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How to visit the Mayan Ruins of Kuluba, an Hidden Treasure

The Kulubá ruins are one of those places loved by the most adventurous travelers. They are not very well known, and hardly anyone visits them.


You reached them by a narrow path off of the main road that leads to you one of the most magical places.

And of course, Kuluba ruins are some of our favorites. Since 2010, the INAH has been working on its conservation.

INAH – National Institute of Anthropology and History: public body dedicated to the investigation, conservation, protection, and dissemination of the prehistoric, anthropological, archaeological, and historical cultural heritage of Mexico

To date, Kuluba has a free entry but it is scheduled to be the next paid archaeological site in the state of Yucatan.

At the entrance of Kulubá, you will find Willi, the guardian of the place. We don’t know how he does that, but he always shows up, even when you don’t see him. He keeps track of visitors.

Don’t miss this wonderful adventure in the Kulubá ruins 🙌

kuluba ruins

SOME HISTORY OF THE KULUBÁ MAYAN SETTLEMENT

The Kulubá archaeological zone is one of the most important in the northeastern region of Yucatán.

It is one of the few places in this area that preserves many of its structures, besides those that have been restored in recent years by INAH.

It was particularly influenced by Chichen Itza, as it was part of its commerce network and controlled area of the northern zone during the Terminal Classic and the Postclassic.

  • First indications of occupation during the Late Preclassic (300 BC to 300 AD)
  • The settlement is consolidated in the Early Classic (from 300 AD to 600 AD)
  • Kuluba has significant growth in the Late and Late Classic (from 600 to 1000 AD), with the influence of Ek Balam and Cobá.
  • Its expansion and boom are under the influence of the emerging Chichén Itzá during the Terminal Classic (800 to 1000 AD) as shown by the remains of ceramics, obsidian, and murals from Kulubá.
  • In the Postclassic period (from 1100 to 1450) the place was sporadically occupied and mainly used as a center of pilgrimage.
cronology of the Maya Civilization

Kulubá is located in an area of ​​rejolladas (sort of sinkholes with no water). They were part of the worldview of the ancient Mayans, who were closely connected to nature.

cenote – sinkhole filled with water (reaching water table/phreatic depth)

rejollada – old eroded cenote, infilled with sediment and no visible surface water

These places were used for rituals and ceremonies, where deities such as Chaac (rain deity) or Yum Kax (maize deity) dwelled.

They were considered sacred places, getaways to the underworld.

In Kuluba there is a sort of overlap or connection between the natural and cultural landscape. The largest rejollada is linked to the most notorious buildings, which shows a strong connection between culture and nature in those civilizations.

This pattern is repeatedly found in ancient cultures, and unfortunately, we have been losing with time.

The disconnection of modern man from nature is surely something that affects us in a negative way.

kuluba ruins

Did you know?

The rejolladas were portals to the underworld, sources of water, and fertility. They were also land for the cultivation of cocoa, a sacred product. This area is full of these kinds of formations.


Meaning of Kuluba

The ancient name of Kuluba is not known, and the city is not mentioned in the ancient chronicles. It gets its name from one of the neighboring ranches, as it is located between the ranch of Kuluba and the ranch of Emmanuel.

Kuluba means “water from the Kulu wild dog.”


The Mayan architectural style of Kuluba Ruins

Various architectural styles are seen in the Kuluba ruins such as Rio Bec, Chenes, and Puuc styles. Also the Mayan-Toltec style is characteristic of the Itzaés of Chichén Itzá.

kuluba ruins
kuluba ruins

KULUBA RUINS EXPLORATION HISTORY

The well-known archaeologist and epigrapher Wyllys Andrews IV, who dedicated a large part of his life to the Mayan world, made the first report of Kuluba in 1941, publishing a sketch and some notes of the place he visited in 1939.

Until that date, there is nothing written about Kuluba. In 1980 the first interventions were carried out by the rescue brigade of the Southeast Regional Center of the INAH (today the INAH Yucatan Center).

At the end of 1999 and the beginning of 2000 the archaeological work continued, which continued in 2001 and 2002.

The INAH has continued to carry out maintenance work and interventions that have greatly changed the look of the place.

Chenes temple kuluba
Kuluba Chenes Temple

Here is an interesting fact about Kuluba that not many know

Families of spider monkeys live in this area. The spider monkeys usually return in the afternoon after going out all day to look for food in the surroundings. If you go around 3 o’clock onwards, it is very likely that you will see them in a specific area of ​​Kulubá.

Later in this post, we tell you where you can see them.

Kuluba ruins

 

HOW TO GET TO KULUBA

The Kuluba ruins are located in the municipality of Tizimín, between the city of Tizimín and Colonia Yucatán. You must take a detour where you see the sign on the road to Tixcancal. The closest towns where to sleep are Tizimín and Puerto de El Cuyo.

STATE MEXICO: Yucatan

how to get kuluba

How to get Kuluba by car

The Kuluba ruins are located at

► 37 kilómetros (23 miles) from Tizimín (40 minutos)

► 205 km (127 miles) from Mérida (3 horas)

►90 km (56 miles) from Valladolid (1 hora y 30 minutos) 

► 74 km (46 miles) from El Cuyo ( 1 hora y 15 minutos).

Renting a car on the Riviera Maya is something you would want to do if you want to be free to move around and discover all the amazing sites in the region. It’s a relatively safe place to drive, the roads are good and the sites are well-marked.

