Chiapas to Yucatan trip in Dec
Replies: 12 - Last Post: Sep 30, 2012 11:26 PM Last Post By: pedromex
Sep 25, 2012 1:46 AM
Chiapas to Yucatan trip in DecThis is my first trip to Mayaland, and since I am an anthropology student it's extra special. I'm trying to figure out my logistics to book my flights. I have 15-17 days, and have a number of questions, so feel free to offer insight on any of them.
I'm flying into Villahermosa and depending on the time I arrive will either stay overnight or head to Palenque immediately. Will take either the ADO bus or a shuttle to Palenque.
I thought I would go to Yaxchilan first, as I'd like to be at that site for the end of the b'aktun on Dec 21st. I plan to stay 2-3 nights to fit in Bonampak and check out the area. Then back to Palenque for at least 2 nights before heading to Yucatan.
What is the best way to get to Frontera Corozal from Palenque (and back)?
I'm not interested in group guided tours, so I'm not sure if I can pay for transport on their vans or not just to get to my destination.
However, since I am going from Chiapas to Yucatan, should I come back into Palenque or Villahermosa to get transportation out?
Can I bus it to Tulum or Coba, or will it be less painful to fly out of Villahermosa to Cancun?
I have considered renting a car, but the topes don't sound like fun to drive over and I could use the bus rides to nap.
In Yucatan I want to visit Coba, Tulum and Cozumel before I fly out of Cancun back home. That leg of the trip can be less structured, and I'm opening to being sidetracked for something interesting. I'm going to snorkel in Cozumel, and prefer to explore a cenote over lying on a beach.
If anyone has suggestions on places to stay in my target areas in Yucatan, I'd appreciate it :)
Sep 25, 2012 5:18 AM
1About snorkling in yucatan - i would suggest Akumal. The Best snorkel place ive been in yucatan and central america - you can walk from beach right out to great places coral places - and the Yal-ku fresh water lagoon is a great place to visit when / if you are there.
I will also be there in december. see you maybe *
Edited by: michaeltonny
Sep 25, 2012 6:38 AM
2Going to Yaxchillan for the end of the Bactun is a good idea because Palenque will be full of new age people wanting to see the world end. The best way to get to Frontera Corozol is by a tour bus as they will get you there and back plus arrange a boat to take you to Yaxchillan and back. You don't have to stay with the group after you get there. You can do this your self with a collectivo from Palenque and Frontera to Bonampak There are few places to stay at Bonampak.but there is a hotel at Frontera and a restaurant. To go to Tulum just take a bus out of Palenque. No need to rent a car as the bus system in Mexico is the best in the world..You should have a good trip if it isn't to crowded. Finding a place to stay in Palenque could be a problem.
Sep 25, 2012 7:53 AM
3If you have the money, I would return to Villahermosa and fly to the Yucatan/Quintanaa Roo area rather than bus. That would maximize your time in the region and allow for more time to visit additional sites.
My favorite area is outside Merida and is known as the Puuc area. Uxmal is a wonderful site but nearby is Kabah, Labna, El Sayil and more. Merida is a colonial city with a great Zocalo area that has free entertainment on weekends and makes for a great overnight location for the Puuc region.
Sep 25, 2012 1:51 PM
4Congratulations on your trip! I'm sure you are excited about it, given your background.
I would recommend spending at least a few hours in Villahermosa before heading off for Palenque; the Parque La Venta has all the monumental sculptures from La Venta, plus some good (if slightly outdated) information on Olmec culture generally.
Heyduke's advice on getting to Yaxchilan and Bonampak is good. For what it's worth, though, I advise you to go with a guide, if for no other reason than to support the tourism economy in a part of Chiapas that's being torn apart by the narcos. Plus, many of them know the sites well and can give you good info on exploration history and local folklore. Your studies will allow you to get the big picture either way. So I don't see any reason to pass on the guides, at least for the Usumacinta. Palenque is another matter.
While at Palenque, be sure to make it up to Temple IXX and Temple XXI. Though if you've taken any classes with Dave I probably don't need to tell you about them.
As for getting from Palenque to Quintana Roo, I've done the overnight bus from Palenque to Tulum and it's not terrible, but you might find it rewarding to break that trip into a few pieces anyway. Calakmul is an extraordinary site (as you probably know) that's got wonderful infrastructure for visitors even though it receives very few. It's right on the way, but will require two nights and a day to visit by virtue of being in the middle of nowhere. Dzibanche is another cool Early Classic site that's readily visited from Bacalar, a cute little town on a freshwater lagoon with an old colonial fort.
There's also a good Maya museum in Campeche, from which you could pop across the border and visit Cerros in Belize, a Late Preclassic site that backs up to the Caribbean.
I second Akumal as a great destination for snorkeling. If you have the time, you could always head down to Punta Allen in the Sian Ka'an, which has great snorkeling (accessible by boat) and gets few visitors.
I'm also a Mayanist, so feel free to PM me with any specific questions you may have and I can try and point you in the right direction.
If you don't have a copy already, pick up the 2nd edition of Chronicle of the Maya Kings and Queens by Martin and Grube. It does a very good job on the Usumacinta polities as well as Calakmul (among many others).
