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Monday, July 30, 2007

Tulum – The Ancient Mayan City on the Yucatan Peninsula

Part 1 of today’s tours is to visit the Ancient Mayan city of Tulum on the Yucatan Peninsula just about 80 miles south of Cancun, Mexico. It is one of the two more popular Mayan ruins here on the peninsula. The other, Chichen Itza is a little farther inland and also considered one of the new 7 wonders of the world. Later this afternoon we will be visiting Xel-Ha and swimming with the dolphins. Too much fun!

Tulum, Mexico Ancient Mayan City Temple

This tour, as well as the other ones we are taking this week was booked with Olympus Tours. They seemed to have the best website out there on Cancun, not to mention they are the in house provider here at the Hilton Cancun Beach & Golf Resort.

Ashley squishing the Tulum Temple

Our pick-up time this morning was 7:20am which made for an early wake-up and a quick bus ride over to Senor Frogs in the Cancun Hotel Zone. After waiting for a few minutes there and looking inside Mr. Frog, we jumped back on the bus for the hour and a half journey to Tulum. Based on the weather this morning, it should be a great day – a few clouds in the sky, but very sunny. Much better than things looked last night!

After a quick stop at Xel-Ha to drop off a few people who were spending the entire day there, we took the bus another 10 minutes to Tulum. Getting off the bus there reminded me somewhat of the Taj Mahal, where I had been just a little over a week ago. Just because there are a number of stands and vendors before you take the 500M (3/8 mile) walk to the Tulum Ancient Mayan city ruins. That being said, the vendors here are a lot less aggressive than those around the Taj. (If you do not want to walk, there is a tram you can take for $2 USD or 20 pesos to get up the hill. It’s not a steep walk, but can be tiring due to the heat)

Tulum means “wall” or “fence” in ancient Mayan, and that is apparent at the entrance as you walk through a white limestone wall to enter the city. Immediately visible are several iguanas, of very decent size just about everywhere you look. A baby (18” or so) iguana comes up next to us and a couple of people almost step on it. I knew there were iguanas in this area; I just did not expect to see so many of them. The picture below is of a rather large iguana – about 3-4 feet in length.

Tulum, Mexico Iguana Picture

The tour guide did a great job of taking us around the buildings and explaining everything. Tulum is a beautiful place because of its proximity to the Caribbean Sea. From all over the city you see glimpses of the clear blue water while admiring the ruins.

The Tulum Ruins are set against the backdrop of the Caribbean Sea

As you make your way up and around the main temple, you can go down the backside of the cliffs to play in the water if you want. Or, there are some great locations to snap a couple of photos of either the Sea or the ruins themselves.

There are a number of tourists at the Tulum ruins as one may expect, with a large number of them being European – French, German, and Italians. Definitely some Mexican and American tourists – just not as many as you might normally expect.

The tour of the ruins in all takes about 2 hours from the time leaving Xel-Ha until you are back on your bus. It’s well worth the stop – and in many cases due to the use of white limestone makes it a beautiful, yet eroding place of historical importance. If you are in Cancun, Mexico – make the trip!

Tulum Temple Limestone Construction Close-up

Have you been to Tulum? Let me know with a comment!