The Muir Woods National Monument – Magical Moments in a Sea of Trees

The Muir Woods National Monument – Magical Moments in a Sea of Trees

The Muir Woods National Monument – Magical Moments in a Sea of Trees

Muir Woods National Monument is a protected area for coastal sequoia trees about 20 km north of San Francisco.

Coastal sequoia trees or redwoods are the highest trees in the world and can reach up to 115 m in height. At Muir Woods National Monument, the highest trees are about 80 meters high.

Red Woods im Muir Woods National Monument

Within this park there are several trails. The signage here was much better than at Yosemite National Park, so that I could deliberately choose the longest trail (about 2.5 hours, the shortest trail was signposted with half an hour). I admit, one reason why I chose this trail was because of his name: Ocean View!

Unfortunately, I didn’t know that the name comes from the fact that once a fire had opened the view up to the ocean. Luckily, the trees have grown again today. But because of this the sea is no longer visible.

The climb was more or less steep. It took me about 1.5 hours to reach my destination. On the way, I enjoyed the peace and the special energy of this place. It is amazing how peaceful you feel in such a place. Did you ever experience something like this?

Red Woods im Muir Woods National Monument

Red Woods im Muir Woods National Monument

 

What would these hundreds of years old trees tell us if they were able to speak?

Then, I slowly made my way through the woods and out “of the sea”.

Muir Woods National Monument

From above I could see the Muir Woods National Monument – what a peaceful place! It was a wonderful day…

And a fantastic view!

Muir Woods National Monument

Afterwards, I went back to the cool thicket. Also in summer the dense redwoods let only little sunlight through, so that it is always much cooler there. So don’t forget to bring layers to not get cold. You spend most of your time in the woods anyway.

An hour later, I arrived back where I had started.

The main path, from which all trails start, leads along a stream, which creates a pleasant and almost meditative atmosphere through its quiet but constant splashing…

Red Woods im Muir Woods National Monument

The sequoia trees reinforce this feeling. I could have spent much more time here.

Red Woods im Muir Woods National Monument

Even those who are not so close to nature will feel something magical here – between the 500 to 700 year old trees – which the mind cannot understand and will never understand and which hopefully (!) will last for many more hundred years and will survive the age of humans.

Have you ever stood in front of these gigantic trees and even been able to touch them?

I think it’s only possible to understand their size and greatness when seeing it with your own eyes.

What do you think?

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Highway 1 in California: About Beaches, Sunsets, Sea Lions & Whales

Highway 1 in California: About Beaches, Sunsets, Sea Lions & Whales

Highway 1 in California: About Beaches, Sunsets, Sea Lions & Whales

When you mention to Americans that you plan to drive Highway 1 from LA to San Francisco, it usually puts a smile on their face.

This road is known for its fantastic views of the sea.

I decided to rent a car, which I picked up in Los Angeles and returned to San Francisco.

The next day, I took advantage of having a car and drove to Santa Monica to the beach to the famous Santa Monica Pier and then to the beautiful Griffith Park, which has an observatory on the summit from where you have an incredible view of LA. It is also an excellent place to photograph the Hollywood sign.

Then, I started the real adventure! I put Santa Barbara as destination into my mobile phone and left LA.

Already this short distance was really beautiful: Over hills and through valleys I made my way to the north of California.

I was lucky with the weather, too. The sun was shining all the time and it was so warm that I had to switch on the air conditioning.

After about two hours I arrived in Santa Barbara, looked for a parking place near the pier and ate lunch by the sea, with the sound of the waves.

20 minutes later I was sitting in the car again, the sea to my left, and made my way up the well-known and popular Highway 1.

It leads right along the sea and winds partly through serpentines. There are parking spots so that you don’t miss any of the many postcard views. Have your camera ready!

An absolute highlight of this route for me was that on some beaches sea lions lay in the sun.

Big and small, loud and silent.

It was beautiful! I could hardly convince myself to move on.

My destination for the night was Monterey!

I reached it after dusk and found a place to stay in my car.

A friend of mine grew up there and she advised me to visit Fisherman’s Wharf and eat Clam Chowder there. What’s so special about it? It is served in a hollowed loaf of bread! Delicious!

