Category Archives for Mexico

Travelling to Cancun? Add These Activities in Your Itinerary

Travelling to Cancun? Add These Activities in Your Itinerary

Imagine basking in the sun with a drink in your hand and a spectacular view of turquoise waters, fine white sand, and palm trees. Sounds like a perfect way to spend a holiday, right? Cancún, situated in the Yucatán Peninsula bordering the breathtaking Caribbean Sea, is a dreamy vacation spot for beach lovers, spring breakers, and luxury travellers.

This little slice of paradise was built from the ground up just a little more than a decade ago. Yet today, it is among the most popular destinations in Mexico for its outstanding tourist infrastructure drawing in millions of visitors annually and for good reason. Beyond the awe-inspiring beaches, rich coral reef, upscale resorts, high-rise hotels, exceptional dining options, and a vibrant nightlife, the modern city has a lot more to offer.

Swim in a Cenote

Travelling to Cancun? Add These Activities in Your Itinerary

You’ve probably seen the magical looking swimming holes on your Instagram timeline and wondered when you’d get to experience it. These swimming holes are called cenotes and they are all over Mexico. You will have to go on a two-hour drive from Cancun to reach the nearest Ik Kel cenote but the rewards for those who take the trip are plentiful. Be one with nature as you explore lush greenery, stunning caves and take a dip in the clear waters.

Witness the Museo Subacuático de Arte

When in Cancun, this is an experience you cannot miss: witness the monumental statues of MUSA, a phenomenal underwater contemporary museum of art. The museum features over 500 permanent life-size sculptures that have been underwater since 2009. Few things can compare to witnessing one of the most ambitious underwater art attractions across the globe. You may access the museum by booking a spot on a glass bottom boat, scuba diving or snorkelling. The reefs are brimming with colourful fishes and other sea creatures.

Visit Chichen Itza

Travelling to Cancun? Add These Activities in Your Itinerary

Mexico serves as home to important historical structures such as the Mayan ruins. Chichen Itza is known as one of the 7 New Wonders of the World. Why pass up on the opportunity to behold a vital piece of history? If you’re set on visiting Ik Kel cenote, you can squeeze in some time to visit as the ruins. Especially since they are just in the same vicinity.

Explore the El Rey Maya Ruins

If you ever manage to get yourself off of the inviting waters, do not miss the opportunity to visit El Rey Ruins. Step foot in the remaining traces of ancient Mayan city. As we mentioned in our post about Yaxchilan, the Mayan empire has significantly shaped the way future empires ruled. Not only those, the Mayans are also among the most dominant ethnic civilizations in Mexico and Central America.

Called Zona Arqueologica El Rey in the local language, the ruins feature the architectural brilliance of the Mayan people. The best part about visiting is the fact that you do not need to go very far just to get a glimpse of this historical structure. You can easily access the ruins in the Hotel Zone of Cancun.

Enjoy the Nightlife

Cancun is not all about relaxing. At night, the tranquil tropical paradise transforms into an outrageous party scene that does not stop until the sun comes up. From crowds of college students on their Spring Break to more mature partygoers, there is a spot that suits almost every musical taste.

Visit The Maya Museum

You probably notice that we include recommendations of museums to visit at almost any location we feature. That’s because we believe that any country’s culture, history and art are all important factors in fully appreciating the beauty of travelling to that spot.

Having said that, we’re including The Maya Museum on the list of things you need to visit in Cancún. The well-designed museum features important information and archaeological artefacts from the Mayan civilization. You can view three hundred fifty artefacts. These include skeletal remains dating back 14,000 years. You can also view the remains of the decade old artefact ‘Woman of the Palms.’

Take a Trip to Tulum

Situated in the south of Cancun, the resort town of Tulum serves as home to a walled Mayan archaeological site. The town overlooks an outstanding coastline. If you are staying in Cancun for a while, consider taking a trip down to this well preserved walled city. Here, you can go for cavern diving, swim in cenotes, snorkel inside caves. Need a break from the water activities? Explore the historic El Castillo, the Temple of the Descending God, and Temple of the Frescoes. At the city centre, you can stay in affordable lodgings and enjoy cheap authentic Mexican food. And if staying in the city is not your thing, you can always travel to the coast.

