Discover a wonderful pre-Hispanic city located in the heart of the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve. This hidden place gives you the perfect adventure on your trip. We explain how to get to Calakmul.
In the little visited south of the Yucatan Peninsula We found many incredible Mayan cities waiting to be awakened from their unjust oblivion. The most impressive of all is Calakmul: this city combines many good things for the curious traveler and nature lover, it is extraordinary Calakmul, a magnificent complex.
If Calakmul were close to Riviera Maya it would be full of tourists, it would be the great jewel of the place.
Explore the most fascinating 5 archeological zones of Campeche
The archaeological zone of Calakmul is found in the south of the Yucatan Peninsula, it belongs to the state of Campeche. In this area we find the densest jungle on the Peninsula. In fact, Calakmul is immersed within the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve, one of the natural lungs of America.
HOW TO GET TO CALAKMUL BY FREE
The entrance is on the road that connects Escárcega and Chetumal, at the height of the small town of Conhuás, at kilometer 98. Here is the barrier and the ticket office for access to the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve. We have about 60 kilometers left in the jungle along a narrow paved road that leads us to the entrance to the ancient Mayan city of Calakmul. This 60-kilometer stretch takes an hour and a half more or less.
This road crosses the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve, which together with the archaeological zone, was declared a Mixed Heritage Site by Unesco in 2002.
I recommend you walk the road very early, when dawn breaks. In this way you will do it only in the company of the animals that wake up with the day. Give yourself this gift the door to the Reserve opens to the 6 in the morning.
HOW TO GET TO CALAKMUL BY PUBLIC TRANSPORT
Unfortunately there is no public transport to the archaeological zone. The options are taxi, tourist agency or private vehicle.
- OPTIONS FROM XPUHIL: The closest large population with the most services is Xpuhil. From here you can go on tour or by taxi. A taxi costs you approximately 1400 pesos, to distribute the price among 4 people. It leaves at the time indicated and you are about three hours in Calakmul and it waits for you back. You locate the taxi drivers at the Xpuhil collective taxi stop, on the main road near the ADO bus stop. Public transport arrives at Xpuhil from Escárcega (2 hours), Chetumal (1'40 »h) and Campeche (4'30 ″ h).
- FROM CONHUAS: it is the population that is at the entrance to the Reserve. Conhuas arrives collective from Xpuhil. There are some cabins to sleep. You can still take a taxi to Calakmul, cheaper because it is closer to the place.
ENTRANCE PAYMENTS TO CALAKMUL PRICE 2020
- CONHUÁS EJIDATARIOS: 100 pesos per vehicle to the Conhuás ejidatarios. From this toll booth to the next one the road is quite good and for a while it is wide.
- CALAKMUL BIOSPHERE RESERVE: 56 pesos per person. From this toll booth to the entrance to the archaeological zone, the road section is much narrower. Drive carefully, sometimes there are fallen branches on the road. It is an area where animals pass, remember not to exceed 30 km per hour.
- CALAKMUL ARCHAEOLOGICAL ZONE: 80 pesos per person
- The access barrier to the entrance to the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve is at 6 in the morning.
- The archaeological zone from 8 in the morning to 5 in the afternoon. Last access at 4 in the afternoon. They are at least an hour and a half inside the enclosure, otherwise you will not have time for almost anything and you will go very scammed.
FAUNA IN THE CALAKMUL BIOSPHERE RESERVE
The archaeological zone of Calakmul is located within the fantastic natural environment that forms the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve, where monkeys are the current inhabitants of these ancient stones, as if you lived your own Jungle Book.
They have skunks, capybaras, toucans, tapirs, pheasants, turkeys, anteaters, as neighbors. This jungle is so alive that it is where the most presence of jaguars and cougars is collected. Strolling between these stones is fascinating, the infinite sounds of the jungle are the best soundtrack that nature gives us.
Pay attention to the animals that you can see in the archaeological zone, you will not want to miss them. In this jungle live 5 of the 6 species of felines registered in Mexico: the puma, the jaguar, the ocelot, the jaguarundi and the margay.
