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Seeking advice for visiting pyramids/ruins in Yucatan

Seeking advice for visiting pyramids/ruins in Yucatan

Old Jan 18, 18, 11:06 pm
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Question Seeking advice for visiting pyramids/ruins in Yucatan

My wife and I will be renting a car and driving around Yucatan next month, staying at a few places along the way. I have a few questions about visiting the pyramids/ruins:

1. Our tentative plan is, after a first night in Merida, is to go on to Hacienda San Jose (a small hotel about 45 minutes west of Merida according to Googlmaps, which I realize might underestimate the actual time). Then we'd go from HSJ to Chichen Itza (about 1.5 hours drive) and that same day on to Hacienda Temozon (about 2 hours drive from CI, including about 45 minutes south of Merida). After a couple of nights in HT, we'd similarly stop off at Uxmal before continuing on to Hacienda Santa Rosa (each hop being about an hour), which is southwest of Merida.. My first question: Is a guide advised necessary or advisable for visiting these two sites? And if so, is it easy to arrange one (and at what price for a few hours?) simply upon arriving there? (I know that each site is well worth a day, but I think a few hours seeing part of each would be enough for us.)
2. Since we'd have our luggage in the car, is the parking at the sites secure enough that we don't have to worry about break-ins?
3. About that Hacienda San Jose-CI-Hacienda Temozon day: It's a fair amount of driving. Are there other sites on the way that folks would recommend instead or, for that matter, in addition to CI?
4. Similar question for Uxmal, which we're more determined to see since (as I understand it) it is less crowded than CI: Any sites we should try to see in addition to Uxmal?

Thanks for any advice!
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Old Jan 20, 18, 1:34 pm
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I’d recommend the “Rita Puuc”.though in theory it can be done in a day, I’d not try. It’s much easier to do this over a longer period, as we did it, and enjoy a “luz y sonido” (light and sound) show at one of the stops (e.g. Uxmal, Chichén) where it is offered. We stayed at Villas Arqueológicas and other properties as well, haciendas, and the Hotel used originally by the archaeologists at Chichén.

Link to Ruta Puuc by Yucatán Today.

Link to Forgotten Ruins Of Ruta Puuc by Lonely Planet.

Link to Archaeological sites by Locogringo.

Link to Wikipedia list of archaeological sites.

We stayed at properties at or near sites and left our luggage at the hotels we stayed at. Much safer than at the major site lots (e.g. Chichén Itzá).
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Old Jan 20, 18, 4:13 pm
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Thanks very much for this info, JD.
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Old Jan 23, 18, 10:30 pm
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I'd echo exactly what JDiver said. Stay at the Villas Arqueológicas at both Chichen Itza and Uxmal. As hotels they're nice, but what's best is that you are right at the ruins, so you can enter before all the day-trippers show up and spoil the experience. And another "I agree" for the Ruta Puuc. Good advice.
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Old Jan 25, 18, 2:20 pm
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Do you speak Spanish? The on-site guides at both Chichén Itzá and Uxmal were great when I went a little over a year ago. Chichén is huge, so I'd recommend budgeting at least 4 hours if you want to see the whole site and explore it in depth - get there as early as possible in the day to avoid the tourist hordes and the schlock tourist merchants that set up shop everywhere and really detract from the experience. Uxmal is much less crowded and can probably be done in just a couple of hours.

