I looked out the window, then ahead. The landscape was no longer flat, there were curves and elevations that are quite steep for Yucatán. Were they hills? No matter, the view managed to wake me up and get my attention. For a second I forgot where we were, Muna.
And so began a tour through a section of the Puuc region, where the first stop was the Muna viewpoint.
This eco-park has so many activities that you will need more than one day to get the full experience, but don’t worry, they have a camping area with tents for rent if you’d like to make it a multi-day adventure. Our tour began at the Shaman Museum, where Juanpa (our guide) was waiting for us. He welcomed us with a Maya song, and accompanied us at all times while he shared stories about the Maya culture and its connection with nature.
There are many unique activities. Among them, a visit to the Temazcal (sauna), hiking on trails, and a descent into the heart of a cave. The latter has an incredible story that Pablo – the project leader – will tell you (it includes Aluxes and a bit of Maya world view!). My favorite activities? The climb to the viewpoint, and the stop at the artisans’ open-air workshop where they specialize in Maya musical instruments.
In the workshop, you can observe and chat with Don Lorenzo Chim who is a sculptor. The view from the lookout will take your breath away. If you go in the morning, you’ll see a thin layer of mist that gives the whole landscape a mystical feel, and in the distance, you’ll spot a white structure that rises among the lush vegetation. It’s the Pyramid of the Magician at Uxmal.
Thinking of eating there? Besides having a little shop with soft drinks and other snacks, you can enjoy some delicious tacos.
El Mirador de Muna
Cel. 9971 23 86 42
Viewpoint and shaman’s museum: $15 pesos (adults) and $10 pesos (children)
Viewpoint, visit to the cave, trails, and use of restrooms: $50 pesos (adults) and $30 pesos (children)
Bathrooms only: $10 pesos
The Chocolate Museum
A delicious second stop! Further south and in front of the entrance to the archaeological site of Uxmal is Choco-Story, one of the museums in Yucatán that I most wanted to visit, and I finally made it!
The museum, located in the old Hacienda Uxmal, focuses on rescuing the history of cacao. It has six permanent exhibits, each surrounded by gardens and the region’s wildlife. Would you like to see a Maya ceremony? A white path (Sacbé) led us to an altar where they prayed to the god Chaac for rain. The ceremony is repeated every 20 minutes and is only suspended in case of excessive rain (which almost happened to us!).
Further along, you’ll find a traditional Maya house. It’s similar to the other exhibition rooms, but different at the same time. It has steps to the left and a huge table with utensils for making an ancient chocolate beverage. After hearing about the Maya tradition, you can enjoy a hot drink of pure chocolate. Don’t worry, you can sweeten it with the rich spices available.
Adults: $150 pesos; students and senior citizens: $110 pesos; and children 6-12 years old: $75 pesos
Open daily 9 am – 7:30 pm
While you’re in the area, you can’t miss a visit to the magical city of Uxmal. I’m ready to say it’s my favorite. If you went to the Muna viewpoint first, you can already imagine the majestic building that will greet you. Yes, the Pyramid of the Magician is the first one you’ll see among the trees once you climb the stairway to the top of the artificial platform built by the Maya (amazing!). Legend has it that the pyramid was built in a single night…
Compared to other archaeological sites, Uxmal has large buildings (mostly horizontal) but located in a more compact space between them. The city is surrounded by tall trees that provide enough shade to tour the grounds with plenty of protection from the sun. In any case, a bottle of water, sunscreen, and a fan will be your best friends during this excursion. You can stop here and there to rest while you admire the structures.
Among the most extraordinary buildings, you will find the Governor’s Palace, which gives an aerial view of the entire archaeological site, and the Nunnery, where you can enjoy the courtyard and recharge in the cool rooms of the surrounding constructions. Open your eyes wide! Uxmal is a city with a great presence of natural elements associated with water and the god Chaac. You can also observe his Aztec counterpart, Tláloc, featured in the Quadrangle of the Nuns.
Open daily 8 am – 5 pm
Admission: $494 pesos (international visitors), $225 pesos (nationals), $85 (residents of Yucatán)
Artisan in Ticul
Last stop on the day’s tour! After stopping at El Buen Samaritano bakery in Ticul for some of their famous Pasticetas, we headed to the highway.
What do you mean, the highway? Yes, the artisan we visited lives 400 meters up a small hill that guarantees you a brisk walk in nature. It’s necessary to stop on the highway and walk up. If it rains, it’s best to leave this part for a different day.
Although Gaspar Courtenay works with ancient techniques, including sgraffito, the magic of the visit lies in his great ability to model incredible ceramic figures in clay with authentic Maya motifs. And you’ll see him, but you won’t believe he’s losing his eyesight.
It truly seems that Don Gaspar sees through his hands. If you are unable to visit him, you can find some of his pieces at the Museo de la Artesanía de Yucatán.
For maximum comfort and the experience with Don Gaspar, reach out to MID Guía: Cel. 9992 58 48 44.
Editorial by Olivia Camarena
Yucatecan communicologist. Your favorite Assistant Editor. Writer, blogger, and bookstagrammer in her spare time. She also experiments with TikTok.
Photography by Mario Arnal (Yucatán es cultural) and Olivia Camarena for its use in Yucatán Today.
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