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Calakmul Biosphere Reserve - Hiking Campeche - Mexico

Calakmul Biosphere Reserve is absolutely spectacular – a natural and archeological wonderland. Located in southern Campeche state between Escárcega and Xpuhil, it encompasses 723,185 hectares (1,800,000 acres) stretching north from the Guatemala border. Forests, swamps, pastures and savannas create a diverse landscape, a protected habitat that stuns the senses.

More than 800 plant species yield such delights as the Mayan incense copal and chicle for chewing gum. Birders can search for 250 different species, including the oscellated turkey and endangered hawk-eagle. Calakmul is also crawling with reptiles, insects, spiders and amphibians. Spider and howler monkeys make their noisy homes here, and stealthy jaguars, pumas, and ocelots roam the forests.

Calakmul’s reconstructed Mayan pyramids are its greatest attraction. In fact, seeing these ancient skyscrapers emerge from dense jungles is one of Mexico’s most powerful experiences.

The only two options for overnight accommodations are Hotel Puerta Calakmul ( and a campsite. Other than the hotel’s restaurant, there’s no place to eat.

Tel Code: 983

Altitude: 50 – 380 m (165 – 1,247 ft)

Population: 0 (23,814 in 27 communities in the municipality)


Campeche, Mexico

Hiking Types:
Nature reserve

Getting There

Calakmul is not simple to get to and is most easily visited by car or package tour from Campeche City or Xpuhil. The road to the site is located at KM 98 on Highway 186. From the highway, the archeological site lies 64 km down a single-lane road.

By Car:

Campeche City: Highways 186, 261, 180. 318 km, 198 mi, 4 hrs

Escárcega: Highway 186, 157 km, 98 mi, 2.25 hrs.

Xpuhil: Highway 186, 116 km, 72 mi, 2 hrs

By Bus: It is possible to take a 2nd class bus from Escárcega or Xpuhil and ask the driver to stop at the beginning of the road to Calakmul. First class buses will not stop. But, there is no transportation from the highway to the site, and 64 km is a long way to walk.

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A powerful Mayan city, now known as Calakmul, ruled the Kan, or Kingdom of the Snake, dominating the region from 600 to 800 AD. More than 50,000 people lived in 6,250 structures spread over 70 square kilometers. Dating from 431 AD, Calakmul's Structure 2 soars 55 meters above the plaza’s stelae, the rectangular stone monuments covered in hieroglyphic writing. Spectacular jade burial masks were found at Calakmul, which means City of Two Adjacent Towers, today a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Hrs of Operation: Daily, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm

Admission: MX$41/US$4.10

Payment: Cash

Phone: +52 (987) 871-6054

Fax: +52 (987) 871-6015



Parking: Free

Services: Restrooms, parking, security guards, sale of publications and reproductions, satellite phone


An awe-inspiring Mayan sculpture is found at BalamkĂş, which means Jaguar Temple. Measuring 17 meters long and 4 meters high, the painted and molded stucco frieze was constructed between 550 and 650 AD, and was protected for centuries by a pyramid built over it. Four panels depict kings emerging from two toads and two crocodiles who themselves rise from the jaws of Earth Monsters. Fierce jaguars separate the panels, which bear traces of 1500 year-old red, yellow, and black paint.

Location: Highway 186, Km 95. The site is reached by a 3 km paved path.

Hrs of Operation: Daily, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm

Admission: MX$31/US$3.10

Payment: Cash

Tel: +52 (555) 150-2073 or +52 (555) 150-2081.

Fax: None

Email: None

Website: Official INAH site - Spanish only

Parking: Free

Services: Restrooms, parking, security guards, sale of publications and reproductions, satellite phone

01 Sep 2010

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