Day 8 (March 11, 2014) Coba and Xcaret


   This first day in Mayan Riviera we will use local transport to  Coba archaeological site, where we’ll spend the morning.

   Since 3 PM we will be able of using our night tickets for Xcaret, where we’ll enjoy the diverse features there until the night show we want to watch starts, at 6 PM.

Area of Mayan Riviera

   The spots marked at map are:

 0- Xtudio Comfort Hotel
 1- Xcaret
 2- Xel Ha
 3- Tulum
 4- Coba
 5- Chichen Itza
 6- Valladolid


   At 8:20 AM we’re walking 2nd Street up, we’ve got our breakfast and are ready for today’s activities. In the crossing with 15th Avenue we can see the popular vans, which are locally called “colectivos”. They’re white with thin blue or orange lines and have written in front and at both sides “Colectivos Playa del Carmen – Tulum” with the same color than the lines.
Inside the van to Tulum
   They’re filling one after the other and we’re immediately put on one of them. I get the answer to my questions in the process: there is a van from Tulum to Coba and we’ll be delivered just there, rat to Tulum is 40$ (pesos) per person and by night there are vans until 11 PM.

   We’re on the run at 8:30 AM and on the next hour people is leaving and coming into the van, all along this Federal Road, until reaching Tulum town. There, we’ll delivered in the spot where van to Coba leaves, marked by a sign, just as promised.

   We wait here for a while with nobody coming – not vans not passengers -and I’m thinking this is not working. Fortunately, I’ve got a plan B: there are several ADO buses from Tulum to Coba. A taxi driver stops by asking what are we waiting for and helps me to take the decision: he explains there a lot of days the van to Coba is not running and the fact there is nobody here is the sign this is one of those days. He also points me to the location of ADO bus station. It is close, just a couple of blocks forward.

   I purchase the bus tickets for bus at 10:10 AM to Coba by 58$. It arrives exactly at that time and takes less than one hour on delivering at Coba, with only one stop in the way at Grand Cenote.
Stop place for the van to Coba   The problem of ADO bus for coming here is on the return trip, as there is only one bus to Tulum at 3:10 PM, which is too late for us as we want to take all the possible advantages of the Xcaret afternoon ticket, getting there as close as possible of 3 PM.

   But now we’re here, we’ll look for alternatives later after the visit, having that bus as our last option. By the moment, we’re told the tickets for the return bus must be purchased in one of the restaurants here, at the entrance of the parking. This restaurant is the only one with ADO signs and the bus timetable. I can see some taxis parked in front of this place, so I keep that in mind as an alternative.

   All this will come after the exploring the archaeological site of Coba and, depending of the time we’ll finish, even it is possible we don’t need the more expensive alternatives to the bus.

   We pay 59$ for our admission tickets and use them immediately to access. The first meters are a path up through the jungle.

Coba ticket boxMap of Coba

   Soon we reach the first group of ruins. The shadow of such dense vegetation helps a lot on make this visit pleasant on despite of the hot.

   We start for the ball game court, and explore the rest of buildings here. These trees with their roots looking hidden places between the stone bricks recall us to Ang Kor in some way.

Ball gameDetail from Coba first group

Detail from Coba first groupLa Iglesia (The church)

   As we can see in the map, there are two more groups here, with more than one kilometer in between. To reach them, apart from the obvious walking, there are two more options: renting a bicycle by 40$ or taking a taxi. The vehicles labeled as “taxi” are tricycles run by a teenager, with two seats in front for tourists. They tell us it’s 120$ while warn us there are two kilometers to the Great Pyramid.

   The distance seems fair to us and walk following the path through the jungle to Nohoch Mul group. We find another beautiful group, with another ball game court. The environment is amazing, with this forest of a lot of this trees.

Ball gameMaya stela

  &nbspWe still keep following the path stopping by other fantastic and isolated temples.