Another site I really enjoyed when I went was Dzibilchaltún, located north of Mérida. It was virtually empty, I negotiated a good price with a guide for a private tour, and I really wished I'd have brought my bathing suit to hang out in the cenote for a bit.
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Old Jan 25, 18, 2:25 pm
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We stayed in Tulum and got up early (5:30) and drove to Chichen Itza to be there when it opened at 8. We found an amazing guide who spoke excellent English, was an archaeologist, and was a great source of knowledge. It was cooler at that time and not very crowded (it was in June). We toured until around 11:30. As we were leaving, it started to rain and the tour buses from Cancun started showing up. I think that is good advice for all the sites.
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Old Jan 25, 18, 2:35 pm
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Thanks very much for all of this useful advice, folks!
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Old Jan 29, 18, 11:55 am
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Originally Posted by bitterproffit View Post
We stayed in Tulum and got up early (5:30) and drove to Chichen Itza to be there when it opened at 8. We found an amazing guide who spoke excellent English, was an archaeologist, and was a great source of knowledge. It was cooler at that time and not very crowded (it was in June). We toured until around 11:30. As we were leaving, it started to rain and the tour buses from Cancun started showing up. I think that is good advice for all the sites.
Thanks again for this info, bitterproffit. Might you recall how you found this guide (or how he found you)? Did he simply approach you near the entrance to the site? And would you have his email or other contact info?
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Old Jan 29, 18, 12:22 pm
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He approached our van as we got out in the parking lot. He was sanctioned in that he had a tag and a license identifying him as a tour guide. We were the first people there. He was excellent and definitely legit. It seemed there were a few guides there waiting for clients to arrive. I have no contact info, but maybe the site has a website with this info. Hope this helps.
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Old Feb 1, 18, 3:50 pm
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Be sure to try some authentic Yucatecan food - these are in addition to more typical Mexican food dishes you’d find. Wikipedia lists some of these, I’ll add:

Chicken or fish “Tikin Xic” marinated in annatto sauce.

Cochinita Pibil, a marinated pork dish and by far the most renowned of Yucatecan food.

Habanero chiles accompany most dishes, either in solid or puréed form, along with fresh limes and corn tortillas. Habanero starts out with a nearly fruity taste and quickly becomes fiery hot.

Huevos motuleños, breakfast of two fried eggs on retried black beans on a fried tortilla dressed with chopped ham and panels cheese, often served with fried plantain slices.

Onions, purple that have been pickled, are often served on the side.

Panuchos feature fried tortillas filled with black beans and topped with turkey or chicken, lettuce, avocado and pickled onions.

Papadzules, hard boiled egg tacos covered in pumpkin seed sauce and tomatoes.

Pavo en Relleno Negro, a turkey meat stew cooked with a black paste made from roasted chiles, a local version of the mole de guajalote found throughout Mexico. The meat soaked in the black soup is also served in tacos, sandwiches and even in panuchos or salbutes and is usually referred to as "Relleno negro". There is a similar “relleno Blanco” white stew.

Poc Chuc, a Mayan/Yucatecan version of barbecued pork.

Salbutes are soft, cooked tortillas with lettuce, tomato, turkey, and avocado on top.

Sopa de Lima, a lime-flavored soup with meat (turkey, chicken, or pork), served with tortilla chips. Very yummy.

Tamales colados, very smooth corn tamales that are very refined (the masa is strained). Most tamales in Yucatan are wrapped in banana leaf, not corn husk. Tamales have been a basic food of Mexico for over 10,000 years.

Really big tamales are called “brazos de la reina “ - queen’s arms - or dzotobichay, a small variety made of masa and lard seasoned with achiote and habanero, filled with pumpkin seeds and wrapped in chaya leaf (kind of like chard, often served cooked as a side dish), which diffuses some of its spinach like flavor. It's typically served with a tomato and onion sauce.

Tzic de venado. Cooked and shredded venison, with tomato, radish, cilantro, purple onion cooked with sour orange, dressed with Habanero chile and salt to your taste.
Xcatik, a type of chili.

Xnipec, a fiery hot salsa or relish similar to pico de gallo, made with habanero chiles and Seville orange juice ed with tortilla chips. This can take the top of your head off if it’s really hot.

After dinner try some xtabentún if you like anise - this liquor uses rum, fermented honey from the indigenous xtabentún flowe and anise for its flavor.

In Yucatan, as in most of Mexico, the “x” is prounced “sh”, so xnipec is “shnee-PEK”.

Tzic de venado
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Last edited by JDiver; Feb 1, 18 at 5:35 pm
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