Getting around Mexico is pretty easy – we thought about hiring a car, but in the end we decided it was not much more expensive booking a driver or taxi to take you around. Its just over one and half hours from Merida to Chichen Itza – one of the main Mayan sites that you must visit, especially if you are in the area of Merida. we booked the Hacienda Chichen – a lovely peaceful hotel only 10 mins drive from the ruins – set in beautiful tropical gardens within the jungle area. It’s an old style colonial building with little houses dotted around the grounds, with swimming pool and areas to walk around. The trees are some of the most incredible that I have ever seen. Food at the hotel is perfect – light Mexican food and apparently all the vegetables are grown on site – we actually saw the mangoes, papayas, almonds growing o the trees in their vegetable garden plus all the lovely chickens – now I know why there are a lot of chicken dishes on the menu!
One of the reasons we stayed there was to get up early and be the first at the archaeological site when it opened at 9am – but even though we got there for 9am, there was already a queue and you could see the coach trips starting to come in. Luckily its such a big area, you can find peaceful quiet spots to sit, contemplate and be in awe of what had been achieved over a 1000 years ago. I don’t know much about the Mayan culture, but it’s fascinating learning about another culture. Be warned, its very hot and although there are shady parts, the main pyramid is quite open, so take a hat or like me a parasol. I bought a white umbrella to shield from the direct sunlight – it’s a nuisance to carry, but if you get a folding one, it really does help protect from the 35 degrees heat.
There are 2 sections of the site – the older Mayan part with the main pyramid and the later Mayan buildings, which had much more variety of buildings – actually my favourite part as a lot of it is still surrounded by its original jungle of trees and plants, so felt more in situ. You must also see the 2 cenotes – water caverns that the Mayans worshipped for water and is one of the reasons they set up towns around this source. I would say 2 – 3 hours is enough time to stay, especially if you are in this 35 degrees heat. July/August is actually rainy season in Mexico, but generally it rains quite hard for 1 – 2 hours, then clears up. Occasionally there is a storm with thunder, lightening and more persistent rain lasting longer – it actually cools the air making it more bearable, but watch out for the mosquitoes.