I love history, specifically ancient history. I read, follow and watch everything I can on the topic. I dream that someday the world will be safe enough for us to visit Egypt and all it’s ancient wonders. I hope in the next 10 years we will get to see Machu Picchu and Tikal among other places. The world is such an amazing place.
When we first started talking about visiting Mexico in 2009 my first thought was ‘oh boy, we can see Chichen Itza!’ But the more I looked all they had was bus tours. We don’t do bus tours. So I got myself a Fodor’s book and starting looking at other ruins, that was when I found Coba.
We hired a van company to put together a tour for us and it was fabulous. Absolutely awesome.
Since then we have also visited the Tulum ruins in 2010 (taking a taxi).
And the stunning ruins of Ek Balam last year (again via a taxi).
This year we decided to bite the bullet and do Chichen Itza. The resort we stayed at offered a VIP tour with a maximum of 12 people. Including us our group was actually 6 people, which was great.
Chichen Itza was stunning. It is one of the new 7 wonders of the world and it is easy to see why. The amazing thing is that what we see today is only a very small part of the site. The site is actually built on top of another site. We had a fantastic guide who gave us lots of history and detail about the people who lived here and the building they created.
This was our first view of El Castillo. You literally have to catch your breath as you round the corner. It is amazing.
During the spring equinox a ‘snake’ appears to descend the stairs and during the fall it ascends. When you get close the acoustics are incredible. The pyramid has exactly 365 stairs, 91 on each side and one at the top.
Inside the pyramid is another one with jaguar throne, still preserved with all it’s colours. Unfortunately visitors can no longer see it but there is another similar one on the site.
The ball court of Chichen Itza is different than any others we have seen to date and is the largest known in Mesoamerica.
The Skull Platform was so remarkable. All the skull images carved are unique, no two match. According to our guide, these images represent the skulls of the captain of the losing team on the ball court. The actual heads would have been impaled on the platform above.
The Temple of Warriors was a site to behold. Impossible to get it all in one picture.
I would have loved to have seen the observatory from the top!
These are just a few other shots from the site. I could go on and on about the site but I am sure many others already have.
Pictures really don’t do the site justice. It is pretty incredible. It is something I think that visitors to the Yucatan should do, at least once.
Overall though I preferred Ek Balam. By the time we were leaving Chichen Itza it was ridiculously busy. Vendors were out in full force, within the ruins site itself, you couldn’t avoid them. The weren’t aggressive or anything it just seemed weird to have them inside the site, versus outside. It took away from the aura of the place.
Ek Balam was a much more relaxed and interactive experience. You could touch or climb many of the ruins and it just felt more engaging I guess is the word. There were vendors, but not inside the site. It may not be as visually spectacular but it is equally as amazing.
There is a new part of Chichen Itza being restored. I would love to go back in a few years to see it that’s for sure. I would have loved to see them working on it!
Also as part of our ruins tour was lunch and a cenote visit to Xcajum, just a short distance away.
And a stop in Valladolid.
It was a pretty amazing day. By the time we got back to the resort we were zonked. We checked in with our favourite bartender for a little bit and then headed off for room service, rooms drinks and hot tub under the stars.
Next up, our last full day! We rented a golf cart!