A Travellerspoint blog

February 2013


Mexico City, Teotihuacan ruins & Chapultepec Zoo Feb 29th, 2012

sunny 25 °C

While on a week long vacation to the Mayan Riviera in Mexico we booked a flight to Mexico City for 1 full day to see the Mayan ruins of Teotihuacan!! A long, exhausting day, but worth it. Got to cross climbing the pyramids of Teotihuacan off of my bucket list :) So we were up at the crack of dawn, 3:40am, to catch a cab from our hotel in Playacar (just south of Playa del Carmen) to the Cancun airport for our 7am flight. We flew over the Sierra Madre Mountains. As we approached Mexico City we could see a thick layer of nasty brown smog! Growing up my whole life in Saskatchewan, I have never seen smog before ... I dont know how people live / breath here?! Yuck. When we landed we took a taxi for 45min out to the ruins of Teotihuacan (where the air was cleaner). There is a toll booth you will pass through and pay 50 pesos each way.

Look at how tiny the people on top of the pyramid are! That will give you an idea of its size!
Me getting ready to climb the biggest pyramid in Mexico at 216ft!
The view halfway up the Pyramid of the Moon, overlooking the Pyramid of the Sun
It took about 30min to climb to the top (I'm outta shape and get a bit of vertigo, so it was slow going with quite a few breaks, lol!) but we made it! What a great adventure to experience with my best friend :)
Holding a pyramid in the palm of my hand :)
A view of the Pyramid of the Sun at the far end of the Avenue of the Dead
Cactus & large Algave plants near the pyramids
We had some time left before our flight back to Cancun, so we took a taxi to Chapultepec Zoo. The good thing is its FREE & has a great variety of wildlife, the bad thing is with Mexico City's unreal traffic it took us 2hrs to get there from Teotihuacan!! Upon arriving we had to make our way through a gauntlet of vendors selling everything from nachos, stuffed animals, t-shirts, Mexican wrestling masks, and a whole bunch of things I couldnt identify!
Gorilla - this guy was HUGE!!
I have no idea what is going on with these monkey's butts!!!?
2-humped Asian camel
Hehehe! My fave pic from the zoo! Silly giraffe :)
Size difference
The whole reason for us wanting to come to this zoo is cuz they have Panda Bears, which neither of us have ever seen before! We were so excited ... just as excited as all the little kids running around, lol! But unfortunately the panda was sleeping, with his back to us, behind glass. Sigh. This is the only panda we saw, lol!
Thats all for Mexico folks! Stayed tuned for Venezuela!!

Posted by ChantelleS 21:11 Archived in Mexico Tagged wildlife ruins mexico mayan pyramid Comments (0)


Palenque ruins & Agua Azul Waterfall February 25, 2012

overcast 25 °C

My favorite Mayan ruins thus far, are the incredible ruins of Palenque, Mexico, located in the mountainous state of Chiapas. We were staying in Playa del Carmen and purchased round trip bus tickets for $109 CAD. The bus departed at 9:55pm on Feb 24th, arriving in Palenque at 11am the following day. It was supposed to be a 12hr drive, but ended up being an extra 1hr long due to road construction. Night buses are the best cuz you dont waste any daylight traveling. The bus was more comfy than an airplane, as the seats reclined much farther. They played movies til about midnight (all of which were in Spanish), it had A/C (if you get cold easily like I do, pack a light blanket in your day pack), and a bathroom on board (with no toilet paper, so bring your own & some hand sanitizer). It stopped twice along the way for bathroom, smoke & food breaks. Upon arriving at the bus station in Palenque, just run across the street and wave down a collectivo (van packed with ppl). The destination will be written in marker on the windshield ... look for one that says 'Ruinas'. It only cost 10 pesos. The ride to the ruins is about 10min. It cost 28 pesos for admission. Theres vendors everywhere inside the site and outside selling food, h2o, souvenirs, etc. It was raining when we arrived so we bought rain ponchos to keep ourselves, day pack, and camera gear dry. But thankfully it stopped raining 10min later :) It was overcast all day, which was fine by me ... the last thing u want when climbing pyramids all day is hot weather!
There were approximately 8 pyramids, all of which can still be climbed (except one, which was under restoration). You can hire a guide prior to entering the site. We opted not to, as this was my 2nd time here. The 1st time I was here, I climbed every single pyramid, and my legs felt like jello by the end of the day! This time we climbed only the ones with the best views. The fact that they can still be climbed makes Palenque my fave over Chichen Itza or other ruins throughout the Yucatan! Most of the 'touristy' ruins are all roped off and u cant get within 5ft of them. So if you want the real thing ... climbing ancient Mayan ruins, seeing a tomb, pathways threw the rainforest, and even a river that leads to a small waterfall ... then go see Palenque! Its well worth the 12hr bus ride!!
Climbing the steep steps!
Me enjoying my fave view!
Next we climbed the largest pyramid ... the one in the photo above ... for the view in the photos below.
GIANT leaves ... I dont know what kinda plant / tree this was, but I loved the leaves :)
We spent about 2hrs here. But if you plan to climb every pyramid and make the hike to the waterfall, give yourself a full day. Instead of the small waterfall here, we opted to take a cab to the 7 tiered Agua Azul waterfall 1hr away. The drive is quite twisty-turny, so if you get carsick, take Gravol before heading out!
There were many lookout points along the easy walk to the top.
There were also a few calm areas for safe swimming.
My fave photo of the falls!
Dont worry about bringing lunch ... there are vendors selling everything from empanadas to fruit carved into flowers!
Thats it for the falls. We then headed back to town for our long (but well worth it) bus ride back to the Mayan Riviera.

