Long weekend in Valladolid

Travel Journal #10

We’ve had a busy week! We went back on to the road this weekend, traveling across the Yucatan Peninsula, exploring a new part of Mexico together. Our destination: The Colonial city of Valladolid. The town itself is lovely, but we spend most of our time exploring the surrounding attractions that make this place such a worthwhile destination. An hour an a half north of Valladolid is the incredible Ria Lagartos Natural Reserve, where the photo-friendly Pink Lakes of Las Coloradas and protected mangrove lagoon is the perfect place to take a day trip to. 

The Yucatan Peninsula is known for beaches and resorts on the Caribbean Coast, but traveling inland west of Cancun you find a different type of Mexico. Valladolid is a beautiful place to spend a couple of days, amongst the vibrant colours of this 450-year-old city, centered around the central town square, with amazing architecture and churches give this city a unique feel. We really enjoyed our short stay and look forward to our eventual return, and allow ourselves a full day to explore the city.

What makes Valladolid such a great place to spend a few days, is it’s proximity to some amazing attractions, both man-made and created by nature. There are many cavernous cenotes, spectacular Mayan Ruins – including Chichen Itza, one of the new 7 wonders of the world – and the natural beauty of Rio Lagartos and Los Coloradas on the Gulf of Mexico. 

We just got home on Tuesday, and we’re hosting a friend for a few days, so we’ve been busy showing off Isla Cozumel, but once we are settled we will highlight some of these incredible destinations, with pictures from our SLR cameras, and cover this incredible destination in more detail, so stay tuned for updates on our incredible adventures soon!

Valladolid

Colonial architecture, buildings painted in vibrant colours, with an incredible central town square and vibrant energy, Valladolid blew our expectations out of the water. It is one of the many “Magic Cities” (Pueblo Magico) that are located throughout Mexico, designating a cultural importance. We would love to come back to explore more of the city – most of our adventures were located outside of the city limits – and the short time we did spend in town was amazing. There are many churches and plazas worth exploring, and we had some fantastic meals during our visit. It was “cool”, and is definitely a hidden gem on the Yucatan Peninsula. 

Valladolid. 2018.

Valladolid. 2018.

Valladolid. 2018.

Valladolid. 2018.

Local Yucatan Cuisine – mm – in Valladolid. 2018.

Ek Balam

Our first stop was the Mayan Ruins of Ek Balam, which is one of the lesser known Ruins in the area, overshadowed by the nearby Chichen Itza. This was a major bucket list item and a big reason why we drove all this way. It is one of the “newer” discoveries and was excavated and researched in the 1980s and 1990s. Only the main plaza and a few temples have been excavated so far (there are two “hills” on the site that are obviously temples waiting to be uncovered). It is one of those places that you get to have a few of your own “Indiana Jones” moments. 

Ek Balam. 2018.

Ek Balam. 2018.

Ek Balam. 2018.

Ek Balam. 2018.

Ek Balam. 2018.

Ek Balam. 2018.

Cenotes X’kekén y Samula

The Yucatan Peninsula is full of Cenotes – caves, caverns, and sinkholes caused by underground rivers – that are popular destinations for visitors for swimming. There are many of these located on the Yucatan, likely a result of the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. We visited the cenotes Samula and Xkekek, massive caves with a circular hole in the ceiling, which let in an eerie light. 

Cenote Samula. 2018.

Cenote X’kekén. 2018.

Cenote Staircase. 2018.

Cenote X’kekén. 2018.

Fossils on the ceiling of Cenote Samula. 2018.

Cenote Samula. 2018.

Las Coloradas

Being surrounded by blue skies, flamingos and pink lakes was definitely something we had to do. The town of Los Coloradas is home to these amazing pink lakes, located in salt evaporation ponds, and caused by microorganisms (algae, plankton, and brine shrimp) in the water that change the colours. The process is now controlled by man, and the lakes are periodically drained and re-filled with fresh salt water every 6 months in order to harvest the salt. It is definitely “romanticized” by the abundance of Instagram worthy shots that can be obtained here, but it is still a very cool destination to discover. 

Las Coloradas. 2018.

Las Coloradas. 2018.

Las Coloradas. 2018.

Las Coloradas. 2018.

Las Coloradas. 2018.

Rio Lagartos

It’s difficult to pick a favourite thing that we did on the trip, but the boat trip into the Parque Natural Ria Lagartos has to be in the running. Neither a river (Rio) or full of alligators (Lagartos) this nature reserve was misnamed by the Spanish who “discovered” this place. We saw an abundance of bird life and saw some crocodiles during our trip, which ended at sunset as we returned to town. It was the last thing we did before driving back to Playa del Carmen and was the perfect way to end our trip.

Crocodile at Rio Lagartos. 2018.

Rio Lagartos. 2018.

Rio Lagartos Sunset. 2018.

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