This is a place that without your own vehicle it would be rather difficult to get to. It is tucked away off dirt roads in the Reserva Biosfera Monte Azul, but totally worth the trek to get to it. It was steamy hot here, around 90 with intense humidity. As we hiked along the river and through the mosquito filled jungle to see the different waterfalls, I had to stop about every 10 minutes and jump into the water to cool off if we could find areas where the current was safe to swim. This was our first real hot and humid area so far on the trip, and we know it is going to just get worse in Central America, so it was time to start acclimating. But wowzers, I was a sweaty hot mess. There is nice camping area near the river, showers and a restaurant overlooking the river, so after the trek out, you can stay here for the night, just make sure to have bug spray.
The beauty of this place is hard to describe, so I will let the pictures tell the story. Let’s just say we were pretty blown away.
If you ever want your own Indiana Jones adventure, this is the place to come. From the small city of Frontera Corozal you can hire a boat to take you on the 45 minute ride down the Usumacinta river to the Mayan ruins of Yaxchilan, there is no other way to get there other than boat.
We heard that if you want to explore the ruins with nothing more than the roars of howler monkeys, then you need to leave at dawn. We woke up a 6am and were on the muddy, humid river by 6:30 as the sun was rising. On one side of the river is Guatemala, the other Mexico. The jungle is dense and as you ride the boat down it feels like you have steeped back in time.
I kept thinking of a book I love, Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad:
“Watching a coast as it slips by the ship is like thinking about an enigma. There it is before you, smiling, frowning, inviting, grand, mean, insipid, or savage, and always mute with an air of whispering, “Come and find out”.
We were the first people to arrive at the ruins and we only saw four other people in the 2.5 hours we were there. We were alone with the roars of the howler monkeys that were so loud at times they would stop us in our tracks. We saw toucans flying in the trees, parrots and spider monkeys. It was savagely hot and humid, but we had so much fun hiking around the ruins I did not care. We loved this place, it reminded us a little of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. It was one of those days that felt special, it felt like we went on a real adventure.