Solo Female Backpacker: Needs info about Mayan Ruin through Yucatan
Replies: 14 - Last Post: Jun 12, 2012 3:01 AM Last Post By: pedromex
Jun 3, 2012 5:36 PM
Solo Female Backpacker: Needs info about Mayan Ruin through YucatanHello! I'm trying to gather as much information as I can for this trip I'm taking in 2 weeks days. YIKES! I'll be traveling for a total of 18 days stating in Palenque, flying home from Cancun.
I will be flying into Villahermosa, hoping to catch a bus right away into Palenque. I already have a hostel reservation (Yaxkin Hostel) for the first night of my trip. From there my itinerary is pretty much wide open, so I'm open to some suggestions. From Palenque the hostel has transports and tours to Bonampak & Yaxchilan, and from there I'm planning to go to TIkal.
1) How do I get from Palenque (or Bonampak.Yaxchilan) to TIKAL????
2) Is it safe for a solo female traveler?
3) How many days will I need to spend in either Palenque, Bonampak/Yaxchilan, and Tikal? One day each??
From Tikal, I want to see Calakmul.
Questions 4) How do I get from TIkal to Calakmul??? & 5) Can anyone recommend places to stay?
From Calakmul I want to see Becan, then Edzna.
Questions 6) Has anyone ever done this route before? & 7) How do I get from Calakmul to Becan or Edzna??
I plan to make a pit stop in Campeche, or does anyone have any other suggestions/recommendations. Other cities/ruins I want to see are Uxmal, Merida, Dzibilchaltun, Chichen Itza, COba, Tulum, and Cozumel. Any advice or tips you can throw my way would be excellent.
Thanks so much for your help!!! :) It's much appreciated.
Edited by: heavenlybutterfly
Jun 3, 2012 6:21 PM
1You should take at least 2 days at Palenque to do it right. Then do a tour from Palenque to Yaxchillan and Bonampak it will take a full day. From Palenque book another tour to Flores Guatemala. They will take you to Frontera Corozol where you exit Mexico and go by launch ( Boat) to Bethel Guatemala where you catch the bus to Flores. While in Flores book another tour to Tikal. There are plenty of places to stay in Flores or I think you can stay at the ruins. Someone else will have to answer your other questions. You have a awful lot to see in only 18 days
Jun 4, 2012 4:24 AM
2I think you should see Palenque, and then STAY in a cabaña in Frontera to visit Bonmpak and Yaxchilan, from there you can continue to Tikal, why backtrack to Palenque again?? But even if Tikal and Calakmul are very close there is not a legal border OR a proper road ( it is a drug route) meaning you would have to backtrack all the way to Palenque or go via Belize. The cheap cabañas near Calakmul are 60 kms away, I should think you would have to hire a taxi drive to take you to the ruins...
In my opinion you should travel the loop and miss out Campeche Ruins and visit the ones south of Quintana Roo (Chachoben, Muyil, Kohunlich or Tulum)
Jun 4, 2012 6:30 AM
Jun 4, 2012 9:37 AM
4All your questions will be answered if you read old posts on this branch. Plus a frequent poster Mayaphile has on his website a detailed account of his going to Frontera and then crossing over to Guatemala. I have a couple of photos on my website wolfcalls.com showing my traveles from Palenque to Tikal. Remember to check out of Mexico at the Palanque immigration station as the one in Frontera is not always open.
Jun 4, 2012 5:54 PM
5You're going to have an excellent trip.
When you get into Villahermosa, set aside two hours or so for the Parque La Venta, which houses most of the major monuments from that (Olmec) site. Not Maya, but it'll help ground you at the earlier end of Mesoamerican history before you strike out on the rest of your trip.
As noted, unfortunately there is no (safe or realistic) way of getting from Tikal to Calakmul directly. If you want to fit both in, you should go through Belize and then cut back across into Campeche to visit Calakmul and then continue up the Campeche (Gulf) coast towards Merida and the Puuk route.
Cozumel is interesting historically, but there's not much to see, especially after coming from all the Classic and Terminal Classic sites you'll have just been to. Better perhaps to hang in Tulum and reward yourself with some beach time.
The route you describe should be plenty safe for a female traveler; the one place I would advise you exercise caution is on the leg between Corozal and Flores--not that it's terribly sketchy, just remote, so maybe try and find a travel buddy.
I agree that you should give Palenque two days; one should be enough for each of the rest, and some you can do two or three at a time (i/e Puuk sites).
Are you an archaeology student, or just an interested traveler? Either way, if you'd like advice on reading material, PM me and I'll give you all the boring details and some useful site-specific stuff.
Jun 4, 2012 7:45 PM
6Take a tour between Palenque and Flores. Don't try to do it on your own. For safety reasons.
Jun 5, 2012 4:05 AM
7As #3 said stay up at Tikal, it is a real great experience. We arrived the late afternoon/ evening before, slept in rented hammocks and had more than enough time to see Tikal in one day. Travelled on that afternoon/evening.
If you are not an archaelogy student, make sure you plan some fun stuff to do, ie. snorkel, bike ride etc.
Have a great trip!
Jun 5, 2012 2:08 PM
8We did that trip in January, going from Cancun to Belize then Flores, Tikal and back to Palenque through Frontera Corozal, Chiapas.
You can do it independently but would be better if you speak Spanish. Otherwise hook up with other travelers or go on a group tour out of Palenque.
The tour agencies offer a two-day tour for Bonampak, Yaxchilan, and Flores/Tikal. If your budget allows, stay at one of the inns at the Tikal ruin site. Otherwise find budget hostels and budget hotels in Flores. 2 days for Palenque, 1 day for Bonampak and Yaxchilan with lodging in Frontera Corozal, Chiapas. At least 2 days in Flores for Tikal.
