Discover the Best of Mexico: Chichen Itza and Sustainable Tourism

Experience the rich history and culture of Mexico while supporting sustainable travel practices with a visit to Chichen Itza. This ancient Mayan site offers a window into the country's past and its vibrant cosmovision. At the same time, sustainable tourism initiatives aim to preserve the natural and cultural environment, benefitting local communities and future generations. In this article, you will learn about the history and culture of Chichen Itza, as well as tips on how to enjoy sustainable travel in Mexico. Let's explore!

Chichen Itza: A Window into the Mayan Cosmovision

Chichen Itza Observatory

Observatory at Chichen Itza Mexico

Chichen Itza is one of the most significant archaeological sites in Mexico, offering visitors a unique insight into the Mayan cosmovision. Located in the Yucatan Peninsula, the site was a major center of Mayan culture and religion for centuries, and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

At Chichen Itza, visitors can explore a range of impressive structures and artifacts, each with its own significance to the Mayan people. One of the most iconic structures is the towering El Castillo, a pyramid that served as a temple to the god Kukulkan. The structure is renowned for its precision and symbolism, with each side featuring 91 steps and the platform at the top adding up to a total of 365 steps, representing the Mayan solar calendar.

Visitors to Chichen Itza can also explore the Temple of the Warriors, where they can admire a range of sculptures and carvings that depict warriors and gods. The Temple is also surrounded by a range of smaller structures and platforms, each with its own unique history and significance.

Another highlight of Chichen Itza is the Great Ball Court, which was used for traditional Mesoamerican ball games. The court is the largest of its kind in Mexico, measuring 168 meters long and 70 meters wide. Visitors can marvel at the intricate carvings and decorations found throughout the court, which depict various mythological creatures and scenes from Mayan history.

Overall, Chichen Itza offers visitors a fascinating glimpse into the rich history and culture of the Mayan people. Its impressive architecture, intricate carvings, and unique symbolism make it a must-visit destination for anyone interested in the ancient civilization of Mexico.

The History and Significance of Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza is a UNESCO World Heritage site located on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. It was once a thriving city and served as the political and economic center of the Mayan civilization from the 7th to the 13th century AD. The site features a mix of architectural styles, including Mayan and Toltec, and is renowned for its unique design and engineering.

Templo Kukulkan in Chichen Itza Mexico

Templo Kukulkan in chichen Itza

Structure Description
El Castillo Also known as the Temple of Kukulcan, this step pyramid is the most iconic structure at Chichen Itza. It is 79 feet high and features four sides with 91 stairs each, plus one additional stair that leads to the platform at the top, making a total of 365 stairs - one for each day of the year. The pyramid is aligned with the equinoxes, and during these times, the shadows create the illusion of a serpent descending the staircase.
The Great Ball Court This is the largest ball court in Mesoamerica, measuring 551 feet long and 230 feet wide. The objective of the game was to put a rubber ball through a stone hoop, which was located high on the walls of the court. The game was more than just a sport; it had religious and political significance, and winners were often sacrificed to the gods.
The Observatory This circular structure, also known as El Caracol, was used as an astronomical observatory. It has narrow, winding staircases and features windows placed at strategic angles to observe the movements of the stars. The building is a testament to the advanced astronomical knowledge of the Mayans.

Chichen Itza has also been recognized for its cultural significance. The site was an important religious and cultural center for the Mayan people, and it continues to be a significant symbol of their heritage. Chichen Itza was added to the World Heritage List in 1988, and in 2007, it was named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

Today, visitors can explore the site and learn about the history and culture of the Mayans. Chichen Itza is an important destination for those interested in archaeology, history, and culture, and it remains one of Mexico's most popular tourist attractions.

