Ek Balam


The enormous elaborate Acropolis pyramid, located inside the Mayan site of Ek Balam, is a striking sight after driving miles through the surrounding jungle. Ek Balam, which means black jaguar, was at the height of its importance as a city during the Late Classic period (600-900 AD). When the Mayas abandoned the site, it went under cover, literally, as the dense low-lying jungle of the Yucatán engulfed it. As with all of the Mayan pyramids, these were discovered when archaeologists and adventurers saw a group of hills with trees and brush growing out of them. Digging in the mounds, they uncovered treasures of buildings and artifacts hidden for hundreds of years.

At Ek Balam, restoration has been ongoing since 1997. The Acropolis is the largest restored building, measuring 480 feet across, 180 feet wide and 96 feet tall. This palace has six levels where the governors and higher echelons of the city’s population lived. Archaeologists believe it was not built all at once. You can climb this imposing structure, and from the top you can see all the other structures at Ek Balam, as well as two large hills which are two unrestored buildings.

At the entrance to the Acropolis pyramid there is a monster-like figure that is said to be guarding the entrance to the underworld. Under the thatched roofs that protect the facade, other statues and carvings of angels, animals and various figures are integrated in a complex and beautiful design.

Ek Balam, located just north of Valladolid, is special in another sense: it is never overwhelmed with tourists. While it is quieter and more peaceful than Chichén Itzá, it is also not as fully excavated nor does it provide the same comfort facilities for the traveler. There is one restroom at the site, but no refreshments, so be sure to bring your own. You can buy drinks and food in Temozon, a small village you will pass on your way from the cuota road. Temozon has a delicious claim to fame...its smoked meat, be sure to try some!

In the small village of Ek Balam, there is an unexpected oasis...an Italian hotel and restaurant called Dolce Mente. They grow their own organic veggies and have honey from their own bees. They make their own pasta, and have an extensive menu. 

The Ek Balam site is open every day from 8 am to 5 pm and the entrance fee is 122 pesos for foreigners, 94 pesos for Mexican nationals.

Editor's note: there are a lot of stray dogs at the Ek Balam site. A recent visitor decided to do something about it, and you can help. She started a campaign: www.gofundme.com/balamdogs Please click on the link and consider contributing to a program to feed, treat and control the birth rate of feral animals in the region. It is a very well-organized and solution-oriented program. UPDATE: The people who are working on this program will be there Nov 24-Dec 1, 2015. They would welcome local experienced volunteers to help them.





Picture Gallery

In Wikipedia today I first read about the Ek' Balam site. I was in the Yucatan in about 1991 and we stopped in Valladolid. We heard nothing about this site at that time. I'm glad that I was able to find the pictures here and eagerly looked at them, marvelling at the beauty of the items to be seen. For the first 2 pictures I could read the descriptions of what the pictures represented. After that, I could no longer read them; in fact, I don't know if there even are any. At any rate the bottoms are cut off on my laptop computer and I am very disappointed. Is there any chance of featuring the pictures higher on the gauzy black backdrop? I'm sure that other viewers would also appreciate that. Maybe I'll be able to come to Mexico again. If I do, I'd certainly love to visit. Best wishes


Ek Balam parking question

Does anyone have information about parking at Ek Balam? I plan to visit later this month and I'm renting a car. Is there a place to park there, and how much does it cost?


re. parking

Yes there is ample parking, and it's free!


Ek Balam

Plenty of parking. More modern than I imagined. Very nice interesting place to visit. We were just there March 9th. We had a guided tour, so we had a lot of information provided by our guide.


Is it open on Monday?

Is it open on Monday?
Also, if I were in Valladolid, how can I get to there?
Also, I plan visit there after visting Chichen Itza in Dec and it would be around 13:00. Will it be too hot?




All archaeological sites are open 365 days a year on their regular schedule.


Site pictures

Many thanks to whoever made the pictures more accessible on the laptop. Seeing them more clearly makes me want even more to see them in reality. I hope that I'll make it back to the Yucatan again sometime.


