Calakmul Biosphere Reserve

About a month ago, we saw a picture of an awesome temple. We were really drawn by it and figured it was a must-see! We quickly found out it was situated in Campeche. (Imagine our surprise: my husband worked in Campeche for months and no one ever told him this was a site to go visit.)

The picture that inspired us to go to Calakmul. This is structure 2 (> 45 meters and one of the largest Mayan pyramids)

The picture that inspired us to go to Calakmul. This is structure 2 (> 45 meters and one of the largest Mayan pyramids)

When my mother announced she would like to celebrate her 75th birthday with us in Mexico, and that she would like to do something special for her birthday, we figured this would be it! What better way to spend a birthday, than to spend it in an ancient Mayan city? If anything, it should make you feel very young! She thought it was a great idea, and the organisation began.

It was an amazing trip!

I really shouldn’t tell you about it, because nothing I can say does do it justice. I find it incredibly hard to describe as it was AWESOME. And that doesn’t even cut it properly. Instead I’ll just give you a quick review of the tour we made.

We rented a car and drove up to the Biosphere reserve (which borders or is part of the one in Guatemala). On the way we were looking for a nice place for a picnic and followed a blue sign into the Archeological zone of Balamkú. It’s a tiny zone (compared to others), but with a beautiful example of a stucco frieze. It was kind of magical, especially we were almost alone there. As a lunch spot it cannot be beaten!

We then drove up to the Chicanna Village Resort, which was gonna be our home for the next 3 days. I can definitely recommend staying there in the winter. There is no air-conditioning, no tv and if you drink something special (like wine for instance) it is best if you bring it along with you. On the other hand, the staff is very accommodating and helpful, and they do serve with a smile.

The next day was my mom’s birthday and we set off for Calakmul with party-hats and a packed lunch. To give you an idea: in Palenque they receive about 20.000 guests a day. Calakmul gets 20.000 people a year! They identified 6,750 ancient structures and the largest one is called number 2. When you climb it, you can see structure 1 and long, long stretches of thick rainforest. In the distance you can also see the tops of other pyramids, like El Mirador in Guatemala (+- 40 km to the south).

The rainforest harbors an abundant wildlife, most of which we didn’t see of course. But we did see (and hear) the black Howler monkeys, fancy turkeys (Ocellated turkey), Yucatan squirrels, foxes and Central American agoutis. We did not see the jaguars, ocelots, jaguarondis, or margays, but they may have seen us?

Steep shit! The structures in the pictures are the largest in Calakmul.

Steep shit! The structures in the pictures are the largest in Calakmul.

The next day we also visited the sites in Xpujil and Becan and those two were treasures in itself. We were all alone (apart from a large film crew in Xpujil) and we could almost feel what it would have been back in the day. It was like playing Indiana Jones looking for the treasure. But the real treasure was right in front of us. All these archeological zones are incredible and I am really glad I got to see them.

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