Visiting the Balankanché Caves
Balankanche Caves (also known as Balamcanche) are an interesting place to stop if you are interested in history and culture. This is one of the touristic attractions near Chichen Itza that you can visit. The caves themselves are not that spectacular but there is something special you can find here.
What makes these caves interesting to visit is the fact that they contain artifacts from the Maya that were used in ceremonies over 800 years ago.
The history of Balankanche Caves
The Maya people used caves as an entrance to the underworld and were also places of ceremonies. These caves were evidently used in ceremonies involving the rain god Chaac and the water god Tlaloc.
In the 1950’s an explorer found the extension of these caves and discovered the rooms with the artifacts. After careful study and removing the items, they carefully placed them back in their original spots where you can see them today.
What you will see when visiting
The entrance to the caves are surrounded by lush tropical foliage. Many of the indigenous plants are labeled. Even though some label this a botanical garden, it is not really that interesting. The main attraction are the caves.
When you descend into the caves you will see the natural formations. You will pass through rooms along a concrete meandering path. Toward the end you will see ceremonial objects almost as they were found when the caves were discovered.
At the very end of your walk into the caves you come to the water level. This is the end of the public tour. The caves extend on beyond this point and are still being explored.
Details for visiting the Balankanche Caves
Here are a few tips for visiting. The caves are very humid and stuffy. It is not cooler in the caves as you might expect. It is not handicap accessible nor is it easily navigated by people that have mobility issues. There are numerous sets of stairs and some surfaces are slippery. It is best to have shoes with good soles.
What are the hours and time for tours?
Balankanche is open daily from 9:00am-5:00pm.
137 pesos per person.
Tours times of Balankanche
There are timed tours of the cave because the same entrance in and out plus it is very humid and warm in the cave. There is a limit of 30 people at a time and minimum of 6 people.
All tours start at the building below. The tours start mainly at all the times below. Tours start with a introduction in Spanish then once you enter the caves there is an audio recording. It really does not matter what language tour you take! The audio recording is so old and in bad shape you cannot understand it anyways. It is also a melodramatic story that is not that informative. Our recommendation is just show up for one of the times below and go on the tour regardless of the language.
Tours are self guided with the guide just following you in and out. It takes 45 minutes to walk to the end and return to the entrance.
English is at 11:00am, 1:00pm and 3:00pm
Spanish is at 9:00am, noon, 2:00pm and 4:00pm
French is at 10:00am.
Tours to Balankanche Caves
Most people self drive to explore here. We did find one tour that leaves from Merida for a two day tour. The tour includes a tour to Chichen Itza, and Balankanche Caves with a stay at Mayaland. Click the link for details if you are interested in this.
Where are the Balankanche Caves?
These Balankanche Caves are on the old 180 road between Valladolid and Chichen Itza ruins. Driving from Valladolid it takes about 42 minutes. From Chichen Itza the caves are only 8 minutes east on the old 180 non toll road.
Things you can also do near Balankanche Caves
Here are some things you also visit in the vicinity of the caves.
- Chichen Itza. The most famous Mayan ruins. These ruins are well preserved and restored.
- Cenote Ik Kil. On of the most photographed cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula. It gets lots of bus groups because it is very beautiful.
- Tsukan Cenote. This is a more authentic cenote with gardens, Maya house replica and more. It gets much less tourists than Cenote Ik Kil and is a calmer place to visit in the area.
- Hacienda Selva Maya. This is a cenote with restaurant that some bus groups stop at on the way back to the Riviera Maya.
- Cenote Chan Dzonot. For those that want a quiet place to visit, this cenote is not well known and off the beaten path.
And for more exploring, check out our interactive map
Click on this interactive map of all the place we have written about and see what is there.
Have you been to the Balankanche Caves? What did you think? Do you have tips for other readers? Let us know in the comment section below.