Road Trip: Ek’ Balam, “The Black Jaguar” Mayan Ruin

We always have fun taking a short road trip from Nah Uxibal at Soliman Bay and this time our friends suggested we go to Rio Lagartos with a stop at Ek Balam along the way. We were getting hungry so we decided to stop in one of the little towns before we got to Ek Balam for some smoked carne, a specialty of the area.

Carne Ahumada exter pic

A young girl was tending the meat shop and gave us samples of the dried pork that ranged from plain to spicy. They also had sausages hanging so we got some of that too. For about $10 we bought enough meat for all four of us to eat about three meals on.

Dried carne sausage shot

dried pork carne shop, girl & meat

We walked across the street and bought a pile of fresh corn tortillas still piping hot to wrap our carne in for sandwiches. It was quite delicious and when chopped would be similar to what us Southerners would know as smoked barbeque.

Carne Tortilleria shop extWith our bellies full, we were ready to tackle Ek Balam’s famed vertical steps. Ek Balam or “The Black Jaguar” is a great Mayan ruin to explore for those that don’t want to walk far or don’t have a lot of time – plus it has fabulous temples. They have a nice new visitors center that you pass through and then a little cluster of buildings with souvenirs and a few artisans making wooden masks and such.

It’s a short walk and all of the buildings that have been excavated and repaired are grouped together. We did not take time for the history tour so look elsewhere for that information. You can learn more about the history of Ek Balam at:

Ek Balam entrance sign

They have the names of the local trees as you first walk up to the visitor’s center.

Ek Balam Yax'che tree

Ek Balam tickets

Ek Balam entrance with turned stone

Ek Balam Estructura 17 sign

Ek Balam fern on stones

Ek Balam bldg

Ek Balam ball court

Ek Balam Wally on ball court  Ek Balam Wally, Skip, J in doorway  Ek Balam stone bowl

Ek Balam small bldg curved tiers

Ek Balam iguana on top

Ek Balam Skip & Wally with temples

Ek Balam Skip & Net under ceiba

Don’t think you would want to climb around in a ceiba tree with those teeth!

Ek Balam ceiba tree thorns

Ceiba tree blooms – they were firm soft and it was easy to imagine all the uses the Maya could have done with them.

Ek Balam cieba tree blooms

Ek Balam Wally under ceiba

Loved the red bromliads – also sharp and “toothy”

Ek Balam red spiky flower

Ek Balam purple plant on stone

Ek Balam orchid and fern

An un-excavated building next to the big one.

Ek Balam overgrown bldg

Ek Balam small bldg curved tiers

The main building – our friends had been several years before and said the palapa roofs were new over the stellae and carvings. The main attraction is the amazing temple with a jaguar mouth altar and tomb. It was walled in and preserved so that the intricate figures look fresh instead of centuries old.

Ek Balam main temple center

The right side of the main temple

Ek Balam main temple right sideA panorama…

Ek Balam 360 panorama viewView from the big temple to other temple

Ek Balam main temple view of other

Ek Balam left stellae lower level temple

NOTE: There is NO rope to help you down these steps like at Coba. Do NOT attempt running down these steps, as people have died doing that – they are very steep and dangerous so take your time and wear sturdy shoes. Walking side to side zigzaging up and down is the easiest way to go up and down.

Ek Balam looking up steps

Ek Balam jamie and wally on steps

Ek Balam left side main temple  Ek Balam tomb jaguar jaws, wide view

Ek Balam tomb teeth view to jungle

Ek Balam tomb tooth vert

Ek Balam tomb 2 winged figures

Ek Balam tomb jaws, vert, teeth

Ek Balam tomb skull figure

Ek Balam tomb skull in corner

Ek Balam tomb total view

Ek Balam tomb winged angel figure

Ek Balam tomb winged figures side view

Ek Balam tomb, left of door

Ek Balam tomb, right of jaw, angels

Ek Balam tomb, top right view of angels

Ek Balam Wally on tomb level

Ek Balam Wally waving on steps

Ek Balam well and courtyard below temple

Ek Balam Jamie & Wally on top

So we conquered the temple and headed back out. You can do a little shopping on the way out..

Ek Balam workshop and gifts

Or have your photo taken with Mayan warriors for a donation…

Ek Balam Jamie with maya warriors

He even blew his conch for me : )

Ek Balam Jamie and maya warriors vertWe were hot and thirsty so got a drink and homemade popsicles inside the welcome center. Skip the name brand ones and look for the cooler with the fresh made local ones. I had the coconut and it was so yummy and refreshing. Our next stop was a trip to their cenote. We did the one inside the park but there were guys in the parking lot with photos for other nearby cenotes. You might compare pictures and see which one is better. Or try both! I would HIGHLY recommend getting a trike ride or take a bike. It is a LONG walk. At the cenote they have a bath house and a separate banos house and even a palapa building with hammocks for resting and a local fellow was selling some food.

Xcanche cenote sign

Xcanche cenote bike path

Xcanche Cenote Wally & driver

Those are roots hanging down from trees above…

Xcanche cenote hori from top

Xcanche cenote Jamie on bridgeFor the Tarzan type, jump off the rope swing…

Xcanche cenote jumper, vertOrchids in the trees

Xcanche cenote orchid tree

Xcanche cenote rope swinger

Shell fossil in the rock step

  Xcanche cenote shell in step

Xcanche cenote hori from bottom

Xcanche cenote swimmers from above

Xcanche cenote vert with tire pic

Xcanche cenote trike stand

Xcanche cenote selfy on trike, jamie, wallyOn the way out, we detoured into the pueblo of Ek Balam to check out the hammock makers. The ladies showed me how they made the hammocks and I bought a small fruit hammock for $5.

Ek Balam hammock ladies 1

Ek Balam hammock lady demonstrating

Ek Balam hammock detail

Ek Balam hammock girl smiling

Time to head back out for our next adventure… Destination Rio Lagartos

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