Besides the ruins, the area around Palenque has many other things to offer, including several impressive waterfalls. One such waterfall (which I did not visit) is Misoh-Ha, where Arnold took the leap to escape “The Predator”. I wanted to see it, but it was not in the cards. The waterfall we did go to though was the famous Agua Azul (blue waters). It was a bit of a backtrack, but the day was nice and held promise of a pleasant swim.
The ride to the falls was uneventful, retracing our steps along some curvy mountain roads. The falls however were beautiful. Agua Azul is a series of cascades and turquoise pools. Similar to Semuc Champey in Guatemala, but completely surrounded by vendor stalls and food stands. If I had to choose between the two, Semuc Champey would be the winner hands down, but Agua Azul is very nice too. There are two swimming areas at the falls; the lower part with something resembling a beach and an upper section that is a bit of a hike to reach, but well worth it. There were only a few people in the upper section and the water felt great after the short hike in the sun and heat.
After a nice swim we left the falls and headed south through the jungle on Mex 307 (once we back-backtracked to the intersection near Palenque) along the Mexican-Guatemala border to the town of Frontera Corozal. From there you can reach the riverfront Mayan ruins of Yaxchilan, but only by boat. From the same town you can take a boat south (upstream) to Bethel and cross the border into Guatemala (although there is no vehicle check-out/in at this border crossing). We arrived towards evening and grabbed some bunks at a pretty nice guesthouse called Nueva Alianza. (On road photos by Laura)
Mex 307 through the jungle.
It's beginning to look a lot like Guatemala...
Kids selling snacks at the topes (where you have to slow down).
That evening we had a debate about our immediate future plans. Laura was in a hurry to get to Costa Rica to see friends and work with turtles. I wanted to take my time and see everything. We compromised (Laura decided not “to be so German” in her words) on taking it easy the next day and going by boat to see the ruins, and then cross the border (also by boat) the day after instead of trying to do both on the same day. Not sure if we could have puled that off so I'm very glad we didn't have to try. I like things easy and stress free. I did decide to leave the Yucatan and Belize for the way back though (if there's time...).