On the internet I had asked for prices for whale watching tours. The tours all start at Fisherman’s Wharf, so I was in the right place. I went directly to the provider I chose online, got the promised discount if you refer to the website, and even got another discount of $2.50.

The whale watching tour lasted about three hours. Much longer than the tour I did in Patagonia.

However, it took much longer to get into open waters and within reach of whales.

When the boat finally stopped and we were close to the giants of the sea, they came up quite often, but unfortunately not really close to the boat.

These whales seemed to be shy compared to their relatives in Patagonia because there they swam constantly under our boat along and emerged directly beside it to take a deep breath.

I was still able to take some nice pictures. Or what do you think?

In the late afternoon I started my onwards journey to San Francisco – the drive was about two hours.

The way to Santa Cruz (about half an hour by car) continued along the sea, so that I could watch another breathtaking sunset.

After Santa Cruz, I left Highway 1.

Never before had I seen so many beautiful beaches, sunsets and animals in just two days.

So when you travel to California, you shouldn’t miss this experience and this beautiful route.

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Hotel Triton – San Francisco Hotel Tip

Hotel Triton – San Francisco Hotel Tip

Hotel Triton – San Francisco Hotel Tip

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San Francisco is one of the most exciting cities in the world for me. In 2015, it was at the top of my bucket list during my trip around the world – at that time I wrote about what I had noticed in particular: the stark contrast between the old hippies and the glamour of the USA. Today, I still notice that when I walk through the streets but I still try to perceive other aspects as well or even more. Of course, I needed a starting point for my explorations. This was the Hotel Triton during my last visit to San Francisco.

Hotel Triton – Hotel & Location

On an inconspicuous street corner on Grant Avenue in San Francisco, three major neighborhoods meet: Union Square, Chinatown, and the Financial District. The meeting of these three quarters led to the name of the hotel – Triton. To be honest, I never noticed that the word “tri” (three) is part of the word Triton. And apart from the trident, I see no reason to associate the number with the name. But I like to be inspired to think and do some research.

Perfectly located at the crossroads of these three quarters of San Francisco, hotel guests can immerse themselves in the culture from the very first moment. Just around the corner, for example, you can jump on a cable car. If you go in the other direction you come to a central junction of metro and bart – the local train system with which you can get to the airport on one side and to Oakland on the other.

(Attention: San Francisco wants to get away from paper tickets. That’s a great thing in principle, but not very practical if you’re a tourist and really only need one ticket for one trip. The plastic card costs 3 USD. The employees at the stations were unfortunately no help at all.)

And for business travelers, the hotel is located directly at the banking district.

Since 1913, Hotel Triton has welcomed its visitors with 140 guest rooms and suites, each with its own charm. Always with the concept of Hygge – thus a cordial, cheerful atmosphere – in mind, the hotel was designed with a lot of love for the detail.

 

Hotel Triton – Lobby, Library & Art Exhibition

The lobby is a real eye-catcher. Right here you get the feeling to sit with a friend in his living room. That’s why the lobby is not called a lobby – anyone can do that! – but Living Room.

Lobby / Living Room Triton Hotel San Francisco

Photo credits: RoseInk

Each piece of furniture tells a unique story here. Travel is always the central theme. Same goes for the books that are on display.

In the lobby there is also a display case with a mural that was discovered behind the walls during renovation work in 2018. The artwork was created by the Persian artist John Oshanna in the 1940s and features Mission Dolores, San Francisco’s oldest intact mission, built in 1776 – also the oldest building in San Francisco – and the City Hall.

Photo credits: RoseInk

On a mezzanine floor and in the living room, top-class art collections by local and international artists await you. Up-and-coming artists from San Francisco can host public exhibitions at the Hotel Triton.

 

Hotel Triton – The Rooms

You choose between three different categories:

  • There are Deluxe Rooms with king-size, queen-size and two double beds. In this smallest category you have a small, padded bench to sit on.
  • Premium King Rooms are 20 square meters and have a king-size bed waiting for you and your beauty sleep. The shower is spacious and at ground level, only separated from the toilet by a glass pane.
  • And on the other hand there are the Grant Avenue Studio Suites. Here you have more than 32 square meters at your disposal. They are all individually designed to reflect the coziness you would enjoy in a friend’s guest room. Also here you sleep in a king-size bed.

