Climbing temples & cenote swimming

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So my boyfriend D managed to bag us a holiday to Cancun (unbelievable right! Read how it happened here) and within the trip itinerary was a private tour to the Chichen Itza and Coba Mayan temples and a swim in the Cenote Il Kil.

We got picked up from our hotel (which by the way was AMAZING, check it out on my blog post) at 7am by our lovely driver (unfortunately I can’t remember the driver or the company but I’ll will update this when I find out) in comfortable car with very good air conditioning and cold water as we were travelling away from the coast to reach 35°C heat! After an informative video on the journey plus a power nap, 2 and a bit hours later we arrived at Chichen Itza. Our driver sorted out our tickets as we grabbed a photography licence (it was cheap and we only needed one between us) so we could video and snap the glorious history infront of us! Walking through the forest there was many stalls selling a variety of items (wish I had bought a hammock, they looked beautiful) to tempt you into soveinor buying. Check out D’s photography of the day here.

Photo by Dillon Spiller



  • If you stand at the bottom of the stairs and clap, the echo sounds like it mimics the ‘voice of the sacred quetzal bird.’
  • The site is dated to over 1500 years ago!
  • Temple was made for the Mayan God Kukulcan.
  • The main temple pictured (El Castillo) is believed to be built like a calendar, it has 365 steps and the decorative rectangles represent each week of the year.




Although the temple is the main attraction, Chichen Itza is a whole Mayan settlement area and use to hold thousands of people. There are many other interesting buildings including a ‘pitch’ where a game similar to football was played but the ball was hit using the hip and bounced off the walls. There is also ruins of an observatory as the Mayan’s were fascinated with the night sky.

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After a long and hot morning of walking around with no breakfast (silly us) we headed to Cenote Il Kil which was only a half an hour drive away. A buffet lunch was included (we had to pay for drinks) in our tour price and served a range of food from rice to fish and fruit salad. It was definitely what we needed! After a change into our swimwear we headed down the steps into the cenote for a cooling swim. And what an amazing place to swim in…






Showered, changed and feeling refreshed we headed on for another half an hour or so to another Mayan site called Coba. This site is not as busy and you are still able to climb up to the main temple (this was stopped in Chichen Itza in 2007). We were taken around the area on bikes as it was an easier and faster way to travel. Anyone who knows me well will be laughing at the thought of this as I am not a confident ‘biker’ however I did not fall off (despite D’s worry) and it definitely was a good way to take in the area surrounding us. When we reached Ixmoja we had the choice to climb up. I’m a sucker for a view and even in the afternoon heat there is no way I was not climbing to the top. 


It was a relatively short climb, 130 steps later and it was worth it. What a great view!



Photo by Dillon Spiller

However getting down took a little longer as the stairs are steep and some are smooth making them slippery but taking it slow and sliding down on our bums, we made it. Our guide took us around the site to other ruins of smaller temples and buildings. There was also a smaller ‘pitch’ for the game I mentioned earlier. They contained plaques like the one below that specialists have analysed to be recored dates.



After an ice cream and long journey back to our hotel we had a jam-packed but incredible day! Mayan history dates back so far before so many other civilisations and I can’t wait to visit more sites and learn more! Around the Yucatan area there are many other Cenotes (some you can’t swim in) and Mayan ruins to visit, here are some other recommendations:

  • Gran Cenote (Sistema Sac Actun)
  • Ek’ Balam – was recommended by our guide
  • El Rey Ruins
  • Cenote Dos Ojos (Two Eye)
  • Mayan Ruins of Tulum
  • Cenote Yokdzonot
  • Cenote Jardin del Eden (Garden of Eden) which is located south of Playa Del Carmen.


If you are visiting Mexico, wether history is an interest to you or not, you must visit these sites! Its an opportunity you just can not miss!



Have you visited any Mayan history? Let me know in the comments below, I would love more recommendations!

Come join my adventures: Twitter & Instagram :@emmasoffagain

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