In the middle of the jungle of Campeche is one of the most impressive and best preserved archaeological sites in Mexico, an ancient Mayan city whose echoes of its history are maintained by one of the lungs of the planet.
Route to Calakmul
The experience begins south of Campeche, with a 60 km drive from the archaeological zone’s entrance to the jungle’s interior — which separates Calakmul from the rest of the world.
The road is a marvel in itself. Visitors first see a long stretch of the forested sea surrounding Calakmul’s archaeological site and heart. Then, with some luck, people can observe the fascinating fauna of the place, such as white-tailed deer, peacocks with iridescent plumage, coatis, or toucans, hidden among the trees.
Walking through Calakmul, without a doubt, is a unique experience. The trip begins very early in the morning, so it is possible to appreciate a beautiful sunrise. On the way to the archaeological site, one is greeted by the immense Mayan structures peeking through the treetops. Undoubtedly, the fascinating sounds of the fauna that inhabit the site will complement our visit, ranging from howler monkeys to the jaguar’s roar.
At the beginning of the tour, one arrives at the Gran Plaza. Crossing the grand plaza, one arrives at Structure II. There is the possibility of climbing these monumental steps, just as the Maya elite did long time ago. This pyramid is the highest in the area, with a height of 45 meters, and offers a 360-degree view of the entire jungle and other structures belonging to Calakmul. Once at the top, one can dimension the great size of Calakmul and appreciate the natural wonder surrounding the architectural zone, a jungle cataloged as Mixed Patrimony of Humanity. Natural, for its extension of 723,000 hectares, where approximately 80% of the plant biodiversity of the Yucatan Peninsula lives.
When descending from Structure II, we can walk to Structure I, with a height of 40 meters, and we can also climb up to appreciate the view of the jungle.
Continuing, we will walk to the Gran Acropolis, which is the residential area of Calakmul. The monuments that stand out are Structures XIII and XIV.
Finally, in the Chik Naab Acropolis, we can observe the paintings and murals of the Mayas.
Calakmul architecture: Mayan history
Inhabited at its peak by some 50,000 inhabitants, the great city of Calakmul as we know it today was not called that way. Its real name is found in some inscriptions that archaeologists have long been dedicated to studying. Called “The stelae,” in them, we can see the original name of Calakmul, which was Oxte ‘tun.
Calakmul, the original Mayan name composed of two words, Ca referring to two, Lak meaning addictive, and Mul referring to artificial mounds or pyramids, understood as “Two adjoining mounds,” emphasizing that they are two large pyramids protruding from the jungle.
Located in the municipality of Calakmul, southeast of the state of Campeche, characterized by being the only route with access to the archaeological zone commonly known as “El Hormiguero.” A group of villagers formed El Hormiguero to conserve and share Calakmul’s natural reserve. The community offers activities such as hiking, guided walks through the archaeological sites, biking, and wildlife observation. Travelers will also have the opportunity to sleep surrounded by nature in the comfort of the campsite or cabins.
It is located north of Calakmul, a fascinating place full of energy, beauty, and life. Its most striking activity is hiking because at every step we will enjoy nature.
November 20 Community
Located northeast of the town of Xpujil, known for its incredible handicrafts made by the inhabitants of the community, who share their knowledge with visitors so that they can also create their crafts. Another activity is to tour Río Bec with a local specialist, with whom visitors can only enter, as it is not a place of public access.
Valentín Gómez Farías
Ejido focused on nature conservation. The community’s primary objective is the preservation of wildlife.
The universal value of Calakmul
Calakmul is an imposing natural landscape discovered while walking along its trails. For the local inhabitants, the reserve represents part of their livelihood and has a value of recognition, environmental services, and belonging. For those who visit, it is a hidden gem in the land of colors, smells, flavors, and artisan’s hands. Calakmul is undoubtedly a treasure, both for locals and visitors, that we have not yet finished discovering.