Sunday 7 February 2010

Travel Bite #3: Tulum, Mexico

Over the Christmas 2005 / New Year 2006 period, we spent three weeks in Central America. One of the highlights was Tulum,  about 80 miles south of the not-worth-visiting tourist metropolis of Cancun on the Yucatan peninsula.

From the main hostel area in Tulum Pueblo (the village of Tulum) it's only 70 pesos for a short taxi ride to the entrance of Tulum Ruinas, the Mayan walled city (or a long dusty walk which was the option we chose unfortunately!). The site, also known as Zama (City of Dawn) was one of the last outposts of Mayan civilization, being occupied from around 1200AD all the way through to the Spanish colonization in the 16th century which marked the end of this 3,500 year old empire.

As we walked down the dusty track we saw stalls and traders selling colourful ponchos, rugs and sombreros as well as faded postcards and tacky replica Mayan ruins.

I bought a fresh coconut and enjoyed the juice, something I hadn't done since my last trip to Malaysia in 2004. One trader beckoned me over and starting bargaining with me; he literally wanted the shirt off my back - as it was a genuine Premiership Southampton shirt.

He offered me rugs and other colourful weavings. Ultimately I said no, he had nothing I wanted. It was entertaining though - I guess there are some things money can't buy in Mexico!

The ruins themselves were magnificent. Not the towering pyramids we'd seen in Chitchen Itza or Tikal, but low rectangular pillared buildings with a unique style something between Roman and Ancient Egyptian.

They had stepped rooves and looked quite dramatic against the lush green grass of the hilltop. As we wandered among the ruins on paths we saw maybe thirty or forty iguanas, each one a good two or three feet long. They looked like they owned the place, perching on the rocky ruins.

Being a lizard fan, Alex was in her element and managed to snap some amazing photographs, as you can see.

We reached the cliff edge and were treated to picture-postcard views of pure white sands and azure blue waters down at the base of the cliffs. The fort certainly had an imposing location perched a hundred feet up!

We headed down the steps to the beach and indulged in a swim. The sand was soft and the water was warm. It was hard to believe it was early January. We were very glad to have chosen Tulum over Cancun. 

We headed back up through the ruins and then walked down the beach - Tulum Playa - past expensive resorts and restaurants, admiring the beautiful ocean view.

We rounded off the afternoon with a smoothie in a seafront bar and found our way back to the main road and back into the village.

You can see the hi-resolution photos on Flickr here.

You can learn more about Tulum via these links:


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