4. National Museum of Anthropology
The National Museum of Anthropology is a national museum of Mexico. It is the largest and most visited museum in Mexico.
This world-class museum stands in an extension of the Bosque de Chapultepec. Its long, rectangular courtyard is surrounded on three sides by two-level display halls. The 12 ground-floor salas (halls) are dedicated to pre-Hispanic Mexico, while upper-level salas show how Mexico’s indigenous descendants live today, with the contemporary cultures located directly above their ancestral civilizations.
Everything is superbly displayed, with much explanatory text translated into English. At the entrance, you will find rentable audio guides in English, and the starting point for free guided tours (four daily except Sunday, one hour) in English, which are worthwhile to make sense of Mexico’s complicated history. The vast museum offers more than most people can absorb in a single visit. Here’s a brief guide to the ground-floor halls, proceeding counterclockwise around the courtyard.
Coba is an ancient Maya city on the Yucatán Peninsula, located in what is now northeastern Quintana Roo, Mexico.
Coba means ‘waters stirred by the wind’, an appropriate Mayan name as this settlement is surrounded by two large lagoons. For many years Coba was an ignored piece of Mayan history due to its location. Located between Tulum in the state of Quintana Roo, and Valladolid in the state of Yucatan, archeologists first learned about the site in the mid 1800′s, but dense jungle, the Caste War and lack of funds made this site a difficult area to penetrate. This Mayan site is still largely unexcavated making it a true wonder in the Yucatan. Visitors can enjoy shaded walkways that are the original sacbe (white roads), three settlements that show the architecture and vast area of this once large city, 2 ball courts and climb the highest Mayan pyramid in the Yucatan, Nohoch Mul. We have been visiting Coba since our arrival to the area in the early 90′s and we are still fascinated by this settlement. Cobá was finally opened to the public as an archeological site in1973. Archeologists have estimated that 6,000 structures exist, but only three settlements are for public viewing. what makes this site different from Chichen Itza, Ek Balam, or even Tulum is that Coba is not a single site but a large group of sites connected to the central pyramid, connected by over 16 Mayan ceremonial “white roads” (sacbéob). The three main areas that can be viewed in the Coba Ruins are the Nohoch Mul structures (main pyramid), Conjunto Pinturas (spiritual area) and Macanxoc structures (close to the lagoon that bears the same name). Your day at Coba can last up to 2.5 hours if you walk the site, 1.5 hours if you take advantage of the Coba bicycle rentals or in an hour if you opt for the Mayan limo, a chauffeured tricycle where you just sit and take in the sights. Both bicycle options are inexpensive and super fun!
Climb the Pyramid at Coba
[caption id="attachment_23254" align="aligncenter" width="642"] Photograph by Penny De Los Santos- Hugo’s Mexican Street FOod[/caption]
Image from: http://www.newmexico.org
Archaeologists believe Cobá was one of the most important ruin sites on the Yucatan Peninsula. The design and purpose of this settlement was very different from other Mayan cities, with various settlements existing in one area. The white roads lead from each settlement to the main pyramid, Nohoch Mul. Learn more about this off-the-beaten-track Mayan Ruin.
Xcaret is a Maya civilization archaeological site located on the Caribbean coastline of the Yucatán Peninsula, in the state of Quintana Roo in Mexico.
Delve into the trails of Xcaret to discover how the Mayan jungle and culture of Mexico combine in more than 50 exciting attractions. Located on the seashore near Cancun in the Riviera Maya, Xcaret has attractions for everyone. Enjoy a traditional Fiesta Charra and the Mayan Ball Game, or if you are a nature lover visit the Jaguar Island and our colorful Butterfly Pavillion.
You can also enjoy the Caribbean Sea! Take a snorkeling tour, swim in underground rivers and have fun with the Dolphin Swim. When night falls, you will be our guest of honor at the presentation “Xcaret Mexico Espectacular”, a celebration of light and color with 300 artists that will take you through the history of Mexico.
