Far inside the jungle of the southern part of the state of Campeche, explorer Cyrus Longworth Lundell discovered the ancient Mayan City of Calakmul in 1931. He called it “the city of two adjacent mounds.” Calakmul comes from the Mayan words CA (two) LAK (nearby), and MUL (mound). You will find this incredibly impressive site in the biosphere reserve of Calakmul about 200 miles from the City of Campeche and 20 miles from the border of Guatemala. The reserve was created in 1989 and covers an area of approximately 180,000 acres, which is almost 13 percent of the total state territory.
In this area jaguars, howler monkeys, deer, pumas, wild cats and many other mammals make their home. The jungle also houses many kinds of spiders, reptiles, insects and more than 800 plant species. Some of the plants found there include the Ramón (Brosimun Alicastrum), a plant that was an important source of food for the Mayas, and the Zapote (Achras Zapota), a tree that provided Mayans with wood, fruit and chicle. While you are driving along the 37 mile road that leads from Escarcega down the Chetumal highway to the archaeological site, pull over for a minute or two and enjoy the sounds of the jungle. Few things can deliver such a stark realization about how far you are from modern civilization.
The archaeological zone covers an area of 44 square miles and has more than 6000 structures, the majority of which are still well hidden inside the jungle. The structures that are already revealed seem to suggest that Calakmul used to be the largest Mayan city of its time.
To reach Calakmul from the city of Campeche take highway 261 south towards Champoton and Escarcega. In Escarcega take highway 186. After 59 miles you will pass a village called Congas. Look for the signs for the road to Calakmul on the right. If your archaelogical vacation includes a visit to Calakmul or the Calakmul Biosphere, then Rio Bec Dreams is the ideal place to start your exploration. Rio Bec Dreams is in the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve, an area of 6 million acres of protected jungle.
In March of 1517, Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba and his troops stopped at Champoton, and you might want to also. They were forced onshore by a storm, and just when they were coming onto land, they were attacked by native troops led by Moch Cuouh, for a famous triumph of Mayas over the Spaniards. The battleground in Champoton where this all happened has been called “the bay of the bad fight” ever since.
Nowadays, Champoton is a town where the main occupation is fishing. It is located 65 KM south of Campeche and about 150 KM north of Ciudad del Carmen. Just south of Champoton, you will see lots of seafood restaurants or ‘coctelerías’. These restaurants are situated along the water, so you can eat and enjoy the cool sea breeze and sunshine. The fresh fish and shellfish are delicious. Enjoy!
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