The Hans India

The Chacchoben Ruins Tour

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Exploring Mayan Ruins

The Chacchoben Ruins Tour is a great way to understand the sharp mathematical and astronomical acumen of the ancient Mayan tribes.

The region of Los Lagos has a history dating back 2000 years and the monumental structures they built are a reflection of the life and times of the people who lived there. Chacchoben was the biggest Pre-Columbia city found in the Los Lagos region. The Norwegian Pearl Cruise Line has a stop at Costa Maya the first Western Caribbean port designed exclusively for the cruise ship industry and is strategically located just hours from Cancun in on Mexico’s southern Yucatan Peninsula. It has two small villages Mahahual and Xcalak. Xcalak is about 37 miles south of Costa Maya cruise port, the fishing village of Mahahual is 2 miles away and has soft sand beaches, grass thatched palapas and a coral reef called Banco Chinchorro. However this is also your base to explore the Chacchoben Ruins and understand more of the great Maya civilization.

Spider Monkey
Spider Monkey

After a little over an hour drive from the port, you arrive at the ruins and this is where you first notice the synergy between nature and history. You need at least an hour and half to explore the ruins and a guide who can talk you through the place. Chacchoben means ‘the place of red corn’ in Mayan language and the ruins here approximately date back to 200 B.C. The structures found here date back to 700 A.D. and while excavations have been stopped, now the area is under systematic maintenance. The dense foliage plays perfect foil to the dark brown massive structures. The guide navigates you to temples, courtyards and pyramids and how the Mayans used this place. Since back them the civilization believed in human sacrifice, the ceremonial center here is a raised flat platform. You are also given the option to climb Gran Basamento, Chacchoben’s ritual heart that will give you for spectacular views of the surrounding greenery as well as admire Temple One, Chacchoben’s astronomical hub. The walk here is mainly on an uneven path strew with tree roots and stones and grass. The site itself is not completely uncovered and you can see several mounds of stones left as is. At the base of the largest pyramid there is a Mayan hieroglyphic inscription on stela, a large stone slab. The ruins site has a reception area where you can book a local guide, a cafeteria and a small shopping place to buy souvenirs and restroom facilities. While photography is free, use of video camera is chargeable at an additional $4 US. Credit cards are not accepted but US dollars and local currency are. Apart from the ruins, you can learn much about the local plants including the Spanish moss and also sight spider monkeys and several bird species here. Revisiting history in Mexico is certainly a great way to come up close with the acumen of the Mayan civilization.

Sunrise in Costa Maya
Sunrise in Costa Maya

Good to Know

  • The earliest Maya settlements date back to approximately1800 BC.
  • Mayans were among the first to use the Zero symbol.
  • In addition to their written language and use of books, the Mayans are known for Abstract Mathematics and Astronomy.
  • The Ancient Mayas were incredible engineers who constructed pyramids and temples.
  • The Peak of La Danta is one of the world’s largest pyramids.
  • The ancient Maya had their own version of soccer.
  • According to recent studies about 7 million direct descendants of the Mayans live in The Americas today.
  • Check schedules for shore excursions on

This story first appeared in The Hans India dated 9th June 2019 here:

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