted into the hillside with the famous Temple of Murals on the top of the platform.
5.06 meters (16.6 feet) high by 2.60 meters (8.5 feet), and 50 cm (20 inches) thick.
The stelae commemorates the ruler ship of Chan Muwaan II at the peak of his reign. Su cara está labrada y mira a la acrópolis; en ella se representa al señor Chaan Muan II vestido con lujosos ropajes y un alto tocado. II He is holding a ceremonial spear in his right hand and a shield in his left. The shield has the face of the jaguar God of the underworld. The ruler wears a tall headdress and plush robes.
The glyphs name his parents and himself. You can also see the cave monster of the underworld.
Chan Muwaan II is engaged in a bloodletting ceremony with his mother and his wife. His mother holds a bowl filled with paper to collect the let blood. Muwaan’s wife is on the other side holding needle (sea Urchin Spine) to perform the ceremony.
It was a ruler’s duty to perform bloodletting and other self-mutilations to demonstrate their divine relationship with the Gods and universe.
Chan Muwaan II appears with captives before him.
The Temple of the Murals
After climbing the stairs to the right of the superstructure known as the Acropolis, you will see the Temple of the Murals, They are three separate rooms with separate entrances. Each room has a different story.
The paintings are frescoes; paintings made on wet plaster. Each room was painted in a single session as there are no seams in the painting and the painting is completed while the plaster is still moist. The technique involved a 3 part process where a red outline was made over a fresh coat of stucco. These were then painted colors of blue, red, yellow, sepia, mauve, purple and green using natural pigments from minerals and plants. Then a black outline was painted to outline and give the figures definition.
These are the finest known murals of pre-Hispanic cultures. The murals help archeologists understand the beliefs and rituals of the ruling elite. Included are depictions of human sacrifice, war and the consecration of a ruler.
Musical Instruments, costumes, weapons are documented from the period giving valuable information about the Mayan culture.
Unfortunately the murals have deteriorated badly since their discovery. Early archeologists from the Carnegie Institution doused them in kerosene to remove grime and “bring out their colors.” And consequently weakened the plaster so much that the paint and plaster began to flake and fall off.
Professor Mary Miller of Yale, who studied the murals extensively wrote “Perhaps no single artifact from the ancient New World offers as complex a view of pre-Hispanic society as do the Bonampak paintings. No other work features so many Maya engaged in the life of the court and rendered in such great detail, making the Bonampak murals an unparalleled resource for understanding ancient society.”
No more than four visitors are allowed in a single room at a time. No flash as it deteriorates the colors.
Mural 1 depicts the Chan Muwaan II and his wife Lady Rabbit’s presentation of the Governor’s son before the elite court: The consecration of the Devine Ruler’s Heir.
Nobel’s and servers prepare for the event. Witnessing the ceremony are noblemen and priests while and orchestra plays trumpets, drums and various other instruments: Other nobles confer about the event.
Room 2’s mural depicts war and the conquering of the enemy. Captives are tortured by having their fingernails removed. Chan Muwaan II battled dressed in a jaguar skin presides over the torture. Beside the captive is a severed head presumably of a previous sacrificial victim.
Ancient Mayans, like the Aztec and Toltecs, battled over territory and trade. They preferred to capture rather than kill their enemy and then sacrifice the captives to the Gods before the general public.
This mural shattered the long held theory that the Maya were peaceful until the Toltec arrived from central Mexico. The murals predate the arrival of the Toltecs and demonstrate the warlike nature of the Mayans through battle, capture of the enemy, torture and sacrifice.
Room 3 shows the victory celebration on the Acropolis steps. Dancers in fine costumes wear masks of Gods. Lords wear huge headdresses. The ruler and his family puncture their tongues in a ritual bloodletting.
The sacrifices and bloodletting and celebration may have been prompted by the new heir to the throne.
Open Daily from 8 am to 4:45 pm.
Admission 2013 48 pesos. Free on Sundays for nationals and Mexican residents.
Allow at least 1 to 2 hours, especially if you like to take photographs, read each plaque and climb each structure.
As this is site is in a remote jungle area, take water and insect repellant. Wear comfortable walking shoes with a non-slip soles as there is walking and some climbing to see the murals.
Wear light clothes and cover up to avoid mosquitoes. A sunglasses and a hat are advisable. Also give considerations to the weather at the time of your visit and dress according to the season you are visiting. It rains here frequently.
We recommend you stay on the designated paths as you can easily get lost in the dense bush jungle.
