The summer slow season in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula offers great bargains and less crowds of milling tourists, the perfect time to experience the mysteries of the region in a remarkable land...
Anytime of year is a great time of year to visit the mysterious world of the Yucatan Peninsula, but playing hard under the hot summer Mayan sun is a growing favorite for the few wanting to avoid the crowds of tourists who shy away from the sun-scorched lowland jungles of southern Mexico because of the extreme heat of the season, making your adventure less crowded and often more of a bargain.
June through September each year is considered the slow tourist season of the region and perhaps the perfect time to schedule a visit if economy and freedom from long tour lines is your objective.
Imagine an early morning hike through the ruins at Chichen Itza, standing atop a majestic and towering pyramid in the jungle mist, perhaps in the very same spot where Mayan or Toltec royalty once stood to issue the orders of the day.
Or pause in your morning trek by the sacred "Well of Souls", a deep and pristine cenote (water-filled cavern) where more than one human sacrifice was cast into its depths to honor or appease the Gods of Meso-American cosmology.
The Mayan sites of Uxmal and Tulum are also within a few hours of Merida and Chichen Itza respectively, and are two other spectacular examples of once-proud Mayan strongholds.
Tulum is particularly adventuresome to explore as it sits atop white-sandy beaches and fortress-like limestone cliffs overlooking the turquoise waters of the Caribbean coast. If you look hard on a clear day you can faintly see the towering hotels of Isla Cozumel.
If you think having the run of an entire ancient city under the tropical sun is something that would satisfy your adventuring spirit, or if strolling the streets of mysterious Merida fits into your summer adventure plans, then make travel arrangements soon and discover the magic of the Maya.
If you're flying from the U.S., make your initial destination the colonial city of Merida. Take the time to spoil yourself in this charming and romantic historical community. There are ample accommodations to fit every budget with most providing equally charming environs for your first night's stay. Take a day to explore the city, it's thriving market and abundant historical sites and monuments.
If your target destination is Chichen Itza, then plan your outbound commercial bus ride from Merida to the ruins site the day before, or earlier, unless you are renting a car. If not, secure your bus tickets in advance. And if you plan staying at one of the hotels or lodges that surround the ruins, you need to make reservations. Be prepared to spend between $80 (US) and $160 (US) to get a room at the Mayanland Hotel or Hotel Chichen. The latter is the better bargain though you won't get the resort service you would at the first. It may be necessary to stay in nearby Piste if you're on a budget.
If you arrive the evening before touring the ruins, wait until first light the next morning and walk through the Temple of the Warriors and experience the great domed observatory, El Caracol at sunrise. Then weave your way through the Plaza of a Thousand Columns, or leisurely study the Nunnery or the Temple of the Jaguars to further your study and appreciation for the expansive magnitude of the city.
If you're outbound on the first bus back to Merida or to Cancun, make time before you go to climb the many steps of the fabled El Castillo, commonly called the Temple of Kukulcan, and look around in every direction to review the expansive layout of the ruins.
Dive enthusiasts should take the extra time for a trip to nearby Cenote Azul, a two hour bus ride south of Tulum and on the road to Chetumal. The natural cenote, or cave, is filled with crystal clear blue water and offers fresh water diving unparalleled in the Americas.
For those who want to explore a quaint island just off the Yucatan coast, check out Isla Mujeres. Isolated from the flashing lights and fancy hotels on the nearby Quintana Roo mainland, this secluded destination offers the best of many worlds, from ancient and historical to modern and high-tech.
The summer heat this year promises to assail us regardless where we are or where we're going. So if you are going to play in the sun, why not do it in the "Land of the Sun"? Spend a few summer days in the fairy-tale land of the mighty Yucatan in the heart of the Tropic of Cancer. Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico beaches nearby offer a great summer escape while visiting, and the Yucatan always provides unexpected adventure opportunities.