If you enjoy exploring the Mexican Caribbean beautiful area and going off the beaten track, Thomas More Travel has a tour that will take you to two of Quintana Roo’s most magical spots – the ancient Mayan city of Muyil and Bacalar, the Lagoon of Seven Colors, an unforgettable blend of history and nature.Muyil, Ancient Mayan Port
Foto: Guillermo Isaac Huesca Solis
Located 20 minutes to the south of Tulum, Muyil, also known as Chunyaxche, is the largest of 23 archaeological sites discovered to date in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. Located in the forest and on the shores of a lagoon, it was founded in the late pre-Classic period of Mayan history (300 B.C. to A.D. 250) and was inhabited until the late post-Classic period (A.D. 900 to 1550, after the Spanish Conquest) The first building you’ll see as you enter the site is El Castillo, the principal pyramid towering above the treetops. When archaeologists excavated the building they found an altar with an offering of carved jade and shell beads, pendants, rings, ear and lip plugs. Wander the jungle trails and you’ll come across other temples and palaces hidden in the undergrowth. In ancient times, Muyil was a port with links to cities in the Yucatán and Central America. More than 1,000 years ago, the Maya dredged and widened a natural canal running through the wetlands between the city and the sea to create a trade route for their canoes. Merchants would have bartered fish, salt, honey, beeswax, cotton and copal incense in exchange for cacao, stingray spines, spiny oyster shells, jade, obsidian, quetzal feathers and gold. The dense tropical vegetation and a nature trail through the mangroves leading to the lagoon add to Muyil’s many charms and air of mystery. Your guide will point out native trees such as the chicozapote, the natural source of chicle or chewing gum, the poisonous chechen and chaca, the leaves of which are the traditional remedy for a chechen burn. Keep a look out for parrots, Yucatán jays, trogons and hummingbirds as you explore the site. Leaving Muyil behind, your journey continues south along Highway 307, through the historic town of Felipe Carrillo Puerto, district capital of the Mayan heartland called the Zona Maya, and on to Bacalar. Bacalar, Infinite Shades of Blue
Bacalar, the Lagoon of Seven Colors, is one of Quintana Roo’s most spectacular natural treasures. Sporting clear waters in every shade of blue imaginable, from aquamarine, azure and turquoise to indigo, it snakes through the jungle and wetlands for 34 miles, and your trip includes a boat ride across its tranquil surface. There’s time for a refreshing dip in the cool waters and an exfoliating bath in the sulfur-rich sand, which has cleansing properties. Bacalar is also one of the few places in the world where you can see stromatolites. These are fragile rock formations formed by algae and other microorganisms that dwell in the shallow warm waters of tropical seas and lagoons, and they are the oldest life forms on Earth. Swimming is not permitted in the area where the stromatolites are. Wildlife abounds, especially birds and you’ll see herons and egrets, ibis, roseate spoonbill, cormorants and osprey. You may even be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a rare manatee. The village of Bacalar was founded by the Spaniards in1545 and functioned as a port during the Colonial period, attracting the unwelcome attention of pirates who attacked repeatedly, sneaking up to shore in rowing boats to plunder cargoes of precious tropical hardwoods and dyewood. In 1729, San Felipe Fort was built to protect the settlement from raids and this imposing stone citadel now houses a history museum. Five minutes to the south of the village is another natural wonder, Cenote Azul, said to be the deepest sinkhole in the Maya World (almost 300 feet deep). Visit www.thomasmoretravel.com to book the Bacalar & Muyil trip online or call in at the Thomas More Travel desk when you visit Royal Resorts.