 

 

Hotel Triton – Breakfast & Dinner

San Francisco is a paradise for foodies (hence my tip for a food tour in my post about 5 cool activities in San Francisco) and directly at the Hotel Triton there are two restaurants.

On one side, there is the Café de la Presse – an authentic French bistro that is popular with locals and tourists alike. Here you’ll find delicious Eggs Benedict and Pancakes – you will lick your fingers after eating.

On the other side is Herlen Place, a lively café that turns into a cool wine bar in the evening. Here you can enjoy finger food.

The Hotel Triton also offers room service from the Café de la Presse: you can call it on weekdays from 7:30 to 21:30 and on weekends from 8:30 to 21:00.

 

Hotel Triton – The Gym

Those who don’t want to neglect their fitness during their stay in San Francisco can get active around the clock in the hotel’s own gym. There are machines such as a treadmill and also free weights.

So you can stay in shape during your holiday or business trip!

 

Hotel Triton – Final Thoughts

The room was cozy, the hotel staff was friendly and always helpful, and the location speaks for itself.

I would go back to Hotel Triton!

If you also want to stay at Hotel Triton, you can check here if there are still rooms available and book right away: Hotel Triton on Booking*. Alternatively, you can browse through the other hotels in San Francisco: Hotels in San Francisco on Booking*.

PS: I have been invited to this press trip to San Francisco by SFTravel. I didn’t get any monetary compensation. My opinion is my own and has not been influenced by this collaboration.

PPS: All links with an asterisk (*) are affiliate links. Click here if you don’t know what that is: What is an affiliate link?

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The 5 Best Beaches in Cancun, Mexico

The 5 Best Beaches in Cancun, Mexico

The 5 Best Beaches in Cancun, Mexico

GUEST POST BY KESTRA AND JACOB KNOWN AS THE AGAPE CO. ABOUT THE 5 BEST BEACHES IN MEXICO

From Cancun to Tulum, each beach affords its visitors warm waters and plenty of sun. What can make or break a beach is the number of hotels and shops. While tourists are great for the local industry and undoubtedly helped build Cancun into a vacation Mecca, they sure do have a way of lessening a day at the beach. Our rankings are based off of the distance to Cancun, business of the beach, and of course the beach itself. Be sure to let us know in the comments which beach sounds the best to you! Do you know of any other beaches that should be in our top 5?

 

Isla Holbox

Isla Holbox is a travelers dream. Lying on the northern end of the Yucatan Penisula, the small island has remained pristine through the years. Few travelers make the 3-hour journey northward which has left the island in incredible condition. You won’t find any large hotels or even an ATM. All you’ll find is white sand stretching into the horizon.

For more adventurous travelers, a trip can afford the opportunity to swim with whale sharks. You read that right, people are willing to pay money to hop in the water and swim with the world’s largest shark. As they migrate each year, whale sharks stop just off the coast of Isla Holbox for several months. Expeditions are lead into the warm waters just off the coast and in the adventurers go! For those more suited to life on land, we encourage you to explore the island’s unspoiled jungles and view the many birds that call Isla Holbox home!

 

Puerto Morelos

Puerto Morelos is just a short 30-minute drive south of Cancun. As the crabs (sunburned tourists) begin to flock to the ever-popular Playa Delfines hop in the car and lay back in Puerto Morelos. The relaxed, quiet fishing village has all the amenities you could want but none of the crowds!

The village does an incredible job of upkeeping their beach and reef, constantly grooming and closing endangered sections of the reef. This makes it a perfect place to spend the day as a family. You can introduce everyone to snorkeling over the beautiful reef just off the coast or spend the day relaxing on the soft sand. Whatever you choose, remember to pack the sunscreen!

