Coba – Mexico

Zona Arqueologica de Coba

The presence of the Mayan civilization in Mexico has been confirmed for centuries. It is associated with a good knowledge of mathematics, astronomy, agriculture and art, thanks to the wealth of information found on the sites of ruins around the country. The Maya community was shaken up by the arrival of the Spaniards who forbade the use of their mother tongue. The villages were probably abandoned to protect them. The survival of the language was then difficult. Only later, hidden impressive architectural treasures were revitalized and each one has its character and history.

Only open to tourism in 1973, buried in the jungle, Coba offers a completely different setting from the well-known Chichen Itza site. Surrounded by mature trees, the site of Coba, in the Quintana Roo region, would be much larger than the part open to tourists. The remains of the white paths (Sacbé/Sacbeob is the plural) are paths created to connect villages. I remember that our guide told us about the existence of a long road which ball players could follow to reach on foot Chichen Itza; a long pilgrimage towards a symbolic and sacrificial confrontation.

The area to explore in Coba is very pleasant to walk through. On the site, there are two ball courts, a church, several engraved and sculpted stelae and structures difficult to identify their initial function. The explanatory panels are absent and  maps are not available. Your guide will make the difference.  Maybe a private one is the best to follow your rhythm. The site can be visited on foot, by bike, with or without a guide. I admit that the bike ride was very pleasant for the family. Additional fees are applicable. Bicycle taxis are also an option.

Coba is 106 km / 66 miles from Playa del Carmen and 42 km / 26 miles from Tulum.

Beach sandals and pretty white skirts aren’t the most thoughtful options. Opt instead for comfortable outfits for straddling a bike, sitting on a dusty rock or walking on uneven ground.

The tallest pyramid, Ixmoja or Nohoch Mul, at the site, has until recently been accessible to climbers, which was a rare option. The approximately 120 steps made it possible to get to the top (137 feet/42 meters) and to have an amazing view above the treetops.

The set was not completely “revealing”. The need to have a guide to understand the site, or to follow a guide by bike with young children meant that we missed explanations. On the other hand, the site is enchanting, less frequented, has fewer merchants and is cooler.

Without the possibility of having access to the pyramid removes an important asset from the park. Also, currently, I question if the site is open or closed, April 2023.

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