State of Yucatán

Chichén Itzá, Oxkintoc, Uxmal, Kabah and Labná are just a few of the archaeological sites strewn throughout the State of Yucatán. Try not to miss Dzibilchaltún; the intrusion of European architecture is nowhere more startling than here. The region's many
cenotes
(deep sinkholes created by the disintegration of the dry land above an underground river) were sacred
to the Maya, who threw precious jewels, silverware and even humans into their depths; many are perfect for swimming. On the coast, boat trips are organized to observe pelicans, egrets and flamingos in their natural habitat. It is possible to visit some of the impressive
henequén
(sisal) haciendas in the more rural areas and admire the showy mansions that line the Paseo de Montejo in Mérida.

North to Mérida

At
Maxcanú
, the road to Muná and Ticul branches east; a short way down there's the recently restored Maya site of
Oxkintoc
. The
Pyramid of the Labyrinth
can be entered (take a torch) and there are other ruins, some with figures. Ask for a guide at the village of
Calcehtoc
, which is 4 km from the ruins and from the Grutas de Oxkintoc (no bus service). Highway 180 continues north towards Mérida through a region of numerous
cenotes
, soon passing a turn-off to the turn-of-the- century Moorish-style
henequén
(sisal) hacienda at
San Bernardo
, one of a number in the state that can be visited; an interesting colonial
museum
chronicling the old Yucatán Peninsula tramway system is located in its lush and spacious grounds. Running beside the railway, the highway continues 47 km to its junction with the inland route at
Umán
, a
henequén
processing town with another large 17th-century
church
and convent dedicated to St Francis of Assisi; there are many
cenotes
in the flat surrounding limestone plain.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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