Coba’: towering above the Jungle

Filed under: Places to Visit - by Louise Hennessy

Coba’: towering above the Jungle: how is it possible for every archaeological site in the Yucatan Peninsula to have something which sets it apart from the others…….? Just when you think you have your itinerary planned, another unmissable destination crops up and makes it all that bit harder to pick and choose!

Our first suggestion would obviously be to visit all the sites that you can, however, even for those who don’t want to overload on history and maintain a balance of activities, Cobá could be the perfect day trip for you.

What most surprised us was the relatively quiet entrance. In comparison to the chaos of Chichen and Tulum it gives the impression that there is not only peace within this ancient city but also around it. There was a small and steady, but unhurried stream of people making their way in who were there one minute and gone the next,  seemingly swallowed up by the jungle; once you cross that threshold yourself it can feel like you’ve got the place to yourself, a feeling which predominates throughout the visit.

Overall impression of Cobá, well…. its enormous! The huge distances between the various buildings definitely come to mind when we think back to the visit; for which reason, the wonderful and very informative guided tours  last about an hour and a half. The novelty here is that you can explore by bike or a kind of fashioned rickshaw ridden by a chauffeur pedalist, both options being relatively inexpensive and great fun. If, of course you prefer to walk, just be aware that walk you will! We’re talking distances of 1 km between certain points.coba carrito firma

Unlike Chichen Itza, with its vast clearings, Cobá remains densely covered in selva (jungle), interrumpted only by the various Sacbeob (‘white roads’ in Mayan),  and ruins. Thus, coming across the each structure, or group of structures, always tends to hits you as a surprise, as they suddenly spring out at you from amongst the leafy surroundings. Another plus is that you are immersed in nature and most of the time in delicious silence, and of course, more jungle = more shade, so you shouldn’t melt into a puddle.

Highlights? Well, the Nohoch Mul  group, in particular the Ixmoja pyramid is a must see and must do, as it is one of the few which can still be climbed, for the moment, anyway. Its biggest claim to fame is that it the highest pyramid in the whole of the Yucatan peninsula, at 42 metres (138ft) high,  so yes, it requires a lot of climbing, 130 steps worth , in fact!  The view from the top however…… breathtaking. We enjoyed perching ourselves down right at the top and just taking it all in for a long while. Kilometres and kilometres of jungle in every direction and a lovely view of the two lagoons at the site. When you are ready to come down we recommend taking it slowly and carefully, at the end of the day there’s no rush, you’re on your holidays!

One thing to keep in mind about this site is that humidity, shade and jungle make the perfect combination for.. mosquitoes, so don´t forget your biodegradable repellent.

Another top tip: visit the two ball game structures at Coba; smaller than the one at Chichen Itzá but still in good shape. Lovely photo opportunities in and around.

coba viewfrom the tower

Coba is certainly less frequented than Chichen Itzá, but not due to being any less amazing, in fact we loved the mix of history, nature and physical activity, it’s not every day you get to cycle in and amongst pyramids…

Your concierge can help you out with information on trips to Cobá! Take advantage!

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