Camping Near Calakmul at Yaax’Che

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Camping in Calakmul

My Yaax’Che Campsite in Calakmul Biosphere

Campeche, Mexico

Mexico’s Calakmul Biosphere is a wild jungle area with ancient Mayan ruins. Camping in the forest at Yaax’Che is a fun experience.

Rumor was you could camp near the Mayan ruins of Calakmul inside the protected biosphere reserve. I learned the rumor was true after spending a few days there.

Once you pass the main gate of the reserve (where they charge a small fee to enter) you’ll find the Yaax’Che campground a few kilometers down the road on the right. Because I didn’t have a car, I hired a taxi to bring me to the campground from the town of Xpujil for $250 Pesos ($20 US).

The Yaax’Che campground is very cool. I used my own camping hammock, so it only cost $4 US a night to set it up under a shelter. You can also rent tents and cots from the campground if you don’t have your own with you though.

Camping at Yaax'Che Campground

Welcome to Campamento Yaax’Che

Yaax’Che Campground

Yaax’Che has no running water or electricity, but it does have a restaurant! The caretakers have stone-fire ovens where they cook up a few different local Mayan dishes.

My favorite was the quesadillas with hand prepared tortillas plus rice and beans on the side.

There are a few composting toilets, and shower stalls with buckets of brownish sulfur-smelling water for you to dump on yourself. Fun! While the facilities are not fancy, the location is amazing.

The mosquitoes weren’t too bad during the day, and there are crazy cool butterflies all over the place. My favorite was a huge purple one, almost the size of your hand. But at night was when the real fun began…

Food at Yaax'Che Campground

Stone Oven Quesidea Dinner

Camping with Critters

The jungle comes alive at night. The first thing you hear around sunset is some kind of insect that makes noises that sound like alien spaceships are landing. No joke. They are REALLY loud, and they are everywhere.

Next, the local howler monkey family starts to scream right above you in the trees. Again, these are also VERY loud, and a bit freaky sounding.

It can be pretty startling to hear all this loud stuff happening around you in the dark, especially when you can’t see what is making the noises.

When walking to the bathroom at night with my headlamp, I saw all kinds of shining lights on the ground, like diamonds littering the jungle floor. Upon closer inspection, I found that these are the eyes of all the insects and bugs reflecting the light of my headlamp! Little spiders, giant spiders, beetles the size of your fist, and I even saw a few scorpions.

This jungle is also constantly raining, but it’s not water I’m talking about! Inchworms fall down on you from the trees above. You hear them smack down on the roof of your shelter all day and night, and they rain on your head as you walk around the camp. The worms hang down from the trees by threads of the web also, so you constantly run into them with your face… :)

Howler Monkey Yaax'Che Campground

Howler Monkey’s Live in the Trees Above

Visit the Calakmul Ruins

Just a warning, if you don’t have a car, don’t try and rent a bike at the Yaax’che campground and use it to get to the Mayan ruins of Calakmul. The ruins are still about 57 kilometers away from the campground.

Even though the road through the jungle is paved, it has many hills and is not an easy ride.
I learned that the hard way!

The campground will shuttle you to the ruins for the day, but it’s a bit expensive at around $40 US. If there are a few people camping with you, splitting this cost is the best bet.

Or you could hitch a ride with someone staying at the campground who has a rental car with them. Unfortunately, when I wanted to visit the site, I was the only one using the campground that day (which was kinda nice).

You may also be able to hitchhike with other tourists driving up to the site for the day, or flag down a taxi and share the fare with whoever else is in it, but there aren’t too many people that visit these ruins, so hitching a ride isn’t a sure bet.

All in all, I highly recommend camping at Yaax’Che if you plan to visit the Calakmul ruins. It makes for an interesting jungle experience!

More Information

Location: Xpujil, Mexico
Official Website: Calakmul Biosphere Reserve
Total Cost: $18 USD (there are a few different fees)
Accommodation: Yaax’Che Campground
Useful Notes: It’s best to get a rental car, but taxis will also take you to the ruins from the town of Xpujil. Or you can try your luck hitchhiking.
Recommended Reading: Lonely Planet Mexico

READ NEXT: Visiting Calakmul Mayan Ruins in Campeche

Have any questions about Calakmul or Yaax’Che? Drop me a message in the comments below!

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19 Comments

  1. hey dude, i’m visiting calakmul next week. i’m planning to stay at YaaxChe but i want to know if you recommend exploring a better site for camping, im thinkng on pack my solo-camping-tent so i could be on autonomy for 2 days closer to the ruins.

  2. Hey!
    Very cool blog, liked the way you described your stay and experience :)

    I saw this is kind of old post, so was wondering if it might be the same good experience. Thinking of visiting soon with a rented car. How can I reach out to that campground?

    Thanks!

    1. Juan:
      I sent a reply to you but not sure if it went to you or not. The YaaxChe campground is pretty far off the beaten path. Most tourists choose to stay in Xpujil where there are more comfortable accommodations. You shouldn’t have a problem if you just show up without a reservation. Even if all the tent sites are booked you could probably rent a hammock or cot from the proprietors. They are very friendly and accommodating. Just a little further down the road from Yaax Che are some cabanas for rent and there’s also some nice Cabanas in Conhuas, although you may have to ask around to locate them. Let me know if I can be of further assistance to you.

  3. Yes. The Calakmul reserve is probably the Yucatan’s best kept secret. It’s way off the beaten tourist track so doesn’t get much attention yet it’s packed with archeological ruins and all kinds of fantastic wildlife. I biked there from Tulum in 2011 and spent three days at the Yaax’Che campground. The big blue butterflies you saw are called Blue Morphos and it is pretty neat to see all the pinpricks of spider eye’s at night, as you mentioned. I saw Tarantulas, oscillated turkeys, peccaries, spider monkeys & howlers, toucans, hawks and even a Jaguar sunning itself in the middle of the road! The bike trip was one of the best I’ve ever taken and I plan on returning one day. If anyone is in need of a truly authentic Mexican vacation, I would absolutely recommend visiting this area!

    1. Charles, your depiction sounds amazing. I want to know if there could be a possibility to camp closer to the ruins. I know the Archeology Site Autority does not allow to camp IN the site, but at least could be nice few meters instead of hours and kilometers.

  4. Fantastic… we are off to Calakmul next month, and will drive, camp and not rent the bikes. We are avid cyclists, but I think we will not do the “challenge”… thanks for the great info.

  5. I think i’d rather pee in my underwear than walk in the darkness in the middle of the night, i mean that’s just scary. And especially the monkeys , I think i might die from fright.

  6. What time of year were you there? I spent 3 nights in early January and there were much less bugs than you describe. We did find some very fresh jaguar scat about 50 feet from our tent one morning though… The family running the campground was incredibly nice and the Calakmul Ruins are the best I have seen with no close second.

  7. Sounds so great! I’m going next month. I’m traveling alone and my spanish is weak so I was wondering how difficult it will be to interact with the host while at the camp site. Thanks!

  8. Wow jungle camping sounds creepy but very cool. We are heading to the mountains this weekend, all we have to contend with will be the bears. I really enjoy reading your stuff Matt.