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Chichen Itza – 7th Wonder of the World!

Temple and columns, Chichen Itza, Mexico

Chichen Itza – 7th Wonder of the World!

Visitors staying in Cancun or Playa del Carmen should definitely include a Chichen Itza Tour on their bucket list. Located less than 3 hours’ drive from these resorts, this famous Mayan site will be an unforgettable highlight of any Riviera Maya vacation.

Often referred to as the 7th Wonder of the World, this remarkable attraction includes the landmark El Castillo Pyramid, the biggest Ball Court in Mesoamerica, a remarkable Observatory and a host of temples and pillared platforms.

The very best way to enjoy a visit to Chichen Itza is with a local English-speaking guide. Enjoy comfortable air-conditioned transport on a private tour to Chichen Itza at affordable prices.

Reasons to Book a Chichen Itza Private Tour

Independent visitors may be impressed by Chichen Itza, but understanding the Mayan way of life and the purpose of the buildings really makes the tour worthwhile. During your Chichen Itza Tour, your private guide will help you:

  • Get an insight into ancient Mayan culture
  • Admire the engineering feats of pyramid-building (unfortunately not possible to climb)
  • See well-preserved carvings of serpents, eagles and jaguars
  • Learn how a shadowy serpent appears to descend the pyramid at the spring and autumn equinoxes
  • Appreciate the astronomical understanding demonstrated in the El Caracol Observatory
  • Visit the Sacred Cenote, a place of sacrificial offerings to the gods
  • Understand the purpose of the many monuments spread across this large site

Tips for Visiting Chichen Itza

The best time to visit Chichen Itza is early in the morning to avoid the crowds and heat. Our tours take advantage of this quieter time to visit and you can relax and nap on the journey.

As part of your Chichen Itza Tour, we include a stop at Valladolid on the way back. It’s a great place to have lunch, shop and explore this delightful colonial city. Don’t forget your camera!

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5 Reasons to Visit the Tulum Ruins

Tulum ruins

5 REASONS TO VISIT THE TULUM RUINS

One of the Best Conserved Mayan Sites

Vacations in Mexico are far more than sunshine, sand and sea. One of the reasons that makes the Riviera Maya a top year-round tourist destination are the amazing Mayan ruins, like Tulum ruins,  just a short drive from Cancun and Playa del Carmen.

1. Short Trip to Tulum Ruins

Tulum’s well-preserved Mayan ruins are one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world. They make a popular half-day trip for those staying in the Riviera Maya being much closer than Chichen Itza. The amazing ruins at Tulum are just 70 miles (115km) south of Cancun, and 38 miles (62km) from Playa del Carmen.

2. Spectacular Sea Views at Tulum

Located overlooking the azure Caribbean Sea, the walled Mayan city at Tulum was built as a center of trade. You’ll definitely want to share the spectacular views and “screen saver” photos with friends and colleagues via social media!

3. One of the Best Conserved Mayan Sites

The ruins of Tulum were one of the most recent Mayan sites, built between the 13th and 15th centuries. This pre-Colombian Mayan city has three main highlights: the impressive El Castillo (Castle) right on the headland, the Temple of the Descending God, and the impressive Temple of the Frescoes with its beautiful carvings and paintings.

4. Fascinating Half-Day Tulum Tours

The walled city of Tulum is compact, so you can see all the main buildings in about 90 minutes. Visiting with an English-speaking guide as part of a Tulum Tour provides you with fascinating information even if you are not a fan of history or archaeology. Discover how the Mayans lived, who built Tulum, and why it was abandoned.

5. Combine a Swim in Cenote with the Ruins visit

Visitors can enjoy a swim from the stunningly beautiful beach within the Tulum Ruins site, provided there’s no red flag. Look up at El Castillo for a moment you’ll never forget! And combine this popular activity with another unique Mexican experience - a cool swim in a cenote (limestone sinkhole), you'll get amazed!

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Coba Ruins

Coba ruins

Coba Ruins

The Best Mayan Site for History and Adventure

The Coba ruins provide many top reasons for tourist to visit, especially if you have visited the Yucatan before. Less popular (and far less crowded) than Tulum or Chichen Itza, Coba has many unique highlights. For example, you can still climb 130 steep steps up the highest Mayan temple pyramid in Mexico at Coba. You’ll see amazing jungle views from the top!

What to See at Coba Ruins

What makes Coba Ruins Tours so exciting is the fact that many of the buildings still remain covered by dense jungle. Just imagine what archaeological secrets lie undiscovered beneath the dense rainforest!
Coba is much older than similar Mayan sites at Tulum and Chichen Itza. In fact, evidence suggests that Coba was inhabited as long ago as 50BC, although the majority of the city was built during the Late Classical Period (500-900AD). It’s hard to imagine that the city was flourishing when the Roman Empire was at its peak.
In addition, Coba has many ancient stelas with Mayan symbols carved into the stone. They probably marked important events in ancient Mayan civilization.