Therefore traveling by car is a very good option.

However, remember, if you decide to get a car rental, make sure you include full insurance with 0 deductible so you will drive with no stress. 

When renting a car in Mexico we recommend Discover Cars because on their website you can compare different companies and their prices and you can choose between their car insurance or the ones offered by the car rental directly, or both.

How to get Kuluba by local bus

It is a bit complicated to get to Kuluba ruins by public transport. Near the Parque de los Ninos Héroes de Tizimín is the collective taxi stop that takes you to Tixcancal (they are 4-passenger taxis or 12-passenger vans).

You must tell the driver to drop you off at the entrance of the Kulubá ruins.

From here you must walk less than 2 kilometers to the archaeological zone along a dirt road.

On the way back you must wait on the road for some transport to Tizimín. It’s not easy, but it can be done.

How to get Kuluba by taxi

You can agree on a price with a taxi driver in Tizimín to take you and wait for you. We do not really know what this service may cost you, but definitely, you shouldn’t pay more than 800 pesos.

Isa 😊

KULUBA MAP

Here is a photo of the entrance to the ruins to help you find them, as there is no sign.

It is a very simple wooden ranch door: sometimes you may find cattle grazing around on the site.

You can park where you see the sign for the Culubá ranch. When you take the dirt road towards the ruins, a moment after 1.5 km, there is a building on your right.

The next wooden door on the right hand side is the entrance to the ruins

We can see about 2 areas in Kuluba (to explain the place better)

From the entrance of the wooden door, there is a path that leads you to the main group, where the Building of the Masks and the building of the Chenes are. It is the most visible and clear area of ​​Kuluba, among some sporadic vegetation. These are the main buildings of Kulubá.

Road to Kuluba
Kuluba entrance
Building of the Masks
  1. Entering on the right-hand side there is a path that you can follow that leads you to the Palacio de las U, a wonderful place immersed in the vegetation. In this area there is also a square, where you can explore around. The bedrooms of the building are usually inhabited by birds, including the elegant Toh, a mythical bird of the Yucatan Peninsula.
Kuluba ruins
  1. The latest work from the INAH was to reconstruct an area of ​​vestiges where burials have been found, which you reach by another path. This is where good Willi comes in, the guardian of the place knows us because we have visited Kuluba several times, so he’s always kind enough to take us around, even though he doesn’t have to. Since we know the area, we could go on our own but It’s also nice to be escorted. And also we are happy to give will a tip for helping us. This area is also where you can see the spider monkeys.
Willi
Kuluba ruins

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

As always we share information about the places to help you plan your trip. Keep in mind that there is no official access here, so you have to find your way around a bit. Always tell Willi before entering, he’s usually by the Museum, if not, just give him a shout and he’ll show up 😊

 

Facilities

There is a small but interesting museum with pieces from the place on the Ranch where Willi is. He keeps the visitor log. We really like it.


Kulubá opening hours

From 8 am to 3 pm every day


Kulubá entrance fee

There is no official fee at the moment but a tip to Willi is more than welcome.


Tips for visiting Kulubá

Take water with you

It’s advisable to have hiking shoes and long pants as the vegetation can get tall

A hat during wet season will also be helpful


How much time do you need to visit Kulubá?

Depending on the area you are going to visit from 1 hour to 2 hours (if you see it all)

Kuluba ruins

INSIDER TIPS_ Be very careful because, in the area where the kattle hangs out, there are a lot of ticks and other nasty bugs. They can crawl up your feet even when wearing boots! There is no exact remedy for them, but you can try spraying your clothes with hairspray, mineral oil, lemon, or apple cider vinegar. Or that’s what we have read about remedies against these bugs.

INSIDER TIPS

 

WHAT WE DON’T LIKE ABOUT

Those damn bugs that at times ate us alive! 🙈 


WHAT WE LIKE ABOUT

In Kuluba one feels adventurous, with many buildings to see and enjoy in the middle jungle of Yucatan. We love it, although we know it’s not for everyone.


THE HIGHLIGHTS OF KULUBA

The Palacio de las U area is the building that we love the most. Those U still retain the red color, and are part of snake scales, as some archaeologists point out. This place is magic 💚

WHAT YOU CAN VISIT NEARBY

➡️ Ek Balam 73 (45 miles)

➡️ Cenote Aka’ab Che’en 13.5 km (8 miles)

➡️ Tizimin 37 kilómetros (23 miles)

WHERE TO STAY NEAR KULUBA

The closest town near Kuluba is El Cuyo, which is actually the perfect spot to combine beach life and some explorations of the surrounding wonders, including the Koluba archeological site. Here below some hotel ideas

Can Cocal ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The perfect luxury stay at El Cuyo, where Sandra and Fausto, the owner will make you feel like in your home away from home. The spacious rooms are attentively decorated with love and good taste.

Cabañas Ca Nikte ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Cabañas Ca Nikte offer cute and cozy cabins located just 5 minute’s walk from the beautiful El Cuyo beach, with a very comfortable queen size bed and a hammock on the wooden mezzanine, a sofa bed, and a well-equipped kitchen.

El Hotelito ⭐️⭐️

A cute simple hotel run by an Italian family. It’s located in downtown 10 minutes walk from the beach which is perfect for budget travelers. The best part of this hotel is the cafe-restaurant offering Italian premium delicacies, including homemade cakes and delicious sandwiches with homemade bread and fresh cold cuts.