Have you ever done something so daring it seemed like a great idea until you were actually doing it? Imagine you are really kicking ass at the ‘daring act’ and then you start to panic. This happened to me during my visit to Coba; climbing one of the tallest pyramids built by the Mayas, freely, was very daring, exciting and scary once I got to the top. Now, I am not discouraging you from exploring Coba, it definitely is a place that should be on your bucket list and so is climbing this 138 feet tall pyramid. As a matter of fact, I dare you to!! I can laugh about it now, but when I was sitting at the very top, I began to really panic and wonder just how in the world I was going to get down. I got light headed and I had to sit. I wasn’t sure if I would have to send someone to get help, if I would just live the rest of my life at the top of pyramid or have to be helicoptered down and be on the 10 o’clock news as the one tourist who couldn’t get back down the pyramid. Now that I have managed to scare you a bit, let me tell you how this marvelous adventure began.
There are many suggestions as to what the name ‘Coba’ means, some suggest the name means “water moisture” or “water stirred by the wind”, due to its close proximity to a few lakes. One of the tallest pyramids built by the Mayas, Ixmoja (the one I climbed), which is located in the middle of the jungle at the Coba archeological site, which is just about 27 miles northwest of Tulum . It is approximately 138 feet tall and there are 120 steep stone steps to get to the top. Getting to the top of the pyramid can be quite the challenge if you are not used to physical activity. Believe me when I tell you that your legs will be ‘on fire’. It is a tough climb and the sun beaming down on you doesn’t help neither. But so worth it!
When you first arrive at Coba, there are a few options for reaching Ixmoja, since it is about a mile into the jungle. Be mindful that you will be walking through the forest and although the path is clear and flat wearing comfortable clothing is highly recommended. Also, it is extremely hot and humid, so make sure you are well hydrated or have a bottle of water on you and a hat if possible. I regret not having a hat on me. The cost to enter Coba is about $6 USD. You can chose to walk the mile, rent a bike and peddle to the site, or you can be like me and pay a bici taxi to get you there quicker and save you some time. The charge for riding a bici taxi was $123 pesos or about $7 USD.
The bici taxi will drop you off at the bottom of the pyramid and so the adventure began. You might be wondering what is so special about climbing a pyramid, well, it is the only pyramid in the Rivera Maya that you are able to climb. Chichen Itza is no longer open for tourist to climb. As more visitors arrive each year to see these sites, preserving the structures becomes a priority and restrictions kick in. With approximately 720,000 visitors to Coba in 2017, it has not yet reached the ‘do not climb’ phase, so now would be a great time to visit.
The Sweat was real!
After finally gathering the courage I needed to get down, I did it my way. Other tourist were jogging down the pyramid, but not this girl! No sir or ma’am. I sat down in the middle of the pyramid and holding on tight to the rope there, I deescalated one stepping stone at a time. What felt like an eternity was actually about ten minutes and my butt was on-fire from having done that. No regrets. I got a fabulous look at the jungle and wondered just how, the Mayas created all this, because even though it is believed that they knew about the invention of the wheel, there is no proof that they actually utilized this to carry stones to places.
The tour services I utilized only allowed for about an hour at the site. My recommendation would be to rent a car there so you have ample time to explore other smaller structures available or you pay a private guide, but that can be costly.
We were then taken to a cenote near by, Multum Ha. A cenote is a sink-hole full of water and it can be very deep in some areas. If you are a non-swimmer, this would not be the time to attempt to swim. However, they do rent out life vests which I highly recommend paying for even if your skills are up-to-par. I did not swim in this cenote but did admire its beauty. There are so many cenotes in Tulum worthy to explore. They are all different in size, water color and depth. I did get a chance to explore another cenote when I traveled to Chichen Itza and I will tell you all about it in my next blog about the Rivera Maya.
The water at this particular cenote was very clear and cold. Due to the rain in the rain, the water level was higher than usual and covered a bit of the deck. The stairs going down are steep as well and can be slippery, use caution at all times and water sandals if possible.
Coba: A+ Utilizing a Tour Service: B (due to time restrictions) Climbing up the pyramid: A+ Cenote Multum Ha: A Pricing: Very inexpensive for access to both sites Recommendations: Bottle of water, comfortable clothing (definitely no long dresses), comfortable shoes, a hat, light back pack