Calakmul definitely belongs on my own list of wonders. It is a place with one of the biggest wow effect I have seen around the world so far. It is quite different from the other complexes in Yucatan, unique in its scale, and its bad accessibility adds to the mystery and beauty of the place.
Unlike other pyramid complexes on the Yucatan peninsula, you have to make a bit of an effort to see it. The best you can do is rent a car, get an accomodation as close as possible (they are usually simple, but enough for one night), get up and be by the entrance gate off Hwy 186 (just next to the village called Nuevo Conhuás) at 6 am. That’s when they allow the first visitors in. From the gate it is still a 2 hours/60 km drive to the site, and this early in the morning, you can even get a glimpse of the local fauna. The route is narrow and luckily it has been recently paved. Be sure to bring enough food and water for the day, as there is no possibility to buy anything. The early arrival will gain you 2 advantages – the entire site almost to yourself, and partly avoiding the almost unbearable heat of the jungle.
After some 15 minutes stroll from the parking lot, the ancient city begins to emerge in front of you. It is huge and impressive and it is almost unbelievable that most of it is still covered by the jungle, waiting to be resurfaced. Around the central square, there are the most important structures, either of religious importance, lodgings of the richest and most important, or governmental seats.
There are also the largest and the tallest pyramid in Yucatan, and climbing both offers undisturbed views of the jungle’s tree tops, maybe some 60 km in all directions. Here, one really appreciates the importance of this city, which housed around 50 000 people in its most glorious times. Just try standing in the middle of the Gran Plaza and imagine the buzz that must have been there once. It is almost unbelievable from today’s perspective.
Count at least half a day for the visit, which would cover the top highlights. If you want to see more and chill around a bit, maybe also add the visit of the bat cave and archeological museum, you can easily spend the whole day here. And also count with the fact that it is far from anything, so the journey to your next accomodation will take some time, too.