The day started at 7:30 a.m. when we boarded a small plane in Cozumel. We had a very short flight from Cozumel to Playa del Carmen where we picked up an additional 12 passengers along with our guide who was from Holland.
As we flew along the Caribbean coastline for part of the way, our guide pointed out Xel-ha and Tulum which were visible from the plane. Our first stop would be in Chetumal where we visited a spectacular Mayan museum and we were informed this was one of the biggest and most modern Mayan museums in Mexico. Our next stop was the cemetery which had painted tombstones in various colors.
Just outside of Chetumal we got on a motor boat for a refreshing ride up the Rio Hondo River where we enjoyed our picnic box lunch right on the boat. Our ride was about 35-45 minutes with jungle on both sides. Along the way we saw locals, their faced painted to camouflage themselves in the the surrounding brush; they were spearing fish in the river. The boat began to slow down as we approached our first destination where we were met by the towns children who graciously accepted the oranges many of us had not eaten from our lunch. We were met by our vans for our next stop, Dzibanche.
When we arrived in Dzibanche, we were the only ones at this spectacular Mayan site. There were no souvenirs being sold. Believe me, it was wonderful to be able to take a snapshot of a Mayan pyramid without anyone in the picture. After our guide pointed out the highlights of this site, we were off to Kohunlich.
Kohunlich had the most beautiful palm trees we had ever seen. There was only one other tour bus there besides our group. This is the only Mayan site known to have huge masks carved out of stone. The masks were approximately six feet tall on stone bases and embedded on the pyramid on both sides of the steps leading to the top. Representing the belief of the Maya that the sun granted life, some of the masks still had paint which was still visible. Our time was running short, but I wished we could have spent more time here.
We had a seven minute ride to the plane which was on a remote air strip just outside of Kohunlich and was guarded by several soldiers.
We would highly recommend the Valley of the Masks tour which we scheduled with Aero Ferinco. This tour is only offered approximately once per week but if you get the opportunity to take it, this would definitely be worth your time since we thought this was an excellent day excursion.
Thank you Rosemarie for sharing your adventure; we had never heard of the Valley of Masks. We invite others to contribute travel tips or tales from your travel journals. E-mail us if you have a story or some tips to share! --Ron and Sherrie