Campeche and the ruins of the Mayan City of Calakmul

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We loved the drive into the state of Campeche because there are very few tope and they kindly fill the holes in the highway with white stones so you can see them from a long way off. The Calakmul Bioreserve is a huge area of land in south west part of the state of Campeche….read few towns, hotels, or Pemex stations. The Hotel Calakmul is described as nearby, but it is in the town of Xpuhil which is 48 km from the entry gate to the park.

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The adventure to visit the ruins of the Mayan City of Calakmul began with the 48 km drive on the highway west of Xpuhil. There are signs marking the bat migration path.

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Next there was the 23 km drive down a curvy road thru the jungle to the Calakmul museum. Finally there is a further 40 km thru the jungle to the archaeological zone.

The core of the site of Calakmul covers an area of approximately 2 square km and contains almost 1000 structures. The well marked path winds thru the site so you get to experience the entire area without missing anything. The periphery of the zone is occupied by over 6000 smaller structures and covers an area of more than 20 square km. Calakmul matches the great city of Tikal in size and an estimated population of around 50,000. The city is located on a limestone dome rising above a large swamp. Structure II is a massive pyramid/temple, one of the largest in the Maya world. This site is unique for the huge number of engraved Stella many of which are disintegrating since they are made of limestone.

There were only about a dozen visitor in the entire site. The main plazas are still covered with trees. There has been some reconstruction of the major structures, but the magic and “Indiana Jones” quality has been preserved. From the main acropolis we climbed up and were treated to a 360 panorama of the site with various large temples jutting out from the dense surrounding jungle. We saw lots of spider monkeys playing in the canopy above us and heard a many howler monkeys.

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