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The Coba’ ruins, or more properly said the Coba’ archaeological site, is to me one of the most interesting among the Mayan Pre-hispanic cities and the main reasons is its location and setting.
The main pyramid, Nohoch Mul, is towering over a thick and overwhelming jungle as if watching over it. It shows so much respect for the environment and it allows us to enjoy the history in its natural beauty.
It is very easy to find it, as it is situated right in the town of Cobà. Or it is better said, the town of Cobà has been established right beside the ruins, by the lagoon.
As you drove along the lagoon, you find the entrance of the site right in front of you. You can leave the car in the parking lot (small fee required) and purchase the ticket at the counter inside.
There you will find clean toilets and restaurants where you can purchase your drinks; it is always recommendable to bring water with you even though inside the site, by the main tower, you will find a small refreshment kiosk (but no bathrooms).
At the entrance, you will also have the option of hiring a local guide, which I always recommend just to get the basic information on Mayan history, from what little is known.
Just bear in mind that many pieces of information are just suppositions from different historians who sometimes make broad interpretations. This is at least what I have learned in all these years. Still, I find it enlightening to know the different versions. If you don’t wish to have a guide, before you start your pleasant walk in the jungle, you will find a map with indications on where to go.
You won’t get lost. There is actually one at every site.
This ancient city is spread out throughout the vast territory and it is kind of a walk. It’s pleasant and mainly in the shade of the beautiful secular trees, but it can still be tiring if you are not used to walking, or to the heat, especially with the humidity rate.
The good news is that if you don’t like walking you have 2 other options, you can either rent a bike or a local bicycle-rickshaw. It might seem a bit cruel to have these guys of any age and size biking you around in that heat, but trust me they will be happy to do it because it is their source of income. So jump on.
For families with small kids especially, this is your solution: kids won’t get tired and they will have so much fun.
If you aim left, you go straight to the main tower, Nohoch Mul Pyramid, the highlight of the Coba’ ruins and one of the few high pyramids left that you can climb, although at your own risk. There is a rope all along the stairs which you can hold on to for more confidence. If you have vertigo, like me, just don’t look down. Look straight at the next step and you will conquer it one at a time; once you reach the top it will make it all worth it, likewise with every high-up spot I am very fond of.
I find this site very special for being so spread out and within a thick, lush jungle. Although it is very touristic and you will find quite a crowd visiting, it doesn´t take away the charm of the original ancient city.
Since I am not an expert in Mayan history, yet, I am not going to offer you any historical details about the Coba’ ruins here and I’ll leave it to you to discover through the expert guides at the site or specific books that can introduce you to this fascinating world, like for example Popul vuh, considered a sacred book on the Mayan history and traditions, an interesting introduction to the Mayan mystery. However, I would like to mention here for you a few highlights to keep in mind when visiting the Coba’ ruins:
- The Coba’ group – a few constructions situated at the entrance which includes the ball court, an important element in the Mayan religion, for the so much represented and talked about ceremonies.
- Nohoch Mul Pyramid– the most famous 42mt tall (137ft) pyramid that offers you a fascinating view of the lush jungle, the surrounding buildings, and the lagoon.
- Coba Stelae – whose hieroglyphic reveals a great amount of information about the life in Coba’, their dresses, ceremonies and their society in general. An interesting source of information for archaeologists and historians.
- Sacbe – the limestone white paved roads that were built to connect the different settlements and cities for commercial purposes.
Having said that I would suggest you should do what I always do when I visit: just walk in, look up and look around you, breath deep and let it all come to you. It’s magical.
- The entry fee starts from 65 pesos (about 4 USD) and it decreases according to the number of people in your party. You can check that information on a spreadsheet at the ticket counter.
- OPENING HOURS: from 8 to 5 but if you wish to stay longer until 7.30 you can do so by paying 220 pesos per person. You also have the opportunity to go early morning from 6 am for the same 220 pesos but you would need to book in advance and have a minimum of 5 people.
- A guide costs around 500 pesos (USD ), for up to 4 people
- What to bring: water, good walking shoes (like sneakers or hiking shoes), mosquito repellent, sun protection for when you walk up to the tower – other than that you will be in the shade among the trees for the majority of your walk.
Thank you so much for making it through here. I hope it was useful for reading for your next visit to Coba’ ruins. I would be very happy to hear from you in the comments below and if you think this blog can be of any interest to your friends and acquaintances, feel free to share it on your favorite social. Till the next one … happy travels!
BOOK A TOUR
If you prefer to join an organized tour you can choose among many options. There are in fact many tours that combine different destinations, for half days one full day.
They almost always come with a guide which I find useful when you are visiting an historic place and in general to know about the local culture and society.
GOING TO COBA’ BY CAR
I always suggest to rent a car and drive around because you have the freedom to visit in your own terms, without having the pressure of the tight schedules that groups normally have. I love to drive around a place and find new corners to discover, for as long as I want.
If you are new with driving in Mexico, I have written a useful post with tips and interesting information that might be useful as there are a couple of things you need to know and need to be careful about.