Sep 25, 2012 4:29 PM
5Thanks for the great feedback I've gotten so far! I am a plan-ahead girl, but I do want to leave some room for going off the general itinerary if something appeals. Depending on my money situation, I am hoping to be in MX from Dec 17th to Jan 3rd, if I can rent my apartment in Austin out for the holidays to offset expenses.
I plan to stay at Escudo Jaguar as a base for Yaxchilan and Bonampak. Going to do some photography, but I wondered if there is any way to arrange to be at Yaxchilan for more than 2 hours? That doesn't seem like near enough time to do the detailed work I need to, even if I go out there twice.
If I decide to detour to Cakamul, is it on the route from Palenque to Tulum? Any can't-miss suggestions for that area?
I am definitely considering Akmul and Punta Allen for snorkeling. The main reason I want to go to Cozumel is the ruins dedicated to the Ixchel, as my thesis is going to be on the Moon Goddess cult.
I do want to check out the Olmec heads in Villahermosa if I can, depending on when my flight arrives, and whether if I will fly or bus to Yucatan.
Sep 25, 2012 4:50 PM
6I'm not sure about time available at Yaxchilan, as it's been a while since I was there. Perhaps another poster who makes it to the Usumacinta more often can help you out with that.
As for Calakmul, it is on the way between Palenque and Tulum, about an hour off of Carretera186 between Escarcega and Xpujil. There's a lot to see in that area--four or five major sites right around Xpujil alone--but the tourist infrastructure (hotels, etc.) is still catching up. Most people stay in Xpujil and then take a shared taxi out to Calakmul for the day. I highly recommend it; Calakmul is a great site to visit, and they've been discovering some awesome stuff there lately. I think the Preclassic masks around the back side of Structure 2 are now open to the public, for one thing.
The ruins on Cozumel are worth your time as someone who knows what to expect (which is to say, not a whole lot so far as architecture goes). Perhaps more interesting for your purposes would be a visit to the Punta Sur ruins on Isla Mujeres, where Cortez's expedition found a whole bevy of ceramic (female) idols.
Sep 25, 2012 7:07 PM
7There is a really nice, icy cold cenote very close to Coba. I was there in 2003, so it is pretty vague in my memory. Just remember climbing down a ladder to get into it and then be blessed by a shaman afterwards.
Sep 27, 2012 3:12 PM
8When we traveled from Palenque to Tulum, we used Campeche as a stop over point. We took the bus from Palenque to Campeche, spent the day in Campeche, and then had a car dropped off for us there which we drove to Tulum.
Not sure what non-group options are available for Yaxchilan--I guess private guide ($$) or hire your own boat.
Sep 27, 2012 3:23 PM
9There are buses that go out the peripheral road to Frontera Corozal and Benemerito de las Americas. Those are second class buses and leave from a different place than the regular busses. They are cheap but you will have to ask around. Everyone will direct you to the shuttles so you have to be persistant. They leave early 6, 7, 8 am etc. I think there is one every couple of hours during the day. Cheap and fun.
You can also stay at Frontera Corozal for as long as you want. I bet the ecotourist resort there can make arrangements for you to stay at the archeologist camp at the ruins so you could be there during the morning and evening. You can get a boat there, one way, especially if you are good at negotiating an extra space in a tour boat.
Renting a boat for yourself is expensive but gives you as much time as you want to spend. Make sure you boatman knows how long you want to stay.
There is no regular place to stay at Yaxchilan. Last time I was there I understood the Archeological camp does take visitors with prior arrangements. That was a long time ago now (2002).
It does take more than 2 hours to see the site and even more to photograph it appropriately.
Sep 28, 2012 12:03 AM
10hi Paxton... that was my kitty's name, btw ;)
I don't mind taking a shuttle to Yaxchilan from Palenque, I just didn't want to have to sign on to a group tour instead of doing my own thing once I am there. If I can arrange transport from Palenque to FC and back, that would be great. Do the shuttles leave to FC throughout the day? Since I am coming from Villahermosa, I may not be able to get to Palenque until sometime in the afternoon (unless I overnight in the nearest town to leave in the morning).
I'm happy to go in on the cost of a boat rental to Yaxchilan but it seems like a hit-and-run thing to go out there for just two hours... I suppose the boatmen are trying to maximize the number of runs they do per day, can't fault them for that.
I didn't know there was an archeological camp currently at the site. I guess I should ask around here at UT, see if anyone knows about it, and if they might be willing to work something out.
Right now I am trying to book a rez with Escudo Jaguar in FC, but it's like pulling teeth to square it away. They have rooms, but whomever is handling the emails is not the most efficient person I've ever dealt with. After 8 days of back and forth, I got an email saying "we have you down for Dec 19th for three nights", without asking my legal name or for a credit card to confirm it. Argh :\
Sep 28, 2012 6:40 AM
11If I was you I would sign up wit a tour. That would get you to Yaxchillan. You don't have to stay with them. You could come back to FC with another group. From FC just jump on a Collective when you are ready to leave. I doubt that the hotel at FC takes a credit card. They do things different in that part of the world.
Sep 30, 2012 11:26 PM
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