Ek Balam's address or driving direction from Cancun

Hi everyone,
I plan to rent a car and drive there in Feb, 2012. Can someone give me its address or direction to get there from Cancun. Is there any Vegan or vegetarian food sold there? I am a Vegan (consume no animal product). Thank you very much


Ek Balam's address or driving direction from Cancun

From Cancun to Ek Balam get on the Cancun - Merida toll road (cuota). The fee for this part of the highway is $241 pesos. When you are arriving to the middle part it will indicate Ek Balam on your right, directions are pretty straight forward, you wont get lost. You will be on the toll road for about 150 km and then some 20 km to Ek Balam.
I do not have any information on Vegan food. Since there is an Ecological center I recommend you contact them directly for this information "Unajil Ek Balam" http://www.sustainabletrip.org/perfil/unajil-ek-balam



I will be visiting Mx in a few wks and was planning on visiting Coba and Ek Balam. Is there another route we can take from Coba to Vallodolid and then Ek Balam safely or do we have to drive back up through Cancun and get on the Cancun-Merida toll rd?


re. directions

No, you don't have to go back to Cancun! Just take the road heading northwest from Coba to Valladolid and then north to Ek Balam. It is an excellent road and perfectly safe. Here is our Yucatan map: http://yucatantoday.com/en/maps/map-yucatan-peninsula


Wheel Chair

Can you visit the ruins in a wheel chair, will the route allow you to move around the ruins? Are there wheel chairs for rent?


re. wheel chair

I think Ek Balam is relatively easy to get around by wheel chair...Uxmal is definitely a good option...but wheel chairs are not for rent.


travel time

Hello! Great site!

How long would you estimate that it takes to drive from the Cancun airport to Ek Balam? Also, how much time would it take to drive from Ek Balam to Chichen Itza? I'm trying to figure out if we have enough time to visit Ek Balam on our way from the airport to our hotel near Chichen Itza. Thanks so much!


travel time

Thanks for your comment!!
Cancun - Ek Balam is about 2 hours
Ek Balam - Chichen Itza about 1 hour
If you start your journey around noon you have plenty of time.


How much time would you

How much time would you estimate that it requires to drive from your Cancun airport to Ek Balam? Also, how much time would it take to drive from Ek Balam to Chichen Itza? I'm trying to figure out if we have enough time to visit Ek Balam on our way from your airport to our hotel near Chichen Itza. Thanks so much!


re. how much time

2 hours / 1 hour


Admission prices

Hi I am going to be there in June, and wanted I'm taking my kids to see the beauty of the Yucatan. I was wondering what the entrance fee is for Chichen Itza, and also if I left early in the morning would I have enough time to see the ruins at Chichen Itza, Ek Balam, and still have time to visit Merida? Last year I rented a car and took the toll road there and the free highway back. It was an adventure of a lifetime! I want my kids to experience all the small towns and all of the beautiful butterflies flying from one side of the highway to the other. Thank you!


re. admission prices

Here is our article on Chichen Itza which includes entry fees:


To answer your question, I need to know where you would be driving FROM? But no, you can't see all these things in one day. Here is our Yucatan map:


Also read: http://yucatantoday.com/en/topics/must-do-s-yucatan


yes but you have to stay

yes but you have to stay it is a wonderful place just outside the ruin gates it is called http://www.genesisretreat.com/ check out the site and decide the owner "Lee" is a wonderful Canadian woman


From Merida

Hi, I am looking for day trips to Ek Balam, but going out from Merida is quite difficult. What is the best option to go there when I do not find a tour? Is there a bus that take you from Merida till Valladolid and then to EkBalam? What would you suggest as the best option? Thanks in advance.


re. from merida

You could check with some tour companies here in Merida and also in Valladolid to see what the tour options are:


If you decide on a tour from Valladolid, the bus leaves the CAME station in Merida at 6 am and arrives Valladolid at 8.15 am. The last return from Valladolid is at 7.30 pm.


Ek Balam

Is Ek Balam the ruins that have the beautiful cenote that you bike through the jungle to get to? I know it was off the road to Merida, but can't remember which ruin it was next to.


Welcome to Yucatan Today
Yucatan Today is the leading tourist guide of Merida, Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula and was recently voted the best tourism website in all of Mexico! In our companion monthly magazine, we bring you the information you need to enjoy your experience while you are here. Read more