In this post, I will tell you all about the amazing day I spent on my own (as usual) visiting the spectacular Muyil ruins and floating in the Muyil lagoon in the Sian Kaan Biosphere, an amazing experience.
When we visit a new place we tend to give more importance to the most renowned attractions. I guess it’s natural, we want to see what everybody else has seen already, it’s called FOMO, fear of missing out.
I have a huge one, and this is why I love to travel slowly because not only do I want to see the most popular sites but also I want to discover the less known so that I can write about things that a few others write about, but also enjoy less crowded places on my own.
Actually, it was a friend of mine vising Cancun with his family while I was living there who discovered this amazing place.
So after he told me about it I followed in their footsteps and I went as well. It’s definitely an amazing tour that you can do on your own and worth including it in the unmissable things to do in Tulum.
In fact, Muyil is located only 20 km from Tulum. I went to visit the archaeological site which is considered among the most important within the Mayan culture albeit it is not so advertised.
HOW TO VISIT THE MUYIL MAYAN RUINS
My tour started at the Muyl ruins. I was totally captured, astonished by its beauty and the high level of conservation of the temples.
The site took its name from the two lagoons, Muyil and Chunyaxche, on which the settlement raised, probably to take advantage of the navigation system that connected to the other sites on the coast, north and south towards Belize.
In fact, only afterward during my tour in Muyil lagoon, the guide explained that the canals that connected the different bodies of waters of the lagoon have been created at the time of the Mayan civilization for their commerce. So impressive.
This site conquered my heart, it’s tiny and very well conserved but most of all because it is hidden into a very thick jungle.
The temples are all connected by a sacbe-like white path that gives you way through the exuberant vegetation. I was even surprised that I wasn’t being beaten by a single mosquito, which are normally all over me in this kind of humid environment. Probably I was so in awe that they decided to leave me alone and let me enjoy the mystical experience.
Opening hours – Monday through Sunday from 9:00 to 15:00
Cost: 45 MXN
MUYIL LAGOON TOUR
After my exploration and the 200 pictures I took, I moved on to the next part of my exciting trip. Continuing onto the same direction just a few feet from the entrance of the archaeological site of Muyil, you will find on the left side of the road, a sign of the Sian Ka’an Biosphere.
Right there it is your time to turn and take the dirt road on your left; in 2 minutes, you will have arrived at the stunning lagoon. Another beautiful view.
You will get lost looking into the blues and greens of that amazing “lake”.
How to get to the Muyil floating river in Sian Kaan Biosphere
On the shore of the lagoon, you will meet a few guides that are ready to offer you your boat tours on the floating river and around the Biosphere.
The tours are managed by 2 local associations that are officially responsible of the protection and conservation of the area. The guides are well organized and knowledgeable and they will take turns so that you will always find somebody available. Luckily the tour is still not very commercialized, probably on purpose, as a huge demand would not be sustainable and would not get along with the conservation idea.
A few extra words on the Biosphere are due here. As you know the Sian Ka’an Biosphere (so-called from the Mayan language translation of “Entrance to the Sky”) has been proclaimed a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1986 and it is the largest protected area, with 528.000 hectares containing a wealth of tropical salt marshes, mangrove swamps, cenotes, and barrier reefs.
There are two kinds of tours available. The shorter, which I did, will take you through the canal down to the second lagoon, from which you will reach a second river, where you will start the best part of the tour, floating in the water.
You will be given a mandatory life jacket and then you can jump into the river and let the soothing water take you through the mangroves. It’s very easy because the water is shallow and your feet would reach the bottom most of the time.
It was a new experience for me, and I was stunned by the thought that it was all-natural, the only man-made thing was the canal opened by the Mayan civilization ages ago.
So while I was floating on my own, in the silence of nature, I let my thoughts flow just like the water, and I imagined the Mayan canoes passing through. So much mystery around that prehispanic population, so fascinating.
Exploring the Biosphere of Sian Ka’an from In the floating river
When I arrived at my destination my guide was there waiting for me with my stuff and we walked back together on a boardwalk among a carpet of yellowish-green vegetation which was very special as well and then by boat again we returned to the starting point.
The second tour option would be much larger and it lasts about 5 hours. After the floating river experience, you will be taken forward to the next lagoon, which is the heart of the biosphere until you reach the sea. You would hang out on the beach and around the area and will be taken back afterward.
Here below some practical info
Cost: the short tour lasts about 2 hours and it costs 600 Mxn ( about 35 Usd) per person or 1200 minimum, which means if you are alone you pay 1200, whereas if you are 2 or more you pay 600 each. The large tour lasts about 5 hours and costs 4000 MXN ( about 220 USD).
The cost is for the boat, which means that no matter how many you are, that would be the cost and you would split it into the people of your group. Mind that they don’t have set up tours they just work on demand. If you happen to be there with other people you can ask them to group together and split the cost. The boat can take a maximum of 6 people plus the guide.
They are there every day from 8 through 5. Always calculate the duration time of the tour.
How to get to Muyil
If you have a car, brilliant. Just drive past the town of Tulum for about 20 minutes until you find the sign Muyil; easy. If you don’t want to be bothered by renting a car, no worries, you can get a Taxi in Tulum talk to the driver about your return time. He will either wait for you or just come back. They are usually reliable. However, make sure you negotiate the cost before getting in the car.
Where to eat: There are a couple of local restaurants on the road. There is nothing to drink nor eat within the sites. So I would suggest you should bring water always with you as the heat can make you very thirsty and snacks in case you get hungry.
ENOTES CRISTAL AND ESCONDIDO
If you are still in the exploring mood and you have some time left for another stop, on the way back to Tulum, 5 minutes before the town, you can stop at the beautiful Cenotes Cristal y Escondido.
The ticket office is on the left side of the road(if you are going towards Tulum) where the cenote Cristal is located. The Escondido is situated on the opposite side of the road and somebody will need to come out and open the gate for you.
The entrance fee is 100 pesos (for both), about 6 USD. Both Cenotes are open and wide, like a beautiful oasis in the jungle.
You can swim and jump, snorkel or sunbathe. You might want to spend one full day there and don’t even get bored. If you are a diver, it is possible to dive in the cenote Escondido.
You should ask for a diving center if they can take you there. For sure they are organized.
Renting a 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 to 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.
You might also want to read The truth about renting a car in Mexico.
How to reach the cenotes:
Among all the cenotes in Tulum, these ones are the closest. You can also reach them by bike if you are coming directly from Tulum. If you are coming from Muyil, you will really need a car or ask your taxi to stop by. Remember to ask how much they would charge you before you start the journey.
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