There are lots of archeological site you can visit in the southern part of Quintana Roo, the State where Mahahual is located. Kohunlich and Chacchoben are 2 recently discovered sites near Hotel Maya Luna. Chacchoben is at 70 kilometer distance or a 1 hour drive. Kohunlich is a bit further away at 180 kilometer distance.
What to do in Mahahual – Daytour to the Maya temples of Kohunlich
Kohunlich at 180 kilometers is especially famous for its Temple of Masks. The masks recall the sun god Kinich Ahau. They were not meant as straight representations but as portraits of the cities rulers. The city is believed to have functioned as a regional center. It was also used as a place to stop along the trade routes from Yucatan and Campeche to Belize and Guatemala. Kohunlich is named after the cohune palm & was first reported in 1912 but only excavated in the 60s. The site was inhabited throughout the Classic period, A.D. 250-900. The total city covers 21 hectare. Beautiful sub-tropical rain forest surround the archeological site. The majority of the buildings still have to be excavated.
One of my favorite Maya Temples
From all the Maya temples I have visited in the past 10 years, Kohunlich is still one of my favorites. Pyramids and temple platforms surround the huge central plaza of Kohunlich . You can sit on one of them and look over the area. Trying to imagine how this place must have been so many years ago. Every time I visit Kohunlich the peaceful, tranquil atmosphere at this site surprises me again.
How to get to Kohunlich from Mahahual
Drive the 60 km back to the junction. After that turn to the left direction Chetumal. After 60 km turn to the right with direction Escarcega. 20 km later you will see a sign for Kohunlich. Here you turn to the left. From there its another 10 km before you arrive at the Maya temples of Kohunlich. From Maya Luna it will take you around 2.5 hours to get there.
Combine a visit to Chacchoben or Kohunlich with a visit to Lake Bacalar. Leave Hotel Maya Luna right after breakfast and you will have time to visit both places. In other words a perfect day trip !
What to do around Mahahual – The Maya Temples of Chacchoben
Chacchoben is Maya for “The Place of the Red Corn.” Until now, only a part of the ruins were excavated, leaving big residential and ceremonial groupings to be discovered. The setting is gorgeous. Jungle and enormous cohune palms and Mahogony trees surround this small archeological site.
During the classic period from 250 A.D. to 900 the Mayan population increased a lot. Consequently many new communities were build and Chacchoben was one of them. Apparently most of the structures of Chacchoben have been built from 300-360 A.D. In Mayan culture corn played a very important role. Not only as food. Above all the Mayans believed that their Gods created humans out of Corn.
When to go to Chacchoben
The site of Chacchoben is open for visitors since 2002. Since then, it is a very popular shore excursion for people arriving at Costa Maya with a cruise ship. Therefore if possible we recommend to plan your visit on a day there is no cruise ship docking at Costa Maya. If you are lucky, you will find yourself there wandering alone. Nowadays climbing the structures is forbidden. The ruins are open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays entrance is free for Mexicans.
How to get to Chacchoben from Mahahual
Pass through the village of Mahahual. Drive the 60 km back to the junction. Turn to the left direction Chetumal. Pass through the small village of Pedros Santos where they sell delicious pineapples on the roadside. After 1 kilometer you arrive at a junction and turn to the right, direction Merida. Continue some 7 kilometers. At your left side you will see the archeological site of Chacchoben. At only 75 kilometers it is 45 minute drive from hotel restaurant Maya Luna.
Combine visit to Chacchoben with a swim in the Lake of Bacalar. A perfect day trip !
Read more on the history of the Yucatan Peninsula