Before I arrived in San Cris, I had never heard of Palenque. I met several people who were either coming from or heading towards the Palenque Ruins (wiki) and the surrounding waterfalls, either Agua Azul or Roberto Barrio.
When I arrived in Palenque, it had just started to rain and got harder as the day went on. I checked into Casa Janaab Palenque, which was very conveniently located, just 5 minutes walk to the town and city market and right across the street from the roundabout where the ADO terminal and place to catch collectivos to the ruins or falls.
The hostel was exceptionally clean and run more like a hotel than a hostel. At $10 a night, it was good value for money. No breakfast, but quite comfortable and convenient. Each morning, they would clean the rooms and change the beds. People usually stayed for a couple of days max, so there were quite a few people coming and going.
The following day, I had hoped to go to the ruins, but it rained all day, so I just stayed in the hostel and went into town when there was a break in the rain. The town was small, you could walk the length of the main strip in about 10 minutes. There were some shops, restaurants and central park was fairly busy, and there was a church – Parroquia Santo Domingo de Guzmán on the far side of the park. On the way back to the hostel, I stopped at a taco joint, Taqueria El Taco Loco, as per my usual evening or afternoon meal, and grabbed a few tacos.
In the morning, I woke up fairly early and walked down to the roundabout. I didn’t see any collectivos, so after a few minutes, I just continued down the road towards the ruins. I had heard from some at the hostel that it was only about an hour walk to the ruins, so I could either walk or catch the next collectivo along the way.
After about 15 minutes walking, one stopped and I jumped in. We arrived at the entrance to the park and the driver asked me for 37 pesos ($1.50), I hadn’t heard about this charge yet, but paid anyway. Then, we arrived at the actual entrance to the ruins (wiki). There were quite a few vendors and guides offering their services. I walked directly up to the reception and paid the entrance fee of 80 pesos ($4). None of the vendors or guides were too pushy, which was nice.
The park was beautifully maintained and ruins beyond anything I’d seen to date. There were quite a few vendors selling handicrafts along the way, but they were not aggressive. I walked around for a good hour, then went down a small path through the forest on the far end of the site.
The path led me down quite a few steps to some waterfall, tropical forest and more ruins. I went further and further down the path, until I reached an exit from the park, which was about a kilometer down the road from the large entrance. I decided to catch a collectivo from there back to Palenque (20 pesos).
Barrio Roberto Waterfalls
Once again, I set off bright and early in the morning for Cascada Roberto Barrio. I had decided to go to these falls, over Agua Azul, because some had said that Azul was more commercialized than Roberto Barrio, and I prefer the less traveled route! I went down to the collectivo terminal to Roberto Barrio, which is right around the corner from the city market. Once the mini bus was full, we took off.
It was about an hour and a half ride (50 pesos) through some beautiful country. As we entered the barrio, you could see that this was rebel country. They had banners and street art depicting the “Mujeres En Resistencia” (Women in Resistance).
The mini bus stopped right in front of a small path that led to the falls. I paid a small fee, 30 pesos ($1.50) and continued down the path. The first set of falls were quite amazing, at about 20 feet, flowing into a large pool below. There weren’t any people around. It was so tranquil and peaceful. I followed the river further down to several other falls and pools, still no one to be seen.
After about a half an hour or so, I decided to turn around and head up the river. When I got just past where I had entered the river, I started to see ladies doing their laundry and bathing in the river. It looked like each had their own “laundry stone” at the edge of the river. I saw many of these along the river, as I continued upstream.
There were so many different falls and the path got harder and harder to follow the further I went, but the scenery just got better and better. I finally reached a point, where the path seemed to end, and there were, again, some beautiful falls cascading through tall grass.
I figured this was far enough. It had already been several hours and I thought I’d better head back.
That evening at the hostel, I had a chat with Clint, a guy that was staying next to me in the dorm. He had been traveling quite a bit and had some great stories. I was also trying to figure out how to get to Campeche. I was hoping to use local transport, but couldn’t find anything. In the afternoon, I had checked around with all of the collectivos, but none seemed to take me in the right direction or were just going to small towns quite close to Palenque. Finally, I decided to take the ADO, which would be a direct, large day bus that would take me directly to Campeche. The ticket was MXN$525 ($25) and would take around 6 hours.