TIPS ON HOW TO VISIT CALAKMUL
In 2019 a new entrance to the Calakmul complex and services is inaugurated. To date there were ecological baths where you used sawdust, they were dry baths. The amenities have greatly improved. The great Calakmul has been attracting more tourism over the years, and that means more services and comfort.
The mighty Khan lineage that ruled Calakmul led the city to be a fierce rival of the powerful Tikal. In the Calakmul site museum you will be able to appreciate the fundamentals of this city and lineage. Calakmul is one of the few ancient Mayan cities in Mexico that we know of its emblem glyph. The emblem glyph is like the coat of arms of a royal or noble house.
Calakmul means two adjacent mounds: ca two, paint adjacent, mul artificial mound. Its name refers to the two large structures that dominate the jungle. After a while we talk about the impressive structures of Calakmul where you can see the magnitude of the jungle.
Site museum in Calakmul
The big news is that there is a small explanatory site museum before entering the site. One of the best I have seen from INAH in the Mayan area of Mexico, with replicas and explanations that bring us fundamentally closer to the history of this great ancient city.
Calakmul, as it happens in several archaeological zones, has treasures that are not open to the public. In the case of Calakmul the impressive frieze that we see in the photo, the famous murals and the jade masks of rulers are treasures that we did not appreciate on the visit. Luckily here they have made some great replicas so that we can enjoy Mayan art.
Once you pass this area, you already properly enter the area of the archaeological site. I greatly appreciate INAH's effort to find places like this for learning.
Calakmul Map y how to tour the venue
The huge enclosure that Calakmul occupies is to get lost for hours feeling like an explorer. There are three routes marked to visit the area, the length, the middle and the short. You are in Calakmul, do the length.
- SHORT ROUTE: approximate duration 40 minutes. WHAT STRUCTURES WILL YOU SEE ?: Gran Plaza, structure III and structure I.
- MIDDLE COURSE: approximately 2 hours. WHAT STRUCTURES WILL YOU SEE ?: Northwest group, Chan Chiich residential unit, Chiik Nahb Acropolis, the Great Acropolis, north and south squares, Jaguar square, Grand Plaza, structure II and structure I
- LONG TRAVEL: approximate duration 2 hours 30 minutes. WHAT STRUCTURES WILL YOU SEE ?: Northwest group, Chan Chiich residential unit, Chiik Nahb Acropolis, the Great Acropolis, Utsiaal Caan residential group, Six Ajaw, structure XXI and XX, north and south squares, structure II, structure I, structure III, Great Square.
The INAH offers very good information on the internet about Calakmul, I link the source so you can see the Calakmul maps of the different routes carefully if you need it.
A long and entertaining tour of Calakmul can take you about 4 hours. Think a minimum of two to three hours in the enclosure, between going up to the structures and walking among nature, time flies by. You are in one of the great Mayan cities, enjoy your day.
Although the site is huge, it is well marked, so do not be afraid to get lost. Calakmul and surroundings perfectly can occupy you the whole day.
If you enter the Reserve early it is easier to see animals on the way. The return path that crosses the 60 kilometers of the Biosphere gives you the opportunity to see animals and go through one of its interpretive trails.
You can combine it with Balamkú if you arrive on time and don't get caught up in the magic of Calakmul.
The volcano of the bats is the perfect combination at sunset
THE STREETS OF CALAKMUL
Each of the Mayan cities that have been investigated have contributed more or less information to the great puzzle of the Mayan civilization that is still being developed. In Calakmul 120 steles were found, which have left much information about this city and historical events.
It goes without saying that the location in the middle of the jungle has preserved the place from looters. The pity is that the soft limestone used to make the stelae has been eaten by the elements: the rains and the sun have greatly worn the stelae drawings.
What do the stelae? The Mayans made the stelae to commemorate important dates and events of power. There they wrote down with their writing and images what happened, such as the deaths of important warriors, victories over other cities, ascended to power. His stories told about the stones, the voices of power. Thanks to the stelae, the name and fragmentary trajectory of 18 kings of Calakmul have been known, such as “Coiled Serpent” (Uneh Chan, 579-611), “Yuknom the Great” (636-686) and “Jaguar's Claw” (Yich'ak K'aak ', 686-698).
calakmuHe has several famous stelae from the Mayan world. Some can be seen in the enclosure, others are in museums. One of them is Stela number 43: you can see it by climbing Structure II, the highest in Calakmul, on the left-hand side. It still has the red colors, it is wonderful. It is one of the first stelae of the place, a fact that is known thanks to the dates written on the stelae. Oh, don't touch the stele and its red paint, if need be.