How to Enjoy Sustainable Travel in Mexico

When it comes to traveling in Mexico, sustainability should be at the forefront of your mind. By making conscious choices, you can minimize your impact on the environment and support local communities. Here are some tips and advice on how to enjoy sustainable travel in Mexico:

  1. Choose eco-friendly accommodations: Look for hotels and lodges that have implemented sustainable practices, such as recycling, energy conservation, and water conservation. By doing so, you can reduce your carbon footprint and support local businesses that prioritize sustainability.
  2. Support the local economy: When you travel to Mexico, make an effort to support local businesses by eating at local restaurants, buying handicrafts from local artisans, and participating in locally-run tours and activities. This will help to ensure that the economic benefits of tourism are distributed more evenly throughout the community.
  3. Be mindful of your transportation: While flying may be the easiest way to get to Mexico, it's also the most carbon-intensive mode of transportation. Instead, consider taking a bus or train, or renting a bicycle to explore your destination. If you must fly, try to choose a direct flight and offset your carbon emissions through a reputable carbon offsetting program.
  4. Respect the environment: Whether you're exploring a national park or lounging on a beach, make sure to follow the principles of Leave No Trace. This means packing out all of your trash, staying on designated trails, and avoiding activities that may damage the local ecosystem.
  5. Learn about the local culture: One of the best ways to enjoy sustainable travel in Mexico is to learn about the local culture. By doing so, you'll gain a deeper appreciation for the country and its people, and you'll be more likely to make responsible choices during your trip. Consider taking a cooking class, attending a cultural festival, or visiting a local museum to learn more.

By following these tips and taking a responsible approach to travel, you can help to ensure that Mexico's natural and cultural resources are preserved for generations to come.

Authentic Tours in Mexico: Going Beyond the Tourist Trail

While many visitors to Mexico flock to popular destinations like Cancun or Cabo San Lucas, there’s a whole other side to the country just waiting to be explored. Authentic tours in Mexico provide travelers with the opportunity to go beyond the traditional tourist trail and experience the country’s culture and history in a more meaningful way. These tours offer a chance to delve deeper into the local way of life, connect with the people and the land, and gain a newfound appreciation for the richness and diversity of Mexico.

Authentic tours can take many forms, from food tours that explore the country’s culinary traditions to cultural tours that highlight local art, music, and dance. Many tours also focus on sustainable travel practices, supporting local communities and minimizing environmental impact. By choosing to go on an authentic tour, visitors can make a positive impact on the places they visit while gaining a deeper understanding of Mexico’s culture and history.

Exploring Chichen Itza: Tips and Advice

If you're planning a visit to Chichen Itza, here are some tips and advice to help you make the most of your trip:

Getting There

Chichen Itza is located in the Yucatan Peninsula, about 200 kilometers from Cancun. The easiest way to get there is by car or organized tour, that Marysol Travel can help organizing. If you're driving, take the free road towards Valladolid and follow the signs to the archeological site. If you're taking an organized tour, make sure to book with a reputable company that prioritizes sustainable tourism.

Best Times to Visit

The best time to visit Chichen Itza is during the early morning or late afternoon, when the temperatures are cooler and the crowds are thinner. The site is open from 8am to 5pm daily, so plan your visit accordingly.

What to Bring

Make sure to bring sunscreen, a hat, and plenty of water, as the site can be hot and sunny. Comfortable shoes are also a must, as there is a lot of walking involved. Don't forget your camera!

Exploring the Site

It's best to explore the site with a guide who can provide insight into the history and culture of Chichen Itza. Make sure to visit the main structures, such as El Castillo and the Temple of the Warriors, as well as the observatory and the ball court. Take your time to appreciate the intricate details and learn about the significance of each structure.

Respect the Site and the Locals

Remember that Chichen Itza is a sacred site and treat it with the respect it deserves. Don't climb on the structures or touch the artifacts, and make sure to dispose of your trash responsibly. When interacting with the locals, be respectful and mindful of their culture. Avoid purchasing souvenirs made from endangered species or participating in activities that exploit animals.

By following these tips and advice, you can enjoy a meaningful and sustainable visit to Chichen Itza while minimizing your impact on the environment and supporting the local community.

