After a red eye flight and a local bus from Oaxaca we settled in Valladolid. From colonial churches, cathedrals and architecture to natural attractions like cenotes, Valladolid is a popular stopping point for those wishing to explore the Yucatan penisula. Luckily, we passed through this town during the build up to ‘Hanal Pixan’ (Mayan version of Dia De Los Muertos) and so there was a programme of live events for us to enjoy. The first of these took place in Cenote Zaci on the night we arrived and involved a live concert and light show. This cenote is in the heart of the city and is a freshwater, underground sinkhole which was full of screeching bats! Cenotes are infamous in Yucatan and 3000 of them are scattered around the province having being naturally formed millions of years ago. They all vary greatly with the three most common being cave, semi- open and open cenotes. The next day we decided to explore a few remote cenotes and so we rented bikes from a local teller which was an interesting experience! Sadly Anna May’s bike had a slow puncture and so the return journey was challenging! However, we spent the day swimming in the most pristine, clear and fresh water and loved every second. Our first cenote even had a rope swing which landed us right in the middle of the water allowing us to cool off quickly as well as feeding our adrenaline rush!.
While in the area many tourists pay a visit to Chichen Itza which was recently voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Chichen Itza is the largest and most visited archaeological site in Yucatan and with its magnificently restored Mayan ruins, it is definitley a must-visit when travelling through the area. This great Mayan city dates from AD 600 and gets 1.2 million visitors each year from Merida, Valladolid and the nearby resort towns of Cancun and Playa Del Carmen. The Mayan people were an extremely advanced civilisation known for their astronomy, mathematics and writing. Their precise astronomical calculations were used when building structures and their solar calendar closely resembles our current Gregorian calendar. They analysed the movements of the sun in detail and they used the solstices as indicators for harvesting and farming purposes. The main pyramid in Chichen Itza is El Castillo which was built to worship the serpent god Kukulkan, it has four sides with 91 steps on each side and one big step on top; making 365 steps in total, one for each day of the year.
- Escape the midday sun and jump into a local cenote
- Visit Chichen Itza, but go early!
- Hang out in the Zocalo and savour the local entertainment