To travel to the east of Yucatán and visit Ek Balam is to experience an encounter with the pre-Hispanic Maya world. Breathtaking nature surrounds this site. A striking jaguar relief in the Acropolis, the main building, will make you wish you had a time machine to travel to the past and learn much more about its history.
Ek Balam (“jaguar star”) is a less crowded archaeological site than Chichén Itzá or Uxmal, so you can explore it leisurely. Some of the external and internal walls that protected the site are still preserved. At the entrance a Maya arch welcomes you: a must-have photo spot.
On one side, the Oval Palace with its multi-level circular shape, was totally fascinating to me. When you climb it, the aerial view of the jungle gives you a unique moment of peace. In front of you, the imposing Acropolis, almost 30 meters high, invites you to visit it.
On the way, the stele, the twin structures, and the ball game also deserve a stop, to try to imagine how the Maya used to carry out their ceremonial activities there.
With an architectural style different from what I know of the other Maya sites of Yucatán, each building reveals its particular beauty. The structures are of easy height to climb, making it ideal for families with small children or older adults.
When you reach the Acropolis, take the time to observe the stucco work and the large number of Maya glyphs in each level of the pyramid. With the help of a guide you will be able to understand and “interpret” its vast symbolism, because they can be read horizontally and vertically. The representation of the mouth of the jaguar with monumental teeth surrounded by symbols and designs that confirm the great skills of the Maya left me speechless.
After visiting the site, are you ready to dip into the refreshing waters of a cenote? Do it at Cenote Xcanché, located 1.5 kilometers from Ek Balam; you can go on foot or rent a bike. There, you can also descend via rappel, jump on the zip line, swim freely, or rest in a hammock.
Cabañas Unajil Ek Balam
Cabañas Unajil Ek Balam, located in the town 2 kilometers from the site, offer the ideal option to sleep and experience an alternative tourism immersion in the Yucatecan milpa (agricultural field). Complete the tour of the east enjoying a lunch in Temozón with its famous smoked meats, or visiting Valladolid, top emerging destination in North America for 2019.
How to get there:
Mérida-Valladolid highway, take the turnoff to Tizimín, 9 km from Temozón.
175 km from Mérida on toll road and 185 km on the free road.
Editorial by Violeta H. Cantarell
Photography by Violeta H. Cantarell, Andrea Mier y Terán and Co’ox Mayab
Monday to Sunday 8 am – 5 pm
Open 365 days
Entry: Mexicans $153 pesos, foreigners $413 pesos.
Monday to Sunday 9 am – 5 pm
Cel. 9851 00 99 15, 9851 07 47 74
FB: Cenote Ecoturistico X-Canche Oficial
Entry: $50 pesos, bicycle $70 pesos, zip line $100 pesos, life vests $20 pesos.
Cabañas UNajil Ek Balam (The house of the black jaguar)
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