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Entries about jungle

LOMBOK, INDONESIA

From my disaster in the village of Tetebatu, to the wonderful resort area of Senggigi.

sunny 40 °C

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I am about to tell you about the worst hotel I have ever stayed in! Ironically I can't remember the name of it, nor did I write it down in my journal, lol! Its located in the little village of Tetebatu, on the island of Lombok (the island next to Bali). Upon arriving the hotel looks nice (pictured above). Cute little cottages overlooking rice fields & Mt Rinjani. What could go wrong, right?
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So like I said, it looked great upon arriving, so I immediately booked myself in for 3 nights. That was was first mistake. Then I went for supper at the hotel's restaurant. Turns out the front desk clerk who is also the bell boy, is also the waiter ... and would be my guide the following day, lol! After supper I headed back to my room for a hot shower. In addition to a nice, hot shower at the end of a long day, I also need wifi (I travel solo and my mom fears for my life when I'm gone, so she demands to hear from me daily or else assumes I've been kidnapped or am dead), and free breakfast in the morning. I already gave up the wifi upon checking into this hotel (the entire village is without internet - so this is a good place to come and relax and get away from the world), and I discovered they had lied about the hot water! It was FREEZING cold!! I cant do cold showers, I just cant! How's a girl supposed to shave when she's shivering and covered in goose bumps?! Later on as I'm laying in bed writing in my journal I noticed big turds on the floor! At first I thought it was a bug, so I flicked it away, only for it to stick to my finger!!! OMG! Then I started noticing those little turds everywhere in my room. What on earth is living in here??!! Was is a mouse? A rat? A gecko? I had no idea! I continue writing, trying not to think about what could possibly be living in my room, when a GIANT moth starts fluttering around my lamp! And by giant, I mean like the size of a bird! I am deathly afraid of moths, and grasshoppers, frogs ... basically anything that jumps at me. I know moths are harmless, but I cant help but freak out! Since I'm traveling solo, I have to deal with this intruder on my own. I grab a flip flop and smack that bastard to death! But now I have a giant moth carcass smeared across my wall, and I know the Indonesian ant army will appear in no time, so I have to clean that hot mess up! Puke. Once again I go back to writing. Now I notice that the toilet is making a noise. So I get up to go check it out, I flick on the bathroom light, and freeze! There, on the shower wall, is the biggest !@%#!! spider I've ever seen in my life! Open your hand ... Its THAT big! (the next day I saw the same kind of spider thats now in my shower and took this photo below)
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Just the body was the length & thickness of my thumb! Its legs were so long it had knees! If it has knees it can jump, right?! I think that spider and I stared at eachother forever, both not knowing what to do! I couldnt let him get away, deeper into my room, so I bent down to take off my flip flop, aka killing machine ... and it scurried across the wall and down the shower drain! Oh thank God! The shower had a bucket of water & a scoop to 'sponge bathe' yourself with, so I quickly moved that heavy bucket of water over top the drain so it couldnt get out! Giant moths, mysterious turds, AND a giant spider?! For real?! I cant even deal with this. I plop myself down on the toilet, head in hands, wondering how I'm gonna be able to get any sleep knowing all of what is in my room (Oh, did I mention there's holes all over my screened windows? Some are 'fixed' with bandaids, but others are still wide open for more giants moths to invade, along with malaria carrying misquitos), when what do my eyes see .... a freaking toad the size of my fist blocking my exit from the bathroom!!!!!!!!!
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HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO GET IT OUT???!!! I cant smack it with a flip flop or step on it, it would explode all over the place! And I dont want to get anywhere near it, for fear of it jumping at me and sticking to my leg!!!!!!!!!!!! So here I am, on a toilet with my pants down, and a toad blocking my way. I want to cry! I stared at is for so long, and it didnt move ... to the point of me thinking 'maybe its a ornamental door-stopper', cuz it was sitting in just the right place. No such luck. On closer inspection I saw his throat move. Was it sleeping? Do toads sleep with their eyes open? I pulled up my pants , and in one big leap, I jumped over & past the toad and into my bedroom. Phew! It's still not moving. I have come up with a plan: trap it under the water scoop, and use my umbrella as a shield in case it jumps at me. Take a moment and envision this: me with open umbrella in hand, defending myself from a stupid toad, little red scoop in the other hand, like I'm going to war ... with a toad. It was so ridiculous I nearly started laughing at myself. I hesitated over & over again, so worried that I'd miss and he'd jump past me into my bedroom ... then what would I do?! But I needn't worry, I somehow managed to capture it on my first try! OMG I did it! Yay me, lol! But as soon as I had it trapped, it started jumping and trying to make an escape. The water scoop wasnt heavy enough to hold him down! So I put a full 2L bottle of water on top of the scoop and that held it down. But all night long I heard it jumping and bonking its head. Over & over ... all night long. Sigh. Well I guess that explains the giant turds all over my room! Needless to say, I didnt sleep at all. I had my sheet wrapped around my head covering my ears cuz I was so afraid something would crawl into my ears while I slept and give birth. Blech!

