Set next to a babbling creek, the ancient city of Palenque, steeped within the sprawling jungles of Chiapas Mexico, provides a breathtaking archaeological experience to rival the many ancient cities spread throughout the rest of Central America.
Often used by backpackers as a stopover between San Cristobal and either Merida or Tulum, Palenque also provides a step back for the adventurer. There are many jungle accommodation options available that provide the opportunity to fall asleep to a cacophony of crickets, birds and howler monkeys playing out around you.
The Palenque ruins themselves, however, are impressive in their own right, surrounding you (and even reclaiming ancient temples) by tropical forest which adds to the atmosphere from the moment you enter.
It’s not unheard of to come across some of the best waterfalls in the country here, just off the beaten track, cascading through the trees. Offering up the perfect opportunity to strip down and take a swim to wash off the sweat of a hard day’s exploring.
At times it will feel like you are the only one on the site, as its vastness and hidden temples provide you with privacy and insight into what is known as a very important Mayan city in its time.
A prime example of a Mayan sanctuary of the classical period, Palenque was at its height between AD 500 and 700, when its influence extended throughout the basin of the Usumacinta River. The elegance and craftsmanship of the buildings, as well as the lightness of the sculpted reliefs with their Mayan mythological themes, attest to the creative genius of this Mayan civilization.