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Travelling to Cancun? Add These Activities in Your Itinerary

 

Yaxchilan: The ancient Mayan city

Yaxchilan: The ancient Mayan city

The Mayan empire has significantly shaped the way future empires ruled. It is considered to be among the most dominant indigenous societies in Mexico and Central America before the Spanish conquest in the 16th century.

The civilisation particularly excelled in the fields of agriculture, hieroglyphic writing, mathematics, art, and science. At its height, long distance trade was established, large-scale construction took place, and the globally famous Mayan temples were built.

While much of the empire’s history remains shrouded in mystery, the astounding amount of impressive architecture it left behind offers a chance to revisit the past. There is no doubt that it has influenced the world, as we know it today.

Introducing Yaxchilan

There is something about revisiting ancient structures—enthralling, captivating, and intriguing. It gives one a unique opportunity to glimpse at a distant past. And such is the offer of Yaxchilan, situated on the bank of the Usumacinta River of Chiapas in Mexico.

A classic Mayan urban complex, Yaxchilan flourished between A.D. 500 and 700. The structures in the complex display extensive relief structure and hieroglyphs that the Mayans are well known for. The carvings tell a story. As you set foot in the well-trodden archaeological centre, it is nearly impossible not to feel as if you have taken a step back in time.

The name directly translates as the ‘Place of Green Stones’ in ancient Mayan language. The historical site boasts phenomenal temples, plazas, mesmerising carvings and structures that tell a story of a once flourishing civilisation.

Many buildings in the site stood the tests of time remain well maintained and accessible to travellers. However, many areas in the site cannot be explored by the public were unprotected, barely documented and at risk of completely collapsing. The political unrest in Chiapas further contributed to the poor condition and neglect of many structures at the site.

Restoring the complex

In 2001, a project to revitalise Yaxchilan was launched to address the key problems brought about by pressures of tourism, environment, and development weigh the historical structure down.

The plan included nature conservation, cleaning of the complex, and removal of vegetation, stabilising of the structure, redesigning and replacement of protective covers. Moreover, it involved training local authorities and the locals to ensure the proper management and conservation of the site.

By 2011, the project was completed. The excavation of Yaxchilan not only increased site’s potential to survive but also led to a greater understanding of Mayan civilisation. At present, it serves as a valuable example of promoting eco-tourism.

A greater understanding of Mayan civilisation

Overlooking the main plaza is the Central Acropolis, which is considered the heart of Yaxchilan. The structure features several temples, ball courts and hieroglyphic stairways that are a delight to discover.

Structure 33, located at the central acropolis, greatly represents the height of architecture in the site. The temple overlooks the main plaza and offers an outstanding view of the river. The temple is essentially a large room with three doorways that are adorned with stucco motifs, high crest, and impressively, a nearly intact roof.

Temple 44, the main building of the West Acropolis, was built around 730 A.D. The structure is decorated with stone panels that represent the war captives of Itzamnaaj B’alam II.

Meanwhile, Temple 33 at the southern side of the main plaza was built around A.D. 726. The single-room structure is constructed in honour of Itzamnaaj B’alam III as well as his principal wife. The three doorways bear carved lintels known as Lintels 24, 25, and 26. A lintel is a load-bearing stone that can be found at the top of a doorway. The design of lintels, carved in high relief, perfectly exemplifies the skilled carving of Mayan artists. The ruling dynasty of Yaxchilan rose in the fourth century and collapsed during the 9th century.

Yaxchilan can be reached from the small town of Frontera Corozal by taking an exciting boat tour on the Rio Usumacinta. It is the only archaeological site in the country that cannot be accessed by land. Additionally, the site is within a comfortable distance from other distinguished archaeological sites located in Chiapas. Taking a side trip to Yaxchilan is in order if Bonampak is in your itinerary as the two sites are only 31 miles apart. Complete your journey by including Palenque, another important archaeological site, in your itinerary.

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