Chinkultic ruins, Chiapas, Mexico.

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Chinkultic Ruins

Top choice in Chiapas

With a dearth of other tourists, this is one of those magical archaeological sites where the sense of wild atmosphere is as enthralling as the stories written into the stones. Chinkultic was a minor Maya power during the late Classic period and, like Tenam Puente, may have survived into post-Classic times. Of 200 mounds scattered over a wide area of dramatically situated ruins, only a few have been cleared, but it's easy to let your imagination color in the rest.

The ruins are in two groups. From the entrance, first take the path to the left, which curves around to the right below one of Chinkultic’s biggest structures, E23, which is covered in vegetation. The path reaches a grassy plaza with several weathered stelae, some carved with human figures, and a ball court on the right.

Return to the entrance, from which another path heads to the Plaza Hundida (Sunken Plaza), crosses a stream, then climbs steeply up to the Acrópolis, a partly restored temple atop a rocky escarpment, with remarkable views over the surrounding lakes and forests and down into a cenote (sinkhole) 50m below – into which the Maya used to toss offerings of pottery, beads, bones and obsidian knives.

Chinkultic is about 48km from Comitán, on the road to the Lagos de Montebello. Combis for the lakes can drop you at the intersection (M$50 from Comitán); the site is 2km north via a paved access road.

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