Upon reaching Chacchoben after about a 40 minutes taxi drive, the nice cabbie dropped me near to the ticket counter. It was indeed turning into a warm day with the sun out for all to bathe under. It felt almost as hot as my own country at 10.45am in the morning. There were not many tourists around and I only recognized a few guests from the cruiseship. It was going to be a peaceful hassle free self-tour. I looked at my watch, it was now 11am.
Visiting the Mayan Ruins on your own can be a lot less expensive than booking a tour through the cruise line or even booking a private tour. My taxi driver asked for USD50 to take me there and back, not bad. Once at the ticket counter, I paid $6.00USD (per person) towards entrance fee.
The ruins themselves were great and the staff were very helpful if I lost my way which happened a couple of times as the site is rather expansive. There is a bit of physical effort required to walk the ruins – but you can limit your need to walk up stairs but if you are willing to wait until you catch your breath I managed to get up most of those staircase without much trouble.
I don’t really recall how long the whole experience lasted – perhaps 3 hours (including the taxi drive to and fro). There is also a small gift shop near the entrance (whose prices are negotiable and quite a bit cheaper than the cruise terminal) as well as a snack bar selling pre-packaged drinks and chips/candy.
There is a circular path that leads you to the restored temples and other buildings. There is continued research in the site and you may see ongoing work. Note that INAH has set up palapa to prevent erosion and degradation from the natural elements.
The surrounding area has an abundant wildlife such as armadillo, deer, gray fox, peccary and spider monkey. Often you can hear howler monkeys at the site. Larger canines live deeper in the jungle.
As you see from the Cacchoben map, I made my way from the main entrance to the Edifice 24 or Temple 24 which is a medium to large stepped pyramid with a central stairway leading to the top. There are three separate levels and the top level with the remains of a temple. At the back of the temple you can even see some of the original plaster. From there I made my way at a reasonable walking pace to the areas behind me which included (as shown in the map), the Gran Plaza and the Gran Basement area.
There are a lot of paths and jungle around you so I was careful not to step into anywhere where I might find myself compromised or even injured. The photos speak for themselves.
It must have been midday by the time I had completed my self-tour of the Gran Basement site and surrounding areas. The humidity levels must have reached at least 70 percent or even more as I was seating profusely.
These are the only Mayan ruins I have visited, actually the only ancient ruins I have ever visited – so I don’t have personal experience to compare it to others. But I would highly recommend it if you are into trying out a new experience and not taxing yourself out too much. Do be wary of the humidity in this part of Mexico as it can get a tad hot so keep your wear to the minimum. My trip back to the cruise terminal took another 30 minutes and for USD50 to and fro, I think it was worth it. Certainly a trip I will never forget, nor would you if you ever get a chance to take a trip to the Yucatan Peninsular, Mexico.