Palenque has recently gained notoriety for being the archaeological site of the Mayan civilization in Chiapas, Mexico. It was only recently in 2005 that 2.5 km2 of this mayan city was uncovered, after which the tourists started to discover this place. Both the surrounding jungle and the Maya city make this an unforgettable stop during your Mexico trip. You have explored the city in itself in a day, but there are some special sights around it, our favorite sights were:
Zona Arqueológica Palenque:
By 2005, about 2.5 km² of the city had been exposed. It is estimated that this is less than 10% of the total area that Palenque once covered. The rest of the area, which probably contains more than a thousand buildings and other structures, is still hidden in the jungle. So this is a very mysterious Mayan city which still has many secrets.
Entrance tickets to the Zona Arqueológica Palenque cost 85 pesos per person. The temple complex is located within the National Park, so in addition to the entrance ticket you also have to buy an entrance ticket for this National Park for 97 pesos.
Parque Nacional Palenque:
After you leave the Zona Arqueológica Palenque at the back, you can immediately continue on a walking trail in the Parque Nacional Palenque. This is easy to walk on your own, and you will come across great things. From tropical birds to many hidden Mayan temples under the vegetation. So you can literally search for the most special things here. You will also encounter special mushrooms, as well as tall trees and colorful plants, and we even spotted a wild racoon, great!
Entrance to this National Park is 97 pesos, but if you have already visited the Zona Arqueológica Palenque, you have already bought a ticket for this. The start of the trail is easy to follow offline via the maps.me application on your phone.
On the way back to the city (about 3km) from the Mayan temples you will find Aluxes Ecopark. This is a shelter for wild animals that have been confiscated by the authorities. This often concerns animals that have been kept as pets or that have had to flee their natural habitat. The goal is to release the animals back into the wild over time, but some animals can no longer survive in the wild, so they stay here.
The story is beautiful, and we hope that the organization also pursues this goal. You can see a lot of different animals here, from various bird species, to monkeys and even Jaguars. Most animals are in good condition, the cages of the Jaguars could be a bit bigger in our opinion. It is recommended to go to the lookout tower at the end of the route, here you have a beautiful view over the jungle, and you come to the eye level of large groups of howler monkeys. And in our case even a black vulture landed right in front of us. Entrance to this park is 150 pesos, they promise to use this for animal welfare.
About 45 minutes south of Palenque is the Misol-Ha waterfall. A beautiful waterfall of approximately 35 meters high. Unfortunately, swimming is not allowed, but the special thing about this waterfall is that you can go through a path behind it, this way you can experience the power of the waterfall. Entrance is 30 pesos per person.
Aqua Azul Waterfall:
About 2 hours south of Palenque are the breathtaking Cascadas de Agua Azul. This literally means Blue Water Waterfalls. Unfortunately, just before our visit, there had been a heavy rain shower, so the waterfall was not blue today. Nevertheless, it was beautiful, and ideal for a refreshing swim. There are various viewpoints at various heights from where the falls can be admired, and you could also swim well at the bottom. There are also many restaurants and souvenir shops. Entrance is 50 pesos per person.
Next destination San Cristobal de las Casas?
If San Cristóbal de las Casas is your next destination, it might be wise to visit the above 2 waterfalls with a tour company, and then there is the option to travel further to San Cristóbal de las Casas by minivan. In this way you only have to travel about 150 km by minivan after the Aqua Azul waterfalls.
We have just done the journey by large bus, but this one drives completely around for safety, but this means a journey of 10 hours. This is considerably shorter per minivan and therefore easy to combine with the above waterfalls.