On flying back to Cancun in Mexico from Cuba I had one more Mexican site to visit before leaving the country for Guatemala. Calakmul is buried in a nature reserve in the jungle right in the middle of the Yucatan peninsular just off a newish and controversial highway that has been driven through the landscape.
The nearest place to stay is an hour’s taxi drive away and then once into the site you are taken on another hour’s journey by minibus to the ruins themselves. Unsurprisingly they were peaceful and totally devoid of knick-knack sellers.
Calakmul was the site of a settlement for over twelve centuries, but was at its height in the sixth to seventh centuries, before losing influence to other sites in the region such as Chichen Itza.
Those areas of the site that are visitable are connected by slightly raised paths through the jungle, some of them long and winding, making parts of it seem remote and mysterious. With so much more of the Mayan city still unexcavated amongst the trees and the lack of open mown grass areas found in more manicured Mayan sites, this is a great place for one’s Indiana Jones fantasies to surface. Although when what I later learnt to be Howler monkeys started calling, I briefly thought we were in Jurassic Park – that’s an unholy noise if you don’t know what’s making it.
With the German couple who’d come in on the same minibus, I climbed to the top of one the few tall pyramids there. These two monuments stick out above the trees, affording a wonderful view of seemingly unbroken jungle as far as you can see.
There is one particularly impressive structure but there’s no way to convey this with my photographs, so this is an aerial one from one of the interpretation signs.
The UNESCO listing for this site notes the large number of carved stone stelae found here, so I thought I’d highlight this in my Lego model, so as to help differentiate it from all the other grey pyramids I’ve been building!