Calakmul is a magnificent experience, made even better by its history as a leading city from around AD 250. Many buildings survive, evoking a sense of a powerful place, and getting there – its remoteness – makes it all the more special.

But visiting Calakmul is not just a historical experience, it's also an ecological one. Lying at the heart of the vast, untrammeled Reserva de la Biosfera Calakmul (which covers close to 15% of the state’s total territory), the ruins are surrounded by rain forest and a seemingly endless canopy of vegetation. You might glimpse ocellated turkeys, parrots, toucans and more – around 350 bird species reside or fly through here. You'll no doubt see or hear spider and howler monkeys, too. You're much less likely to spot a jaguar – one of five kinds of wildcat in the area – but it's not impossible.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Calakmul.