Prior to visiting the Yucatan, I had never heard of Ek Balam. Overshadowed by its famous brother Chichen Itza, this small archaeological site north of Valladolid gets only a fraction of the visitors. But this is exactly what makes it so attractive. Explorers at heart can move around the Mayan ruins without hordes of tourists and without any annoying barriers. Honestly, I can’t think of a better day than walking through the jungle and climbing the pyramids here, even in 90 degree temperatures. The views from the top definitely make up for the heat!
One unique aspect of Ek Balam is the detailed plasterwork on the main pyramid Acropolis. Most of the stucco is supposed to be original, although I thought it looked a little too perfect to be true. Still, it was quite amazing to see the giant jaguar mouth around the entrance to one of the upper chambers. Also, a curious detail were the winged human figures (sometimes called Mayan angels). I have to admit, it did make me wonder…
As you can see in the last photo, our sweltering day of exploration ended in the nearby X’Canche cenote for a refreshing dip in the clear pool. 🙂