Hike-in Required
Yes
Open Year-round
Yes
ADA accessible
No
Guided tours
Yes
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The Ek Balam Archaeological Site is a Mayan historical site outside the city of Valladolid. Believed to have been constructed between AD 100 and 300, Ek Balam (which translates to "The Black Jaguar") reached its peak around AD 750 to 850, which some speculating that its ultimate decline may have occurred as late as the 16th century.

First found and mapped in the 1980s, the 2.5-square-kilometer area that has been uncovered and preserved is only a small part of what is thought to be around 12 square kilometers. As such, the main plazas of the site are open, along with its most spectacular structures. However, a walk on the trails beyond these areas will lead to more surrounding mounds that have yet to be uncovered.

Several significant structures are preserved and open for visitation, however, the most dominant is El Torre (The Tower), which sits beside the central plaza. This massive structure measures 150 meters in length and rises to 30 meters in heigt. Visitors are currently allowed to climb the stone steps to the top of the tower, which affords a view over the flat surrounding jungle landscape. Off of the stairs to either side are artworks that were molded and mounted to the structure. Unlike other area Mayan sites, where the art is carved stone, most of the works here are molded stucco and limestone.

While there are many trails that branch out into the jungle, visitors wanting to see the primary sites can reach all of them in the core area, which is about 1 kilometer in walking from the parking lot entrance gate. Visitors to Ek Balam may also opt to walk about 2 kilometers, rent bicycles, or be carried via pedal taxi to Cenote X'Canche.

While not as large as nearby Chichen Itza Archaeological Site, Ek Balam also sees far fewer visitors, and allows visitors the chance to walk among the ruins, creating a more intimate visitor experience than Chichen Itza. Ek Balam is open daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. As of 2019, entrance fee for adults to Ek Balam is MX$413.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

Entrance Fee

Pros

Scenic collection of ruins. Less crowded than other area archaeological sites.

Cons

None.

Pets allowed

Not Allowed

Features

Vault toilet
Historically significant
Family friendly
Guided tours
Native artifacts
Big vistas

Location

Field Guide

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