Palenque: Jungle, Temples, Monkeys and Waterfalls

Posted on July 22, 2013

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Don Mucho

Don Mucho

Palenque is less of a town and more an area surrounding a stunning lost city complex spanning 15kms. Most people we spoke to suggested staying in one of the large camping sites near the complex entrance. Camping isn’t rely my thing (I like a bed and a shower) but we found Margarita and Ed’s, within Panchan,  which has Cabañas that are simple, cheap and right in the middle of the jungle. It’s a backpacker destination but we found a real mix, mainly of of 20 and 30 somethings including a few families.Most people hang out at Don Mucho, the main restaurant at the entrance to Panchan which serves good Italian and Mexican food that is reasonably priced (expect to pay around M$100 for a main) and gets packed most nights when here is live music, salsa dancing and local entertainment. It’s easy to while the night away is the relaxed and fun atmosphere.

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Palenque

Getting around Palenque is best done by Collectivos – minibuses that pick people up anywhere on the main road for M$20. Simply stick your hand out and one will stop within 10minutes, usually a lot less. The entrance to the park with the famous ruins is M$27 and to the temple/building complex is M$57. We also took a guide for M$300 (which took some negotiating down from the $950 asked for). It’s enlightening getting a bit  of background and understanding more about the history, especially here to get the story behind the impressive site and way of life of the Mayans.

On the way back take the ‘Queens Path’, a gentle 2km train that takes you to the Museum, entrance of which is included in the park fee. It’s insightful and well worth a few minutes of time. Between the ruins and the museum is a waterfall, perfect for cooling down on a hot day so pack swimmers for the day trip.abandoned Mayan city in the middle of the jungle. The complex spans 15km and the core that has been excavated (a small percentage) is beautifully kept.

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Howler Monkey

Another morning a guide took three of us for a 2 hour jungle walk (M$150), spotting howler monkeys, toucans, many different species of fauna, animals, birdlife, and jungle covered temples. An early start was well worth it to get the best chance of spottings.

Around the area there are some stunning waterfalls. We took a day trip to Misol-ha and Agua Azul, the first of which is possible to walk behind giving an Avatar like view of the jungle. Be careful of footing, I managed to slide down a few steps in a not so glamorous style. At Agua Azul a few hours go by quickly wandering up the falls, and eating/drinking at the various stands (I love Jamaica –  a juice made of hibiscus flowers). We headed right to the top and swum in the cool pools, deliciously refreshing on a hot day.

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Agua Azul

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Misol Ha

Note that this are is Spanish speaking and there are few that speak good English so to be sure to make the most of your time here brush up before you come, or be sure to bring a phrase book with you.

There are two downsides of the jungle: it is incredibly humid and nothing dries unless it is hung in direct sunlight and if you wash your hair in the afternoon, it’s likely not to dry until the following day. Secondly the mosquitos seem to be immune to almost every repellent known to us (maybe it’s the English blood they are after). We found the most effective repellent was lavender oil.

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