Yaxchilan, Blood Curdling Howl from the Jungle

To get to Yaxchilan takes some doing but since we were in the vicinity we figured we had to see this ruin. It was a Mayan stronghold on the Rio Usumacinta on the border of Mexico and Guatemala. The location gave it control over river commerce in a large region. To get here we had to hire a boat to take us 40 minutes downstream to the site.

That’s Guatemala on the left bank.

Again we embarked early and were the only ones at the site for almost the entire two hours it took us to explore it. One of the most fascinating parts about this site was the labyrinth of pitch black tunnels which ran under large hills and between the buildings.


A bit spooky, the tunnels were about 30-36 inches wide and had steeply vaulted ceilings. Several bats hung from the tall dark ceilings and the paths made several right angle turns with some paths coming to abrupt dead ends. There were also stairs going up and down. You must have a flashlight to wander through and our cell phone assistive light was barely bright enough for the job. If persistent you’d see the light at the end of the tunnel and come out at a different building in another part of the site.


The other remarkable thing here was the deeply visceral roars from deep in the jungle. If we hadn’t learned earlier that this was from Howler monkeys we’d have assumed they were Jaguars and probably run back to the boat.

As we started our hike back to the boat a wave of tourists started pouring down the path. By the time we got back to the river there were no less than ten new tour boats tied up on the beach. Making the effort to arrive early really pays off. The serenity of being alone, the silence and the undisturbed thoughts in your head really enrich the experience.