One of the last known stelae is also found in Calakmul, with dates about 909 AD (the other is in Toniná, Chiapas). After these dates, although the Mayan civilization continues until approximately 1527 AD, there is no further evidence of dated stelae. Yes there are glyphs and writing, but not in stelae as they developed in the Mayan cities. Personally, facing these historical wonders makes my skin feel hot.
Information and knowledge is essential to better appreciate the places. If you only see stones, you are wrong.
THE BIG STRUCTURES OF CALAKMUL
Calakmul is the ideal place to enjoy the heights and the green sea that the jungle gives us. Not every day we can contemplate something as magnificent as what is offered here.
- STRUCTURE II: it is the great pyramid that we find in the Great Plaza of Calakmul. It is the tallest structure in the enclosure with an altitude of 55 meters. There is a first platform where the views are great, but from here one more step awaits you to continue climbing. Simply spectacular.
- STRUCTURE VII: The 20 meters high of this structure give us incredible views, perhaps the best. This structure is also found in the Great Plaza, opposite Structure II. So if you don't really like climbing pyramids, this is yours.
- STRUCTURE I: The 42 meters of this structure gives you an impressive view of the place. Personally I prefer the views from Structure II and VII, in case it is of any use to you. Of course, I recommend uploading to all.
From the three great pyramidal structures that you can climb, you will be able to delight yourself with the landscapes offered by the divine heights. The Great Pyramid of 55 meters, and a second pyramid of 42 meters high.
CALAKMUL HOTELS WHERE TO STAY
The entrance to Calakmul It is on the road that connects Chetumal with Escárcega, at the height of the town of Conhuás. The closest large town is Xpuhil, which is about 40 kilometers away, where there are several options. This area has been developing for years, now there are several accommodations to choose from, many inexpensive.
INSIDE THE BIOSPHERE CALAKMUL RESERVE: The advantage of being inside the Reserve is that the entrance to the Reserve opens it to the 6 in the morning and closes to the 6 in the afternoon, so if you are inside you do not have schedules to be in the Reserve. Several lodgings with own trails to travel, taking advantage of its location within the Reserve.
For high budgets there is the Hotel Puerta Calakmul
El Camp Yaax'che and some very rustic cabin that the inhabitants of Conhuás offer
CLOSE TO THE ENTRY OF CONHUAS: On the 186 road between Conhuás and Xpuhil there are several options to stay. The entrance opens to the general public at 6 in the morning.
Hotels like Hotel Casa Maya Calakmul, Chicanna Ecovillage Resort, the Ka'an House They offer good services and location.
XPUHIL: This is the largest population near the entrance to the Reserve, only 55 kilometers, 35 minutes from the barrier to the Reserve. Here the local offer is varied, sure you find your ideal accommodation.
Places like Hotel Mirador Maya, Hotel Chaac Calakmul, Hotel Becán, El Ecohabitat or Chaac Calakmul Cabins, and the more campers Cabins and Hostal Zoh Laguna or Natural Valentin
Most hotels offer Tour services to the Reserve and archaeological zones for those travelers who arrive without a car. You can also agree on a price with Xpuhil taxi drivers, your stop is on the main road that crosses the town.
Complete guide of Calakmul hotels by areas and how to get there
I know the accommodations that I have recommended to you. I leave you a link to see the accommodation offers in Calakmul and surroundings.
WHAT ELSE TO DO IN THE CALAKMUL AREA
ARCHAEOLOGICAL ZONES: As I was saying, in this area there are interesting archaeological sites, many of them in the surroundings of Calakmul, which are not open to the public. You can feast on archaeological sites: Río Bec, Chicanná, Xpuhil, Balamkú, Nadzca'an, Becán, Hormiguero in Campeche, and Kohunlich, Dzibanché or Kinichná in Quintana Roo.
