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The Thompson River north of Lytton, British Columbia. Photo taken yesterday.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Abbotsford, British Columbia.

Where are they going next? Crescent Beach, British Columbia.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The remote ruins of Calakmul, and the bat cave!

Well that was an interesting day!

We were on the road at 7:00am Tuesday morning! Sometimes the schedule isn't to everybody's liking, but if you want to see what is on the planned route, you need to take the good with the bad. In this case, it was going to be a very busy day... but we think that everybody enjoyed the final outcome!

We aren't the only ones on the road early...

Off to work!

And off to school. Can you imagine? 
These kids actually walk to school!

We left the state of Qunitana Roo, and re-entered the state of Campeche.

Anybody need to buy a wicker chair?

Seen at a truck stop. 
Who needs a sleeper bunk??

We did a couple of hours driving, and pulled into the sleepy town of Conhuas where the Mexico RV Caravan company had arranged for us to park in the local soccer field for the night. 

For the peace of mind of the group, we had arranged for a 24 hour security guard for the time we were there. Funny thing is, it was the type of place that Ruth and I would have been happy parking for the night if we were traveling through on our own. We would have simply asked the locals if they thought it was safe to park there, and the answer would likely have been "of course".

When we arrived, our guide Luis was there with his father and two minivans, to take us to the Calakmul ruins site. This is one of the most remote sites in Mexico, located an hour and a half down a narrow road, and only 50 kms (30 miles) as the crow flies, from the Guatemala border.

We had to drive for an hour and a half down this narrow two lane (sometimes only one lane) road.

We saw some wildlife. A pair of coatis on the road.

Our guide Luis says that he has occasionally seen jaguar on the road to Calakmul. But it wasn't meant to be this time around. We did see a big rattlesnake that had unfortunately been run over by a car in front of us. We also saw a cute little grey fox... pictures further on!

Arrived at the parking lot, and had a 1 km (.62 mile) walk to get to the first structure.


This is the way I love to see the ruins... not many people around!

There were three main structures. And many, many smaller ones.
This is the view from the top of the smallest of the three structures, looking at the two larger ones.

Zoomed in on the largest and tallest of the three.

Okay, we're ready to climb to the top. Only 55 meters (180 feet) high!

Ruth, almost at the top!

The members of our group who made it to the top.
Ruth. Mike, Bernd, Elaine, Melanie, James, Richard, Randy, Louise, me (Kevin) and Gail.

Two of these people are 78 years old. We want to be like them when we grow up!

One section of the ruins is very original. The Mayans even build with wood, and the pieces of wood over these entrance ways are original. It is wood from the gum tree, and it is very dense.

When the first archaeologists arrived in 1931, the three largest structures would have appeared as simply three hills in a flat forest. We climbed the other tall structure to get a view of the largest from the back side. The side that hasn't been cleared and reconstructed.

 The hill to the left is the uncleared side of the largest pyramid. The cleared building to the right is the 3rd largest structure. Looking from the top of the one on the left, to the top of the one on the right is due north. How did they know that way back then?? There sure is a lot of stuff that we haven't figured out yet.

This is the group that climbed the second highest pyramid, after having done the tallest.
Gail, Louise, me (Kevin), Ruth, Randy, Elaine, and Bernd.

Back at the bottom, we saw some more wildlife...

An ocellated turkey.

Grey fox. He was really tiny, maybe a bit bigger than a chihuahua.

Spider monkey.

While we were done with the ruins, we weren't yet done with the wildlife. 

Ruth and I could easily spend a full day at the ruins. But when you're with a group and on a schedule, it's not that easy. We will have to come back another time.

We did the hour and a half drive back from the ruins to the main highway, and a couple more kms back to where the RVs were parked. We thought we were going to be late for the next attraction, because it only lasts about 15 minutes, and I'll tell you, you don't want to miss it!

The bat cave!

This is a sinkhole, and at the bottom of the sinkhole you can see the opening to a cave. The cave goes for about 600 meters. And inside that cave live the bats. Nine different varieties of bats...

Including all of those nine different varieties, there are over three million bats living in the cave

And every day, just before dusk, those three million bats leave the cave in search of food.

It is a truly amazing sight.

I tried taking photos, but none of them turned out The best I could do is this video, which turned out pretty good. The bats exit the cave and fly up in a vortex. There are so many bats that you can feel the wind from their wings. They continue around and up the vortex until they exit the sinkhole, when they split directions and fly off into the night.... watch and see!


Wow!

We always amaze ourselves with the things that there are to see in the world. Mexico is such a fascinating country.

Stay tuned... more interesting stuff coming your way. 

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Great deal on the Intex Single Airbed with built in pump... almost half price!


And in Canada...




