Chiapas – Palenque

I have seen many warnings about blockades and robbery on the highway from San Cristobal de las Casas to Palenque, particularly in the town of Ocosingo, so I decide to take the detour to the north almost to Villahermosa then east to Palenque. It’s several hours of more serpentine mountain roads then the highway descends toward sea level nearing Villahermosa. When I get onto highway 186 heading east to Palenque it’s straight and flat through endless miles of banana plantations. Usually this is kind of boring but after all these months driving through the Mexican mountains it’s a pleasure to just cruise along. It turns out I made the right decision, I later read on the Pan Am Travelers Facebook Group about another couple who left San Cristobal on the same day (Dec 1) and were stopped at a roadblock in Ocosingo and had to backtrack and take the detour anyway.

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I made it to Palenque mid afternoon and got a little cabana at a small resort right at the park gate. It’s just a little screened in room with a bed, one light bulb and one outlet but very cozy, it looks like a place Survivor contestants stay when they win a challenge. There’s a good pool just outside which is very refreshing after a long day’s drive, and a nice restaurant across the road. It’s surrounded by jungle and at night I can hear howler monkeys moving through the trees.

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In the morning I go to the ruins. It’s a bit of a hike past the parking lot but very cool to walk out of the jungle and see the ruins looming out of the mist. Since I stayed right at the park entrance I am there before all of the tourist crowds.

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Early in the morning it is very cloudy, looks dramatic.

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Palenque was occupied up to around 700AD and is famous for its many stone carvings

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I almost sat on this iguana, it blends in with the rocks so well.

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It’s very impressive, but they have done a lot of restoration and reconstruction.

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The main tourist site is maybe one square mile, but there are thousands of buried buildings and temples around it. This is what an un-excavated building looks like, just a hill with some stones sticking out.

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