****Disclosure – I am not an archaeologist and this information is compiled from lectures and study abroad explorations.
When most think Mayan Ruins, the images of grand pyramids on the coast of somewhere beautiful come to mind. Chichén Itzá has made it’s debut as a wonder of the world for obvious reasons. It’s equally impressive counterpart, Tulum, rests on the picturesque coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. While both these sites are absolutely something to marvel at, there are other noteworthy sites that deserve your undying attention. For any traveler remotely interested in archaeological sites here are 4 that cannot be missed. For a traveler that is exercising a more frugal approach (with the exception of Tikal) these sites are slightly off the beaten path and not AS MUCH of a hot spot nor are they located in “resort towns” like Cancún.
Located just outside Mexico City, this site has stirred up much debate in the archaeological world. The origins of the pyramid differ, however, it is said to have been
inhabited by the Aztec culture…
Now, why am I mentioning it on my Mayan Ruins post… The Aztec’s were not the primary builders of Teotiuachan. There is evidence that shows some overlap of Mayan culture present at this site. Plus ! It’s one of my absolute favorites and whether Mayan or Aztec.. it is absolutely worth checking out.
Palenque holds a special place in my heart. Engulfed in hues of green, like something out of your favorite childhood disney princess movie, the rainforest comes to life around you. Howler Monkeys, Toucans, streams and majestic waterfalls sing a song that captures the essence of what it feels like to be alive.
The palace and city is home to several temples and one of the first irrigation/aqueduct canals of the ancient culture.
Emperor Pakal the Great was found in The Temple of Inscriptions and still rests there today while archaeologists, explorers, and tourists alike flock to see his empire.
Piedras Negras is most definitely off the beaten path located between the Mexico and Guatemala border. If you can find a tour guide to get you to this site, the adventure is well worth it. (Contact me for the inside scoop on getting to Piedras Negras)
Let me warn you, this adventure is not for the faint of heart. To access the site we rode cattle style in the back of livestock truck for about two hours
and then ! Set sail (if you could call it sailing, probably not) on the Usumacinta River in two giant long boats. Lets just say these boats would probably not pass a U.S safety inspection.
After arriving at the site, grab your water and your bug spray before you embark on a trek through uninhabited rainforest to find ….
more and more rainforest.
Yes friends that’s right, after all of that… most of Piedras Negras has not yet been excavated.
There is something to be said about getting to play pretend archaeologist. This is exactly what we did. Traipsing around the jungle tripping on vine covered stone and mounds of mud while realizing you’re standing on someone’s temple or home is extraordinary.
Located in Guatemala, Tikal is decorated with massive pyramids shooting far past the rainforest treetops.
Remaining a forever crowd pleaser the park permits you to climb some of the pyramids for a
view you will never forget.
(Don’t forget your camera!) Tikal is still used by Mayan descendants who worship and practice ancient traditions. The Mayan language is facing extinction with only a handful of people that are still able to read/write/speak. Tikal helps preserve what is left of the Mayan culture in Guatemala.
How neat is that ?!
Thanks for reading !