This is the main attraction on the park. It is one of the few structures of this height you can still climb to the top. The Mayan translation of Nohoch-Mul is "Big Mound." The structure has seven sections and the corners are round.
This main structure is 137 feet high, the tallest on the Yucatan Peninsula. It has 120 steps. Climbing to the top is very popular. While ascending is physically difficult for some, it is the descent that frightens most visitors. The step are much higher making for a very steep descent. The is a thick rope connected from bottom to top if you need assistance.
Views from the top are amazing. There is a structure on top with a carving of a person which appears to be standing on it's head. This is called the "Descending God" and can also be found at Tulum.
Go slow on the descent, especially if you are not use to hiking or heights. I notice many people opting to going down one step at a top on the butt.
- Historical Travel
Nohoch Mul is the main pyramid at Coba, at 126 feet the tallest pyramid on the Yucatan Peninsula. You can climb the 120 steps to the top to have a look over the vast surrounding area.
From the top you can see the two lakes on the outskirts of the site and the observatory that you pass on the way to the pyramid.
Although it's harder physically to climb up, going down seems much more dangerous for slipping and falling. Wear good shoes or sandals, there is a rope going down the center you can hang onto
There are 2 ball courts that have been excavated at Coba, this is the one that is closest to the entrance. The ball court has two stone walls with a field in between, the two walls have hoops through which it is believed that the Mayans used their hips and elbows to get a ball through the hoop.
It is believed that human sacrifice was the eventual outcome of the game but theories differ on whether it was the winners, an honor to be sacrificed, or the losers, paying with their lives.
Cobá ruins are still mostly undiscovered. They are in the middle of the dense jungle and it is believed that beneath all those trees and vegetation there is still so much to discover and explore.
It is somewhat touristic, as these ruins have the tallest piramid of Yucatán, but not as crowded as other ruins i visited. It is very hot, so you'd better take some water with you and wear light fresh clothes made of natural fabrics such as cotton and linnen. And take confortables shoes as the main pyramid is 2km from park entrance, you will do at least 4 km plus going up and down pyramid (128 steps, times 2!!).
Town of Wind-Ruffled Water
There are some ruins by the park entrance, where the guide took some time to explain what we were about to see.
Cobá ruins are very extensive (70 square km) and buildings are mainly grouped around the lakes - 2 big lakes and 3 smaller. This water abundance brought many people to Cobá and it is believed that almost 40.000 people lived in this city. Cobá means Town of Wind-Ruffled Water and was inhabited until the 17th century (Spanish conquests).
Some say that there are around 10.000 buildings in this mayan city, still so much to be discovered underneath green vegetation. Cobá used to be a major city, with religious and commercial activities and these ruins where first time discovered by and Austrian researcher in 1891.
Heading for the big pyramid
After the explanations about those ruins is time to visit the main pyramid. The guide didn't go with us, he explained what we were about to find and waited for us at the park entrance. The main pyramid is about 2 km from the ruins we just visited, and there are 3 ways of getting there:
> renting a single bycicle
> renting a bycicle with a man to pedal it, ...
We opted for the single bycicle. It is not expensive but i don't remember how much i paid for it. There are some arrows that show the way, so there will be no problem finding the pyramid, as there are also other people walking and riding their bycicles. Most people were walking on the day we visited the ruins.
A nice spot to rest
On the way to the main pyramid, there is a small pyramid.
We made a stop there, both to rest and drink water (it was so hot!!) and to take photos. It is a nice place to stop since most people walk straight ahead for the big pyramid and that way you can enjoy your time there.
The big pyramid
The big pyramid is huge (42 m high) and slope but easy to climb. At least on the way up, since i have vertigo and the way down was not so easy for me. But i sat once a while and all was ok. I got down without any problem. There is a rope all the way so that some people can grab it and feel safer, although most people weren't using it, not even me with my vertigo.
The view from up there is amazing, ... you can see for km and km, since the ground is plain and all you can see is green around you. Ocasionally you can notice some other buildings emerging from the green. Once you finish climbing the steps there is nothing else to see but the awesome view. The pyramid has nothing else on top and the access to the other side is restricted.
Enjoy the view, take beautiful photos and drink some water, it is really hot up there, ... and rest, since there are 128 steps down and 2 km waiting for you, under hot weather.
This pyramid called La Iglesia (The Church) is an important building in this Nohoc Mul Group we were visiting.
The big pyramid also belongs to this group, the only one we visited in Cobá.
