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A Tour of Tulum’s Mayan Ruins with Loco Gringo! Chichen Itza pyramid, Ek Balam cenote.

chichen itza pyramid, tour

The aliens have landed! Yukiro and I vogue-ed in front of Chichen Itza, the mysterious Mayan pyramid.

That day, we had the best possible tour of Tulum’s ruins, thanks to Loco GringoThis local-run concierge company helps travellers with personalized tours, recommendations, bookings, or anything at all to make their trip outstanding.

In Part 1, we’ll show you how our Loco Gringo guides tailored the trip exactly to our spooky interests — starting with the ancient civilizations of the Yucatán Peninsula!

cat custom design tshirt scottish fold

For this special day, I wore my favorite tank top: it has a custom illustration of my Scottish Fold cat on it!

My friend, LA-based designer Lili Chin, is a “pet portrait artist” and made this for me. She can make you a shirt, print, pin or other design that looks exactly like your dog or cat. Simply send her a photo of your pet, and she’ll transform it into a portrait. (Check out her pet shirts and pet art websites for details.)

tulum best tour guide, loco gringo tours

Our Loco Gringo guides went above and beyond our expectations, to deliver a tailored tour and make us feel at home. They picked us up early in the morning, from our Karisma El Dorado hotel, and took us all throughout Tulum that day. We couldn’t have possibly covered so much ground without them.

When we arrived at Chichen Itza, we met local expert Abel and were immediately swept away by his passion for Mayan culture. He whipped out his iPad to show us how the ancient calendar influenced the architecture, and encouraged us to do fabulous poses in front of the structure!

el castillo, Temple of Kukulkan

Loco Gringo took care of our tickets and logistics, so we were able to bypass lines, and go straight to the best viewing locations.

We found a prime spot in front of El Castillo, the famous stone pyramid of Chichen Itza.

temple of warriors, chichen itza

Abel riveted us with tales of rituals and myths about this pre-Columbian city. At the top of this Temple of Warriors is a “chac mool,” or sculpture of a reclining person with his head turned 90 degrees. The Mayans made sacrificial offerings on its chest, including human blood and hearts.

In front of the stairs, he clapped his hands — and we heard a reverberating “quack quack” sound! We were amazed at how well the ancient Mayans understood acoustics and design. Or… perhaps the pyramids were built by extraterrestrials…

alien skulls, mayan flat foreheads

Abel showed us photos of Mayan skulls, with coneheads. Alien invaders? Not quite: in fact, the Mayans performed cranial deformation as a body modification (they pressed a board to an infant’s head, creating a long and flat shape).

I’m endlessly fascinated by the way standards of beauty can vary so widely, in different eras and cultures.

tulum mayan stone pyramid

From the 8th-10th century, Chichen Itza was an economic powerhouse. I could still picture the vivid ceremonies that took place right where I’m standing.

Today, the pre-Hispanic city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and considered a new World Wonder.

carved serpent heads, chichen itza

At the base of the El Castillo stairs, I saw these feathered serpent sculptures. At certain times of the day, the steps cast shadows that make it look as if a snake is wriggling down the side. Some believe that this is a representation of the Mayan god Kukulkan.

mayan pyramids, archaeological sites

We walked around and saw the Temple of Venus, and a large ball court where game results were literally a matter of life or death (a member of the losing team could be offered as a human sacrifice).

chichen itza tourists, tours

Chichen Itza fed our fascination for unsolved mysteries and ancient civilizations. If you’re staying in Tulum, Cancun or Playa del Carmen, I encourage you to reach out to Loco Gringo for an entertaining private tour like ours.

valladolid mexican restaurant courtyard

Our guide Paulina and driver Miguel then took us to the old city of Valladolid, for lunch in a charming courtyard. We always love getting to know locals, especially when they are as passionate about their country as these two.

mexico enchiladas mole chocolate sauce

They helped us pick out the most authentic dishes from the Mexican menu — such as enchiladas with mole, a traditional sauce accented with chocolate.

valladolid park loveseats

In Valladolid park, Yukiro shared a cute moment in the love-seat with driver Miguel.

colorful day of dead skulls

Loco Gringo knows that we are connoisseurs of dark matters… so they made sure we visited a Mexican graveyard, and museum filled with Day of the Dead skulls! Coming up is an entire post about these places, as we saw so much in a single day.

