St. Peter's Church in the village of West Lydford, England.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Keinton Mandeville, England.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Pogradec, Albania on October 2nd.

Friday, February 23, 2018

The fabulous Mayan ruins at Palenque

Our guide Salvador showed up exactly on schedule at 9:00am with two minivans to take our group to the Palenque archaeological site.

Ruth and I visited the Palenque ruins at the end of January 2009, and it has been our favorite ruins site out of the probably 10 or 12 other Mexico ruins we have been to. It has the best architecture, and the best surroundings, in our opinion.

So we were excited to be visiting again, and we hoped that we would enjoy it as much the second time around.

Palenque was an active city between 226 BC and 799 AD. They thing that it was at its height between the 6th and 7th century.

While the Royal Palace and surrounding temples have been excavated and restored, they estimate now that 95% of the city remains unexplored and that there are up to 1,000 structures still covered by jungle.

One of the many uncovered structures.

Another one.

The Skull Temple.

So called because of the skull carving on the base of the structure.

Temple of the Inscriptions.

Another view

Inside the Royal Palace.

Found online... one of the first photographs of Palenque, taken in 1891.

The tower.

One of the reasons that Palenque is so special to archaeologists is that the rulers of the time left behind a lot of inscriptions that detailed themselves.  For example, K'inich Janaab Pakal I also known as Pacal, Pacal the Great, 8 Ahau and Sun Shield (March 603 – August 683), was ruler of the Maya city-state of Palenque in the Late Classic period of pre-Columbian Mesoamerican chronology. 

He acceded to the throne in July 615 (at age 12) and ruled until his death. During a reign of 68 years, the longest known regnal period in the history of the Americas, the 30th longest worldwide and longest until Frederick III in the 15th century, Pakal was responsible for the construction or extension of some of Palenque's most notable surviving inscriptions and monumental architecture.

The Royal Palace.

The Temple of the Sun (left).

Did I mention it was a gorgeous day? And, not too many people around!

Kevin, with a big old tree.

Everybody enjoyed our guide Salvador. He was really good at explaining things and could really paint a picture of what life was like back then, as well as telling the Indiana Jones type stories of how the archaeologists discovered and opened the tombs.

So, what did we think after our second visit to Palenque? It was just as good as the first visit, and reinforced our opinion that Palenque is our favorite ruins site so far. Looking forward to going again next year!

But, our day wasn't over yet. That was just the morning!

There are some archaeological things we would like to see in Guatemala as well that are faily close to Palenque. In fact one of the Guatemala tours with would fit the bill quite nicely! 

We stopped back at the RV Park to pick up two of the group who didn't go. We also grabbed our swimsuits.

We had a fantastic buffet lunch at the Hotel Ciudad Real in the town of Palenque, then we drove about 40 minutes to the Roberto Barrios waterfalls. Natural tumbling waterfalls in the jungle!

And, back to the RV Park by 5:00pm. 

Another great day in Mexico! 

While we have you reading this, we want to plant a seed regarding an upcoming stop. Our Mexico RV caravan group will be spending a night parked up at the Hogar Infantil Orphanage. Ruth and I have stayed at this orphanage twice in the past. It's a fairly big organization, and we think that it is extremely well run.

Our group will be buying supplies for the orphanage. Yes, they accept cash donations online through an American run board of directors, but we want to go a step beyond that. There are some things that the orphanage needs... running shoes was one of the items. We will be meeting with the local director when we arrive there to find out any special needs, but our group will be buying goods in the local town to support the children. There is no middle man involved, and everything we spend goes directly to help the children. We are not simply bringing things down from (for example) Walmart in the U.S., so we will also be supporting the local economy by buying things directly from the businesses in the nearby town of Ocozocuatla.

 If you want to help these children, you can donate easily to our paypal account at

Any money donated between now and Sunday February 25th will go directly to help the kids. Please take five minutes out of your day and send a couple of bucks to a worthwhile cause. (Edit: At 6:00pm Friday  we are already up to $610!! Would LOVE to hit $1,000, so keep it coming folks... we will even post the photos of everything we buy!)

You can find out more about the orphanage here...


  1. Tikal in Guatemala and Palenque in Mexico are our 2 favorites. Feeling a bit envious.

    1. One day we will make it to Tikal as well, I just hope it won't be getting over run with people because it is one of the places on everyone's list for Guatemala. Whereas here in Mexico most people go to Chichen Itza and now Uxmal rather than travel down to Palenque.

  2. What I don't like about Pelenque is that so much of it is "fake." As is Chichen Itza. The whole "serpent" that creates the shadow at Chichen Itza? Built in the 1920's. It never existed. Many of the roof structures at Palenque never existed. I wish they had used blue stone or something to show what was real and what was created for visual effect and ticket sales. Did love the howler monkeys and we saw a huge boa hiking into the ruins from Maya Bell. Just had a fascinating lunch with a well informed man who has recently rewrote the history of Cozumel. Pretty much everything we were told about this place is wrong! Yaxchilan, on the other hand, wow! Worth the painful, pot holed road.

    1. Regarding the serpent shadow thing at Chichen Itza, I would tend to agree with you. However, the roof structures at Palenque are definitely not "fake", and I don't think very much else there is fake. Google "palenque cresteria". In fact, just read this...

  3. Great post. Imagine finding Palenque just like in the picture? Amazing.

    1. We could have taken a two hour hike back into the jungle and seen some ruins that would have been pretty much untouched but they wanted WAY too much money. Maybe next year we will have to look for someone else to guide us back there at a better rate now that we know. I would expect that those would look much the same as those pictures from way back when.

  4. We went back to Palenque a second time and it may have even been a better experience than the first. I am looking forward to a third visit! We have not been to the waterfalls so that is on the list as well.

    1. We are looking forward to our third visit there, possibly next year and if we do we will let the tour group do their thing and we will go off and do our thing and see some of the areas that we haven't seen in our last two visits. :-)

  5. These pics of Palenque and the waterfalls are quite impressive. Can hardly wait to get there although puzzled by the “ fake” comments.

    1. When these ruins are first discovered they are usually in pretty bad condition. Walls have fallen down, roofs collapsed, etc. In many cases the original building material is there and things can be recreated and in some cased I suspect a little imagination and ingenuity are requited. Perhaps he meant the ruins are not exactly the same now as they were when they were occupied by the Mayans but all it takes is a look at photos of the sites as they were when discovered to realize this would not be possible.

    2. That is true but I think the "fake" issue is based on the decorative tops to some of the buildings and in some of the old pictures we have seen do show some of these decorative tops and it was also explained to us during our guided tour and the reason for them being there is partially due to the structural counter balance on certain types of arches within the Palenque ruins.

  6. We visited Palenque a few years ago and enjoyed it so much! It is truly impressive, and I still remember how sore my legs were for several days afterwards. We were living in Belize at the time and had not been doing a lot of stairs. We climbed ALL the structures in Palenque and really felt it afterwards -- but it was so worth it. Gorgeous site that we'll never forget. So glad your fellow caravaners got to experience it!

    1. Because we are doing an organized tour of the ruins we don't actually have time to climb all of the structures that you are allowed to climb but we did climb the ones that we could. We also noticed that some we could climb on last time around (9 years ago), they don't allow you to climb any more. These are still our most favourite ruins in Mexico!


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