Mexico has so much to offer, from beaches to jungles with a touch of adventure and history. We stayed really busy while we were there and chose everything we did after careful consideration. We have always wanted to experience the Seven Wonders of the World so we knew that Chichen Itza had to be at the top of our Mexico excursion list!
There are many different ways to explore Chichen Itza but we chose a small group tour through Karma Trails based in Playa Del Carmen. This particular tour group specializes in group and customized tours; specializing in the history, archaeology and culture of Mexico. We could not have been more pleased with this tour! I highly recommend taking a tour instead of trying to figure out the whole area by yourself. Raymond was our tour guide for the day and he was absolutely amazing! He knew everything there was to know about the area and was full of fun facts, we learned a lot! Raymond also believed in the Mayan spiritual principles which gave us a unique viewpoint on our tour. This particular tour included a trip into the Mayan village, lunch, a trip to Chichen Itza, a swim in a cenote and was finalized by a trip to Valladolid. If you are planning on taking this exact tour, plan on taking THE WHOLE DAY! I mean the entire day. We arrived to where we were being picked up around 7:45am and I think we got home around 8pm. We didn’t mind it; we had a great time and loved every experience that we got!
So now to the tour! On the way there Raymond gave us a lot of excellent information on the Mayans and their beliefs and then a little on Chichen Itza also. Their community is pretty miraculous, it was so interesting learning about how they lived. A lot of them live in little huts that are made of palm leaves, but if they are fortunate enough then they have a stronger and sturdier concrete or brick house to live in the winter. We stopped in the Mayan village first where we saw a blessing by the Shaman. Pretty cool to experience! We also learned about the Mayan alphabet and the calendar. To the Mayans the calendar controls their fate. I’m sure you have heard a lot about their calendars already; December 21, 2012 the day people thought the world was going to end was a big date, Raymond shared with us that over 50,000 people came to Chichen Itza that day! Our next venture was to Chilam Balam, the restaurant for the day. It was a typical tour buffet with some Mayan dancing entertainment. You have to go try the tacos, they’re at their own little stand off to the side, absolutely delicious!
Next stop: Chichen Itza! It was everything we imagined and more, it is huge!!! I swear it looks fake in our pictures it’s so surreal! You can choose to follow Raymond on the tour or you can choose to go on your own. I recommend going with the tour guide or else you won’t really know what you’re looking at. There is not too much signage around the community so it was nice listening to the history of everything. Not only do you get to see the main building but there is also the ball field and old Chichen Itza. The ball field is where they played the Mayan ballgame (short history of this below) and Old Chichen Itza is where there has been no reconstruction, everything is original and the observatory is there too! You get about two hours there. One hour is spent with the guide and the second hour you are able to explore Chichen Itza yourself. Which was the perfect amount of time!
A few warnings for you: There are vendors EVERYWHERE! Our guide shared with us that they are actually not allowed in there, but they come in through the jungle and they are very disrespectful to the grounds. They are also extremely annoying! Yelling at you as you walk by. Raymond told us they have tried to kick them out many times and they just keep coming illegally, he said the best thing to do is to not purchase from them so that eventually they go away. Also it is EXTREMELY hot in the summer, like really beyond hot. We saw people passing out there. So stay hydrated. There are several water stands and probably bring a bottle in with you too! Also, many are disappointed to find out that they cannot climb the ruins anymore. It used to be allowed until there was an accident on top and they said, “no mas.” So don’t travel there solely to climb the pyramid, in fact we were told the only ruins you can climb in that area is Coba.
The next two stops are the cenote and the city of Valliodad. The cenote was a lovely cool off after a hot, summer tour. Mexico has cenotes all over and they are wonderful to take a dip in! The last stop is the city where you can see the town square, a beautiful Catholic church and my personal favorite, an ice cream stop!
Definitely take a day to go on a Karma Trails Tour! It was our favorite day in Mexico and will be yours too!