Although one of the first things I saw was the ramp snaking up the long hill just inside the entrance to the archaeological site of Uxmal, its significance wasn’t immediately apparent to me. When I saw the second ramp, leading into the Nunnery Quadrangle, a light bulb started to go off. Upon seeing the very long wooden ramp leading down toward the base of the Great Pyramid, I was awestruck.
The Mexican government has worked hard to make the ancient Maya buildings at the largest and most popular sites accessible to all without taking away from their beauty or archaeological significance.
Wheelchair ramps and other accommodations have been installed throughout many sites. Obviously, Maya archaeological sites are such that not every place can be made completely practical for wheelchairs, but it’s impressive how accessible they are.
The terrain at Chichén Itzá is very flat and the vast grounds are quite open, so getting around is easy without many accommodations. As long as it hasn’t rained recently, much of the site is hard-packed earth with well-maintained grass. The site is a 90-minute drive from Mérida and it will take at least two hours to see everything there. Visitors should plan for a half-day trip at minimum.
Being only 30 minutes from Mérida, Uxmal is very convenient to visit. The site gets very few tour buses compared to Chichén Itzá, so it sometimes feels like you have the place to yourself. At over 150 acres, Uxmal is very large and there are many interesting structures to explore. Visitors should allow at least two hours. Thanks to many well-placed ramps and wheelchair-friendly gates next to the entrance turnstiles, nearly everything at Uxmal is at least partly wheelchair accessible.
In a world where mobility issues still impose limits for some, seeing these things came as a delightful surprise. Seeing them built into these awe-inspiring 1,500-year-old cultural treasures was nothing short of astounding.
By Jeff Kontur
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