32 comments:

  1. Loved reading this - thanks so much for the details, history and pics! All the best for your group of intrepid travellers!

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    1. So glad that you enjoyed this post and the pictures. We still have a lot of amazing things to see and do before we are finished.

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  2. πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘

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  3. Replies
    1. Thank you, we are glad that you are enjoying it. :-)

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  4. What a wonderful, diverse day! I am thoroughly enjoying boan armchair traveler on this trip!

    We were at Carlsbad Caverns here in the USA in the spring, too early in the year to see the nightly bat show, if you will, so much enjoyed your video.

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    1. It was a fantastic day and we enjoyed it all so much. The wildlife was amazing. Kevin and I probably could have spent the whole day at the ruins site, not just looking at the ruins but looking for all the different kinds of wildlife in jungle.

      Watching the evening bat show was very special, sort of reminded me of going and seeing the butterflies, it is something that not many people get a chance to experience. We will have to remember that something similar happens at Carlsbad Caverns, we have not been there but we will try to time our visit there with the bat show.

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  5. Wow! That remote road looks soooo bikeable! Even the highway does, with that nice paved shoulder. The truck hammock could be useful for intrepid hitchhikers! I love ruins you can climb. The bat show must have been absolutely amazing. Hope we can see these things on your future Shoestring Tour ;)

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    1. Wow, is definitely the way to describe our day. Yes, the road is very bikeable and for you it would be nothing about 60km (37mi) one way and fairly level ground. We actually saw several long distance bicyclists that day on the highway with all their gear.

      In this area a lot of people sleep in hammocks, it keeps them up off the floor and away from some of the nightly critters that might be around.

      We like ruins you can climb as well, and these ones didn't even include ropes to hold on to as you come down, some places do. The bat show was fantastic, it is hard to believe that there could be that many bats in the cave but there must have been because it seemed like they were never going to stop coming out.

      Not too sure we will have a "shoestring tour" but it will be an adventure one, that is for sure.

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  6. Very wow, very cool! That turkey has amazing colors, never seen a turkey like that. Guatemala is on my list, maybe next year. Such a neat set of ruins. You will be like that when you are 78, I could easily see you and Ruth helping each other up to the top at 90 :)

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    1. Definitely an amazing day!

      We had never seen a turkey like that either. Apparently these are seen only in the Yucatan peninsula as well as the northern and western parts of Belize and northern Guatemala, so we were happy to get a chance to see some.

      That is our hope for when we are that age. We keep saying that the idea is to just never stop staying active. We will certainly do our best at that. Not so sure I would be able to climb these pyramids at 90 though! ;-)

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  7. Unreal! Thank you soooo much for sharing. I, too, had not heard of let alone seen an image of an ocellated turkey. Wonderful photos and video.

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    1. Glad that we were able to show you something new. Apparently these are seen only in the Yucatan peninsula as well as the northern and western parts of Belize and northern Guatemala.

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  8. Replies
    1. It sure was! Even though it was a long day for us, it was worth every minute of it.

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  9. Wonderful pictures and excellent blog. When you are here at the Oaxaca Campground next week, wondering if we can help your lovely group with anything? Pot luck dinner? Happy hour on the porch? Just say the word. Looking forward, Kate & Del

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    1. Thank you very much for your help and if we need it we will certainly let you know. We have learned that this crowd isn't much into potlucks, :-( but I am sure a happy hour on the porch would go down well. :-)

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  10. Replies
    1. The colours on it were amazing, almost like a peacock!

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  11. Now that was a super duper day of adventure! We loved reading this - so much fun!!

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    1. It was definitely our kind of day, we enjoyed every minute of it. :-)

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  12. Replies
    1. Who would ever have thought that a turkey could look so pretty!

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  13. What an incredibly amazing day you had! Plus you were blessed with good weather! The pictures of all the wild animals and the video of the bat flight were excellent! Thanks for a wonderful narrative once again! Safe travels.

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    1. It was definitely an amazing day! The weather has been great, hot but nice. Luckily we had a lot of shade when we were at the ruins which really helped.

      Glad that you enjoyed this post so much.

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  14. Very interesting ruins. The bat cave is amazing even though I am not fond of these creatures. Glad you are all enjoying the trip. Have fun and enjoy!

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    1. We love bats, they eat lots of mosquitoes! It was certainly something to see, with them all exiting the cave and then spiraling themselves up and out of the deep hole.

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  15. Darn! We drove right past the turnoff to those ruins on Mex 186 without knowing they were there!

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    1. We knew that those ruins were there and we wanted to drive down to them but we had Whiskey at the time and from all the reading we done, we read that you can't even get to the site itself with a dog, not even by leaving them in the vehicle and because it was a far ways in we weren't about to take that chance so we figured we would leave it for another time and that time finally came. :-)

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