Discover the Ek Balam Mayan Ruins

Ek Balam, Black Jaguar, has come a long way since my first visit in 1987. These ruins are north of Valladolid, Yucatan and offer the adventurer a chance to experience ruins many retirees or tourists may not see.

While doing my doctoral research in the villages of Yucatan my guide asked if I would be interested in visiting an untouched Mayan city that was nearby. I jumped at the chance to see the Mayan ruins. I've always loved the adventure associated with exploring them.

We were in Valladolid and my guide pointed north.


About a half hour later and after driving several miles of gravel jungle roads we arrived at the village of Ek Balam. My guide explained that the modern village of Ek Balam was entrusted by the government to protect the ruins.


After a brief conversation with the head of the village, a young boy aged 12 was hired to guide us through the jungle to the ruins. Armed with his machete the young man hacked away at the vegetation that had grown across the old path.

Suddenly the path led us up a hill and looking up ahead I saw part of a temple sticking out of the side of the hill with a good size tree growing out of it. The hill we had been climbing was actually a temple or pyramid.

When we reached the top we entered a clearing at the top and I could see that there were many more mounds out in front of us. The humidity of the jungle and the heat of July was beginning to overwhelm me and being unprepared for this side trip we decided to return to my jeep. Although brief, it was an experience I often think of.

Ek Balam is a different experience from Chichen Itza

Ek' Balam is no Chichen Itza. It is smaller and more compact. Then again that’s good!  Theentire site can be seen in about 2 hours while you can spend days atChichen Itza.  There are no crowds.  Ek' Balam is 30minutes from Piste, the Chichen exit on highway 180, and only10-15 fromValladolidand therefore can be included as a side excursion while visiting any ofthese places.  It also can be fit into a day trip to RioLagartos.



Mayan Stucco Frescoes

A wall of a beautiful set of stucco frescoes wasrecently discovered and 80% of the frescoes are in originalcondition.  These stucco frescoes along with the ones found onthe great pyramid are startlingly in great shape and thatch roofs havebeen erected to help protect them.

These frescoes, the compactness of the site andstill being able to climb the temples, makes Ek' Balam a must on anytrip through the interior of Yucatan.  Make sure you goprepared since there still are no amenities at the site.

I guess some things haven’t changed much after 25 years. 


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