Not too many people know that the ancient site of Calakmul on the Yucatan Peninsula is one of the most extensive ruins in all of the Americas. Have you ever heard of it before? Over 6500 buildings and an estimated population at it’s peak of over 50000 Mayans. It also had a deep rivalry with it’s neighbour Tikal. Kind of like an ancient version of Australia vs New Zealand in Rugby, Calgary and Edmonton in Ice Hockey or Prost and Senna in Formula 1. War was common between both of them.

Getting to Calakmul

Calakmul presented me with some logistical problems. It is a 60km one way trip to Calakmul with no camping at the site. So for me it meant cycling about 120km to the site and back in a day, plus I needed enough time to wander around and truly enjoy the experience. I would need to hike about 6km to get a good look at the site and I wanted to climb a few of the pyramids. It was possible but it would be a big day for me.

I cycled the first 7km of the 60km road to a commercial campsite. Nearby I spied a hidden bit of flat ground out of sight so I stayed there for free. I just can’t help myself, besides, I’m starting to run short of money so need to find savings where I can.

Bureaucracy, Flat tyres and Wildlife

I was up pre dawn and cycling as the sun was rising which was surprisingly cool considering the ridiculous daytime temps I had been experiencing. I reached a checkpoint to pay yet another entry fee. The poor guys at the entry gate were all confused. They didn’t know if bicycles were allowed. Apparently they hadn’t seen a bicycle heading to the site before. They looked on the back of the bicycle and questioned why I didn’t have a license plate. They thought I was on a motorbike for a short period.

There were a couple of minutes of confused conversation between myself and the two gate staff. Eventually I paid my entry and was on my way. Not long afterwards I almost ran into a Javelina which is a native Pig which was grazing on the side of the road. It didn’t know which way to run and headed straight for me until it stopped and turned to run in the opposite direction. It was hard to take a photo as it hid among the undergrowth.

By 9am I had a flat tyre. It was a nice slash in the tyre tube. I use this stuff called Slime Tyre Sealant inside my tubes. It is a green coloured goo that seeks out and patches a hole from the inside out. It works great for small holes but not for large tears in the tubes. The goo leaked everywhere and the hole was too big to be repaired. I put in a new tube and was on my way. Which reminds me I need to buy some more Slime next time I find some.

Calakmul

With the extended breaks due to bureaucracy, wildlife and flat tyres it was 11am when I reached Calakmul and put on my backpack to explore.  I planned a 6km circuit which took in all of the main sites and several of the lesser visited sites. This place is rather extensive, kinda like Tikal minus the crowds.

There are several mapped circuits to take, all marked on the maps. I took the largest of the circuits, a total of about 6km of hiking. The first couple of ruins were not too special, mainly residential type buildings. It wasn’t long till I reached the one of the many plazas of Calakmul, then the famed Pyramids with the exotic names of Pyramid number 1,2 and 6. There were many others but these were the main ones.

Climbing the pyramids

I climbed all of these pyramids which held commanding views in all directions. I looked to the south and imagined that I could see the main Pyramid at El Mirador which is only about 40km away in Guatemala. Despite El Mirador being so close it had been deserted for over 200 years before Calakmul came into existence. It has been said that environmental factors were the main cause of the demise of the Mayans. Water or lack of it was an obvious main cause but the pros are still debating all the causes. Learn from the past people!!!!

More flat tyre problems


Javelina

The Pecarry or Javelina is a native pig. Not the best picture but it’s all I could do.


Calakmul

Calakmul. One of the main plazas


Calakmul

Calakmul. The Ball court


Calakmul

Calakmul. Pyramid # 1. A nice climb to the top


Calakmul

Calakmul. The view from the top of Pyrmaid #1 looking towards Pyramid 6


Calakmul

Calakmul. View from the top of Pyramid #1 looking at Pyramid # 2.


Calakmul

Calakmul. Pyramid #2


Oscolated Turkey

Ocelated Turkey. They are common wandering around this part of the world.


Calakmul

Calakmul. A look at Pyramid #2 from the top of Pyramid #6


Calakmul

Calakmul. And another view. This time from the top. It’s hot, it’s time to leave.

 

 

 

10 Responses

  1. Vince Brooks

    Have you ever tried the Rhinodillos Tire Liners? Don’t know if they work but certainly sound advantageous.

    • BikeHikeSafari

      I looked them up. They look great. I might buy done to try them.

  2. ANDY

    great post. bush pig coming straight at you must remind you of the big NT.

    • BikeHikeSafari

      Andy, it wasn’t as big as some of the wild pigs I’ve encountered in the Territory but very similar. The landscape is kinda similar too.

  3. Anna

    Never heard of this place yet I was so close. Quite sad really!

    • BikeHikeSafari

      Yes it’s like that fir a lot of places. I only heard of it the first time when I researched places in Guatemala. I heard of this place north of El Mirador. I also read of the ancient wars between Tikal and Calakmul. So I had to try and find the place, turns out is was awesome.

  4. Karen Benjamin

    As always great pictures and stories! I have a silly question – are you able to go inside the pyramids?

    • BikeHikeSafari

      Thanks Karen. The only pyramid that I was allowed to enter was at Palenque. All the others have locked gates at the entrance. And some pyramids have no known entry or they were sealed up during restoration.
      Would be nice to see what is inside.

%d bloggers like this:

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Subscribe!