Palenque

Our first visit to Mayan ruins was to Palenque, probably the most popular ruins site in Chiapas. We camped at the nearby Mayabell where we enjoyed a swimming pool with hummingbird sightings and the songs of the howler monkey.

Palenque has a combination of large temples in a well-maintained open area, and other excavated smaller ruins along shady forested paths. The climb up to the top of the temples rewards you with stunning views, and you can explore inside many of the buildings. There are also many more less-excavated ruins deeper in the jungle which you can explore with or without a guide. Admission to the park is 51 pesos per person and includes entrance to the museum. The diversity of life in this region of Mexico is amazing. Sitting in one spot outside of the museum we observed six different types of ants, including leaf-cutter ants! On other parts of our hike we saw centipedes getting frisky, giant caterpillars, and large, flat spiders that can glide and jump across the water with frightening speed.

Palenque was the most commercialized of all of the ruins we have visited so far, with vendors lined up throughout the park selling souvenirs. Official and un-official guides offer tours of the ruins, as well as “psycho-tours” or “spiritual tours” into the jungle that include a taste of local mushrooms.

How to survive Palenque: Be prepared to drink LOTS of water and stay hydrated with enough electrolytes. Amy felt sick after about an hour of walking each day and it took her about 3 days to figure out how to deal with the extreme heat and humidity. Vendors sell Gatorade at the entrance to the park, and we brought packets of rehydration salts with us. You can also use a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lime juice into your water bottle. Another important item to pack is insect repellent. In the moist and shady rain forest there are plenty of hungry mosquitoes looking for an easy lunch. We used a DEET formula to spray on our clothes and then applied a non-toxic formula to our skin. We recommend starting early in the morning to see the main ruins and the walking back toward lower park entrance in the shade as day gets hotter. One afternoon we thought we’d seek refuge in the museum. Much to our dismay, most of the museum is not air-conditioned. There is one new exhibit, however, that contains an amazing burial chamber and short videos in a blessedly dark and climate-controlled environment. Other interesting exhibits include photos and illustrations of the excavation process, jewelry and pottery from the ruins and some preserved reliefs.

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3 Comments

  1. lianadevine said,

    July 30, 2010 at 11:50 am

    Welcome to Oaxaca and all it offers!

    As veteran ruins-goers, we can offer another reason for visiting ruins (and probably ANY tourist attraction) early in the day: to precede the hordes that arrive by tour bus about 10 a.m. And if you think Palenque is commercialized, wait until you see Chichen Itza in Yucatan (near Merida): since it became one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, it’s almost like Disneyland.

    Saludos from your Oaxaca Trailer Park neighbours, Calvin and Leanne

  2. Kristin and James Cozine said,

    July 31, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    WOW!!!!

    Amazing writtings and photographs!!!!!!! You guys are cool, so happy to have met you in Mexico. We’ll be back to Corky’s in mid FEB. Come play!! Besos ;*

  3. Jane said,

    August 1, 2010 at 11:13 am

    thanks for the great writing and photos!


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