 

Tulum Ruins Beach

Just 75 miles south of Cancun is one of the most stunning beaches in the world. After a quick hike past ancient Mayan ruins and tropical jungle, you’ll stumble towards bright blue waters lapping against towering cliffs. A short and steep staircase spits you out over soft sand. Above you the cliff walls rise giving way to El Catillo standing prominently over the ocean. It’s hard to imagine a more inspiring view.

Tulum is just close enough to be a perfect day trip during your time in the Yucatan. We recommend starting off early and exploring the town in the morning. It is well known for its rustic charm and quaint restaurants. Luxury resorts have begun to realize the beauty of Tulum and resorts are beginning to dot the surrounding countryside. After a morning and lunch in town, visit the ruins and spend an afternoon in the sun before returning to Cancun.

 

North Side Cancun

The north side of Cancun is perfect for families looking for calmer waters and smaller crowds. The north shore is slightly less vibrant than its east side companion. The water is a deeper blue, and the sand isn’t quite as powdery white, but the lack of crowds more than makes up for the lack of color. The entire north shore is protected by Isla Mujeres making for a secluded, calm beach getaway.

For those looking to try kayaking, parasailing, or jet skiing, look no further. The shore’s calm waters are perfect for all kinds of water sports. They are also perfect for those looking for a safe place to play. Young or old, the north side of Cancun has something for everyone without the crowds you’d expect. There are also beautiful hotels and homes for rent on the north shore that offer great deals to families looking for an affordable vacation!

 

Playa Maroma

We can’t say enough about Playa Maroma. First off it is absolutely huge. Big enough that even if there was a crowd you wouldn’t even notice. Second is the color of the water, it is unbelievable. As incredibly bright blue as the sky. Third is the access to amazing snorkeling. Just off the beach is some of the most amazing snorkeling in the world with hundreds of species of fish circling the waters below you.

Playa Maroma is slightly harder to access. You either have to be a guest at one of the resorts lining the beach or go through the Riviera Maya Beach Club. Don’t let this deter you though. It is worth it! Once you get in, we recommend heading towards the southernmost point of the beach. The snorkeling is incredible on the south end and you should be able to have the reef to yourself for a bit!

With enough sun and sand for everyone, Cancun is the perfect place for a beach vacation. Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly beach, a honeymoon getaway, or a water sports paradise, the Yucatan Peninsula has it all. Be sure to check out at least one of our top beaches in Cancun and don’t be afraid to go find your own! Thanks for following along!

About the Authors

Kestra and Jacob are a Christian Travel Couple known as The Agape Co. The duo travels the world together and shares their global adventures, handy travel hacks, and inspiring stories with their followers. From alpine lakes to sunny beaches, snow skiing to parasailing, they’ll help you to explore the world as they have. Be sure to check out their journey at: https://theagapecompany.com/ and to give them a follow on their social media.

The Cabarete Guide for Digital Nomads

Cabarete Guide for Digital Nomads

Live Like a Local

Are you searching for a cool spot for digital nomads in the Caribbean? You should check out Cabarete in the Dominican Republic!

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Jarabacoa – Where The Dominicans Go On Vacation

Jarabacoa – Where The Dominicans Go On Vacation

Jarabacoa – Where The Dominicans Go On Vacation

Why Jarabacoa?

Jarabacoa is a small town in the mountains of the Dominican Republic, which is not yet crowded with tourists. After about six weeks in Cabarete with beaches and lagoons I wanted to discover another side of the country. I was told that Jarabacoa was a place where locals go on vacation. An authentic village that was additionally the perfect spot to go on hikes, to do horseback riding, rafting and canyoning.

One of the highlights is the Pico Duarte: the highest mountain in the Caribbean! But I couldn’t stop thinking of the 7000 steps of the Adam’s Peak in Sri Lanka or the 1-day hike in Artenara that made my muscles hurt so much. That’s why, in the end, I decided not to climb Pico Duarte which would have been 80 kilometers of walking in only three days.

By the way, this is the very first drone shot that I ever took! The city center of Jarabacoa is behind the drone, so it’s not that idyllic.

 

Drone shotJarabacoa

The Jarabacoa Mountain Hostel

Then the Jarabacoa Mountain Hostel sent me an invitation: They needed a little bit of Social Media Support and are happy to have a special place in this article on Barbaralicious. That’s why accepted the invitation and stayed for one week in this hostel that I call luxurious without feeling bad about it.

