The whole thought and history behind it was so intriguing to me. I couldn’t wait to get there, and we loved our day in Chichen Itza. Spending a day in Chichen Itza will take you back in time through dense jungles to the world of the ancient Mayans. It’s a world of incredible genius, astronomy, worship, and human sacrifice.
Getting there – Most tour companies will pick you up from your hotel in the early morning and drive you to Chichen Itza on a nice, air conditioned tour bus. The drive is long and the jungle goes as far as the eye can see, so don’t plan on it being a scenic drive. They will tell you about the culture and history as you make your way into the heart of Yucatan.
The Cenotes – There’s a handful of beautiful cenotes in the area. You will likely stop at the larger of them, Il-Kil. Peering over the edge, through the vines, and down into the sink hole is just the coolest thing!Of course, if you were listening on the bus ride, you’ll know that this was the site of incredible amounts of human sacrifice. Personally, I imagined that at the bottom of this very deep pool, there must be layer upon layer of human bones and skulls. But, I didn’t let that stop me from jumping in and having the bucket list experience of swimming in a Mexican cenote! The water is very cold and dark, and there’s a lot of little freshwater fish, but the feeling is surreal and the views from the bottom looking up and out are so cool!
The Villages – Generally, tours stop at a village after the cenote for lunch and a traditional Mayan performance. The cost of this stop may or may not be included in your tour, so be sure to check this and bring some extra pesos if it is not included. Either way, make sure to eat something and drink a lot of water here, as well as use their bathrooms. The time at Chichen Itza ends up being very hot and it is a very long day from start to finish. It is also a good idea to bring some spare change here as tips are expected as part of the meal and performance.
Chichen Itza – Thousands of years ago, this was a major metropolis and the center of Mayan culture. It is incredibly spectacular and, as a result, its Mexico’s most visited ancient site and also one of the original Seven Wonders of the World, as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The pyramid, El Castillo de Kukulcan, is one of the most impressive works we’ve seen in our travels.
Not only did the pyramid’s design serve as a calendar for the ancient people, but if you visit on either the spring or fall equinox, the afternoon shadows actually creating a moving serpent that slithers down the pyramid’s steps! The rest of the grounds are equally impressive including the Great Ball Court, the Columns of the Temple of a Thousand Warriors, and many other temples, structures and sculptures that surround the grounds.
What to Bring
Because this is a full day trip (12 hours +) with a variety of activities it is good to consider bringing the following items:
- Small bills and change to use for tips, assorted purchases, and locker rentals
- Towels, swimsuits, and a change of clothes
- Water, water, and more water!
- Snacks for the ride
- A warm top for the bus ride back – after a day in the sun, the A/C gets pretty cold!
What to Leave Behind
Don’t bring a tripod – they will not let you take it onto the grounds. There’s plenty of people who are happy to take pictures for you though.
Enjoy Chichen Itza!