Ruins of Coba for Young and Active Travelers

Families, teenagers and those who enjoy fun adventures will love exploring this unique archaeological site. Unlike other Mayan sites in the Yucatan, the ruins of Coba are very hands-on and definitely not boring. The 30 square-mile (80km²) site is so widespread, the best way to explore it is by bicycle, taxi-tricycle or rickshaw.

Coba Ruins Tours

Coba is less than two hours from Playa del Carmen. Why not opt for an affordable Coba Ruins Tour with private guide? Learn the mysteries of when and how Coba was built and why it was abandoned in 1550 before lying undisturbed for over 300 years.

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Chichen Itza Night Show

chichen itza night show 1

CHICHEN ITZA NIGHT SHOW.

“Noches de Kukulkan”

In this resurgence, Chichen Itza is brought back to life in a big way. Experience the Chichen Itza night show complete with a lesson in history of the Mayan culture and Mayan Legends! The most prominent legend being Kukulkan, the Feather Snake God, and the Mayan creation of the world!

This Chichen Itza projection “Noches de Kukulkan” is displayed on one of the 7th New Wonders of the World and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988.

We can offer you a custom tour that includes a private visit to the ruins with stops at the pyramid, the ball game, the Temple of the Warriors and several still-existing platforms from Mayan history. The other part of Chichen Itza, views of Cenote Sagrado and the Observatory Area, are closed for the evening. After our tour, the unique experience is kicked up a notch.

The Chichen Itza Night Show is displayed in Spanish; however, the creators have not forgotten about its viewers from English speaking countries. An iPod audio guide is provided for patrons in order to ensure an enjoyable experience for all parties.

To begin the tour, we provide private transportation from your hotel in Playa del Carmen and surrounding areas in the Rivera Maya. The drive is generally clocked around two and a half hours with a venture down the toll road included. Don’t worry, all of our means of transportation are air-conditioned!

As with all of our private tours, we encourage you to tell us everything you wish to do in an effort to customize the experience to your wants. At Absolute Adventure Mexico, we strive to provide you with an experience that you will never forget.  Contact Us to organize your tour!

NB: No flash photography is permitted during the projection.

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chichen itza night show 1
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Mayan Ball Court

Mayan ball court

MAYAN BALL COURT

More than a game, a very special ritual

Through archeological discovery it became evident to experts that Mayans were indeed pretty good sportsmen. The Mayans built grandiose ballcourts to organize games that had ritualistic implications.

Ball court in Chichen Itza

The biggest mayan ball court or as the Mayans put it ‘juego de pelota’ is in Chichen Itza and it is an incredible sight to behold. This great ball court measures a whopping 225 feet in width and 545 feet in length. It is an open-sky ballcourt with no coverings whatsoever. Moreover, the Mayan ballcourt in Chichen Itza is also acoustically perfect. This means that a whisper from one end of the court travels clearly to the other end of the court, being heard by all players.

It is so perfect that the sounds waves are barely ever affected by climatic conditions and wind direction. Regardless of whether it was night or day, nothing affected the acoustics of the ballcourt.

Each side of the court is embedded with a stone hoop or goal. There are various engravings on the walls and pillars surrounding the ballcourt, which give a darker meaning to what may seem like an innocent game of put-the-ball-through-the-hop. The Mayans played with a very heavy ball made out of chicle (a raw material extracted mainly from Mesoamerican trees, chicle is also used to make chewing gum). The ball weighed about 3 to 4 kg or 6 to 8 pounds, which they could only play using their hips, shoulders, knees and elbows. The game could not be played using feet, hands and head.

Although there is a myth surrounding the game that the winning captain of the team is sacrificed, experts on the other hand believe it to be the other way around.

And this is solely because Mayan engravings portray that a player is kneeling-down before being sacrificed for the Gods. And archeologists believe that this act of submission can only depict the loser, whose head is then cut off.

Ball Courts in Coba

There are two courts in the ancient Mayan city of Coba, which are in no way near the court in Chichen Itza in terms of size. However, both ball courts in Coba are different in terms of architecture and design. In Chichen Itza the ball court has straight walls while the in Coba the courts have inclined walls. Experts believe that this smaller ballcourt in Coba was particularly used for ceremonial games.

Toltecs and Human Sacrifice

According to what historians and archaeologists believe, the Toltecs introduced the Mayans to human sacrifice. It became a tradition in the Mayan culture, where the sacrifice was carried out by the high priest (nacom) and the victim was held down on a stone tablet by the priest’s elderly helpers called Chac (named after the Mayan rain god). The victims were mostly slaves, orphans, criminals and children. The victims were called up at the temple one by one held down by the chacs, and that is when the priest pierced their heart with a flint knife. The bodies were then thrown down the steps of the temple.