Posted by ChantelleS 21:41 Archived in Mexico Tagged ruins mexico jungle waterfall mayan palenque Comments (0)


Playa del Carmen, Tulum & Isla Mujeres, Mexico Feb 24th - Mar 2nd, 2012

sunny 28 °C

Me & my best friend, Jo, traveled to the Mayan Riviera in Mexico for one week. We stayed at the Hacienda Vista Real hotel in Playacar (a suburb of Playa del Carmen). It was not all-inclusive, but did include a free pool-side breakfast each morning. It was only $85 per night, booked on Expedia. We felt we didnt need an all-inc resort, as we are huge sight-seers, and would never be at the resort to eat the 'free' food / beverages or participate in any of the offered activities. It was a 15min walk to the beach, which is probably the same distance as walking through a fancy schmancy 5 star resort anyways, lol!
Just outside of our hotel were these Mayan ruins. Pretty sure they were fake though.
The beach!
Not gonna lie, I was pretty excited for my Chunky Monkey!
I have to say, theres not a whole lot to do in Playa del Carmen, unless you love to shop for tacky souvenirs or sit at the beach. There is however, an array of exotic animals you can hold for a photo which they charge you $$ for, even though the photo is taken with your own camera, and is usually blurry & lop-sided. Definately not worth the $20 they were charging, but we couldnt resist the cuteness, and so spent an entire day walking up & down 5th Ave in search of wildlife. The first animal we came across was this adorable, blue-eyed 1.5 month old tiger cub!!
Jo bottle feeding the baby tiger. Look at his big paw!
Snoozing with a milk moustache :)
Next we came across a little Squirrel Monkey. He was smelly, albeit cute.
Me & a parrot
We found a guy with 2 iguanas ... a momma & baby :) Jo has 1 on her head!
Iguana kisses - I was terrified it would lick me, lol!
Look what we found next! A 5 month old lion! She was heavy!
I put my finger in the lion's mouth and she sucked on it like a soother! The guy said 'If you feel her trying to move your finger left or right (aka towards her teeth) pull your finger out!' Well duh! Just look at her eyes!
Entertainers on 5th Ave
Here is an odd looking spider we discovered!
I had the urge to try on the biggest sombrero I could find!
And the smallest, LOL!
One morning we took a collectivo to the Mayan ruins of Tulum for only 70 pesos! Significantly cheaper than booking a $100 CAD tour. The collectivo drops u off on the hwy, but just follow everyone else to the ruins ... everyone will be going in the same direction. Its only a 2min walk. There is a train that comes by every few minutes to pick up passengers and take them to the admission gate. The train is only 20 pesos, or u can walk the 1km no problem. At the gate its 57 pesos to get in. There are guides for hire, but we went in without 1 as this was my 4th time there. Guide, or no guide, its still much cheaper than a tour. The grounds are very manicured, and full of tourists. Theres not too much to see other than El Castillo perched on the edge of a cliff overlooking the blue Caribbean, a few smaller ruins (none of which you can climb or touch), and a beach for swimming. If your looking for more history, try Chichen Itza. If your looking for pyramids you can still climb, visit Palenque! Theres 8 pyramids there, 7 of which can still be climbed! (This will be in a later post).

When the guards werent looking, I snuck under a rope and climbed behind this small ruin for this photo, mwahaha! (thats my evil laugh)
The beach by the ruins. If you only want to visit the beach, you still have to pay the admission, as the beach is inside the site.
There were iguanas everywhere!
One of the many pathways throughout the ruins.
After exploring the ruins a bit, we relaxed at the beach.
Huge cliffs & boulders on the beach!
Another day we took a bus from Playa del Carmen to Cancun (1hr, 30 pesos), and then a collectivo from Cancun to Puerto Juarez where the ferries depart for the tiny island of Isla Mujeres (10min Cancun - Pto J, 6 pesos; ferry Pto J - Isla roundtrip 140 pesos). Once there, we rented a golf cart for the afternoon and toured the island in style (500 pesos for the golf cart til 5pm).
The golf cart rental company provided us with a map of the town. We headed over to the Avalon Reef Club. We wanted to see the King's Pool, which is a natural pool carved into the rocky shore by the waves. Its located on the resort's grounds, but is a public spot ... you will be escorted to it by a guard, who then stands there and watches you like a hawk til you leave. But it was nothing exciting, I didnt even take a photo. The resort sure is nice though! I would definately stay there!
Just look at that water! :)
Welcome to Paradise!!
After a quick dip in the ocean, we hopped back on our golf cart and headed to Punta Sur, the southern-most tip of the island, where El Garrafon Park is located. It cost 200 pesos for a half day admission. Theres a few restaurants within, that are all-inclusive, alcohol is also inc, as well as zip-lining, snorkeling, kayaking, hammocks, infinity pool, etc.
There were some paths along the cliffs / ocean that we followed for some great views!
After our walk we had lunch at 1 of the restaurants ... nachos & cheese, and quesadillas ... and strawberry daiquiris :)
Then we did some zip-lining. If you've zip-lined before, then dont bother with this one, lol! But if its your first time, then its a good beginner course. I'd zip-lined before, and found it rather lame, but it was Jo's first time and she was terrified!
The view from the 2nd zip-line platform of El Garrafon
Well, thats all for the Mayan Riviera part of our trip. Stay tuned for posts on the ruins of Palenque, and Mexico City & the ruins of Teotihuacan :)

Posted by ChantelleS 11:34 Archived in Mexico Tagged wildlife beach ruins monkey mexico iguana del parrot playa tiger carmen mayan lion Comments (0)

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