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Introducing Bonampak, Yaxchilán & the Carretera Fronteriza

The ancient Maya cities of Bonampak and Yaxchilán, southeast of Palenque, are easily accessible thanks to the Carretera Fronteriza (Highway 307), a good paved road running parallel to the Mexico–Guatemala border, all the way from Palenque to the Lagos de Montebello, around the fringe of the Lacandón Jungle. Nights here are wonderfully quiet, the sky screaming with stars and the ground twinkling with fireflies. Bonampak, famous for its frescoes, is 152km by road from Palenque; the bigger and more important Yaxchilán, with a peerless jungle setting beside the broad and swift Río Usumacinta, is 173km by road, then about 22km by boat.

The Carretera Fronteriza is the main thoroughfare connecting a number of excellent ecotourism projects, dreamy waterfalls, Lacandón villages and lesser-known archaeological ruins. It's also the main route from Chiapas to Guatemala’s northern Petén region (home of several major Maya sites, including mighty Tikal) via the town of Frontera Corozal. Phones in this region usually have satellite service or Guatemala-based numbers.