By Andrea de Gosztonyi-McRae and Doug McRae and photos by Andrea de Gosztonyi-McRae
Tucked away in the jungles of the Mayan Riviera in Mexico, Coba and Ek Balam are ancient Mayan ruins that are only just being discovered. As majestic as Chichen Itza, these two archaeological sites are only just coming into their own.
Ek Balam is Mayan for black jaguar and was built between 600 and 900 A.D. Excavation of this site was started only eight years ago and it is very much a work in progress. At 480 feet long, 180 feet wide and 96 feet tall, the pyramid is the grandest of the restored buildings. It is believed to have once served as a palace for court officials, on their long trek from Tulum to Chichen Itza. We found the strenuous climb to the top, over uneven steps and in the hot sun, was well worth the effort. A stunning view of the region lay at our feet.
Coba is Mayan for ruffled waters and lies deep in the jungle. A mile long walk through a luxurious shaded path took us to a clearing where the largest pyramid in the Yucatan Peninsula is located. Bicycles or rickshaws were also available at the entrance. At 136 feet high, Nohoch Mul, big hill’in Mayan, is spectacular. We found the strenuous climb up to the top amazing but the climb down was more difficult as we had to step sideways over the uneven rocks. One of the most interesting aspects of Coba is the fragments of colourfully painted murals that can still be seen there. Click here for more about our visit to Coba and Ek Balam.