Coba is a ruined Mayan city set in the middle of the jungle. And as is typical of Mexico, there are no safety precautions whatsoever. A phenomenally fun time, in a sort of running with scissors kind of way!
We rolled into Coba on our way back from our Jeep side excursion to Chitzen Itza. Coba is another ancient Mayan city abandoned after the fall of that civilization. It stood directly on a trading route stretching from Chitzen Itza to Tulum. I remember there being several lakes in the region that supported the city. What is important here are not the lakes but the alligators in them. You can walk right up to the alligators. In fact, when we drove in, I saw a young mother and her toddler walking out to a pier on one of those lakes….. perhaps to feed the alligators? No idea.
After paying a fee, we were allowed into the park. The park is a massive network of dirt paths with tons of ruins interspersing them. Even with the minimal amount of archaeology training I have I could tell that the paths were bulldozed to make it easy for tourists to walk from one ‘big ruin’ to the other. The idea here, as it is in much of Mexico, wasn’t to preserve, understand, or learn from the past as it is to make a tourist buck. And that’s a shame. This by no means is limited to only Mexico. Most of the world does this. Remember, you vote with your dollars. Contribute to a dig site and you’ll get science. Visit these tourist traps and you’ll get more tourist traps. I’m pretty guilty of voting the wrong way here myself.
The Coba park is massive and winding. Bikes are offered for rent but we didn’t lease any. We should have as we spent way too much time walking around with sunset coming in.
There are a bunch of great sites in Coba. Basically, this is a collection of massive mound builders. Giant, multi-story towers dot the landscape and you’re allowed to crawl all over them. It’s fantastic! Couple chipped limestone with dense jungle growth and you’ve got scenes from Tomb Raider! It’s hard not to envision yourself being Indiana while climbing up these behemoths or running through the ‘death handball’ courts of the Maya. Remember, this is Mexico! Nothing is off limits!
The best part of Coba is the BIG, BIG, @#$ing BIG mound at the end. You can see some of the pictures I attached. It looks big from the ground but looks can be deceptive. It’s !@#$ing massive!!! You can climb up the temple, but don’t get too close to the sides! There are no guide rails and you will fall hundreds of feet to your doom.