Photo via dinesh rao.

Whether I’m in ancient or modern cities — or the vast wilds of nature — I love to explore the world by foot. In the spirit of traditional hiking this will be the first in a series of posts on my favorite places in the world to hike.

Calakmul, Mexico

Hiking Calakmul makes me feel like Indiana Jones.


Jim listed the Mayan ruins at Calakmul as one of his top three favorite historical places in the world. But they’re not just an impressive glimpse into pre-Columbian life, they’re also an incredible place to hike.

The grounds are  vast — over 2,700 square miles of nature and 6,000 structures to explore — and the vegetation is dense and lush. The ruins were discovered in 1931, completely reclaimed by the rain forest, and are now in various states of excavation.

Image via Gautier Poupeau
Image via Gautier Poupeau

During our excursion to Calakmul a few years ago, sunlight subtly filtered through the heavy canopy keeping us cool in the heat. The flora and fauna were lush and teeming with wildlife. Throughout the day, we heard howler monkeys, and although no one else spied it, my brother-in-law swore he saw a jaguar.

And because the ruins are relatively isolated, we only saw two other hikers the entire day, from Australia.

Image via Daniel Mennerich
Image via Daniel Mennerich

The fact that we occasionally happened upon immense man-made mounds jutting forth from the earth in the form of ancient Mayan pyramids was simply icing on the cake.

me in tree jimmy taking picture

If you go: Calakmul is a five and a half hour drive from Palenque, the better-known and more-visited Mayan ruins in the region. We flew into Villahermosa, which has a small-but-still-commerical airport, then rented a car. We stayed the night in Rio Bec Dreams, an eco lodge actually located within the Calakmul Biosphere. It’s a long, and sometimes slow, drive from Villahermosa, but there are little restaurants and smaller Maya ruins to visit along the way.  And Calakmul is worth the journey.

— Laura Rowley


Written by Laura Rowley

I am an artist, flight attendant, and travel blogger.


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