AAA Editor Notes
Calakmul ruins are a good 2-hour drive w. of Chicanná; from the Mex. 186 turn-off (watch for signs), a long, narrow paved road proceeds s. about 60 km (37 mi.) into the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve. This huge archeological zone—a UNESCO World Heritage Site—is in southern Campeche about 20 miles from the Guatemala border. For those with a vested interest in Mayan history—or who relish the opportunity to explore an isolated yet beautiful site free of crowds—it's worth the effort and time.
Calakmul played a key role in the region's history for centuries and at its height, from about 500 to 800 A.D., had about 50,000 inhabitants and consisted of more than 6,500 structures. Calakmul and nearby Tikal were rival city-states.
One of the largest Mayan cities ever discovered, Calakmul is rich with building platforms, excavated structures and stelae (tall, sculpted stone slabs that functioned as grave markers or monuments). It also boasts one of the largest pyramids in Mexico, Structure 2, which is more than 150 feet tall and has a base of 390 feet. A museum located on the way to the entrance has exhibits about the archeological zone and the biosphere reserve.
Note: Allow a full day to explore; since an early start is recommended, it's advisable to spend the night at a property close by. Since the site is large and complex, a downloadable map will come in handy.