Chichen Itza and Tulum are the most famous archaeological sites in and around the Riviera Maya, those places that you cannot miss when you visit Cancun or Playa del Carmen. Each one is awesome in their own way: Chichen Itza is full of significant and architectural details, everywhere you look you will find stone carvings, remains of mural painting, majestic buildings, the mystical effects of light and shadow. Tulum on the other hand has this incomparable view over the Caribbean Sea and everybody wants "that" selfie with the castle behind them and then go down to that stunning beach...
Both are really beautiful but, did you know that there are some other impressive ancient Mayan cities that you can discover during your holidays? Would you like to feel a more intimate experience with the Mayan Culture? Would you like to avoid crowded places and just feel the wonder of nature with all your senses? Here is the best option for you: the beautiful city of Ek Balam.
Ek Balam, which means “star jaguar," is located only 20 miles north of Valladolid. Archaeologists believe the city covered 7.46 square miles. Only about one square mile has been exploredbut even this small area has provided enormous amounts of information about the people who lived here. Facades, mural painting and hieroglyphic texts that were surprisingly well preserved have been restored here.
Here are ten reasons to visit Ek Balam:
10. Avoid crowds and vendors inside the archaeological site since this is an intimate encounter with the Mayan World.
9. Climb the pyramid (the Acropolis). It’s 95.14 feet tall and the view from the top is great!
8. Close to Valladolid, the colonial city, where you can find traditional food and handicrafts.
7. There is a cenote close to Ek Balam. You can practice biking and rappelling, or enjoy the ziplines over the crystal clear water.
6. The architecture here is different from other areas around the Yucatan Peninsula. The Acropolis façade just will take your breath away.
5. Even though the site is quite big, all the buildings are within walking distance of each other.
4. You can visit Ria Lagartos, a bioreserve area nearby, to ride in a boat through mangrove canals and practice birdwatching.
3. Want an awesome selfie? Look for the Mayan arch at the entrance.
2. Enjoy nature with all your senses: bright colors, the breeze on your skin, the sun’s caress, the birds singing…
1. For those who already know, Chichen Itza and Tulum, Ek Balam is another great reason to come back and stay in love with Mexico!