Ok, new day. Breath. I awoke with a migraine. Probably from stress and lack of sleep. I went straight to the front desk and complained. The lack of english here is infuriating! They had NO idea what I was saying/asking/complaining about. And remember, I booked in & prepaid for THREE nights!!! After nearly an hour of trying to explain my self in different ways to make them understand, I think they finally got it. I wanted my money back. But they didnt want to give it. Seriously?! I work part time at a hotel in Canada, and if you are unhappy with your room, not only do you get a discount/refund, you get a voucher for a free night. Not in Indonesia. Ugh, lesson learnt. But I at least convinced them to transfer the $ I had paid towards the room, to a guided day hike and a hired car to take me to Senggigi.

Day hike commence. I was first taken through the rice fields and village.
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Rice
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Mt Rinjani in the distance - Indonesia's 2nd largest active volcano!
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Thats not 2 peaks ... its one giant volcano with a crater in the middle!
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This is how red hot chilis are grown
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My favorite part of the hot, sweaty hike that confirmed my lack of fitness, was seeing the locals go about their daily life. Whenever I've gone on an excursion to a village its seems very fake. Like they know tourists are coming, so they are putting on a show. Showing us how to do this, and how to make that. But this was real!
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The whole point of me signing up for this guided hike was to see Black Monkeys. I was expecting it to be like Monkey Forest in Ubud, Bali ... monkeys absolutely everywhere. But that was not the case. These were actually wild monkeys, unlike the super tame ones in Bali. My guide had a machete and was hacking us a path through the trees! The problem with that was the monkeys could hear us coming from a mile away. We couldnt get anywhere near them. So after hours of hiking & hacking, all i got was one lousy photo.
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We emerged from the hot jungle at a dam just in time to see all the little kids getting out from school and racing over to said dam, strip down to their birthday suits, and jump in the water, lol!
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Then we headed over to my guide's brother's house for a home cooked meal of chicken, eggs, noodles, rice, veggies, and tempe. These are his boys.
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After the meal he led me down a steep & slippery trail to a waterfall. As my guide nibbly leapt from rock to slippery rock, I blundered along like the uncoordinated fool I am. We came to a 'staircase' of slippery mud and wet bamboo that led through a bamboo forest, before finally arriving at the waterfall.
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After some time enjoyed here, I had to climb that same slippery 'staircase' back up. From there I was whisked away on a scooter back to the hotel. And from there I grabbed my backpack and said 'good riddance' to the worst hotel stay of my life, and got in a car headed to the resort area of Senggigi. I assumed my bad luck had ended. But no, it hadnt. About halfway we stopped for gas, so I bought myself some ice cream. The kind dipped in chocolate and on a stick. I attempted to eat it in the back seat of the car. But its so dang hot at the equator that ice cream melts faster than you can eat it. Chunks of the chocolate shell kept melting/falling off. And since the window was open (cuz the car had no a/c), the wind from driving fast caused the melting chocolate pieces to fall all over me! One fell on my shorts and melted on contact, making it look like I shit myself. Another hit my face and then slid down my chin and fell into my shirt, and continued to melt and slide into my bra. In the meantime I'm still holding my ice cream on a stick and its melting at an insane rate. I have melted ice cream to my elbows! At this point I look like a 2yr old trying to eat ice cream for the first time, LOL! My driver glanced at me in his rear view mirror and just burst out laughing! FML. We stopped somewhere so I could clean myself up & change, and then continued on our way.

