The last 3 days we’ve been spending in the colonial town of Valladolid in central Yucatan. The weather is still relentless and makes sightseeing quite a challenge. Luckily for us, the province of Yucatan is known for its cenotes, or sinkholes which are open for swimming. They make this excruciating heat bearable!
During our first day in Valladolid, we decided to explore the colourful streets of this small town. Valladolid only has about 48.000 inhabitants, which means it’s not that big and it doesn’t take that much time to visit and see all the highlights. Still, it’s a very nice city to explore because of the beautiful and colourful houses. It’s very picturesque and I wanted to stop in basically every street to take pictures. The convent of San Bernardino di Siena is also very pretty and the main church and park are also worth a stop.
Apparently there are about 6000 cenotes in Yucatan, so we wanted to see with our own eyes what they were all about. The first cenote we went to is Cenote Zaci which is located in the centre of Valladolid. The entrance fee was only €1.5 and it gives you access to the cenote from 8 AM to 5.30 PM. From the minute we walked in, we stood in awe at the beauty of this natural wonder. The water of the cenote is clear blue and looked super inviting, especially with this weather (36° C, 82% humidity). So it didn’t take long before we jumped in ourselves!
After seeing this cenote we were curious about 2 other cenotes which are known to be the most beautiful ones in the area. So, we hopped in a taxi and made our way to Cenotes Xkeken and Samula. The entrance fee was much higher than Zaci (€9), so we had pretty high expectations. However, when we entered the park, we realised these cenotes were extremely touristy. Before we got to the cenotes, we had to walk passed dozens of stalls selling t-shirts, jewellery, souvenirs etc. When we entered both the Xkeken and Samula cenote, we were impressed, but not as impressed as when we saw Zaci. Both Xkeken and Samula are located entirely underground, which is pretty cool, but what we liked the most about Zaci was that it wasn’t located underground. For us, Zaci was much more special than Xkeken and Samula and nowhere near as touristic. So, we would advise to go to Zaci instead of Xkeken and Samula.
Today we decided to visit the Mayan archeological site of Ek Balam. You can either get there by taking a collectivo (€3 per person) or a taxi (€10 one way). The entrance fee is almost €10, which is quite expensive for Mexican standards. However, it’s definitely more than worth it!
Ek Balam is a beautiful late classic Mayan site where once about 20.000 people lived. Quite a lot of the buildings are still intact and you can even climb them if you’d like, which of course we did. We also spotted some Mexican wildlife such as iguana’s, which was pretty cool!
The main attraction of Ek Balam is the Acropolis, a 160 meter tall pyramid. If you climb all the way up top, you get a nice view over the other buildings in Ek Balam. However, it’s not advised if you’re afraid of heights because the steps are very steep! We saw some people descending the Acropolis by sitting down on the stairs and slowly make their way down like that.
Also, if you, like us, decide to visit Ek Balam in July, make sure you bring plenty of water, sunscreen and a hat. The climb up the Acropolis was very tiring, and we both had to stop for a bit to take a breath on the way up. In fact, we were both so sweaty and warm from the climb up, we decided to go back to Cenote Zaci just to cool down.
Tomorrow we’ll be heading towards Chichen Itza where we’ll spend the night. We would like to see Chichen Itza Thursday morning, before it’s too hot and before all the tourist buses arrive.
I will keep you posted!