The Mayan ruins of Palenque in Chiapas State are extremely impressive, not just due to their impressive scale and restoration, but because of their setting among lush forests of cedar and mahogany trees. After its decline the Mexican jungle grew back over, into, and around it, and the current stage of restoration gives an uncanny sensation of walking around The Jungle Book – all crumbling temples and lush vegetation, clambering up ancient structures while listening to the sounds of monkeys in the trees around you. We had a wonderful and very hot day exploring the site, including the tomb of the Red Queen; a rare chance to go inside one of the pyramids.
We also strayed away from the path a little and found ourselves amidst a series of waterfalls and pools that we later learned were sacred to the Maya. Palenque is another set of ruins that doesn’t perhaps get the attention that it deserves, and along with Uxmal, gave a bold and absorbing impression of the power and architectural skills of the pre-Columbian Maya of Mesoamerica.