Mountain Hostel Jarabacoa

Mountain Hostel Jarabacoa

I was in a private room, but the Jarabacoa Mountain Hostel has beautiful dorms, too. All rooms have a balcony and the kitchen is the cleanest and best equipped that I have ever seen in a hostel.

Have a look at the video that I added in the end of the article! You will see how nice it is!

The Secret Waterfall

At first we did a hiking trip to the Secret Waterfall. It’s “secret”, because you need a local to get there and to show you the way. I did the hike with David from JarabacoaEcoAdventures , a young entrepreneur who is doing a really good job as a guide. I can recommend him 100 percent. He is doing tours to Pico Duarte as well.

We left the car in front of the house of a local after he picked me up at the hostel. The hike was around 15 minutes over a small stream in the woods and some… pipes!? Yes, there were pipes everywhere and we had to balance over them. Be careful if you go there: They can be slippery!

The last part was through icy water until the hips. But when we had surrounded the rock we saw the beautiful Secret Waterfall.

Secret Waterfall Jarabacoa

Now the bathing fun could start: You can either swim in the water in front of the waterfall or walk up in the woods and jump down.

Baiguate

To get to this waterfall, you can either walk or ride a horse. I guess, a car or a MotoConcho (that’s what they call a moto taxi here), would work as well since the waterfall is close to a street. I decided to go on a nice horseback ride. Unfortunately we were riding mostly on normal streets – at least on our way there. On our way back we went more through the woods and over meadows. But I can’t really recommend to take a horse. This was a part through nature:

Baiguate Jarabacoa

Baiguate Jarabacoa

Another sad thing was that the horses weren’t really in good conditions. You could tell that they weren’t taken care of and they were dirty. I almost wanted to cancel the whole trip, but I was so looking forward to it the days before that I couldn’t. So if you go to Jarabacoa and want to do a horseback riding tour, my advice is to talk to the people and ask to see the horses before you book. I am sure you will find somebody who is treating the horses right and in general I like to support the local community .

Horseback Riding Jarabacoa

Horseback Riding Jarabacoa

Horseback Riding Jarabacoa

But let’s talk about the waterfall:

Baiguate is similar in height to the Secret Waterfall, but easier to reach – you only need walk over a small path and then down the stairs. From the path you can already get an impression of how it will look like.

Baiguate Jarabacoa

The water is icy cold.

Baiguate Jarabacoa

But it was super nice and I spent around in hour there taking photos and relaxing.

My Personal Highlight: Paragliding

Then we did what I was looking forward to for weeks. Because some friends have been to Jarabacoa when I was still in Cabarete. They told me about the paragliding. I had my first paragliding adventure when I was in Lanzarote and immediately fell in love with being in the air. Now it was time for my second flight!

The people from Flying Tony came to pick me up in the hostel and with five other people they drove us on a mountain. The view was spectacular – even without being in the air!

Paragliding Jarabacoa

After some preparations the moment had come… “Run!” said the pilot behind me and I couldn’t even take a step when we were already in the air.

I was the first to start so I could admire the beautiful landscapes and watch the others start. It was incredible…

Paragliding Jarabacoa

Paragliding Jarabacoa

We were flying in circle over the mountain for about 30 minutes before we went down to land.

Paragliding Jarabacoa

Paragliding Jarabacoa

On our way down we passed a beautiful waterfall.

Paragliding Jarabacoa

I really hope it doesn’t take one year again until my next flight.

For me, Jarabacoa was a real oasis of calmness that gave me the possibility to take a step back and enjoy nature.

You shouldn’t miss this town if you are going to the Dominican Republic!

PS: This blog post was supported by the Jarabacoa Mountain Hostel, that invited me to stay in this beautiful private room. The tours have been supported by Jarabacoa Eco Adventures and Flying Tony. Again: Thanks a lot! My opinion is my own and has not been influenced by the collaboration.

