Less than 30 minutes from the Uxmal ruins starts a region of smaller Puuc style sites, each with something special. While you can spend time wandering the jungle sites, if you stick to the highlights they can also be explored relatively quickly.
It took us about 3 hours to see the highlights of Kabah and the three Route Puuc sites. Leaving Uxmal at 10:30 on a Friday there were few other visitors at any of the sites. With rising temperatures – even in December – we wanted to explore the ruins before the midafternoon heat. If you have more time I would suggest taking an extra day and visiting these sites on the following day.
Kabah is on the main road 14 miles south of Uxmal, off of Highway 261 on the way to the turn off for the Route Puuc. The highlight is the west facing façade of solid Chaac carvings on the Palace of the Masks. On the east side of the palace are rare examples of well-preserved 3 dimensional carvings depicting life-sized humans.
5 minutes down the road is the turn off for Route Puuc with 3 sites, Sayil, Xlapak and Labná on the way to a cave, Grutas de Loltún. We did not visit the cave.
Sayil’s south facing Palacio is beautifully lit most of the day. The well preserved carvings include Chaac masks and “descending gods” – the upside down figure. The rest of the structures are along a path through the jungle and don’t merit the walk. Lonely Planet talks about an Indiana Jones type experience where tree roots grow in the stones. If you have seen Ankgor Wat (maybe even if you haven’t) you will be sorely disappointed. I saw no good examples of roots growing in the structures.
At Xlapak the best structure is a small well preserved single story palace. If you are short on time or tired of the heat it is totally skippable.
Labná’s large palace, one of the biggest in the region, is broken into sections. With trees near the center of the structure it doesn’t really photograph as one large palace. It does, however, have some exquisite and unusual carvings including a face in a snake’s mouth (at the corner opposite the tree) and the lower half of a human. Further down the path are a well-preserved arch and a mirador, both worth the short walk.
December 13, 2019
For links to all the posts in this series see the Yucatan Peninsula page.