Tag Archives: Yucatan


The Mayan site of Chichen-Itza, now a UNESCO world heritage site, had always been one of those places I had seen on TV and wished I could one day see in person, so needless to say we were not going to miss this out whilst travelling through Mexico!

The delays we had in Mexico City and San Cristobal meant we had the luck of being at the ruins for the spring equinox, which is when the serpent body is formed by shadows of the edges of el castillo creating an illusion of the snake slithering down the side.

Chichen-Itza el castillo with the serpent

The serpent actually appears for 3 days, from the 20th – 22nd March and not just on the 21st, the official equinox. The actual effect appears when the sun rises and the sun sets and happens only twice a year, for the spring and autumn equinox. It is definitely a sight worth seeing if you have the chance.

Chichen-Itza site

As you can imagine the site tends to get very busy, but the tours seem to arrive later in the day so if you get there for 8am you will have a couple of hours of the site to yourself. Not even the vendors set up their stalls until 9.30am.

Chichen-Itza is very large and actually consists of 2 halves an old side, with the sacrificial cenote, and the newer side where el castillo is.

It took us a solid 3 hours to look around both areas, however we were very disappointment with the fact that almost all the structures were cordoned off to the public, which meant you could look but couldn’t climb.

Chichen-Itza: Temple of the warriors

Chichen-Itza: Temple of the warriors

We were told that this was because of a combination of several deaths from falling from the castillo and the fact people had graffitied areas in the site, both sad events in their own rights.

Chichen-Itza: The Observatory

Chichen-Itza: The observatory

Nevertheless the site is one of the largest we have visited and offers visitors a real feel for what mayan cities would have looked like and just how many people would have lived in them.

Chichen-Itza: The Church

Chichen-Itza: The church

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Posted by on March 28, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Cenotes can only be described as marvellous creations of nature. These magnificent areas of natural beauties are an absolute must for anyone visiting Mexico.

A cenote is a sinkhole created by nature where a pool of clear water has formed. There are 4 types of cenotes; open land level, open land level but enclosed, partially covered and subterranean.

In Valladolid, where we spent a couple of days due to its proximity to the ruins of Chichen-Itza, is a small but beautiful cenote located right within the town. This partially covered cenote, like most is open to all for visits and more importantly for swimming! Unfortunately we forgot the camera that day.

Just outside Valladolid are plenty more cenotes, in particular a lovely duo called Samula and X-Keken. Both of these are fully subterranean with a hole in the ceiling of the cave to let light in.

Samula is the smaller of the 2 with shallower water, but was our favourite due to the setting of it and the fact it has varying depths including a small island in the middle. It also benefitted from a lack of crowds.

Cenote Samula:

Cenote Samula

X-Keken is a little bigger in size and has its own caves to explore; the water here is deeper across the whole pool and it tends to get a little busier due to it. However, the cave formation is truly spectacular!

Cenote X-Keken:

Cenote X-Keken

I am not a particularly strong swimmer and one nice touch we found with the cenotes was the availability of life vests for visitors, enabling swimmers like myself to enjoy the water without worrying about drowning!

Cenotes can even be found at some of the Mayan ruins, including Dzibilchaltun with cenote Xlaca. Unfortunately, as we were visiting during the spring equinox this one was closed off to the public, but we were advised that swimming is allowed at all other times.

Dzibilchaltun: Cenote Xlaca

If you head out towards Tulum, you will encounter many more cenotes, in fact we came across more on this route than at any other point.

For ease and convenience we opted to see a complex of 3 subterranean cenotes located nearby Coba, the partially unearthed Mayan site in the jungle.

You can opt to see 1, 2 or all 3 and the there are discounts depending on how many you choose to visit. You can swim and snorkel in all 3 and they all have crystal clear water allowing you to see all the way to the bottom. A truly unnerving experience when you are over 40m above the bottom!

Our favourite of the 3 was Multun Ha, although also the scariest. We arrived to find the cenote completely empty and in darkness! After a few minutes the lights came on to reveal the clearest water we had ever seen.

Cenote Multan Ha

Cenote Multun Ha

The depths of the cenote varied from 5m to 44m and being able to see all the way to bottom is very unnerving, so much so that it took me a good 5 minutes to let go of the stairs and trust the life jacket I was wearing, and even then it was an adrenaline rush each time I dared to look down!

Cenote Multan Ha

Cenote Multun Ha

The second cenote, Tamcach Ha, was smaller in size but still as impressive in terms of the clear water and cavern.

Cenote Tamcach Ha

Cenote Tamcach Ha

The depths in this cenote were not as deep as the first, so it was a little less scary to swim in. One thing this cenote does have though is a diving board if you’re feeling brave enough!

The last cenote we visited was Choo Ha, the shallowest of the 3. The charm of this cenote lies in the formation of stalagmites and stalactites, the whole cavern seems to be made up of an intricate maze of these, so much so that you can even swim through them.

Cenote Choo Ha

Cenote Choo Ha

If you are in the cenote region make sure you visit at least 1 as the experience of swimming in these is truly unique!

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Posted by on March 26, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Due to the costs we incurred for visiting Dzibilchaltun we decided to pass on seeing the ruins at Uxmal and instead travel from Merida to Valladolid. If we had to do it again we would opt to see Uxmal and not Dzibilchaltun.

Valladolid is a great stopover as it offers easy access to Chichen-Itza which we had our hearts set on seeing, especially as we could time the visit for the spring equinox and see the serpent effect on the temple.

The town of Valladolid was by far the calmest we have visited so far, the centre is small and compact enough to never find yourself more than a 10 mins walk back to the main plaza, which made a nice change from the larger cities, such as, Merida and Mexico City.

Valladolid centre:

Valladolid main plaza

One aspect to bear in mind is that due to its size the town does not have many places to stay, however if you are looking for a clean room with your own bathroom for a fraction of the price of the hotels then head down to Calle 44, behind the plaza, to Antonio’s shop where he will rent you a room for only 200 pesos. A real bargain in this town!

A perk of Valladolid is the fact it has its very own cenote located within the town, just a 5 mins walk from the plaza, making it an ideal place to relax for a couple of days in between sightseeing!

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Posted by on March 25, 2012 in Uncategorized


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We had expected to visit Dzibilchaltun and be wowed by the site as this is the starting point for the spring equinox sunrise which then shines through to Chichen-Itza and Tulum to form an alignment of all 3 sites. Unfortunately we were left disappointed.

Firstly, the cost of entry was much higher than that of any other sites we had been to, in fact twice the price of previous entries, and came close to the price of Chichen-Itza, which we knew was going to be expensive due to its size and popularity.

Secondly, for some strange reason it seems to be the only site where you are unable to bring in a backpack in, and instead have to leave it at the entrance. No food in the site is also another policy we didn’t understand.

Thirdly, the site itself was not very big so we were even more disappointed when we discovered that the Temple of the Seven Dolls was blocked off and that the cenote was closed to the public, due to safety reasons as we were visiting in the week of the spring equinox.

Temple of the Seven Dolls:

Dzibilchaltun: Temple of the Seven Dolls

Cenote Xlaca:

Dzibilchaltun: Cenote Xlaca

We were also disappointed by the fact that there were no markets or vendors at the site, which usually bring some life to the sites. The only souvenirs/refreshments were provided by a small shop at the entrance.

View from the main plaza:

Dzibilchaltun: view of the plaza

A real shame as it had the potential to be a much better experience than it turned out to be, especially as there were no crowds for once!

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Posted by on March 23, 2012 in Uncategorized


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