PPS: You want to see the video about the trip? Check it out now! Chris Spiegl did some amazing shots of our tours. I feel blessed that I am a part of it:

Exploring Jarabacoa by Foot, Air and Horse | Dominican Republic, Caribbean, 2017

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Palenque – Of Maya Ruins and Waterfalls

Palenque – Of Maya Ruins and Waterfalls

Palenque – Of Maya Ruins and Waterfalls

One of the numerous Maya ruins in Mexico is Palenque. I stayed there for three days with my dear blogger colleague Melanie of Good morning world and the support of Shoestring. With modules it was super easy to put our trip together and had an awesome time.

We came from San Cristóbal de las Casas on a cold Wednesday morning, to see on our way to Palenque the waterfalls Agua Azul and Misol-Ha. The ride with the van takes much longer than you would think becuase there are so many curves that it’s not possible to go fast. It took us around four hours to go 160 kilometers. If you get car sich easily don’t forget your pills or chewing gums.

Agua Azul

Agua Azul consists of 500 small waterfalls, that are between two and 30 meters high.

Agua Azul großers Felsen

Agua Azul Felsen mit Wasserfall.

Wasserfall in Agua Azul

You should preferably come here in the dry season because the water is usually brown during rain season. Otherwise it’s this beautiful intense turquoise greenish blue thanks to minerals coloring the water.

Agua Azul

Agua Azul Spiegelung

Agua Azul mit Ausblick

Between the waterfalls there are pools in different sizes in some of which you can have a nice and refreshing swim. Be sure though before going in the water that the pool is suited for swimming. There have been several deaths in the past.

Along the streams and waterfalls there are vendors for souvenirs and clothes, restaurants and people selling coconuts and fruits. Kids selling fruits are walking around to ask you if you want some pineapple.

Verkaufsstände Agua Azul

During high season it can be more than crowded so prepare to be waiting around 10 minutes till it’s your turn for the photo position. Unfortunately this is kind of destroying the whole atmosphere because there is no enjoying the silence next to a waterfall or such thing. It’s a huge tourist attraction.

Misol-Ha

Misol-Ha is a 35 meters waterfall that has an impressive width in rain season. When I was there it wasn’t very wide.

Misol Ha

Seems like it’s not possible to see both: a wide waterfall in Misol-Ha and turquoise water in Agua Azul…

It takes three minutes to go from the parking lot with an extremely expensive restaurant to the big pool, Misol-Ha is flowing in. Probably you will have to wait again to get to the photo position.

Behind the waterfall there is path leading to a small cave – that is packed with people, needless to say, right?

Tunnel hinter dem Wasserfall Misol Ha

From Misol-Ha it’s only 30 kilometers to Palenque.

Palenque

Palenque is a archeologial site with Maya ruins in the middle of the rainforest. The city was built on terraces and around 95% is still buried under the forest that grew over the pyramids and temples.

Maya Ruinen in Palenque

You can do a day trip from San Cristóbal and see Agua Azul, Misol-Ha and Palenque in only one day. Obviously that means you don’t have a lot of time at the different places what you could regret when you’re in Palenque. You should take at least three to four hours for the archeological site.

Ruinen durch die Büsche in Palenque

Palenque Ruinen

I was two and a half hours there but I could have stayed the whole day. I only left because I was late and the site was closing.

The Temple of the Inscriptions and the palace right on the other side are probably the most famous ruins of Palenque. The group is the center of the whole site.

Ruine in Palenque

Pyramiden in Palenque

Next to the temples of the Cross group there are more ruins.

Pyramide durch die Bäume

The path at some point is leading you into the forest on your right. Just go there if you have already seen the rest of the site. That’s the way to one of the exits and there is no way back.

A staircase is leading you to the lower terrace. The ruins there are still covered in parts and it almost seems like ruins and nature are one.

Ruinen in der Idylle Palenque

Next to the temples there are streams and small waterfalls. If you close your eyes there you can almost imagine how it must have been 600 years ago.

Idylle in Palenque

Brücke in Palenque

Idylle durch die Büsche Palenque

I would have loved to stay there for hours listening to the sounds of the forest.

Have you ever been to Palenque? Or to another Maya ruin that you liked as much as I liked this one? Tell me about it and leave me a comment!

 

Yours Barbara