Consider taking a daypack with snacks and water. Hydrate constantly. Bring a camera with extra batteries and memory. There are no vendors to purchase more.
You are likely to spend 1 to 2 hours at this site.
GPS –N 16.42.14 W 91.03.54
You can take a public bus from Palenque however the stop is 3kms (2 miles) away from the site entrance. You can then take a local bus to the site entrance. While this is the least expensive option is also more difficult and take more time.
From Palenque a popular tour is bus to Bonampak and Yaxchilán. The cost for this is approximately 700 pesos both ways. This includes the 2 admissions, parking, bus transport, community fee, boat transport and food.
Driving from Palenque:
You can easily drive your vehicle to Bonampak and Migration at the boat launch to Guatemala and Yaxchilán.
Drive from Mexico Highway 199 South from Palenque to the Junction of Mexico Highway 307 and 199. Go to the 307 and drive 123 kms and make a slight right to Carretera Fronteriza del Sur and drive 100 meters. Take 1st right onto Carretera Fronteriza del Sur and drive 4.2 kms. Turn Left and drive 8.8 kms to Bonampak.
It takes approximately 2.5 to 3 hours to drive from Palenque to Bonampak.
You will pass as many as 3 military checkpoints that generally waive you on southbound and check more vigorously going north.
(If you go on to Tikal you must check out of Mexico with Migration on the Mexican side at the boat launch which requires your FMT, FM2or FM3 and passport.)
There are no gas stations.
Make sure you have plenty of time as it is never advisable to drive at night in Mexico
The roads in the past were not considered safe. This has changed somewhat and improved with the military presence.
By Dorothy Bell
Photography by Bill Bell
“Water That Falls In The Place Of Flight”
A Cool Summer Destination
Cholula is one of my favorite colonial cities in Mexico; especially in the summer. When the beach communities like Cancun or Cabo are so hot that your tanning lotion starts steaming, Cholula is mild and inviting. The altitude keeps the temperature down and the nightfall rain cools the evening air. Last summer we stayed for a month and at times we even slept with a few blankets to keep warm. Cholula’s charm, however, is much more than temperate weather.
The City of Cholula is situated 12 km outside of Puebla, the Capital City for the State of Puebla. It is a small colonial city know for it’s plethora of Catholic churches; many of which are built over pre-Colombian monuments by the Spaniards. The Cholula Pyramid is a prime example where the spectacular yellow Nuestra Señora de los Remedios Church is built on what appears to be a hill.
On closer examination, it is clear that the hill is a pyramid. The enormous pyramid, larger in mass than any other in the world (including those at Giza Egypt) rises up on the relatively flat landscape of the area dominating all manmade structures and buildings in the area. Only Popocatepetl, a towering active volcano, rises up along the horizon and surpasses the pyramids height.
The history of the area stretches far beyond the arrival of Cortez. Cholula was considered a major religious landmark by the pre-Hispanic populations, on par with Teotihuacan and Tula. It is said to be the oldest continually inhabited city in the hemisphere with a 2500 year history. Cholula was created in 1700 BC from two separate villages and became the largest center of the area. It is believed that work began on the pyramid around 1000 BC and that the city became an important religious and ceremonial center. While smaller than Teotihuacan, Cholula remained independent of the larger center and survived after the empire collapsed. The population continued to inhabit the city for centuries.
The pyramid’ construction continued as various native populations moved into the area. The Olmec-Xicallancas added to the structure when they located in the city and they greatly added to the expanse. In 1000’s and the arrival of the Toltec-Chichimecas more building took place and the centre gained more prominence. Cholula evaded the Aztec invasions and became an important trading centre. The Toltecs incorporated the worship of Quetzalcoatl into the religious beliefs and Cholula became the “Mecca” for pilgrims throughout the region. Cholula became known as the city dedicated to Quetzalcoatl.
Why the pyramid was covered with earth and overgrowth is unclear. We do know that with the arrival of the Spaniards the city was flourishing. Cortés called Cholula “the most beautiful city outside Spain.” One story has it that when the Conquistadores were approaching the city that they covered it with earth so that it would survive the impeding onslaught. Another more colorful version has the Cholulan’s inviting the Spaniards into the city in an attempt to ambush the army. The plan was discovered and Cortés retaliated by massacring the people and vowing to replace all the citys 365 pre-Hispanic temples with a church. Today atop the great pyramid overlooking the city, you can see hundreds of Catholic churches with colorful domes fulfilling Cortés revengeful promise.
