Across the southern parts of Mexico, lie hundreds of Mayan ruins and temples. The famous Chichen Itza is deemed the most popular. A Mayan ruin often overshadowed by the Chichen Itza is the Chacchoben ruins of southern Quintana Roo and Tulum. I booked this tour with my husband. The Chacchoben Mayan ruins tour was very informative and fascinating; a truly unforgettable experience. Compared to the Chichen Itza, it’s just as beautiful but without all the busy tourists around! Here’s what I learned about the ruins…
Chacchoben means “the place of red corn,” in the Maya language, derived from a nearby town with the same name. The downfall of the ancient civilization began when Spaniards invaded the land. The arrival of the Spaniards drastically changed the Mayan’s lifestyle and culture. During the war, Mayan homes were destroyed and burned, ultimately causing them to abandon their beloved homes and temples. The ruins suggest that it was abandoned and re-occupied several times, before being permanently abandoned approximately 1000 AD. It was then buried under years of jungle vegetation.
The temples played a meaningful part in the Maya religion. This was where their priests offered sacrifices to their Gods, at the top of the temples. The ritual of human sacrifices was considered a vital blood offering for their Gods. Carvings and hieroglyphics suggest gory sacrifice methods like decapitation, removal of the heart, and disembowelling. Inside the temples lie burial tombs.
In 1942, The Chacchoben Mayan ruins was occupied by the Cohuo family. They settled down and decided it was a perfect area to farm crops. By 1972, the ruins were reported to the Mexican Government, and that’s when an archaeologist discovered an abundance of hills in the area. Beneath the hills, they excavated the temples; some still covered in the original red paint.
Overall Tour Experience
The temples were restored, and today is an attraction for those in the Costa Maya area. It’s only a 50 minute drive from Costa Maya. At the base of the largest stone temple, you can see intricate hieroglyphic engravings. To preserve the paint in which it was originally coated, the staff members set up shady areas to protect it from sun exposure. Surrounding the temples is the jungle and numerous lakes and lagoons habited by monkeys, jaguars, and deer. If you ever visit, you might be able to see some monkeys swinging in the trees above you 😉
Unfortunately, you are not allowed to climb to the top of the temples. You are permitted to climb up a handful of steps, until you reach the rope which halts you from going further. To this day, there are hundreds of temples still lying underneath layers of jungle growth that need to be excavated and restored. They accept donations and use the money received from tourists towards the excavation of more temples and buildings.
From start to finish, the tour duration is 4 hours. Only about 1.5-2 hours of it is the actual tour at the site. The other 2 hours is the travel time from Costa Maya. This can be reserved online.
You will be under direct sunlight in several parts of the tour. I suggest applying sunscreen and wearing a hat.
Wear a good pair of shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty. Don’t wear flip flops. There are muddy and wet grass areas, it would be uncomfortable if you wore flip flops or sandals.
Hidden treasures are all over Mexico. You just need to venture off the beaten track to discover them 🙂