Sustainable Tourism in Mexico: Challenges and Opportunities

While sustainable tourism is a growing trend in Mexico, there are still many challenges that need to be addressed in order to increase its success. One of the biggest challenges is the lack of awareness and education among both tourists and locals about the importance of responsible travel practices. Many tourists are simply not aware of the impact of their actions on the environment and local communities, and may not prioritize sustainability when planning their trips. Similarly, not all locals may understand the importance of sustainable tourism or may not have the resources to implement sustainable practices in their businesses.

Another challenge is the need for better infrastructure and policies to support sustainable tourism. This includes things like improved waste management systems, better public transportation options, and regulations to ensure that tourism activities do not harm the environment or cultural heritage sites.

Despite these challenges, there are also many opportunities for sustainable tourism in Mexico. The country has a rich cultural and natural heritage that can be promoted in a responsible and sustainable way. By prioritizing sustainability, Mexico can attract more environmentally conscious and socially responsible tourists, which can have a positive impact on local communities.

One example of a successful sustainable tourism initiative in Mexico is the Whale Watching Responsible Program in Baja California Sur. This program allows tourists to observe whales in a way that does not harm the animals or their natural environment, while also supporting local conservation efforts. By promoting responsible whale watching, the program has helped to raise awareness about the importance of protecting marine life and has created economic opportunities for local communities.

In order to promote sustainable tourism in Mexico, it is important for both tourists and locals to prioritize sustainability in their actions and decisions. This includes supporting local businesses that prioritize sustainability, reducing waste and energy use, and respecting local cultures and traditions. By working together, we can create a more sustainable and responsible tourism industry in Mexico.

FAQ's about Chichen Itza and Sustainable Tourism in Mexico

If you're planning a trip to Chichen Itza or embarking on a sustainable travel adventure in Mexico, you may have some questions about what to expect. Here are some frequently asked questions and their answers:

When is the best time to visit Chichen Itza?

The best time to visit Chichen Itza is during the winter months, from November to February, when the weather is cooler and drier. However, this is also the busiest time of year, so be prepared for crowds. If you want to avoid the crowds, consider visiting during the summer months, when there are fewer tourists, but be prepared for hot and humid weather.

How do I get to Chichen Itza?

Chichen Itza is located in the Yucatan Peninsula, about two hours from Cancun and three hours from Merida. The easiest way to get there is by car or by booking a tour from a local travel agency: Marysol Travel. If you're driving, be aware that there are toll roads and make sure to have Mexican pesos on hand to pay for them.

What should I wear when visiting Chichen Itza?

Be sure to wear comfortable clothing and sturdy shoes, as there is a lot of walking involved. It's also a good idea to bring a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun. Visitors are not allowed to climb on the ruins, so avoid wearing clothing that may snag or tear.

What can I expect to see at Chichen Itza?

Chichen Itza is home to many impressive ruins and structures, including El Castillo, the Temple of the Warriors, and the Great Ball Court. Visitors can also see the Sacred Cenote, a natural sinkhole, and the Observatory, an astronomical observatory.

How can I enjoy sustainable travel in Mexico?

To enjoy sustainable travel in Mexico, consider staying at locally owned accommodations, supporting local businesses, and minimizing your use of single-use plastics. Be respectful of the environment and local communities, and make an effort to learn about the culture and history of the places you visit.

What are some other sustainable tourism initiatives in Mexico?

There are many sustainable tourism initiatives in Mexico, including efforts to protect sea turtle nesting sites and promote environmentally responsible activities like snorkeling and diving. There are also community-based tourism projects that allow visitors to experience local culture and traditions while supporting local communities.

By following these tips and being mindful of your impact on the environment and local communities, you can enjoy a sustainable and meaningful travel experience in Mexico.

1 thought on “Discover the Best of Mexico: Chichen Itza and Sustainable Tourism

  1. Marysol Travel

    July 4, 2023

    Good post

Leave a Reply