Today Cholula remains a small interesting colonial city. Boasting a population of 60,000 inhabitants, Cholula is a university town, (University of the Americas) with young people congregating everywhere. The East side of the main plaza has interesting cafes and music playing daily. There is a daily market to explore.
It is an interesting town to visit. The warm spring-like temperatures make easy walks around the city and even walk up the steep driveway / walkway on top of the pyramid to the yellow Nuestra Señora de los Remedios Church. If you go in the morning you are most likely to see “Popo” with it’s white snowy glacier covered cap in the distance. Sometimes you can see a smoke plume rise as much as 8 miles high.
Explore the museum at the base and even tour the tunnels inside the pyramid itself. There are vendors near the exit that sell local colorful pottery – some of the best in Mexico – revered for its fine detail and blue decorative motifs.
Day trips to nearby Puebla, population 1 million +, are also in order. It is only 12 kms to the East and easily reached by bus or Taxi. It is considered a world treasure (registered by UNESCO) because of the beautiful colonial architecture. It is also considered the cultural capital of the area with a multitude of parks, events and galleries sprinkled liberally throughout the city.
Where to Stay
Las Americas RV and Trailer Park
Cholula’s “Las Americas Trailer Park” has good RV camping with full hookups. There are tall secure walls and a security guard 24 hours a day so you can make day trips and even an extended visit to Mexico City without worrying about the rig. Park and take the bus to Mexico City, thereby avoiding the traffic, congestion and Mexico City Police officers.
Day of the Dead Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico
Photographs by Bill Bell
Morelia is the capital of the Mexican state of Michoacán. It is a beautiful colonial city with many rich historic buildings. The city’s downtown area houses more than 1000 colonial buildings and churches became a World Heritage Site in 1991.
The city is the biggest in the state with a population of 642,319 people in an area of 1,199.02 km² (462.94 sq mi). It is situated in the region of the Guayangareo Valley, surrounded by the Punhuato and Quinceo Hills at an elevation of 1,921 meters above sea level.
Day of the Dead is known for its celebrations in Patzcuaro Michoacán where the graveyards are decorated with marigolds and other decorations. The whole state of Michoacán share in these rituals and ceremony and can be observed in small towns as well as the capital of Morelia.
Morelia for its artists and during the Day of the Dead, the city excels in imagination, pizazz and reverence.
Displays are planned well in advance; thousands of marigolds carpet the city in displays, street scenes and storefronts. Actors dress as skeletons and “Catrina” figures in various poses.
Tulum (Quintana Roo)
Tulum, Quintana Roo
“An amazing Caribbean Town with an Ancient City and Contemporary Tourist Center”
Population – 18,233 in the City
Location – Located on the Caribbean Coast on the Yucatan Penninsula
Elevation – 10 meters
12 Meter cliffs provide natural protection from the enemy
The ancients knew real estate. Location, location, location.
Tulum rests on a 12 meter cliff (39 feet) above the coast overlooking the clear blue waters of the Caribbean. The Maya occupied this area around 1200 AD and was occupied until the Spanish arrived.
Considered a major trading center, Tulum enjoyed occupying the center of the waterway trade route and provided an eastern port for land routes from the Yucatan and Tabasco. Many artifacts found here illustrate the vast trade routes from throughout Mexico. Tulum is one of the very few fortified Mayan cities – likely because of the wealth from trade.
Tulum enjoyed trade made possible with the invention of large (13 to 17 Meter or 40-50 feet long) seagoing canoes that revolutionized trade in the Mayan world. Made from mahogany and other hardwoods, these crafts brought goods from around the peninsula and as far away as Panama and Costa Rica.
Stairs lead to the Caribbean beach where ancient Mayas traded with sea worthy canoes
The ancient Mayan people were an advanced civilization that were well educated in mathamatics and astrology. They developed a hieroglyphic writing system and believed in a plethora of Gods. In Tulum the diving god or descending god is prominent – perhaps because Tulum is situated near many sacred underground caves or “cenotes.”
Diving god or descending god
Tulum was first mentioned by the Spanish Juan Diaz in 1518 and later by Juan de Reigosa in 1579 who noted a large fortress. Later John L. Stephens and Frederick Catherwood in 1842 popularized the site with the book Incidents of Travel in Yucatan, using Catherwood’s outstanding detailed illustrations and Stephens inspirational text.
Later in that century, Tulum provided refuge at different times to rebels during the War of the Castes (1847 to 1901). The ancient Mayan walls provided some protection for the Mayan forces.
