Yaxchilán (Green Stones in Mayan language) is an ancient Maya city located on the bank of the Usumacinta River at the apex of a horseshoe-shaped meander, in what is now the state of Chiapas, Mexico. This loop defends the site on all sides except for a narrow land approach from the south.
In the Late Classic Period, Yaxchilan was one of the most powerful Maya states along the course of the Usumacinta, with Piedras Negras as its major rival (note: Piedras Negras is on the Guatemala site of the river and quite difficult to reach, but surely it’s an amazing site to visit!). Architectural styles in subordinate sites in the Usumacinta region demonstrate clear differences that mark a clear boundary between the two kingdoms.
Yaxchilan was a large center, important throughout the Classic era, and the dominant power of the Usumacinta River area. It dominated such smaller sites as Bonampak, and had a long rivalry with Piedras Negras and at least for a time with Tikal; it was a rival of Palenque, with which Yaxchilan warred in 654.
The site is particularly known for its well-preserved sculptured stone lintels set above the doorways of the main structures. These lintels, together with the stelae erected in front of the major buildings, contain hieroglyphic texts describing the dynastic history of the city like the hero, King Bird Jaguar II.
You’ll also find a big number of Yaxchilan stelae in the Museum of Antropology in Mexico City.
To the cache
You will have only two hours in Yaxchilan if you take an organized tours, so please don’t waste too much time with this cache because there’s a lot to see :-) . So we inserted a lot of helpful pictures. Follow the path to the “Pequeña Acropolis”, after some meters (see image), turn left, go around the building and search the cache. There’s history everywhere here.
Please use the spoiler pictures so that you can find the cache easily. We strongly recommend to search this cache at the beginning of your visit, because we nearly didn’t catch our boat back when we hid the cache! We don’t want that the same happens to you! Please be aware that from the cache location you’ll need some 10/15 minutes to get back to the boats!
After finding the cache, you can follow the path for 10 minutes up to the Pequeña Acropolis. It’s not included in most of the guided tours!
How to get there
This is a T5 because the ruins are reachable only by boat, called lancha (and by helicopter according to our guide). Our famous guide book mentions how to get there on your own, but renting your own boat is pretty expensive (ca. 700 pesos for 1-3 people). Furthermore you have to consider about 2 hours drive from Palenque to Frontera Corozal (where the imbarcadero is located) and the last 20km are not paved (not a nice thing for rental cars!). In March 2014, we paid 700 pesos per person for the guided day trip from Palenque, including transfer, meals (breakfast and lunch), boat and ticket for Yaxchilan and Bonampak (famous for it’s frescoes). For further questions, don’t hesitate to contact us!!
The wikipedia article for Yaxchilan is great. Print it out or save it for offline use on your smartphone. On the site, the buildings and dintels are numbered. Find the number in the wikipedia article and read details about the inscriptions. We found it a great way to explore the site by ourselves, unfortunately 2 hours is really little for this huge site.
Have fun visiting this amazing site and don't forget your insect repellent, sun cream and water to drink!