I love a good Mayan ruin. If they’re of the lesser-visited variety like Edzná, so much the better. With a few days in the colourful Mexican city of Campeche on the western side of the Yucatán peninsula, a day trip to the Edzná ruins was too big a draw to resist.
Getting from Campeche to Edzná
Being fans of independent travel and public transport, a tour wasn’t an option for us. However, our outdated Lonely Planet guidebook (note to self: buy the new one – details in the box below) sent us in the direction of a bus stop that clearly hadn’t seen a bus for quite some time. Plan B came into force …
Undeterred, and with the knowledge that Mexico is a country that DOES public transport and that there would be SOME way of getting to Edzná from Campeche, we did the only sensible thing possible: followed the collectivos (combi vans). A short bout of out-of-breath-ness later, this led us to a collective of collectivos all painted in red and white, parked up on Calle Chihuahua near Campeche’s market.
Collectivos are a wonder of Mexican transport, and for me, one of my top tips for travelling in Mexico.
Collectivo drivers are pretty helpful, and a few words of Spanish to explain we were going to the Edzná ruins saw us directed to a Bonfil-bound collectivo for the 55km (approx. 1 hr) journey, departing at 11am.
The ruins are a few hundred metres from the main road, but our driver detoured to drop us right at the entrance once we’d conveyed that’s where we were heading. The journey cost 45 peso per person each way (less than £2).
The Mayan ruins of Edzná
Safely dropped off, we paid the 60 peso per person entrance fee (about £2.50) and began our explorations.
The Mayan city of Edzná was a big deal in its day, particularly between 400 and 1000 AD, when it was the powerful regional capital of the western Yucatán. It was eventually abandoned around 1450 AD.
Its buildings reflect its former grandeur, and we happily hauled ourselves up and down the steep steps to towering platforms for a view over what used to be the main plaza.
The highest structure is out of bounds for climbing, but the rest were fair game, so we gave our hamstrings a good workout as we posed for photos.
The early buildings at Edzná are typical of the Petén architectural style (Petén nowadays is a region of northern Guatemala), with later structures showing influences of the Tardíos, Chenes and Puuc. Back in the day, the main limestone structures were often painted dark red. Others had facades adorned with the faces of gods and the mythical animals of the Mayan world. You can read more here on Edzná’s history and architecture here.
The Old Sorceress at Edzná
After the main plaza, we ventured off to the Old Sorceress around a ten-minute walk along a grassy track. But not before having acquired impromptu new hairstyles from the surrounding flora!
Reaching the Old Sorceress was Andrew’s excuse to go full-on Indiana Jones, as he scrambled off up the steep and jungle-covered un-restored pyramid.
Overall, we spent about 2 hours at Edzná, although if you’re less photo-happy than us then an hour-and-a-half would be plenty. Although not completely untouristed, most visitors to Edzná were Mexican, and we spotted a grand total of zero tour groups 🙂
Getting from Edzná back to Campeche
For public transport back from Edzná to Campeche we headed to the main road, and hung out under this road junction sign to flag down a collectivo.
The road isn’t too busy and waiting here meant transport options coming from two directions. We had to wait about 15 minutes for a collectivo coming from Bonfil back to Campeche but you may get an offer of a lift whilst you wait.
I’m not recommending hitching with strangers. On the rare occasions I have accepted a lift (typically due to a public transport fail!) my hitching safety factors include: travelling with someone, being confident that accepting lifts is fairly “normal” wherever I am, and having a “this is ok” vibe when a vehicle stops for me. Obviously the latter is subjective, but I have turned down lifts when it hasn’t felt right. This is entirely my personal take on hitching. You’ll have your own view as to what’s right for you. If you do take up a lift in this part of Mexico, it’s customary to offer to pay the equivalent of the public transport price.
Practicalities of visiting the Edzná Mayan ruins
Location: Around 55km from Campeche
Transport to Edzná: 45 peso collectivo from Calle Chihuahua in Campeche, tour or drive
Entrance fee: 60 peso
Food and drink: There’s no food at Edzná, although there is a vending machine for soft drinks. You can pick up cheap eats at Campeche’s market before or after your journey – we had yummy pork rolls for the grand sum of 20 peso each.
Take with you: Water, sunscreen, insect repellant in the rainy season, change or small notes for the collectivo and entrance fee (avoid 500 notes if you can).
To learn more about Edzná: Check out the museum under the Baluarte de la Soledad and also at the Fuerte de San Miguel in Campeche. Both have archaeological exhibits.
Where to stay: We bedded down at the Hotel Socaire in Campeche, in a room so large you could’ve had a football game in there (we didn’t). It was a fabulous place to stay.
Where else to go: Make Campeche and Edzna part of a longer Mexico itinerary. Check out my suggestions for spending a month in the south of Mexico, from teh Yucátan peninsula to Mexico City.
If you’re in this part of the world, I’d highly recommend the Edzná Mayan ruins as a day trip from Campeche. Have you been, or are you going? Share your experiences below.
We missed this when we were in Mexico, but I’m starting to think that was a mistake. They look fantastic, much more authentic than Chichén Itzá – although they were good too. Will have to go back one day.
Hi Paul, yeah they were a very cool day out. Chichén Itzá isn’t to be missed, but it’s nice to escape the crowds somewhere like Edzna 🙂 Hey ho, you’ve got the perfect excuse to go back now 🙂
Getting around without being part of a tour bus time limited/restricted group, on public transport, is far more preferable and fun.
Thanks Andy. I am partial to a bit of public transport adventure – my parents have never driven, so a desire to find my own way from A to B must be in my genes! I avoid transport-only tours unless there really is no other transport choice, but I am quite partial to the occasional city walking tour – you get insights (and bar/restaurant recommendations) that are way beyond what a guidebook covers.