Go here for more about Tulum the Archeological Site
Tulum today is a tourist center catering to the hordes of visitors. Twenty years ago Tulum was a residential center for workers in the tourist industry. Things have changed. While still referred to locals as “El Pueblo” and the home to many workers, it is now also a destination center for tourists from throughout the world. 70 small boutique hotels cater to alternative tourism and a demand for more authentic travel experiences.
The ancient city of Tulum is one of the busiest ancient sites in Mexico. It is crowded and has severely controlled access to pyramids and structures because of the sheer number of visitors and the deterioration that that volume creates.
Stay a night and get up early to photograph the amazing sunrise over the Caribbean and later visit Tulum archeological site. Be there ½ an hour before opening so you can experience the site without 2000 of your closest friends. (Tour busses arrive around 10am.) You may even be able to experience a photo without another tourist,
Tulum has a huge variety of accommodations from simple cabanas on the beach to 5 star hotels. There are no RV parks in Tulum.
South of Playa del Carmen
Chacchoben Mayan “The Place of Red Corn”
200 BC – first inhabitants lived in small villages near the water. Population grew.
700 AD – Cultural peak. Most of the construction of buildings and temples.
1942 – Mayan Serviliano Cohuo settles on property and raises family near the ruins.
1972 – Dr. Peter Harrison, American Archeologist, made the first exploration and maps and reported Chacchoben ruins to the Mexican Government after a fluke spotting of the site from a helicopter.
1978 – Serviliano Cohuo, was designated honorary guard of Chacchoben and was granted the right to stay at the site1994 – Chacchoben restoration project under INAH (National Institute of Anthropology and History) started. Complexes identified as Group I-A and Group I-B were excavated and restored.
2002 – Opened to the public.
LOCATION & DESCRIPTION
Chacchoben is 165 KMs south of Tulum on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. It is located in bush/jungle not far from the main highway 186, the north / south corridor from Cancun to Chetumal on the Caribbean coast.
MAJOR GROUPINGS & STRUCTURE DESCRIPTIONS
There is a circular path that leads you to the restored temples and other buildings. There is continued research in the site and you may see ongoing work.
Note that INAH has set up palapa to prevent erosion and degradation from the natural elements.
The surrounding area has an abundant wildlife such as armadillo, deer, gray fox, peccary and spider monkey. Often you can hear howler monkeys at the site. Larger canines live deeper in the jungle
Edifice 24 is a medium to large stepped pyramid with a central stairway leading to the top. There are three separate levels and the top level with the remains of a temple.
At the back of the temple you can see some of the original plaster.
Plaza B Las Vias
Open Daily from 8 am to 5 pm.
Admission 2013 46 pesos. Free on Sundays for nationals and Mexican residents.
Allow at least 2 hours, especially if you like to climb and take pictures.
You can stroll safely undisturbed throughout the site – often you will be the only ones there. Take good shoes as there is plenty of walking and climbing- and a fair amount memory and batteries for your photographs.
As this is site is in a somewhat remote jungle area, take water and insect repellant. There are no restaurants or food vendors.
Dress according to the season you are visiting.
GPS – N19.00.02 W88.13.57
Take a bus to Limones or Pedro Santos and then a private Taxi to the site – approximately 200 pesos. Ask the taxi driver to return.
Tours and tour buses go frequently to Chacchoben and can be arranged on the internet. Often tour buses pick people up from the Costa Maya cruise terminal or Majahual.
Drive from Cancun:
Take Highway 307 and drive south past Tulum and Felipe Carrillo Puerto. Take the first right after KM 71 towards the ruins. Takes approximately 3.5 hours
Drive from Chetumal:
Take Highway 307 North to KM 170. Turn Left towards the ruins.
Buy your Vehicle Insurance from Someone You Can Trust….Not a neon sign at the side of the highway
Many people buy their vehicle insurance just before they enter Mexico. And while it might work for them, it could mean a major problem if they get into an accident. Who was that agent?
Bill and Dorothy Bell are known experts in Mexico. You have probably visited one of their acclaimed websites or heard them on radio or in the news. They are folks you can trust for solid advice and have been for 25 years.
Where in Mexico Are You Going
When you are planning your trip to Mexico, don’t forget to purchase the Bell’s famous Road Logs. These widely acclaimed guides are like having a well travelled friend guide you as you drive down the road. Part travel log and part commentary, you will enjoy your trip just that much more. For a second time, we are offering the Road Log free with the purchase of our vehicle insurance. Get a quote and purchase your insurance and then write us. We will email you the latest copy of the Road Log.