From Frontera Corozal, we took an early morning boat with our travel buddies Tyler & Megan to the Mayan ruins of Yaxchilan. The boat is about 45 minutes along a river that forms the border between Mexico and Guatemala. The ride through the jungle was beautiful with morning mists still coming off the water. The boat operators had assured us the ruins would be open when we arrived at 7:30 and we looked forward to having the ruins to ourselves, since we were obviously the first ones out there. When we got off the boat and headed towards the entrance, however, we were told that the ruins open at 8:00am. Although you can only get to the ruins by boat, the operators are totally separate from the site and will basically tell you anything to make the sale. After about 10 minutes of bumming around, the guys let us go in early anyways – But lesson learned!
The four of us entered these spectacular ruins, tucked into the jungle, and had the whole site to ourselves. First we pulled out our flashlights and made our way through a labyrinth occupied by bats, then eventually emerged into a large courtyard. There were no people here, just the four of us, the ruins and some howler monkeys in the distance. We climbed stairs and followed paths through the jungle to discover the various temples and buildings uncovered here. It was a remarkable experience beyond words! We didn’t run into any other people until around 9:30 as we were finishing our visit. Around 10:00 we hopped back in the boat and enjoyed the ride back to our cars.
The jungle is beautiful, but also hot and humid, so we went in search of a nice place to swim and camp for the night. We stayed at the Cascadas los Golondrinas a bit further along the 307. There are a series of waterfalls, a chilly river to swim in, and at night the sparrows return to home behind the falls. Around dusk, the birds swooped down from the sky and wooshed past us then through the falls into the cave behind. Quite a show from nature!
The following day we ventured on to another set of waterfalls, Cascadas de Roberto Barrio. We arrived here Saturday morning and the place was already pretty busy. When it’s that hot out, everyone is looking for a place to cool down. The waterfalls were lovely and we found a nice place to swim here as well, while Mitzi sat on shore and watched us like we were crazy. She’s not going to be tricked into swimming with us again any time soon!
After the nice cool down, we made our way into Palenque. The Mayan ruins at Palenque are some of the most famous and popular in Mexico. We had such an amazing time in Yaxchilan that we set our expectations low – We’d have to be sharing these pyramids with other tourists after all. But Palenque did not disappoint. The temples and labyrinths tucked into the jungle were remarkable. It is estimated that only 10% of the site has been uncovered by archaeologists, and it took us over 2 hours to explore that! Towards the end of our visit the rain started to come in, and we decided it was time to head out of Chiapas. We had a remarkable time in this region: visiting Mayan ruins, swimming under beautiful waterfalls, seeing exotic wildlife, exploring colorful cities, going on boat trips and enjoying nature.