VOLCANO DE LOS MURCIÉLAGOS: Another of the nearby gifts in this area with which you can round off your day is the cave or volcano of the bats, where you will see thousands of bats emerge at sunset. There really is a whole environment to discover, if you are one of the adventurers you will like it.
Calakmul It is a great gift on your trip, one of the most impressive Mayan cities of all time. Without any doubt, it is one of our must-see places in the Yucatan Peninsula.
Calakmul, archaeological siteLOCATION: on Highway 186 that connects Chetumal and Escárcega. The entrance to the archaeological zone of Calakmul is located in the town of Conhuás, from here there are 60 km to the access to the ruins.
PRICE ENTRY: there are two payments, access to the archaeological zone of 80 mxn and to the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve. that you pay per vehicle 100 mxn and 56 mxn per person. On Sundays the entrance to the INAH is free for Mexicans and residents. Access to the archaeological sites is free every day for children under 13 years of age, students, teachers and seniors with valid credentials.
SCHEDULE AND SERVICES: The entrance to the Biosphere Reserve, which is located in Conhuás, opens at 6 in the morning. The archaeological zone opens from 8 a.m. to 17 p.m. daily. Sundays are free for nationals and residents with official identification. They do not sell drinks or food inside. There are services at the entrance. There is a museum halfway there on archeology and the natural environment. Hours from Tuesday to Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to 17:00 p.m.
HOW TO GET IN PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION? Unfortunately there is no public transport to the archaeological zone. The options are taxi, agency or private vehicle. Xpuhil reaches public transport from Escárcega (2 hours), Chetumal (1'40 »h) and Campeche (4'30 ″ h). Conhuas arrives colectico from Xpuhil.
WHAT MORE TO SEE IN THE AREA ?: la cave of bats. It is located on the road about 8 km towards Xpuhil. Sometimes it is closed and not well signposted. The exit of the bats, at twilight, of course. The archaeological zone of Balamkú is 4 km from Conhuás and 12 km from Nadzcaan. On the same road you can visit other Mayan cities.
WHAT TO BRING? Light and light clothes, hat, insect repellent, closed shoes (you are in the jungle and there are many bugs, protect yourself), water and something to eat to spend the whole day. Outside the enclosure there are some palapas and benches where you can eat what you bring.
TIPS: It has a full gas tank, no gas stations on the road.
Un virtual tour of the INAH by Calakmul.
- Offers on flights international and national ..
- Find the accommodation with the best offers from Booking.com.
- Stay with Airbnb and get 25 € discount.
- Contract activities, tours and excursions organized.
- Rent a car with the indispensable and necessary best discounts.
- Secure your transfers of arrival or departure to the airport.
- Travel safely with IATI and take advantage of 5% off.
If you prefer, you tell us your idea of the trip and together we organize it.
Well, it is better that these sites are not overcrowded, they would lose all their beauty. I did not know Calakmul, and it is thanks to all the bloggers travelers that we can know these jewels, we always travel to piñon, and it is the fault of the little time that we have in the trips, which is condemned by the high cost of hitting a little jump and crossing the puddle. a greeting
Thank you, Carlos, it is a pleasure to bring you closer to the Mayan beauties of the Yucatan Peninsula. If some day you take that little jump around here, I recommend it totally. Regards!
Hello Sandra, I am thinking of visiting the area at the end of September, since I will make a route through the Yucatan peninsula. Can you hire a guide to show you and explain the area? Seeing it with someone who knows and knows it is the best to enjoy it to the fullest
Hello Bea, I will give you the contact of Claudio López +52 983 182 6203 He is a certified guide and can give you the service in that area. I hope it serves you and that you have an excellent trip, whatever you tell me.
Sandra, thank you for the great article. I am still at home, in Portugal, preparing my forthcoming trip of 5 weeks in Mexico, and your work was most helpful! I might contact Claudio and see how much he asks for a tour with transport… the other guide I found online asked me 1800 while just three years ago his price was 1000. That's quite a raise 🙂
Hello Ricardo, yes, prices have increased in recent years. Anything that can help you tell me, it will be my pleasure. Have a nice trip?