Mexico is a great example of a country that has it all. When somebody thinks about Mexico, beaches, great food, an amazing culture pops up. Without doubt, some amazing attractions are the archeological sites. Today, we are going to talk about Ek Balam or Black Jaguar, which is the original meaning in Yucatec Maya language.
Before starting to describe you the beautiful late classic Maya city, you need to get in there. Ek Balam is easily reached from major highways in the state of Yucatan. It is close to Mérida, Valladolid, and Chichen Itzá. The usual blue and white tourist signs indicate the direction on the highway. There are no buses that go to Ek Balam, so you need to take a car, taxi, or collectivo taxi. Collectivos are vans that take multiple people to the same place, and are cheaper than taking a private taxi for just your group. You can find them in Valladolid.
As regards its location, Ek Balam is within the municipality of Temozón, 51 kilometres northeast of Chichen Itza. This archeological site is supposed to have been an important Mayan capital called Talol. The city was protected by huge defensive walls, which surrounded it completely from both sides. There is an Oval Palace where burial relicts are, and it is also connected to the cosmological ceremonies that were performed. There are also the Twins which are two mirror temples. The main building standing is the Acropolis on the North side of the site. It is the largest structure at Ek Balam, and it is believed to contain the tomb of Ukit Kan Lek Tok, an important ruler in Ek Balam.
The archeological discoveries made in this site put Ek Balam in a very special place. The profound exploration made to the Acropolis shows a rich decoration famous for having the most exquisite but very fragile sculptures in Yucatan area. Each of the structures of Ek Balam has their own personality that gives new information about this ancient civilization. One of them is the Throne which is the temple where Ukit Kan Lek Tok was buried; its doorway is in the shape of a monster-like mouth, probably depicting a jaguar. The conjunction of all the structures work very well together despite some of them were not built at the same time.
Another option when visiting this site is choosing a tour called “A day like a Mayan”. People go for you to where you are staying and everything starts. You have a Mayan guide that directs you through all the important sites of the ruin and then you can choose to bike or walk to a great recreational place called Cenote Xcanche located beside Ek Balam. Then, you can do activities such as flying over a really cold water river, or kayaking. You may also camp there and enjoy facilities such as restrooms and local cousine. This place is perfect to enjoy with your family or friends just after visiting Ek Balam.
As regards accommodation, you have two options to choose from. The first one is staying in the village Ek Balam. The pros for this are that you will be the first visitors of the site and you will not have to travel long distances. The cons are that not many inns are available in the village, and as it is a village, there are not many touristic vibes to it (it has only one restaurant with no local cousine and a café with not many options in its menu). The other idea is to stay in the city of Valladolid. This city is only 30 kilometers (15 minutes ride) away from the site and has a huge variety of inns, hotels, hostels to stay in. Also, the city offers a great night and day life experience where you can enjoy both the great restaurant selection, and downtown area.
Thinking about Mexico does not only implies beautiful beaches and great relaxation, after experiencing the ride to Ek Balam you will have the opportunity to enjoy a day like the ancient Maya had. Be smart and choose an option that can take you back in time to where beautiful landscapes surrounds you and swim in the cold waters of Cenote.
This ride can be enjoyed with family and friends. However, do not forget any of these recomendations, take bug repelent and a good pair of shoes. Moreover, do not forget to take a visit and why not buy some of the amazing artisan works that are in the place and enjoy of the amazing local cousine. So, choose to come, eat real Mexican Food and be part of the community that is always open to visits. Ek Balam is waiting for you!