Road trip to Punta Laguna on the Yucatan - Quintana Roo border
This is a fantastic place if you are quiet enough to get close to the animals without being detected.
The primary focus at Punta Laguna is spider monkeys. We saw howlers on our visit, perhaps a bit unusual to see here but fairly common in the southern reaches of the Yucatan peninsula and Guatemala. After doing a little research I found the spider monkey project fascinating. It's been going on since 1994 at Punta Laguna. Please check out their web site link above. Like so much of the Yucatan peninsula this place needs to be preserved so if you find your way here and can appreciate it for what it is we feel confident you will agree. This is a precious habitat of towering jungle trees, cenotes, geological collapses and large lakes where these monkeys and countless other species live. When we arrived there was no one around, just a few ejido members working on a palapa hut by the road, I suppose for organizing tours. There are tours nearby to Pac Chen and Chi Much, but if go to Punta Laguna on your own expecting an organized "state park" you'll be disappointed. To be comfortable at Punta Laguna you will need to have some good walking shoes, a bottle of water, some insect repellent, a few pesos for a guide and a sense of adventure. The journey there starts from Tulum via the Coba road at the "crucero" (crossing) before the Tulum pueblo. Take a right there and go toward Coba ruins. when you get to the fork in the road before the ruins go right and continue toward Nuevo Xcan until you see the sign for Punta Laguna. Hopefully it won't be changed anytime soon (see bottom photo). The lagunas are on the left (west) side of the road. Along the way on the Coba road you will pass a couple towns where you can stop to get some fresh fruit, drinks, munchies and handicrafts for sale. There is also at least one shop that sells fine Maya scupture, museum quality reproductions.
Big trees and a beautiful laguna. A large lake is just beyond
Our guide was a young man who knew the route well winding through towering trees and crisscrossing trails to lead us to a collapse area and pond at the edge of a major laguna.
The trail snaked around old growth forest trees and eventually a few ruin structures; first some large piles of stone, mul in Maya for "hill", and then a small stone house. These miniature ruins typically have low ceilings and are located near cenote freshwater pools. They are sometimes referred to as "alux houses" (above left) for the legendary diminutive forest people who are fabled to have inhabited them and were supposedly masters of the forest. Another interpretation is that the they were built by the Maya for offerings to their Gods. Either way they add a magical aura to the forest. We also passed a major pile of rocks just off the side of the alux house and undoubtedly the two were connected somehow, perhaps built at the same time or one inspired the other. This pile of rocks was probably a much more elaborate building or temple before the jungle trees tore it apart (above right). When you see these places you invariably wonder what they were like when they were first built and what was the real reason to go through the tremendous effort to move all those stones.