La Iglesia is a pyramid shapped building, 24m high. There is a staircase leading to the temple (top of pyramid), which is in poor condition.
This pyramid wasn't built all at once. Frequently these pyramids start as small buildings that grow accordingly to population needs. And sometimes they grow with different styles, since there were several ephocs in Mayan civilization each ruled by different caracteristics.
Just in front of the pyramid you can see a curious kind of shelter that hosted some goddess.
In the side of the pyramid there's an entrance to a small room that is open to visits. Actually it is very small and somewhat dark, so there's not much you can see. This room had religious activity.
I got used to see ruins look like stone coloured, ... and i guess i imagined they have always been that way. I was so wrong!! These buildings were colourfully painted with pigments that Mayan people extracted from nature, such as roots.
If you look closely at some stones you can still see traces of colours, such as the one on photo, where you can still distinguish some reddish and blueish spots.
Also, if you look closer at some stones you can see shelves and traces from marine life. Apparently some million years ago this place was covered by sea.
This coloured stones can be found on right side of La Iglesia pyramid, on a kind of square where formerly were built several houses. Probably these houses hosted some "government" and religious services. Actually some vestiges of these houses are quiet good, but as mentioned earlier Cobá is not the best well kept Mayan ruins.
There used to a game played by Mayan people called Pelota. This game was played in a proper field that is still visible in several Mayan ruins. Cobá has a small (compared to the one in Chichén Itzá) pelota "courtyard". This place consists of a kind of corridor between walls with some Gods designed on walls and a kind of hole, ... louzy description, please see the photo!
Actually there are some versions as to the rules of this game, each believing to be correct one. The version i was told it's about men playing this pelota game with a stone ball weighting about 4 kg. Apparently they played the game with the ball on their hips, which seems strange to me since ball is hard and heavy, but that's what i was told.
One of the game versions says the winner (a man not a team) died at the end of the game. This was his prize: a sacrifice for the Gods, ...which was a great honour back then.
The first group of buildings after entering the park is called the Coba Group. This area has the most restored building concentration at the sight. Grupo Coba and located between Coba and Macanxoc lakes and has 43 structures. Not all have been restored. Construction of this area began during the early Classic period between 300 and 600 A.D. Often structures were built upon or improvements of existing structures. The last modifications occurred during the post Classic period between 1000 and 1450 A.D.
The main building is La Iglasia, a temple structure very similar to the main structure at Coba, Nohoc-Mul. There is also a nicely restored ball court. The immediate area has the jungle floor cleared out but you can see many surrounding structures that have not been restored or cleared of the jungle over growth.
- Arts and Culture
the large temple of Coba
This is the large temple in Coba. It is quite a walk from the main entrance, perhaps a mile or 2 over a bumpy path. It is worth seeing, but I recommend renting either a bike (around $4 - 7) per person or even better, a local will drive you and another person around on a large tricycle like contraption. It has a padded seat, which I wish we had done. Even on bike, our rears were sore from the bumpy roads. The local will drive you for around $7 - 10 for the day; and don't forget to tip.
Since the temple is so far away, there is a little stand located near it with water, drinks, and snacks. The temple is quite a climb, so wear tennis shoes. Women in little flip flops trying to climb the temple were really struggling, and since you are hours from the nearest hospital don't take a chance on falling.
- National/State Park
- Historical Travel
Zona Arqueologica de Coba
There is a entrance fee at Coba. It is now 59 pesos per person. Once you pay, the entrance is to the left, through a few turnstiles. The tickets are handed over past this area at little hut booth. No food is permitted in the park as we were directed to throw out some coconut drinks before proceeding past the booth.
The park is open seven days a week from 8am to 4:30pm.
- Family Travel
- Arts and Culture
swimming in Cho Ha Cenote
OK, so we were crazy and forgot our swim suits. So we got down to our underwear and swam in the Cho Ha cenote. The water was only slightly cool, which was refreshing since the cenote itself is more of a cave and has a rather warm air temperature.
This cenote is only 5 - 8 minutes past Coba. Keep driving past the ruins of Coba, through a tiny village, and on your left about 8 minutes or so down the road will be the Cho Ha cenote. It was only recently discovered, and the families in the village pooled their money together to make this cenote open for public use. So support it and tip the local Mayan guides!
If you are going to make the drive to Coba, don't skip this cenote. The water isn't very deep, it is safe, and how many people have swam in an underground cave in the jungle? It is a cool thing to experience and say you have done.
- Adventure Travel
- Water Sports
- Diving and Snorkeling