Lesser Known Mayan Ruins of Mexico in Campeche

We are back in France now after a fabulous visit to Mexico, the highlight for us being a road trip through the state of Campeche and a visit to 3 remote jungle ruins where we saw less than 20 other tourists across the 3 sites.

Our flight took us in to Cancun and we quickly drove down to the beautiful lagoon at Bacalar for a few nights, before heading into Campeche, and onwards to one of the main highway towns … Xpijil (the X is pronounced a soft “sh” sound). A bustling hub, completely authentic Mexico, with just a couple of roadside hotels, and not a bar to be found! Bottle shops for us!

Our aim was to visit Calakmul, one of the lesser visited more remote Mayan sites. It is not far from the Guatemalan border, and steeped in history and a strategic Mayan site that frequently endured battles with nearby Tikal.

It’s 60km (2 hours slow drive) off the main highway on a road that twists and turns through the jungle with frequent stops to allow passage for the stunning jungle turkeys that live along the way. On early morning trips more wildlife can be seen (even the elusive Jaguar if you are very lucky… we sadly were not), but a storm meant they were still clearing debris from the road to make the passage through safer. We encountered only a handful of tourists which is common given it’s remoteness.

However, when we arrived in Xpijil, we discovered 2 other equally impressive sites… Becan, just 1km off the main road at Xpijil, and Hormiguero, an hour’s drive into the jungle where we saw no-one until leaving - and then just one person! There is now a park warden and a place to register, but from the entries it is rarely visited. A real rare jungle find. It is completely safe (as anything can be) but the road requires concentration!

We were astonished at the size of this area of jungle with it’s one highway running across to the sea on the West coast… “After the Amazon, Mesoamerica’s 35 million-acre Mayan Forest is the largest remaining tropical rainforest in the Americas. Stretching across Belize, northern Guatemala and Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, the Maya Forest provides refuge for countless rare and endangered species”.

Here are a selection of photos from the 3 sites and despite their remote locations we would recommend making the effort to visit.

We stayed at Casa Kaan Calakmul - highly recommended, just outside Xpijil.

We realized on this trip just how many ruins there are in the three states of Yucatan, Quintana Roo and Campeche, many not marked on tourist maps, but discovered on spotting signs while driving through the different regions.

Apart from Chichén-Itzá which ones have you discovered and recommend?