Nov. 25/26: Ruins of Chichen Itza, Yucatán

On the 26th (day 26), we left Merida and drove to Chichen Itza. The ruins get a great deal of praise, and are listed as one of the New7Wonders of the World. According to the site's Wiki page, 1.4 million tourists visit the ruins each year. For these reasons I was both excited to see what all the hype is about, but also not stoked about the crowds.

We arrived in Chichen Itza's closest town, Piste, reasonably early in the morning, and found camp at the Piramide Inn. The Inn was a bit past its prime, and overrun by cats, lots and lots of cats. I dubbed the place Kittyland Love Center. The older owners were very nice however, the price was inexpensive, and it was just a 3 minute walk to the ruins. On foot, we arrived at the ruins at what we thought would be early enough to beat the crowds – before 9:00 – but found that we were mistaken. The lines to pay for admittance were already fairly long. No matter, we paid and got in, and began wandering around the site.

Unlike Palenque, and much like Monte Alban, the grounds of Chichen Itza are flat, hot, and with the main structures cleared of the jungle. Personally, I enjoyed the jungle-feels of Palenque better, but the condition of Chichen Itza's structures – especially the flagship El Catillo – is unbelievable. So unbelievable, that quite frankly it looks fake. Due to the nearly-immaculate condition of The Castle, and the relatively close proximity of the ruins to Cancun, it's easy to see why Chichen Itza gets so much attention. Although I'm glad we went, the endless crowds, the lack of jungle, and the plethora of hawkers did knock down the appeal of Chichen Itza for me.

After spending a few hours at the site, Danielle and I walked back to the Piramide Inn, and spent the rest of the day using the hotel's wifi, hanging out around the pool, and chatting with a couple fellow overlanders from Germany.

El Castillo

The only real visible damage to the castle.

Ancient Basketball 'hoops'.