Monday, February 6, 2012

Day 8 - Calakmul Archaeological Zone and Reserve

Following our great stay in Campeche, we journeyed to the south central portion of the Yucatan peninsula (the Rio Bec region) and the Calakmul Archaeological Zone and Reserve. Still technically in Mexico, we were only miles from Guatemala.

The ruins of Calakmul remain amongst the most unexplored in all the Mayan world. The official excavation began in 1985, and so far, over 6,500 structures have been unearthed. Josh is standing on Estructura 7 and behind him is Estructura 2, or the Great Pyramid, which happens to be the highest known Mayan pyramid at 174 feet tall.

From what we saw in progress here, it seems like archaeologists have only scratched the surface of Calakmul. We lost count on the number of stellae on site.

As we explored Calakmul, both spider and howler monkeys clambered about through the jungle canopy. The monkey in the above photo is a spider monkey. Howler monkeys were much more obvious in that they literally did scream at each other quite often.

Here I begin my ascent of Estructura 1, or the other large pyramid on site. From the top, it looked about equal in height to Estructure 2, the Great Pyramid.

From the top of Estructure 1, we could see Guatamala. Just over the border are the Mayan ruins of El Mirador. There is speculation that Calakmul and El Mirador were connected by a road with many, many more unexcavated structures along the way.

Here Josh and I have finished our climb to the top of Estructura 2, or the Great Pyramid. The pyramid in the background is the one we climbed in the previous picture.

Besides spider and howler monkeys, Calakmul is the home to countless species of birds. We stumbled upon this herd of oscillated (male) turkeys, oscillating around the Grand Acropolis. Apparently they are capable of flight but all we saw them do was run amock in a confused fashion as we approached them. It was much like watching bumper cars....

One of the many highlights of Calakmul was watching the keel-billed toucans. They perched on only the highest branches but are some of the most interesting birds we have ever seen. Note the color and size of this toucan's bill.

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