From the ruins at Chichen Itza, one of the seven wonders of the world, to the hustle of modern Mexico City, which preserves its magic from centuries gone by, this adventure takes in the cultural and historical highlights. It’s perfect for travellers on a tight budget looking to see as much as possible of this diverse region. Explore Mexico’s incredible history with others who share your appetite for adventure. Get a suntan on the white sand of the Mayan Riviera beaches then explore the country’s ruins and pueblos.
Visiting Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza: One of the New Seven Wonders of the World
By: Deanna Robinson
The ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza is located in the northern end of the Yucatan peninsula. The site is located about a 2 ½ hour drive down the toll way from Cancun.
It is possible to see the site in a day trip from Cancun, and most tourists tend to do just that. There is a large influx of tourist around 10:00 a.m. as the tour buses begin to roll in. Chichen Itza is the most visited site in the Yucatan and can get very crowded at times.
The site covers approximately 4 square mile of ground, so it takes quite a bit of time to explore all the ruins. Some guides recommend that you arrive at Chichen Itza later in the afternoon when the crowds have begun to thin, enjoy the light show in the evening, spend the night in one of the local hotels, and return to the site at opening the next morning before the crowds get thick and the sun gets hot.
While at Chichen Itza you will see the Pyramid of Kulkulkan. The Maya believed that Kulkulkan was a feathered serpent who reigned during a golden age and left by the eastern sea, but not before promising to return again. Two sides of the pyramid have been completely restored while the other two remain in the state of ruin. The Maya had an advanced understanding of astronomy. This building is an example of their knowledge. For example, there are exactly 365 steps to the top of the pyramid, one step for every day of the year. And every year on both the spring and the autumn equinox the sun hits the structure in such a manner to create the illusion of a shadow in the shape of a serpent which winds down the stairs in a journey toward the sacred Cenote.
The sacred Cenote is in actuality an opening into one of the many underground rivers located in the area. The Cenote is almost perfectly round, and had very steep sides, making it impossible for anyone who falls into the water to make their way back out. There are stories of Mayan youth being thrown into the Cenote as sacrifices to appease the gods.
Another highlight lies at the base of the pyramid of Kulkulkan. Here you will find an empty field where Mayan athletes competed in a game of sport which only the noblest could play. The acoustics of the field are amazing. A word spoken in a low voice at one end of the field can be heard distinctly at the other end.
Chichen Itza is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. 356 days a year. The light show begins at 7:00p.m.in the fall and winter and at 8:00p.m. in the spring and summer. Entrance to the site is 98 pesos or about $10.00 USD. Wear comfortable walking shoes and bring plenty of water as the temperature gets hot during the day.
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Mayan Riviera Family Vacations -
Advice from an experienced family, to families vacationing on the Mayan Riviera!
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