Coba Ruins near Tulum in Mexico
Do you want to lose a couple of kilos? Climbing the pyramid at Coba Ruins could be the answer. At least that is how much I reckon I lost in sweat climbing them. If you fancy yourself as the next Lara Croft give them a go!
The Coba Ruins
There are several ways of getting around Coba. You can walk, rent a bicycle or get a bicycle taxi! We chose this final option. Because I knew I’d be climbing the pyramid. And, as Coba is inland, in amongst the jungle there was no breeze to cool down with. Indeed, I didn’t fancy climbing it already knackered!
The taxi was a reasonable price, and we gave the chap who did all the pedalling a sizeable tip! Check out the video below to see us when their way through the jungle on the taxi.
Carry on – up the Pyramid
The main Pyramid at Coba is 42 m tall, that’s 137 feet in old money. And, amazingly, you can still climb it! All 130 steps! There is a rope running up the centre of the steps if you need help getting up them. My advice would be to wear some sort of gripping shoes as countless visitors have actually worn the steps shiny!
However, the real problem is coming down. Some people sit down and go a step at a time. Others use the rope in the middle of the steps. However you get up and come down the pyramid, it is so worth it! The top of the pyramid pokes its head through the jungle. And, as you stand on the summit you’re high above the tops of the trees and it gives an amazing view!
Also, the breeze at the top is worth it! If like me you worked up a sweat going through the jungle and up the steps, the breeze is most welcome.
Its reckoned Coba had a population of over 50,000! There are two ball courts here used for playing the traditional Mayan ballgame ōllamaliztli. The idea of the game was to get a heavy rubber ball through the stone rings on the sides of the ball court using your hips. Occasionally, the captain of the winning team was sacrificed to the gods! Is it just me or is that not really an incentive to win?
History of Coba
Coba has many stone roads, over 50 have been discovered in Coba and its surrounding area. Also, some are open to the public to walk upon. The longest of these white roads runs over 62 miles westwards to the ruined city of Yaxuna. These roads connected most points at the Coba site, the living areas the lakes and the temples. They range between 3 to 10 m wide and were built to enable trade.
Unbelievably, it’s thought that the Mayans didn’t use the wheel, although they were aware of its existence. It is thought that most the transportation was done in the cooler temperatures of the night the white limestone of the roads provided and easily visible surface when lit by the moonlight.
Rise of Coba
Coba was a very important city back in the day. It is thought it was first inhabited sometime around 50 BC – 100 A.D. there is not much in the way of archaeological evidence and the dating evidence has come from pottery. After 100 A.D. there are indications of good population growth it became one of the most powerful cities in northern Yucatán.
Decline of Coba
After about 600 A.D. the geopolitical landscape of Mexico started to change with the rise of the settlement at Chichen Itza. This eroded Coba’s power. While the population fluctuated, it was running down in the 14th century and eventually abandoned in around 1550 A.D. Probably thanks to the Spanish invasion from the old world.
It wasn’t until 1926 that Coba became known in archaeological circles and unbelievably it wasn’t until the first modern road in the early 1970s that Coba started to be excavated with any seriousness.
Today thankfully only a small portion of the site has been cleared from the jungle and restored by archaeologists. It’s still possible to see some of the ruins with the jungle still growing upon them.
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How to get there
The ruins of Coba are about 27 miles north-west of Tulum. Coba is located around two lakes which is where the city got its water from.
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