Ek Balam

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. 🙂

Amazing stucco-covered statues survive at Ek Balam

3 responses to “Ek Balam”

  1. avatar Leonie says:

    Sites you can explore on your own are the best! So happy you found this gem (and are telling us about it…) Kisses, Leonie

  2. avatar Bama says:

    Great to know that you ventured further than merely visiting Chichen Itza. I’ve never heard of Ek Balam either, but your photos convinced me that it is a place I have to visit when I happen to be in that part of the world.

  3. avatar Tony says:

    From an architectural standpoint Chichen Itza is something special, but most of the artistic and architectural uniqueness isn’t visible because of the limitations on how visitors are allowed to move through the site.

    Unfortunately, there are rumors that the government will stop allowing people to climb pyramids at other sites besides Chichen Itza. Bummer. Until then, race to the Yucatan to visit the accessible sites that are left. There is still tons to see.

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