Did you really think we were done posting about pyramids? HA!! More to come!!
On New Year’s Day we made the short trek from Becan to the Calakmul Pyramids. Most pyramids in Mexico are quite cheap to visit, and this one cost us about $7 (only adults pay)–not the cheapest, but certainly not the most expensive. There is a long road entrance to the ruins, because they are a bit off the beaten path–12 miles from the Guatemala border! This road ad an entrance fee ($112 pesos) that was more than the entrance fee to the ruins! They are also an UNESCO World Heritage Site!
Calakmul is one of the more significant Mayan ruins that have been found. The Guatemalen ruins of Tikal are almost directly south, and they were a direct rivals with Calakmul. They were the two major Mayan “superpowers” of their time (while they were both Mayan, they supposedly came from different origins), and they fought extensively with each other through the 6th and 7th centuries–until the collapse of the entire Mayan Empire!
The Calakmul ruins were discovered in 1931, and they didn’t even begin restoration or mapping until 1985! The ruins are located within the Ecological Reserve of the Biosphere of Calakmul, which is likely why we had to pay to drive down the road. The reserve extends over 27 square miles and includes over 6,000 structures (can you imagine trying to document that?!).
Calakmul is definitely worth the drive off the beaten path, if you’re headed this direction. Not only is it a decent drive from the main highway, it is also a decent walk from the parking lot. Imagine our disappointment when we realized we had run out our camera battery after first trekking in pretty deep. Jared was sweet and ran back to get a backup while the girls and I watched some howler monkeys in the trees. The babies were especially cute and hovered directly over us to watch.
The pyramids are buried in a dense jungle with a high tree canopy (also very popular with jaguars. The girls were *really* hoping they’d see one!). Imagine spotting this in the treetops!
Of course, the only way to spot this is to get above the tree tops yourself…so you can imagine why it took them so long to discover these ruins!
They supposedly know a lot about these pyramids, due to the extensive quantities of stelae that have been found (those upright carvings below). The stelae depict histories of the former residents and rulers, and they were even dated! How convenient!
Unfortunately, not all stelae remain in good condition. Researchers believe that some of the elaborate carvings were literally cut off by thieves. Hmm…rock cutting?
Some of the pyramids are huge. True to Mayan-style, many of the pyramids are actually pyramids upon pyramids upon pyramids. A new leader comes to rule, and they continue to build onward and upward! This is why many of the Mexican pyramids are soooo tall!
We started the climb up this one, and were surprised when it never seemed to end. We’d reach one platform, only to find that there was another pyramid on top of that one!
Here is Maiya coming up one of the upper sections of the pyramid. This is an example of the structures on top of pyramids…it just keeps going up and up! (yes, this is the same pyramid as the previous 2 photos)
We finally reached the top, after threatening to leave Maiya at behind several times. I’m sorry…but these pyramids are built VERY steep, and while I am happy to hold my child’s hands and help them up the steep steps, I am not going to carry a 4 year old up.
A view from the top revealed several other pyramids towering over the tree line, as well!
A close up…
We hiked back down and took a look around!
Jared climbed up another big one (I was done dragging kids up pyramids) and took the photos that I opened this blog with.
The entire site is surrounded by an extensive water canal and reservoir system. Enough to support 50,000-100,000 residents!
Here is a very short video of the Calakmul Pyramids:
When we made the long trek back to the parking lot, we discovered a whole slew of green butterflies that loved Ella’s shoes. You should have seen them fluttering around her feet as we walked!
The wild turkeys also hovered around our car. We weren’t as fond of them!
Our absolute favorite pyramids are up next!