The drive along the coast towards Senggigi is incredibly scenic! My driver was nice enough to stop half a dozen times so I could take photos.
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See, I told you! Its stunning isnt it?!
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My driver stopped and bought us a bag of lychee fruit still on the branch ... and full of ants. And all warm & gross from sitting in the sun. Fail.
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The inside of the fruit looks all fleshy & gross, but if you get a good one, they are quite tasty.
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If you dont have a trailer, just pile it on top & tie it on!
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I stayed at the Holiday Resort for the rest of my time on Lombok. It was 700,000 Rupiah compared to only 200,000 Rupiah for the dump last night, but SO worth it!
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It had a pool that didnt end. It just kept twisting & turning throughout the resort. It also had a jacuzzi area & a swim-up bar.
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Upon checking in I was given 2 vouchers for free 'Welcome Drinks'. So I went to redeem them at the pool bar and received Iced Melon Tea. The best invention ever!!!
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I ordered a 'hotdog' at the restaurant and got this thing.
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This resort was great! Clean, luxurious (or was it that I was used to staying in crappy hotels and just finally got a good one?), and beachfront.
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The sand was half white and half black! I've never seen a beach so completely divided 50/50 like that before!
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Here's the awesome view from my resort looking across the ocean to Bali's volcano!
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I went for a walk down the beach. Black sand is HOT people! HOT! Like it scalds the bottom of your feet! I came across this little beach restaurant. I was just gonna buy some cheap bottled water (only 3000 Rupiah here, opposed to 12,000 at the resort!), but ended up staying for supper and watching the sunset over Bali's volcano.
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Table in the sand :)
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For $3 I had this delicious plate of food (not sure why, but Indonesians place a fried egg on top of every meal), 2 bottles of water, and 1 can of Coke! Steal of a deal!
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Amazing sunset :)
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So Lombok started out horrible, but ended well ... thank goodness!

Posted by ChantelleS 17:46 Archived in Indonesia Tagged ocean wildlife beach indonesia monkey jungle waterfall terrace asia lombok Comments (1)

BAKO NATIONAL PARK, BORNEO - MALAYSIA

It took 6hrs of hiking in the rain, but we finally came across the world's rarest primate ... Proboscis Monkeys!!

rain 35 °C

Well, today sucked, but was awesome all at the same time. My number one reason for choosing to travel to Borneo was to see orangutans & proboscis monkeys in the wild.
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When I woke up this morning it was really cloudy and looked like it might rain, but I headed to Bako National Park anyways, seeing how I only had 5 days total in Borneo I didnt want to waste a day. I took a taxi from Kuching to Bako NP for 50 Ringgit ($17 CAD). Yes, theres also a bus that will take you there. No, I did not feel like searching for the correct bus stop, nor standing around waiting for it. As soon as my taxi arrived at the boat termianl to Bako NP it started raining. And by raining, I mean pouring!! Sigh. Luckily there was a guy selling rain ponchos! It was the best 5 Ringgit I ever spent, lol! It kept me & my camera gear dry.
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Myself, and a handful of other tourists who had their hearts set on seeing proboscis monkeys, decided to sit in the boat terminal and see if the rain would let up. It didnt. In the mean time I met a wonderful girl named Izabela from Poland. It was her last day in Kuching and she wasnt leaving until she saw some monkeys. We became instant friends :) I'm so thankful I met her, cuz if I hadnt, I probably would have gotten back in that taxi and went back to my hotel. But instead we waited until the pouring rain turnt into a light drizzle, and shared a boat to Bako NP. You pay per boat, not per person. No one else wanted to join us in the rain, so it was 47 Ringgit each (that inc paying the boat driver to stay and extra hour in the park), $16 CAD.
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Some views from the boat along the way.
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Arriving in Bako NP we found out there is no pier. They just drop you in thigh deep water and you have to wade to shore. Not fun when its already raining.

Arriving in Bako NP
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As soon as we made it to shore, it starting pouring again. And what do I do? Slip and fall in my flip flops, stub my big toe, and rip my toenail off!! Completely off! I nearly vomited it was so gross!! Thankfully there is a lodge here with a medical center (who fixed me up good), toilets & a cafeteria. The food was cold and gross, so bring your own if you can. We ate a crappy lunch together, and then sat watching the rain for awhile, hoping it'd let up. It didnt. So we donned our rain ponchos, and huddling together under my umbrella, we walked the trails, looking up into the falling rain, in search of the world's rarest primate! It was great to share this adventure with someone who appreciates wildlife as much as I do, and understands how incredibly rare these animals are!