Flores is a good option for lodging because it is a nice town with many amenities such as ATM, internet cafe, restaurants, and clubs, Your transport from Bethel Guatemala could be by San Juan Travel. Once in Flores they recommend an English speaking tour agent who will help with local lodging and tours to other Mayan sites. They have had bad press in the past but we found them helpful.
Heyduke and Vaneplaya offer some good advice.
We have tips on customs, lodging and up to date info at softseattravel Tikal.
San Juan Travel will provide transport to Belize City where you catch a bus to the Chetumal Border Crossing. There are other options from the Beize City San Juan station such as shuttle boats from Belize to Chetumal.
Tulum is a good visit and a great beach. ADO Bus service to Cancun is available at Tulum.
From Cancun you can reach Chichen Itza and from Merida you can reach Chichen Itza, Uxmal, and Dzibulchaltun. Allow one day for each. You might put Valladolid on the list for access to ruins, a cenote swim, and good hotels and transportation.
Jun 5, 2012 6:29 PM
9Thank you all for your wonderful advice and suggestions. Looks like I'm on the right track then.
My only questions now have to do with transport (routes, costs, and distance/time) to get from Tikal to Calakmul...and from Calakmul to Campeche.
Anyone care to be more specific and share their wisdom with me. I would help me tremendously. As of now, I'm going to stay in Palenque for 2 days, then make my way to Bonampak/Yaxchilan for just one day. From there head to Tikal (hopefully on a tour and with a travel buddy). Once I get to Flores the hotel I made a reservation with (Tikal Inn) will pick me up at 7:30am to take me into the park where I will have a room with a sunrise/sunset tour.
From there...it's a BIG BLUR!
If I want to get to Calakmul, it's suggested I go through Belize...Would I be able to make arrangements to get across the border in Flores? How long will all this traveling take me, before I finally reach Calakmul???
From Calakmul...is it relatively easy to get to the Campeche area?
Jun 5, 2012 6:43 PM
Jun 7, 2012 7:51 AM
11Last I checked, it was possible to go direct from Flores to Chetumal, in QR Mexico, with several bus companies. Otherwise, hop a bus to Belize City and make the connection from there. Total trip is about 250 miles. From Chetumal, you can catch a bus to Xpujil, which isn't much of a town but it is the base for visiting Calakmul. You might be able to make this trip in one long day, but it would be kind of a push. If you have to break the trip, there's a good archaeology museum in Chetumal, and several cool sites collectively known as the Rio Bec sites right around Xpujil.
Calakmul is a full day trip from Xpujil; as the ruins themselves are well inside a biosphere reserve, you'll need to have a taxi (or other traveller) drive you into the ruins and back.
It's easy enough to continue on to Campeche with the same bus company as dropped you in Xpujil, though somebody else may be able to give you more useful details about that.
Jun 7, 2012 10:37 PM
12I would go to tikal first and then work my way back to yaxchilan, bonampak, palenque, calakmul, xpujil, becan, campeche, edzna, uxmal, Merida, dzibilchaltun, chichen itzan. at this point, if you can go to Valladolid, ek-Balam, rio Lagartos, them coba, tulum and Cozumel.
Maybe go from Villahermosa to Palenque first. Hire a tour to yaxchilan, bonampak(one day for both), Flores, Tikal (one day)and then go back to Palenque, visit the ruins (one full day)go to escarcega and connect to xpujil. Not much to do there, except the ruins which you can see if you get there before maybe 3 pm. I stayed at zoh laguna, but i think hotel calakmul in xpujil may be a good option From there you can probably hire a taxi to calakmul, Becan, and back to escarcega to catch a bus to Campeche. From there everything gets a lot easier. Edzna is about an hour away. You can take a tour or take a little van (colectivo). There are also tours to uxmal. You may have to go back to Campeche and take a bus to Merida. You can go to some nice cenotes called cuzama.. Dzibilchaltun is close to Merida. . You can take a colectivo. Not as impressive as everything else on your plan, this is the one I would skip if I run out of time. Then a bus to chichen, get there as early as possible unless you like crowds, seriously, huge crowds. Then Valladolid, you can do ek Balam and rio Lagartos in one day if you start early. Go to restaurante isla contoy and ask for ismael. This may sound like advertising but this guy is amazing. He helped me plan my first trip to the yucatan peninsula and even picked me up in his car from Valladolid. I recommended him to some friends and they told me that was the only place they did not feel like everyone was trying to rip them off.
Anyway, back to Valladolid, coba, tulum.
Calakmul is very remote, and not very easy (at least on a budget) to get to. When I was in Campeche City i hired a 2 day tour to Hochob, Dzibilnocac, Xpuhil, and then we spent the night at zoh-laguna, near xpujil. The next morning we took off at 4 am to Calakmul and watched the sunrise from the highest temple, estructura II. Then Becan, Balam-ku, and back to Campeche. Tenis may be a good option. 2 of us Willi be in the calakmul area the first week of July if you want to join us on the way to Tikal if our schedules match.
Good luck! Buen viaje!
Jun 11, 2012 5:05 PM
13Just as safe as for a solo male traveler. All over the world, men are just as likely to be the victim of violence.
Mexico is a conservative country and dress accordingly. I gave that advice to a female tourist once. We met in a bar and she showed up in a low-cut blouse and miniskirt. She ended up going home with her new best friend and three of his male friends.
Jun 12, 2012 3:01 AM
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