Ek Balam Mayan Ruins
The Ek Balam Mayan Ruins are located in beautiful Yucatan, Mexico. The ruins are only a couple of hours away from the popular tourist hot spots of Cancun and Playa Del Carmen. Surprisingly, the Ek Balam Mayan Ruins are still relatively untouched from the masses of people looking to take a day trip from their all-inclusive resorts. Chichen Itza seems to gets most of the tour bus traffic and heavy tourist crowds.
The structures at the Ek Balam Mayan Ruins are still open for climbing. This is in contrast to Chichen Itza and some of the other more heavily visited sites. You can really get up close to the beauty and mystery of this former seat of a Mayan kingdom. The Acropolis on the North Side of the site is the largest site at the Ek Balam Mayan Ruins. It is believed to contain the tomb of Ukit Kan Le’k Tok’, an important ruler in Ek Balam. (Ek Balam Wikipedia) This particular structure has 107 steps to the top and the stairs are quite steep. It is a decent climb and you have to watch your footing, but you are rewarded with a beautiful view at the top.
Valladolid is the closest city to both the Ek Balam Mayan Ruins, and Chichen Itza. This quaint city of around 50,000 inhabitants is a great jump off spot for both sites. Ek Balam is about 27 kilometers north of Valladolid and Chichen Itza is approximately 53 kilometers west of the city. Collectivo taxis operate a fixed route from Valladolid to the Ek Balam Mayan ruins.
There is also a cenote at Ek Balam Mayan Ruins which is perfect for cooling off after your climb. The cenote is a couple of kilometers away from the main archaeological sites. You can either walk or hire a local bicycle taxi. When I toured the site, there were many bicycle taxis available. My driver was friendly and helpful!
I was pleasantly surprised to see how many people used bicycles in Tulum, Mexico. They were parked everywhere in both the Pueblo (town) and down at la Playa (beach).
Tulum is really two different towns connected together by a 5 kilometer (ish) road down to the beach. The pueblo is where most people stay or live and where most of the restaurants are. La playa is where you can spend your days, enjoying the sun and the beautiful sand.
The road down to the beach has a well-maintained bicycle path that runs parallel to it, which was great! I did find though that once you got down to the water, it became a little dangerous for cycling. The bike path ends and you have to share the road with vehicles (often speeding).
In Tulum you see bicycles everywhere and they are (one) of the preferred methods of transport. Cabs were plentiful as well in the area and quite affordable, but I love the freedom and health benefits of a bike. Plus, it fits well with the idea of sustainable and environmentally friendly tourism. Our hosts provided free bikes to their guests, but there were also many places to rent bikes in town.
It took us approximately 20 minutes to cycle down to the beach and it was definitely refreshing to jump in the ocean after the ride!!
Do you have any other favourite travel spots around the world where bicycle travel is encouraged for both locals and travelers alike?
Previous Tulum post:
Tulum Tourism Off The Power Grid
There is certainly truth in the idea that one would rather not consume pesticides when eating food, but hey at least bananas have a thick skin. It must be better for you than eating say strawberries or grapes. This might be one of the few foods where organic doesn’t matter much.
But hold on! The real reason to buy organic bananas is for the workers. Trabajadores in countries like Dominican Republic and Guatemala have to deal with a chemical barrage every day they work with the bananas. Workers on organic farmers are free from that daily assault on their bodies.
That is why I buy organic bananas
It came as no surprise to hear that Tulum, Mexico took the number one spot in Trip Advisor’s annual 2016 Top Destinations on the Rise list. Mexico has so much varied terrain, great weather and over 9000 kilometers of beautiful (warm) coastline, that there are probably dozens, if not hundreds of destinations in the country that could win this award.
What did surprise me though while I was researching Tulum is that many of the businesses in the area operate off the power grid. Tulum was up until recently a small fishing village without access to traditional city supplied power and water. Most, if not all of the hundred or so hotels that operate along the beach generate their own electricity with wind or sun. There are also no high rise, all-inclusive style resorts along this stretch of the beach.
To read more about sustainable tourism in Tulum and the use of solar energy throughout the country of Mexico see Mexico’s solar boom on solarenergy.net