It’s called “Ish-poo-hil”. Xpujil is a small town in the very south part of the State of Campeche close to the border of Guatemala. I think it’s about 50 miles as the crow flies to the border.
We came to Xpujil so we could see several Mayan ruins in the area and in fact there are 45 sites in the region although I don’t think all of them have been excavated. We selected Balamku, Calakmul, Chicanna, Becan and Xpujil to visit while here, with Calakmul being the big draw and the other sites a nice bonus while we were in the area.
We decided to rent a car again which is always a bit nervy since driving in a different country can be challenging. We read a lot on the internet about things to look out for when driving in Mexico like shifty dealings at the gas pumps and having to bribe police officers. So far we haven’t had to deal with this kind of trouble but we are just a few days in to our trip. We will have the car about two weeks.
Balamku was a nice site about an hour or so west of Xpujil. It had a really fantastic interior we were allowed to visit with terrific carvings and the site is quite nice over all, small with good trails and enough shade, it’s very hot in this part of the world even in “winter”. I enjoyed this site and can recommend but it should be paired with another site since it is pretty small. We coupled it with Chicanna which we saw on our drive back to Xpujil. Another small but nice site.
The Mayan people in this area really built a lot of towns with huge temples and pyramids. Calakmul is about two hours from Xpujil and totally worth the drive. Be aware there are two paid check points you must go through before you get to the site where you pay your entrance fee. The first checkpoint is for emissions control it is $50 pesos per person (about $2.50 US dollars). The second check point is $62.00 pesos per person and contributes to maintaining the biosphere since the site is in a huge biosphere preserve. The site fee is $65.00 pesos. So $177.00 pesos which is about $13.31 US dollars.
We arrived at 10:30 AM and finished walking the site by 2:30 PM. It was a full day believe me. We hiked up several pyramids and my legs were tired by the time we were done. Of course it is in the jungle and about 95% humidity and about 80 degrees. I felt hot and sweaty most of the day but in the shade it was okay. Calakmul is really huge and was fun to see, I especially enjoyed the monkeys way up in the trees. Also there are huge bright blue butterflies all over the area and they look really pretty flying by. Very nice! Calakmul was a full day with the two hour drive back and forth. Another site would be doable but bring lots water and be in shape. Especially if you hike to the top as often as you are allowed. The nearest small site is Balamku.
The drive to Calakmul from Xpujil also included a reduced speed area because of bats. We didn’t see any bats but maybe at night they cross the highway. Also the road is super pot holey once you get past the first check point. The pot holes are sometimes about six inches to maybe ten inches deep and hard to see due to the light from the bright sky and the shadows from the jungle on the road. I would suggest taking it very slow. We lost a hub cap on the way but luckily found it on the way back.
Chicanna was one of Brads favorite sites. It has a nice monster mouth door on one of the temples and some neat corner carvings. The site is small to medium sized.
Becan is a big site with a lot of nice ruins. I especially liked the way the trail led through the site with the bigger pyramid at the end. This site was well with the visit, I think we were there about two or three hours. We were absolutely alone there which was nice. Many of the sites were not heavily visited so we definitely had a lot of quite time and great photos with no one there. At Becan we were able to even do a quick meditation at the top of one of the pyramids which was lovely.
The last site we visited was Xpujil. It is super small and right in town. The best thing about Xpujil was the leopard carving on one of the sides of the monument. It was really stunning. I don’t have a great photo though because I just use my phone for pictures now so you’ll have to visit to see what I am talking about. (Hint: the leopard is around the back of the pyramid.)
If I went back to the town of Xpujil I would spend less time. It has little to offer travelers and we stayed in one of the better hotels which was pretty bad. Hard hard bed and pillows. I would opt for one night and see as much as possible perhaps Calakmul on day one with Balamku then overnight and see Xpujil, Becan and Chicana on day two the get out of town.
I guess we read to never ever drive around Mexico at night. Also our rental car guy said don’t drive at night because it’s not safe so if you follow that rule and are in the area when the sun goes down later the two day one night plan could work. All the sites are open at 8:00 AM and close at 5:00 PM