Getting up early seems to be the best course of action to avoid the heat of midday.
Today we want to see as many of the inland Mayan sites as possible. Quite a few are clustered together, and we’ve been told that we can camp at Calakmul – a very remote ruins in the middle of the jungle.
In the morning we visit Kohunlich, which is very park-like. We’re the only ones there, and it’s such a different experience to the tour groups of Tulum. Just as we’re leaving we wave to another couple who are just entering the grounds. Tag – now it’s all yours to see.
Next is Becan, which for me wasn’t a priority, but actually turns out to be quite nice.
Following that (and just a few kilometers away) is Xpuhil, which is very different than most sites as it has 3 towers, and sort of reminds me of Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
Then, after a roadside lunch, we head for Calakmul. We’ve been told that the 60 km road into this site is treacherous, and slow going, and we’re getting a bit late in the day. At the road entrance you pay a road toll, then at km 20 you pay the entrance fee for the ruins. At this point you can hire a van to drive you in, or do it yourself. If you do it yourself, they warn you about the road, and take down your ID and license plate. We ask about camping and are told that we can camp here at km 20, but not at the site itself. That doesn’t sound fun at all…
The road in, although not great, isn’t the worst I’ve ridden in Mexico. The only scary part was one of the vans coming the other way like a bat of our hell, that we met in a curve. At the sites parking lot we see a pair of 650 Adventure bikes, and as we’re taking our riding gear off the owners emerge from the ruins. We chat with them for a bit, but recognizing that it’s getting dark, we part ways. They are from Quebec, and tell us where they are staying just a few km back on the main road. Maybe we’ll end up there tonight if we truly can’t camp.
Inside the site for Calakmul is very impressive. I’m fascinated watching highways of leaf cutter ants along the main path, and we see a number of strange birds during the hike in. We climb to the top of the main temple, and the view of the surrounding jungle is stunning. As the sun starts to set we hear Howler Monkeys nearby. When we finally walk back out to the bike nobody, including staff, are left. Just us. Maybe we should just set up camp?
If the guards 40 km away hadn’t taken down our license information, maybe we would have. Rebecca has visions of them busting in during the night to kick us out, so we decide to go find the 650 couple and the cabanas they have uncovered.
The ride back out at dusk is beautiful. I’m familiar with the road now, and doubt any maniac tour vans are coming in, so we have the road to ourselves. We make it out just as the sun goes behind the mountains, and not long later we see Michael and Isabel sitting at a roadside restaurant. We join them for dinner, and then follow them back to the cabanas. What a great end to a day.