Well the first 5 soggy hours all we found were some wet Bornean Bearded Pigs near the lodge, and a few Long-Tailed Macaques.
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Even though it literally rained the entire time we were here, one could not complain. The rainforest is SO lush & green! And despite the rain, we weren't cold because it was still 30C out! We were prunes by the end of the day though, lol!
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Part way down one trail was a shelter-hut. We stopped to take a few photos. Izabela set her backpack down, and a macaque stole it in 2.0 seconds!! They can be quite vicious, so you dont want to just walk up and take your bag back. No point in getting bitten / rabies. With one bite it had chomped a hole right through the canvas material!! But Izabela needed her backpack back ... her passport was in it! So I gave her my umbrella to use as a sort of shield to protect herself in case the monkey attacked. She opened & closed the umbrella over & over again in front of the monkey and that scared the monkey off. Backpack saved :)
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We took a break from walking through puddles and staring up into the trees, and headed back to the lodge. We were beginning to feel defeated, that we had wasted our money and an entire day. But then we talked to some people who had been staying in some of the cabins for rent in the park who said the proboscis monkeys come close to the lodge around supper time because they can smell the food. We decided to take a chance and paid our boat driver to wait an extra hour til supper time in hopes of spotting some. And it was the best decision of the day!! Sure enough, right around supper time we heard a 'bang bang bang' as a huge proboscis monkey jumped out of a tree, landed on the metal roof of a nearby cabin, ran across it, and then lept into a tree!!! Rain ponchos on, umbrella up, and off we went cameras in hand to get a closer look :)
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They are tall like a man! Much bigger than I was expecting! And the noses ... hahaha! The males have a huge nose! They look like Muppets :)
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Eventually the big male lept from tree to tree and disappeared deeper into the rainforest. But now our spirits were up, and the rain even stopped! So we went exploring once again.
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They are quite active, but I managed to get a photo of one leaping from one tree to the next.
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The females are alot smaller, and dont have those big noses.
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We even spotted this baby way up in the trees :)
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That last hour that we paid the boat driver was definitely worth it, but it went by much too fast. After a successful, albeit wet, day, we headed back down the river to the boat terminal. Only to discover that all buses & taxis disappeared after the park closed. So we were trapped in a little village. But we made the most of it. We found a little outdoor market.
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Beside the market was a little shack of a restaurant where I ate the best meal I had the whole time in Borneo! The ladies working there didnt speak a word of English so we had no idea what we were going to get. But what we got was delicious and only $1! A great end to the day :) We hitched a ride back to Kuching with a local man heading that way in his car. Call it hitchhiking I suppose ;)
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Posted by ChantelleS 20:05 Archived in Malaysia Tagged rainforest wildlife monkey malaysia jungle borneo animal pig proboscis Comments (0)

CANAIMA NATIONAL PARK, VENEZUELA

Canaima & Angel Falls - Jan 15, 2013

sunny 35 °C

On our last day in Venezuela we flew from Margarita Island to Canaima National Park on the mainland. We took a 40-seater twin propeller plane. The flight itself was incredibly scenic! We got to see the islands/beaches, Andes Mountains, Amazon rainforest, and of course tepuys (the flat-topped sheer-sided mountains Venezuela is known for).
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The view approaching mainland Venezuela.
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The beginnings of the Andes Mountains.
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Rainforest and a couple tepuys.
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Canaima falls & lagoon as seen from our plane.
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Landing in Canaima National Park.
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The airport in Canaima has got to be the smallest airport I've ever been too ... just a grass hut with a gift shop in the middle of nowhere! After going through a quick security check, we were led on a short walk through the rainforest to a restaurant for refreshments. We could hear the waterfalls from the restaurant! Another short walk led us to a beach on Laguna Canaima where we got on a very loooooong traditional canoe and were paddled across the lagoon to the waterfalls.
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I'm not even sure how many waterfalls are actually here ... there were many!
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This is the 1 we got to walk behind!
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And here it is again up close! Beautiful!!
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Me behind the waterfall! It was SO loud we had to shout to be heard!
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After spending some time here, and taking a dip in the lagoon, we headed back to the beach we started at. We were led on a walking tour of the town, and then back to the airport for our flight back. But on the way the pilot took us past Angel Falls ... or at least he tried. It was quite cloudy, so I only got a quick glimpse of it. Heres a photo of the river leading to Canaima Lagoon on the way to Angel Falls.
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Angel Falls is the world's tallest waterfall at 3212ft high! Its literally above the cloud-line! We were flying around the tepuys looking for it, when all of a sudden BAM there is a waterfall up in the clouds with us! Unreal! However, since it was so cloudy I only saw it for a brief second before the clouds covered it again, but managed to take this crappy photo, lol! It doesnt really look like much from this photo, but it was an amazing experience to see something like that up in the clouds :)
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Posted by ChantelleS 21:16 Archived in Venezuela Tagged mountains rainforest water jungle south waterfall america lagoon venezuela canaima Comments (1)

PALENQUE, MEXCIO

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!
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Rainforest
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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!!
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Climbing the steep steps!
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Me enjoying my fave view!
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Next we climbed the largest pyramid ... the one in the photo above ... for the view in the photos below.
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GIANT leaves ... I dont know what kinda plant / tree this was, but I loved the leaves :)
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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!
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There were many lookout points along the easy walk to the top.
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There were also a few calm areas for safe swimming.
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My fave photo of the falls!
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Dont worry about bringing lunch ... there are vendors selling everything from empanadas to fruit carved into flowers!
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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)

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