Palenque is an ancient Mayan jungle city set in the lush jungles of southern Mexico. Its ancient name was Lakamha, meaning "Big Water". This name most likely derived from the roaring rivers and waterfalls close to the ruins. Roughly 5-10% of its ruins have been discovered, creating a city shrouded in mystery and sure to get your inner explorer awakened. The city contains many ancient Mayan structures that you can visit. The architecture dates from circa 1 A.D. to 799 A.D. Mythological hieroglyphics encompass many of these structures, inspiring Palenque's visitors to learn more about this ancient civilization.
Palenque Mexico | Your Adventure Awaits
Mesoamerica is an intriguing destination of ancient Mayan cities and tropical landscapes. Palenque is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most studied Mayan sites in Central America. The most recent discovery was made by Pennsylvania State University researchers Christopher Duffy and Kirk French in 2010. Although they were unable to identify its use, the pressurized aqueduct is the earliest known in the New World. Archaeologists have continued to excavate parts of this city, slowly dislodging it from the ever-growing jungle floor.
Palenque prospered between circa 600 and 750 CE. The location of this Mayan city created an important trade center for the surrounding cities of Tikal, Tortuguero, and Pomona. The limestone temple structures built by the Maya are awe-inspiring. The structures are comprised of a four-story tower, internal courtyards, and vast ceilings. Water systems built were constructed using aqueducts, steam baths, and lavatories built over underground streams to take waste away from the city.
As recently as 1952, Alberto Ruz discovered a removable slab of stone flooring that revealed a staircase leading to the center of the building. Many artifacts were discovered here including the red cinnabar and jade covered remains of the most important Mayan Palenque ruler, King Pakal.
Palenque is filled with activities and places to discover. The seasons can affect your experience and should be taken into account. The majority of rainfall, or "rainy season", occurs from June through October. To experience the blue waters of the falls and milder weather, January, February, March, and December are good times to visit. Touring the ancient ruins, kayaking, swimming and getting around will be more pleasant during these times and ensure an amazing experience.
Why Choose Palenque?
What Are The Top 10 Things To Do In Palenque?
Take a tour of the archaeological history of the ancient Maya. Hiring a guide to take you around the ruins will give you an in-depth look into the Mayan culture and ensure you overlook none of the sites. The local guides will give you great insight into the beginnings of Mayan culture all the way to their eventual downfall. The tour of the ruins will take about 2 days to complete.
It's recommended to get an early start to watch the jungle awaken and avoid the heat and humidity during the mid-day. Mid-day can be uncomfortable for people who are not used to the climate, and a good way to avoid this is to take a lunch break for a few hours or visit the local air-conditioned museum. Be sure to wear good walking shoes; you're allowed to walk up and around the ruins. The trails are mostly covered by the jungle canopy but when exploring the ruins the sun is often bearing down, don't forget sunscreen.
Visit The Lacandon People
Hiring a local Lancandon Mayan guide is an intriguing way to better understand the culture of the Mayan people. Tours will take you into villages in the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve, where you will see how these people survived in the jungle by creating natural handicrafts and learning about their traditional diet of organic foods. If you're looking for some adrenaline-filled fun, take a jungle rafting tour down the Lacanja River. Be sure to strap in; this adventure requires life-vests and helmets, and you're sure to get soaked!
Aluxes Ecoparque is an NGO that rescues animals from illegal trading. Take a walk around the trails and immerse yourself in the lush fauna and diverse wildlife ranging from wild howler monkeys to manatees. This NGO tries their best to rehabilitate animals that have been trafficked illegally by developing a breeding and release program. If wildlife is something you want to see while in Palenque, this eco-park should definitely be on your list.
Cascadas de Agua Azul
If you get thirsty from all the exploring, there is a small restaurant by the falls where you can enjoy beer and food while listening to the roar of the falls. If you’re lucky, you may even hear some howler monkeys.
Museo De Sitio De Palenque
Lagos de Montebello
Hidden Waterfall La Asuncion
Iglesia Santo Domingo
Cascada de Roberto Barrios
Palenque's ancient architecture and deep history is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The lush jungles, blue waterfalls, stunning Mayan ruins, and friendly locals will surely leave you glowing with an adventurous spirit. The sheer volume of information will keep you interested in this ancient civilization for years to come.
Palenque's ease of access, roughly 2 hours from Villahermosa airport, makes it a destination worth visiting and relaxing for at least a couple of days. The complexity of the Mayan history and culture is jaw-dropping and you may find yourself wondering why you didn't become an archaeologist. From the four-story tower to the lush flora and flowing rivers of the jungle, Palenque is sure to satisfy any adventurous spirit.