7. Reserva Mariposa Monarca
In the eastern-most corner of Michoacán, straddling the border of México state, lies the incredible 563-sq-km Monarch Butterfly Reserve , the site of the butterfly Burning Man. Every autumn, from late October to early November, millions of monarch butterflies flock to these forested Mexican highlands for their winter hibernation, having flown all the way from the Great Lakes region of the US and Canada, some 4500km away. As they close in on their destination they gather in gentle swarms, crossing highways and fluttering up steep mountainsides where they cling together in clusters that weigh down thick branches of the oyenal (fir) trees. When the sun rises and warms the forest, they take to the sky in gold and orange flurries, descending to the humid forest floor for the hottest part of the day. By mid-afternoon they often carpet the ground brilliantly. The best time to see them is on a warm, sunny afternoon in February – they don’t fly as much in cool weather.
8. Land’s End
Land’s End is by far the most impressive attraction Cabo has to offer. Hop on a panga (M$175) and head to El Arco (the Arch), a jagged natural feature that partially fills with the tide. Pelicans, sea lions, sea, sky – this is what brought people to Cabo in the first place, and it’s still magical, despite the backdrop of cruise ships.
9. Palenque Ruins
Ancient Palenque stands at the precise point where the first hills rise out of the Gulf coast plain, and the dense jungle covering these hills forms an evocative backdrop to Palenque’s exquisite Maya architecture. Hundreds of ruined buildings are spread over 15 sq km, but only a fairly compact central area has been excavated. Everything you see here was built without metal tools, pack animals or the wheel.
As you explore the ruins, try to picture the gray stone edifices as they would have been at the peak of Palenque’s power: painted blood red with elaborate blue and yellow stucco details. The forest around these temples is still home to howler monkeys, toucans and ocelots. The ruins and surrounding forests form a national park, the Parque Nacional Palenque, for which you must pay a separate M$27 admission fee at Km 4.5 on the road to the ruins.
Palenque sees more than 1000 visitors on an average day, and visitation spikes in the summer holiday season. Opening time is a good time to visit, when it’s cooler and not too crowded, and morning mist may still be wrapping the temples in a picturesque haze. Refreshments, hats and souvenirs are available outside the main entrance. Vendors line many of the paths through the ruins.
Official site guides are available by the entrance. Two Maya guide associations offer informative two-hour tours for up to seven people, which cost M$880 in Spanish or M$1020 in English, French, German or Italian. French, German and Italian speakers may have to wait a bit longer as there are fewer guides available.
Most visitors take a combi or taxi to the ruins’ main (upper) entrance, see the major structures and then walk downhill to the museum, visiting minor ruins along the way.
Combis to the ruins (M$24 each way) run about every 10 minutes during daylight hours. In town, look for ‘Ruinas’ combis anywhere on Juárez west of Allende. They will also pick you up or drop you off anywhere along the town–ruins road.
Be aware that the mushrooms sold by locals along the road to the ruins from about May to November are the hallucinogenic variety.
10. Ik Kil
Ik Kil is a well known cenote outside Pisté in the Tinúm Municipality, Yucatán, Mexico. It is located in the northern center of the Yucatán Peninsula and is part of the Ik Kil Archeological Park near Chichen Itza.
Ik Kil Cenote, (some refer to it as ikil cenote) is a deep natural pit usually open to the sky (formed by the collapsing of a cave), Mexico has a special name for those kind of places: “cenote” -taken from Mayan language word for a well. some Cenotes were a sacred, Young men and women were thrown and left to drown there,as a sacrifice to the god of rain).
Ik Kil cenote is a popular stop on the way to the ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza (specifically popular among bus tours, since there is a restaurant and store on The Premises) the Cenote is about 25 meters beneath the surface, The stairway is beautifully lit up & carved into limestone rock and reaches the swimming platform, usually crowded with swimmers, the pool itself is about 60 meters in diameter, the water are very deep around 35 meters. There are vines descending from the top and little water drops constantly flow from above. There are some black catfish which live on the pool, not to worry they don’t bite.
in 2010 & 2011 there was a crazy Red Bull Diving Competition (scroll all the way to the end of the post to see the video) the divers jumped into the cool water from a platform placed all the way above the Cenote.
11. Rio Secreto – The Secret Underground River
It’s hard to believe that such a natural treasure is located so close to Playa del Carmen, right in the heart of Riviera Maya. For thousands of years no one stepped foot in this dry and wet cavern. Now this natural wonder, with its tunnels, underground passageways, caverns and rock formations is open to a limited number of visitors. Rio Secreto is the secret river in the Riviera Maya and an incredible view of the cave system people keep talking about.
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