120 Stairs and a Mono Loco

120 Stairs and a Mono Loco
August 13, 2009 Lainie Liberti

Cobá Ruins & the Monkey Sanctuary Punta Laguna Reserve

Today Miro and I set out for a double-adventure-day. Our first stop was the Cobá Ruins which I was excited to see. We opted for this ruins, versus Chichen Itza which is much smaller and rumored to be less touristy. When we arrived, we hired a guide who made our tour that much more meaningful. He was of Mayan decent and told us that this is one of the most important Mayan sites in Mexico (and that Chichen Itza is not Mayan, it was actually built by the Toltecs).

Here’s a little more information on Cobá from here:

Cobá is one of the most important archaeological sites in the area. Built between two lakes during the Classic Period (600-900 A.D.) it was at one time a very large city spread over 80 square kilometers. The main pyramid, Nohoch Mul meaning ‘large hill’, is 42 meters tall (138 feet) and is the highest in the Yucatan peninsula -photo below. Another pyramid known as Templo de la Iglesia, ‘Temple of the Church’, is second in height at Cobá and from its summit there is a spectacular view of lake Macanxoc.

Cobá is located in the middle of a jungle and excavation on the site, was pretty recent, starting only 40 years ago. Pretty amazing though. Among the many former buildings, this ruins has two pretty well preserved two ball courts and sections of the white roads were easy to identify. After our tour of the temples, our guide pointed us in the direction of a path and told us to follow it through the jungle, if we wanted to see the main temple. When we got there, it was remarkable, and we started our ascension into the sky. Our climb consisted of over 120 steps, which really wasn’t that rough. The view from the top was incredible but the climb down was a little nerve racking in my case. I learned these are the one of two ruins in Mexico people are still able to climb. I was grateful for this experience.

After the ruins we hired a taxi to take us to our second location, the Punta Laguna Reserve, or the monkey sanctuary. The Reserve is about 15 miles from the Cobá and our taxi driver waited for us outside. We took a hike into the reserve with one of the guides, a man in his early 20’s and member of the original Mayan family that founded this reserve.

We hiked well into the jungle to in search of spider and howler monkeys at play. Our guide kept us on the main trail most of the time, but in one case, we did some short off trail trekking to see a howler monkey family. Our guide knew exactly where to find the monkeys and it didn’t us that take long to find them.

The reserve was not crowded and we didn’t see any other people our entire trek through the jungle and loved that it was just the three of us having this adventure.

In the end, we saw spider monkeys, howler monkeys, ants, and bats, termite mounds in dead trees, a graceful heron, and lots of lush vegetation.

When we arrived back at the station hut at the entrance of the reserve, our guide told us he had night patrol that night. He said that many families in Punta Laguna village take turns doing nightly patrols to keep the poachers at bay. A beautiful testament of a Mayan village’s dedication to preserving the jungle and it’s inhabitants supported through Eco-tourism.



  1. Philip Johnson 13 years ago

    u00a0I did almost exactly the same double-adventure-day in January! Glad you made the decision to visit Cobu00e1; it doesn’t get nearly as much traffic as it deserves. Its ball court and stelae are probably the best I’ve seen (although let’s face it, the pyramid will always be the star attraction).nnChichen Itza is definitely Mayan, by the way. There’s some common ground between Mayan and Toltec architecture, but it’s not clear who influenced whom. Anyway its Mayan but its crawling with tourists and vendors, and you can’t explore anything; you spend all your time on a well-worn path. Cobu00e1 is so much more interactive.u00a0nnDid you have time to visit any cenotes in the area?nnI’m just discovering your blog but really like it. Great content. I’ll be checking in pretty regularly I imagine…u00a0

  2. Escape Hunter 10 years ago

    Just make sure you don’t slip and don’t make any wrong steps. It’s a looooooong way down… on hard rock!

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