Path in CobaCoba Observatory

   At the end of the path we can see the movement in the Great Pyramid area before even see it. It is one of the few buildings of this kind still can be climbed to the top. So I take the task and reach its top. I take exactly the time of this video of this climbing:
From the top of Nohoch Mul pyramid

   As I wanted to reach the top fast, when I’m there my legs are almost not responding. The view is magnificent, though. After a while I go back down with a lot of care as it looks a lot more difficult and dangerous than the way up.

   This time I buy the offer of a taxi: 70$ by the return trip. Once back on the first group, we must pay on the hut and not directly to the boy.

Taxis in CobaTransport center in Coba

Gate to Coba complex   We’ve refused reaching the Macamxoc group because it is too far, because we’ve already seen the highlights we wanted here and because we want to look after being as soon as possible in Tulum. With this last thought, I’m looking all around the parking to the vans: there is not a public one, but tour operators'. I even think on proposing to one paying something for the trip to Tulum, if it was any leaving now. At the end of the parking lot we reach the gate and, just beside, the place they pointed for ADO bus tickets. There are still two taxis parked there so I get in to ask for a rate: they tell me 500$, I offer 400$ and they agree. We leave immediately to Tulum by these 400 pesos. It’s 12:45 PM and I think we’ve just bought the time we needed in Xcaret.

   In less than one hour the taxi delivers us in front of the ADO station in Tulum, as we requested. This place is good because vans to Playa del Carmen start just across the street and there are a lot of restaurants around for lunching before going to Xcaret.

   We’ve got the wish of eating pasta, but the offer we’re getting from the manager of restaurant “El Capitán” for a seafood platter makes us change our mind. We can eat octopus, locust, calamari, shrimps… We pay 696$ in total.

Restaurant "El Capitán" in TulumSeafood in Tulum

   The meal has taken more time than expected but we’ve enjoyed it a lot. Anyway, vans are leaving here and we take the next. It’s 2:40 PM and we’re delivered at Xcaret at 3:30 PM.

Starting point of vans in TulumFree bus in Xcaret

   There is a big bus constantly making transfers between Xcaret and the Road for free. We take it to reach the ticket desks and get ours by 1043$ each.

   We’ve come with the clear idea of make all our visits out of the water so, once inside, we follow our itinerary by two hours through the ball game court, the Mexican cemetery, the Mayan Village, the jaguar and puma islands, tapir territory, deer refuge, open forum, aquarium, shark place, marine turtles area, tropical jungle trail and the living museum of orchids. All this before the time of the show we’ve came to watch, scheduled every day at 6 PM. They close the rivers at 4:30 PM, so we had been able to enjoying them too much anyway.

Flamingos in Xcaret
Mayan town in XcaretJaguar in Xcaret

Jellyfishes in Xcaret aquariumXcaret coast

Mexican folklore in XcaretTapir in Xcaret

   When the sun is setting it’s time for the show “Mexico spectacular” and everybody is going to the theater. The path to its entrance is full of living Mayan characters and visitors can take their own pictures with them.

Mayan characters in XcaretMayan character in Xcaret

   They’re addressing the people as they’re arriving in order of filling the theater in all their sides. Our place is in one lateral, close to the center.
Xcaret theater

   The show starts with a demonstration of Mayan games, with the popular ball game as main example. Then, it is a travel through Mexican history, with the discovery of America and the arrival of catholic religion. Then we have a sample of Mexican culture, as the revolution or mariachis.

Xcaret Mexico spectacular showXcaret Mexico spectacular show

   It’s near two hours and a half long for this entertaining show which I leave realizing I’m in a country rich in culture.

   At the parking lot, we take the big free bus to the road. This time it is full, and takes all of us to the Federal Road, where there are a bunch of vans waiting for taking the people to Playa del Carmen.

   We don’t go to dinner but simply do some shopping in an Oxxo (supermarket franchise opened 24 hours). All the food we’re bringing is thinking on the breakfast and dinners for the next days.