My Cancun to Lake Atitlan road trip: first stop in Valladolid, Mexico

Valladolid, Mexico

So a strange thing happened to me last week and I found myself in Mexico. As you do.

Well once again I am in the situation of waiting to for a notice period to expire so that we can go back to court and try and get back control of my home. It will be at least another three months before we get to court. What to do with those three months?

I could spend them in London, paying ridiculous rent and moaning about the cost of living/the weather/the unfair system that allows two Colombians, their children and their annoying dog to effectively steal my home for a year. Or, I could go somewhere nicer/cheaper and stop moaning for a few months.

I decided to go to Guatemala.

Flights into Guatemala from the UK are expensive, however luckily flights to Cancun in Mexico are a lot more affordable (there are often spaces on charter flights flying out to join the cruise ships and they sell off those remaining seats at a good price).

From Cancun I have devised an overland itinerary that will take me down the right hand side of Mexico, into Belize and from there down to Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, where I am planning to stay until my presence is required back in the UK (probably some time in January).

The journey from Cancun to lake Atitlan (always subject to change of course, when my brain gets distracted by something bright and shiny in the opposite direction) should take me about three weeks.

First stop: Valladolid

Valladolid, Mexico

My first task was to get out of Cancun as quickly as possible. Valladolid is easily reachable on a bus from Cancun; it takes around two hours.

It doesn’t receive a whole heap of tourists, although it is ideally placed for visiting many of the delights of Yucatan. There is no beach, but there are lots of cenotes dotted around nearby. Cenotes are little sinkholes filled with fresh water, where you can swim.


Cenote Samula

I visited Xkeken and Samula, which are right next to each other just south of the city. There are collectivos (shared buses that leave whenever there are enough people on them) to travel there, or the going rate for a taxi is 80 pesos, around £3/US$4).


Cenote Xkeken


The ‘elephant’ formation formed by stalactites in the cave

The general advice is to get there in the morning if possible; by afternoon the tour buses from Chichen Itza stop off on their way back to the coast and the cenotes get crowded. I got there at 9.30 AM and was the only person there for around twenty minutes. It was totally surreal, swimming all alone in this amazing cave.

If you then find yourself bitten by the cenote bug after this (I was), there is even one right in the town: Cenote Zaci.



Zaci, right in the town.

According to Wikipedia, Yucatan contains around 6,000 of these little sinkholes.

There are also plenty of Mayan ruins within an easy drive of the city; both Chichen Itza and Ek Balam are within a reasonable driving distance. I did visit these before however just two years ago, when I was staying in Merida, so I didn’t go again.

The city itself has a few sights, but nothing too spectacular. Really it is just a nice, calm place to hang out for a few days.

There is a market…


Valladolid Municipal Market


The market: visiting the piñatas in jail

There is the central square where everyone hangs out in the evenings. If you’re lucky, you might be able to grab the five minutes of free wifi they allow per day.



There’s often a spot of impromptu music and dancing going on in the evening

Then there is the Convent of Saint Bernadino.



Valladolid comes over as a very liveable city. There is a small ex-pat community settled there and I can understand why. The city is big enough to have everything you could need and yet small enough to offer an authentic Mexican feel.

Plus, there are the cenotes.

7 replies »

  1. Hello Sarah well there are worse things you could be doing than ending up in South America again. It looks as if you have it all planned and I enjoy reading about your adventures and looking at the photographs. I hope it all works out well for you and when you come back, everything will be resolved Keeping those fingers crossed. Safe travels x

    • Ah I’m just putting some distance between myself and all the stuff going on really; everyday brings a new horror story out of Southwark. But nothing to gain by sitting around crying about it eh?
      I always liked it here and regret running outta time so I didn’t get to Guatemala last time. So hopefully this time….

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