Human Sacrifices were common and were casually held at various ritual ceremonies in Maya.

Automutilation

Automutilation refers to intentional self-harm. And this was fairly a common practice among the Mayans as well. The noblemen from upper class Mayan families voluntarily and frequently used to cut themselves to please their gods and to communicate with them. Suicide too, was common in Maya and there was even a god named after suicide.

 

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The Mayan Calendar

mayan calendar observatory

Some Crazy Facts about the Mayan Calendar

The most incredibly complex calendar that has ever existed

The calendar was purely made using integer arithmetic – whatever that is! There are as much as 17 different ways of counting the Mayan calendar. Despite the mind-numbing complexities behind it, it is indeed deadly accurate.

Understanding a bit about the Mayan calendar will make your trip with us to the Chichen Itza and/ or the ruins of Tulum, when you talk about the historical significance and aspects of the temples. And in light of this, we decided to share some interesting facts about the calendar, which you are going to love and you won’t have to scratch your head in confusion, trying to understand anything.

The Maya Calendars

The Mayans made their calculations for different calendars based on the cosmos. Did you know that some Mayan calendars date back 10 million years? But the calendars that were deemed relevant and precise include three, the Haab, Tun-Uc and the Tzolk’in. Each of the three calendars have different mathematical calculations and interpretations behind them.

For example, the Haab has only 20 days for each month and a total of 18 months and 365 days, and is based on the cycles of the earth. The Tun-Uc is based on lunar readings and calculations and the Tzolk’in is based on the sacred and divine numbers 13 and 20, crazy right!

The Long Count

One of the most mind-boggling ways to count the Mayan calendar is through using the Long Count. The Long Count is also referred to as the Gregorian Proleptic Calendar, which spread backwards into time before the calendar wholly came into existence. A date calculated using Long Count can be converted to a single digit, which can represent the number of days that have passed.

The 2012 Controversy

Well the world didn’t end as it turned out – quite obviously. Although the end of the world as depicted by the Mayan calendar was and is highly implausible, experts did reveal that whenever the Mayan Long Count calendar ended, a new one followed with the initiation of a new cycle. So, just like the Gregorian calendar starts on the first of January every year, the Maya calendar starts after the end of one earth cycle.

Plenty of Nations at that Time Adopted that Mayan Calendar

Several Mesoamerican tribes, people and nations, more popularly the Aztecs, used the Mayan calendar and tweaked it to their own use. For instance, the calendar was technically not altered, except for the different names given to describe a day of the week and the months in the calendar. But the factor that constituted for the inferiority of Aztec calendars, which were purely based on the Mayan calendars, was that the Aztecs replaced the complex number system of the Mayans with way more primitive number systems. This resulted in several discrepancies in their calendar system, especially when it came to recording different dates.

Our tours in Chichen Itza and Tulum will give a more thorough experience of this once great and proud civilization. You will be amazed to witness the opening of various sacred temples, as well as intricately built Chichen equinoxes with the shade enveloping various mystifying snake sculptures. Plus, you will also experience a breathtaking display of various Solstice events in Tulum and watch an exhilarating display of light passing through some of the main temples in Tulum.

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Key Facts about Ek Balam Ruins

ek balam mayan ruins

EK BALAM MAYAN RUINS

and the Significance of the El Jaguar Negro

Ek Balam is Mayan for ‘Black Jaguar’ or ‘Sun Jaguar’. The ruins are located near Valladolid another colonial city in Yucatan located in Mexico. Famous for the El Torre pyramid, 700 AD to 1000 AD was one of the most culturally significant periods for Ek Balam. The ruins were mapped in the late 80’s, where research and excavation work was undertaken for a decade, ending in the 1990’s. Ek Balam is no doubt a wonderful and exhilarating site for adventurers, seeking historical facts of the ancient Mayan ruins.

The Magnificence of the Ruins

Ek Balam was operational for a staggering 1000 years! Cultural and economic development in the ruins began in the Pre-Classic era, from 100 B.C and continued till 300 A.D. Construction and development in the city of Ek Balam continued till 900 A.D. According to expert speculation it is said Ek Balam was inhabited till 16th century, when the Spanish began their invasion.

