Yaxchilan – Riverside of the Rio Usumacinta
Yaxchilan is a Maya site in Chiapas in the south of México, located directly at the south bank of the Rio Usumacinta, that is todays natural frontier between Guatemala and México.
The known history shows that Yaxchilan was settled from 359 AC to ~800 AC. A range from the pre-classic to the classic period. There have been several wars with other mayan cities reported. Palenque, Tonina and Piedras Negras can be named.
Archaeologists believe, that the Mayas had constructed a 100 m long suspension bridge to cross the Rio Usumacinta. It would have been the longest bridge in the pre-columbian era.
Big buildings in the jungle
Many huge architectural structures, both temple buildings and temple pyramids can be visited there. Yaxchilan is famous for the sculptures that have been found there. Most of them have been removed and can be seen in museums around the world.
Yaxchilan has not the big open space as other sites. All buildings are very close to the surrounding jungle. Therefor you will have a lot of opportunities to watch tropical birds, butterflies and monkeys there.
River cruise on the Rio Usumacinta
It is impossible to reach Yaxchilan by car, because no street was build there yet. But it is possible to get there with a boat from Frontera Corozal the border town on the Mexican side. It’s a 3 hours drive from Palenque to Frontera and additional 30 minutes by boat. It is recommended to combine a visit in Yaxchilan and visit the neighboring Bonampak during a 2 day trip and sleep in the village Laxha – inhabited by Lacandones. Tourist offices in Palenque organize such a trip.
I saw, that tourist offices in Flores in Guatemala offer the same, sometimes including a transport to Palenque. You should keep in mind, that the street from Flores to the Mexican boarder is for about 50% just undeveloped country road (2012) and it takes around four hours to reach the Rio Usumacinta from Flores. Not that the trip is bad. You will have a lot of good impressions of the guatemaltecan countryside, but it’s time consuming.