Day Trips from Xcalak - Kohunlich
Written by Rob Mukai on Aug. 16, 2016
Kohunlich (koh-Hoon-litch), is a Mayan derivation of Cohune Ridge. It was so named because of the Cohune palms that grew there. The original name of the site is unknown. The site was initially settled as early as 200 BC but most of the development happened during the classic period approximately 250-600 AD. It is thought to have been a regional center for trade and travel between the Peten region and the Campeche regions.
From Xcalak, Kohunlich is about a two and half hour drive and is just past Dzibanche. So if you want to do a day trip these two ruins would make for a great jungle adventure. From Acocote Eco Inn take the beach road into town, get on the paved road turn right at the stop sign and drive the 61 KM to Mahahual. At the T-intersection, turn right to go to the Pemex Gas Station if you need fuel, otherwise, turn left. Go 51 KM until you hit 307 (This is the road that goes to Cancun). Turn left towards Chetumal. In about 10 KM you will pass through Pedro Santos. This is a great place to pick up some Piña Miel (Honey Pineapple) They usually sell large whole pineapples, 3 for $50 pesos and small ones 5 for $50 pesos. You can also get fresh cut pineapple, fresh squeezed pineapple juice, or honey at the stands that line the road. Once you pass through Pedro Santos. Drive through Bacalar until you see the signs for 187 for Escarcega/Kohunlich. Take the exit to Escarcega. In 40 km you will turn left towards Kohunlich, follow the signs. (The turn is only 2 km past the turn off to Dzibanche). On the way you will pass the Explorian Hotel. It is a really high end hotel in the middle of the jungle. You can get lunch there at the restaurant. Keep going and you can’t miss the parking lot to the ruins.
Since you are going to be in the jungle, bring big hats, sunglasses, water, Ultrathon and deet wipes. The mosquitos can be brutal, especially after a rain storm. Be prepared. Kohunlich has a totally different feel from Dzibanche. It has more open plazas and grass covered squares. The Jungle doesn’t encroach as much as it does at Dzibanche. If Dzibanche has an Indiana Jones feel to it, Kohunlich feels more like Jurassic Park.
As with Dzibanche, you can climb most of the buildings here. The big temple to catch is the Temple of the Masks. It was built around 500 AD, but was covered by a structure built right on top of it around 700 AD. This protected the Masks of the sun god pointing to the sunrise. Kohunlich is a large ruin so take some time to explore it.
This is a bit of a drive from Xcalak, so you can make a day of it by adding the ruins at Dzibanche and Kinichna to the itinerary and make a day of it.
The biggest attraction is the temple of the masks. The Masks are covered by a Guano roof to protect against the elements, but it is definitely worth