It was on my bucket list to see the majestic El Castillo pyramid on the sacred Mayan grounds of Chichén Itzá. So naturally, I was too excited for words when my boyfriend bought us tickets to go explore the ancient ruins!
We decided to explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World by embarking on the Chichén Itzá Plus Tour through Apple Vacations. It was an Amstar tour and I couldn’t have been happier with our experience. It cost $103 USD per person. This may be steep for many budgets, which I understand, but we found it to be quite fair as our tour included an English tour guide, beer/sodas/water/juices free of charge on the bus, transportation in an air-conditioned coach bus with a movie on the way back, time spent swimming and exploring the beautiful Ik Kil Cenote, a bus tour of a small Spanish city, a delicious boxed breakfast and an all-you-can-eat buffet lunch with entertainment included.
El Castillo was simply outstanding. With each side of the pyramid having 91-steps and a temple on the top, when added together, it equals 365-steps to represent the days in each calendar year.
See the serpents featured on the pyramid, here? During the Spring and Fall equinoxes a triangular shadow is casted upon them to make them look as if they’re crawling down the pyramid.
Believe it or not, this is a ball court in which the Mayan’s played a game of sacrifice. It’s such a cool experience to be there and something that I found particularly fun is that you can stand and whisper at one end of the ball court, and clearly hear what the other person is saying at the opposite end.
Our awesome tour guide, Gilbert, drawing an example of the equinox in the dirt.
Columns in the Temple of a Thousand Warriors.
What you see here is part of the excavation process which was started by archeologists in 2009 to help find out construction processes that existed before El Castillo.
After we were done touring the grounds, we received a complimentary all-you-can eat lunch at the Mayaland hotel. My only suggestion? Hydrate before coming in. You only get one free glass of lemonade and all drinks thereafter cost money. They also take drinks at the door, so don’t bother buying one that you won’t finish beforehand. We had a great time and had the chance to try traditional corn tortillas- yum!
There was also entertainment performed by traditional Mayan’s. This girl (below) was super photogenic and loved showing off her skills. Any one that can dance with a beer and then a TRAY OF BEERS on her head can be a friend of mine.
Tips For Visiting Chichén Itzá:
- Bring sunblock, a hat and even consider an umbrella! I didn’t do the latter and sure wish I had. I was ready to pass out in the hot sun with minimal shade available to me.
- Drink lots of water! I don’t think the tour guide wants to worry about you keeling over.
- Tip your guides! Ours were so great and provided awesome customer service. This is a large portion of their income and they’re doing it because they love it, not for the money.
- Bring a camera. You don’t want to miss out on some of the great photographing opportunities. I got a bit snap-happy among all of the culture and grand architecture!
- Soak the experience in and listen to what your tour guide has to say. Knowing the history behind the site will make the experience much more rich.