cenote ek balam, swimming hole

No visit to Tulum is complete without seeing the famous cenotes, or natural sinkholes filled with groundwater. Loco Gringo took us to Ek Balam cenote, where people can dive in and swim. These beautiful natural formations were important to the Mayans, who conducted sacrificial offerings and rituals in these “sacred wells.”

ek balam stairs, black dog

Yukiro and I let our imaginations run wild, as we explored the ruins of Ek’ Balam (another Mayan kingdom, 35 miles northeast of Chichen Itza). The name translates to “the black jaguar” — and eerily enough, the stairs are always protected by friendly stray black dogs.

ek balam tulum ruins

Yukiro ascended the steps of El Torre, the 30 meter high tower of the Central Plaza. This evil queen gesture seems appropriate for an ancient structure, laden with Mayan symbolism.

female fashion travel blogger tulum

I wish my Scottish Fold cat, Basil Farrow, could go on these journeys with me… But at least he’s present on my custom pet t-shirt by Lili Chin!

tulum mexico ancient ruins

Yukiro and I are more interested than ever in Mayan culture, after seeing these ruins for ourselves and learning about the history.

Fascinating how blood was considered the nourishment of Mayan gods — and so, human sacrifice was the ultimate offering. 

private guided tours playa del carmen

We’re grateful to Loco Gringo for understanding our “offbeat” interests, and tailoring the day trip to suit us exactly! Instead of a cookie-cutter bus tour, we got to move at our own pace, and get to know our sweet guides.

Loco Gringo is an indie company, and all of the staff lives in the Riviera Maya — I can vouch they are true, passionate insiders. They also give back to the local community with each reservation, including donations to Coco’s Animal Rescue and other charities.

ek balam pyramid

Yukiro and I hope you’ll get to experience Loco Gringo’s outstanding service and expertise for yourselves. Whether it’s a Tulum tour, apartment booking, or concierge request — they will go out of their way to help you out. For more, take a look at the LocoGringo website and Facebook.

mexican alien mysteries pyramids

Have you heard stories of Chichen Itza and alien visitors? The truth is out there… I’m kidding…

(PS – check out more funny photos like the one above on my Instagram and Snapchat @lacarmina.)

30 Comments

  1. Posted February 24, 2016 at 1:43 am | Permalink

    Your hair looks beautiful!!!

  2. Posted February 24, 2016 at 1:43 am | Permalink

    beautiful place

    • Posted February 25, 2016 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

      loved Tulum, glad to finally visit it.

  3. Posted February 24, 2016 at 1:43 am | Permalink

    Beautiful and (nice shirt!)

    • Posted February 25, 2016 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

      my new favorite top!

  4. Posted February 24, 2016 at 1:43 am | Permalink

    omg! TULUM

  5. Posted February 24, 2016 at 1:44 am | Permalink

    LOVE this and We’re So Excited for our Return in April!

  6. Posted February 24, 2016 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    Miao…how much I love the cats

    • Posted February 25, 2016 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

      Cats for ever.

  7. Posted February 24, 2016 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Radness got royal!!! Love the photos and very nice summery of our fantastic tour to the Mayan temples ☆☆♡♡♡

    • Posted February 25, 2016 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

      A human sacrificial temple fit for evil queens!

  8. Posted February 24, 2016 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

    style icons.

  9. Posted February 24, 2016 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

    LovedLovedLovedLoved

  10. Posted February 24, 2016 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

    Tulum looks amazing.

  11. Posted February 25, 2016 at 2:38 am | Permalink

    Hi!

    I came across your looks!

    They are all perfect!

    Helena

    xx

  12. Posted February 25, 2016 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

    Interesting !! I hope to visit there too !! Thank you !

    • Posted February 25, 2016 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

      I hope you can!

  13. Posted February 25, 2016 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    thanks for the traveling tips gal!

    • Posted February 25, 2016 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

      Glad they were helpful

  14. Posted February 28, 2016 at 3:55 am | Permalink

    Charmed

  15. Posted February 28, 2016 at 3:55 am | Permalink

    is a fun article. Thanks

  16. Posted March 1, 2016 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    wow never heard the stories behind it
    i first knew Mayan from Doraemon the movie lol
    love your ootd,girl :D

  17. Posted March 9, 2016 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    I just got back from my trip to Tulum and Chichen Itza, I loved it so much. The energy, the people, the heat, everything was perfect. So before I left the ruins I had to jump over the fence and take a video. here it is. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9FpmgZun-DA&feature=youtu.be

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