10 Jan Chiapas: Palenque
After the amazing trip to Cuba, off to the next roadtrip! I worked extra hours at the office of my internship to be able to have three weeks of vacation, so I decided I should finally go to another state: Chiapas! I read about this state in my Lonely Planet many times, and every time I thought; why not go there? It is a long trip, 18 hours precisely, but we took the plunge 24 hours after we got back in Cancún!
The Mayab bus is a cheaper alternative of the ADO, and saves you a couple of pesos. First, we went to Chetumal, which took us 9 hours already. We went in the morning, and arrived around 6pm in the evening. When we arrived in Chetumal, we had to arrange our next bustrip to Palenque, but all the tickets were sold out!! We had to wait a few hours and then took a bus to Escarcega, and from there on to Palenque.
In the middle of the night, we waited at a super small ADO busstation, waiting for the next one. It was a broken night, but it saved us time and money for a hostel, so we went for it.
At 7am, we arrived in Palenque! Finally after almost 20 hours of traveling.. We first went to the backpacker hotspot El Panchán. This place is famous for its relaxed environment in the middle of the jungle. Many different hostels are located in this ‘village’. We met three girls there, they were traveling with this van-turned into-camper and just arrived in Palenque as well. They were so cool!! They came from Quebec, a place in the French part of Canada. They first traveled with two of them, the other girl was traveling with her boyfriend. They broke up and she called her friends to ask if she could join them. Ever since they have been traveling together. All from Quebec to the east coast of America, zigzagging through America and Mexico. And further on, because their next destination was Belize and Guatemala. I want this ♥♥♥
We were not staying here for the night, but we secretly went here to take a shower (also in the middle of the jungle) and just looked around for a bit. Some places seemed a bit deserted, turned out these were the dorms, hahah! I can imagine why this is a famous spot for backpackers, because it is so calm and relaxing, to be only surrounded by jungle.
We had some breakfast at the restaurant attached to one of the hostels, and then went to the archeological zone of Palenque!
In the trunk of a truck on our way to the ruins! You have to pay for the entrance of the Parque Nacional Palenque, which cost 33 pesos per person, and also entrance for the ruins, which costs 65 pesos per person.
And arrived! All the buildings were in the middle of the jungle!! I think there were over 100 of ruined buildings in total, spread over 15 sq km, but only a few in the central area have been excavated. Many explanation signs said that the buildings originally were painted in red and blue and had yellow stucco details. Imagine what kind of color explosion this must have been.
The view facing the Palace! The forest around all the temples is part of the Parque Nacional Palenque, and what you see in the back is only forest. We also saw a few monkeys while we were standing on the highest temple.
It is thought that Palenque has been populated from 226 BC to 800 AD and the Spanish first arrived here around 1520.
Lisse and Hilde on top of the Temple of the Cross.
Left is the view from the Temple of the Foliated Cross. This side of the area contains temples that are part of the Temple of the Cross Group. They are all located on platforms and have a lot of interior rooms with rituals and carvings which refer to the Mayan gods and the leaders of King Pakal. Also, it was funny to see a few carvings that showed that the Mayan smoked tabacco way before we did 🙂
On the right you see the Corbel Arch.
This was I believe in the Temple of the Sun! This monument was built by the son of King Pakal (the ruler of Palenque from around 600 to 680 AD, don’t remember the exact period). The tomb of King Pakal is also in the pyramid (which was only discovered around 50 years ago!!)
Part of the Temple of the Cross Group, the Temple of the Sun.
After we had seen all the structures on the site, we walked back to the main entrance through the jungle. It is really beautiful nature and I would definitely recommend taking this route back to the entrance rather than taking the same way back. We saw a few waterfalls and lots of other structures (not that well excavated as the ‘main’ ones, but that makes it more special in my opinion).
Also fun fact: apparently the Mayan people used hallucinogenic mushrooms for their spiritual rituals. I read in my Lonely Planet that tourist get them offered sometimes outside at the entrance of the site hahah.
Palenque was definitely what I expected it to be and it is for sure the most impressive archeological site that I have visited (followed by Cobá and Ek Balam). It is super easy to get there (takes some time though) and the entrance is not expensive. You are able to climb upon almost every temple, and when on top of it, you will have the most amazing views! If you are near, you should check it out!!
At the end of the day, we went back to El Panchán, took another shower and went back to the ADO busstation. At 10pm, our bus to San Cristóbal de las Casas was leaving (another 8/9 hours). Another post about this great place will be online soon!
Besitos, Ko XX