Key Facts

  • Ek Balam mayan ruins are situated 51 kilometers of Northeast Chichen Itza
  • Archeologists have only been able to excavate the middle of Ek Balam
  • Ek Balam covered an area of 12 sq. km, however, you can only view 1 square kilometer
  • Archeologists have been able to map 45 structures in Ek Balam
  • The infrastructure of the city were designed utilizing the Petén architectural principles and designs, which is based on large pyramids and roof combs on buildings
  • Ek Balam consists of numerous temples, two huge palaces and the famous (El Torre) a pyramid, which is situated in the middle of the city

The City Walls

Archaeologists are fascinated with height of the walls, which they state aren’t high enough to provide any sort of protection whatsoever. They arrived at the conclusion that the walls were made for ceremonial purposes around the ‘Central Plaza’, spanning towards the South Plaza. The exact nature of the ceremonies has not yet been identified. Another interesting thing you will get to see on your tour to Ek Balam and the El Torre is the famous ball court within the city where the Mayan people engaged in playing some sort of game with a ball as a ceremonial feature.

The El Jaguar Negro (Black Jaguar)

The black jaguar or ‘Sun Jaguar’ is a very powerful symbol of the ancient Mayan civilization. At the initiation of the Mayan Long Count, which was thousands of years ago before even before Chichen Itza was a major city; the Black Jaguar became one of the most important symbols in the Mayan culture. Warriors, emperors and priests alike, thoroughly studied the jaguar, not just because it was, at the time, America’s biggest predator, but because of a number of other attributes the big cat exhibited. They studied the cat’s distinctive features and day and night habits. It was believed by the Mayans that the great black jaguar was a part of the myth behind creation and that noblest of the bloodlines and kings in the Mayan civilization were all descendents of the Black Jaguar. And so the incredible cat became Maya’s most significant emblems, illustrating not only Mayan culture, but the entire Mesoamerica.

 

You will be mesmerized to witness Ek Balam ruins and the Black Jaguar sculptures during your adventurous trip to Ek Balam ruins with Absolute Adventure.

 

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Kukulkan Temple of Chichen Itza

CHICHEN ITZA KUKULKAN TEMPLE

While enjoying your holidays in the Yucatan Peninsula, if you wish to make a one day trip then it is an absolute must that you visit Chichen Itza. Why? Well, the ancient city of Chichen Itza was declared as being the one of the new Seven Wonders of the World back in 07-07-2007, and for good reason. There was a worldwide vote cast for it and over 100 million people voted that it should be the new wonder. Chichen Itza has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in Mexico and in the world.

Just a three-hour drive from Playa del Carmen, the total area of Chichen Itza is 6 square miles. There have undoubtedly been a plethora of archeological excavations in the once great Mayan city – which has revealed an exponential number of different temples in the jungles of Chichen Itza over the past couple of decades- it is safe to say that each temple is no less amazing and wondrous than the pyramids of Egypt.stem.

The Kukulkan temple of Chichen Itza

El Castillo

The main attraction of Chichen Itza is Kukulkan, which has also been given another name by the locals, El Castillo. The Temple of Kukulkan stands at 75 feet and was meant to help the Mayans with their astrological endeavors.

The feathered serpent god, whom the ancient Mayans called Kukulkan, was a prominent deity worshipped by a majority of Mesoamerican people. The Mayans believed that Kukulkan had a human form as well. The feathered serpent god was one out of the three main gods that the Mayan believed created the world. It was thought at the time that Kukulkan showed the Mesoamerican people how to cultivate, how to run an entire civilization and how to make medicine to cure and treat injuries and disease.

The temple of Kukulkan was built by the Toltecs; they created another temple on top of Kukulkan, which was made by the Mayans. Inside the main temple, you will find another temple, which has steps on one side, created by the Mayans of the classical era. Toltecs had a considerable influence on architecture, they built the pyramids with four sides. The Toltecs originated from central Mexico and conquered Mayan inhabited areas in the Yucatan Peninsula, however, most of them also mixed with the Mayans in the post classical era.

Did you know that mayans had mastery on astrology?

The Temple of Kukulkan was primarily built to act as a physical calendar, one that perfectly aligns with the sun. Each side of the temple has 91 steps. So, if you multiply 91 by 4 (there are 4 sides of the temple) you get 364 and if you add the 1 step at the top of the temple the total becomes 365, which indicates the 365 days in a year.

The temple was designed and built with such sheer perfection and ingenuity that in the seasons of both autumn and spring, there are shadows casted over the temple by the sun, which perfectly depict a tuft of feathers of a serpent that appear as if it is slithering down the steps of the temple. And eventually the entire body of the creature links with the head on one of the staircases. A truly magnificent sight to behold!

Cenote Discovered under the Kukulkan Temple!

It is indeed a powerful testament to a civilization long, long gone and has archeologists absolutely intrigued for ages.

However, a great secret has been revealed under temple’s steps in August this year. Researchers have successfully discovered a large cenote – which at the same time also poses a threat for the temple. The underground river flowing beneath the 1000 year old temple could eventually result in the collapse of El Castillo that is if the roof gives way. Experts also believe that the temple may have been built on purpose on top of the cenote as cenotes held great religious significance for the Mayans.