Palenque is about half-way between Campeche and San Cristobal de las Casas. It wasn’t part of our original plan, however, after encouragement from more than one source that it was worth a stop and realizing it broke an 11+ hour bus ride in half we decided to add Palenque to our itinerary.
This is definitely a tropical jungle complete with all the sounds of birds and howler monkeys!
There are two activities of interest for us in Palenque (besides the hotel pool), an archeological site, i.e. Mayan ruins and two sets of waterfalls.
We’ve seen quite a few of the Mayan archeological sites, however, Palenque is described as ‘a dramatic sight colored by the mysterious feel of the ruins themselves.’ The ruins stretch out of the jungle. The entire area is lush and green. Only about 2% of the sight has been excavated and yet it appears massive. Palenque is considered one of the grand archeological sites in Mexico. Since you are in the jungle, the sounds of birds and howler monkeys are evident and add an eeriness to the experience. I know my pictures won’t begin to capture the sites, sounds, and smells.
Yes, we really did climb up and through and over all those pyramids. Did our old hips feel the effort for a few days after! It was worth the stop. I apologize for not remembering all the names of the structures.
The trail walking down from Palenque’s major excavated archeological area takes you through the rain forest. Along the trail you see ruins that are still covered with the jungle and a beautiful waterfall.
The next activity of interest out of Palenque was visiting two large waterfalls. The first was called Cascadas Mishol-Ha. Supposedly Arnold Schwarzenegger filmed part of a movie here although there were no signs. You can actually walk along a path behind the falls, that is, if you want to spend the rest of the day wet. There were a few people taking in the experience. It was indeed tempting!
Let me just say that our van driver on this waterfall day was a bit of a maniac. Actually, I think he was a budding Mario Andretti. He whipped that van around all the other vehicles on the winding mountain roads. In the little villages women would hold up a rope across the highway to get cars to stop and buy their goods. Yes, it was a challenging ride since windy roads are tough for me with a steady, slow driver!
We made it safely to the next destination, Cascadas Agua Azul without getting sick. We’d been warned that due to the recent rains the water would not be the typical beautiful blue. The water in the falls has a very high mineral content that causes it to be very blue. I encourage you to check put the pictures on this link if you’re interested, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agua_Azul.
The falls were a series of cascades down the mountainside. Even though we had a tough van ride and muddy water it was a gorgeous day. Well worth the stop in Palenque.
And now, just because…
On to San Cristobal de Las Casas.