Even though it was 6:00am and we were comfortable in our bed at Hotel Boutique Casa Quetzal, we awoke with excitement for the day we had planned!

hotel boutique casa quetzal
Would you want to leave this bed?!

We had already done a cycle trip around Valladolid with MexiGo Tours, but since we had such a great time, we decided to book another adventure with this company.

We drove out to the fishing village of Rio Lagartos with four other travellers and our upbeat guide, Gilberto. Set next to the village is a massive, 60,000 hectare nature reserve and lagoon. Here you can find flamingos, crocodiles, over 300 species of birds and many fish. We’d already seen flamingos and crocodiles during our safari in the Masai Mara in Kenya, but we never tire of spotting animals in their natural habitats.

ria lagartos
Us with beautiful Ria Lagartos in the background

Within moments of zigging and zagging down the brackish canals, the jungle came alive with the songs of birds and the rustle of the mangroves. We spotted Egrets, Ospreys, Herons, Pelicans, a Puffer Fish, a couple of crocodiles and more. After cruising down the canal for about 45 mins, we pulled up on shore and saw Flamingos wandering around, eating and flying! They were much brighter in color than the ones in Kenya, we couldn’t believe it. Their neon hue seemed to glow in the afternoon sun.

flamingos ria lagartos

After stalking the birds for a while, Gilberto asked if we all wanted to put some mud clay all over our bodies as a sort of natural spa treatment. Of course, Nick and I jumped at the chance while the other 4 tourists decided to stay in the boat. We smeared the clay all over each other, which was similar to our mud bath in the Dead Sea in Jordan, but this mud was a bit thicker.

mud bath ria lagartos

We left the hot mud to bake on our bodies for about 15 mins before rinsing it off with fresh water. What we were left with was smooth, soft skin. Apparently we’re supposed to look 10 years younger…whether that’s true or not is another story.

We made our way back to shore and enjoyed a delicious fish lunch. After that, we were off to our final stop of the day, the ancient Maya Archeological Site of Ek’ Balam. This was to be the first Maya site we had ever seen, so we were really looking forward to it.

ek balam

Compared to Chichen Itza, Ek’ Balam is one of the lesser visited sites in the Maya World and it definitely didn’t disappoint. We wandered around picturing what life must have been like over 2000 years ago. We hiked up the 106, uneven, stone steps to the top of the Acropolis and enjoyed the views of the thick jungle and ancient buildings down below.

ek balam
Ready to hike to the top

We had a fantastic 10 hour day and definitely recommend doing a trip out to Rio Lagartos and Ek’ Balam, two must-sees in this area of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Check out our video filled with wildlife, mud baths and ancient Maya ruins!

To book this tour, contact Toon of MexiGo Tours at:

Phone: +52.985.8560777 or +521.985.1082018
Email: [email protected]

Toon and his wife also rent out a modern, two bedroom apartment called Casa Mango. It includes every appliance and furnishing you would need in a vacation rental. It even has a pool! They charge $99/night, which is a very good price by Valladolid standards. They also offer discounts for longer stays.
To have a look at Casa Mango, check it out here on Air BnB.

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Rio Lagartos & Ek Balam: Searching for Wildlife and Ancient Ruins

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Written by

Nick Wharton and Dariece Swift are the owners and founders of Goats On The Road. Together they have been travelling and working abroad since 2008 and have more than 20 years of combined experience in online business, finance, travel and entrepreneurship. Their expert advice has been featured on the Lonely Planet, CNN Money, Business Insider,  WiseBread and Forbes and they also spoke at the World Tourism Forum in Istanbul about the business of travel blogging.

Learn more about Nick Wharton and Dariece Swift on their respective author archives on this site and on the Goats On The Road About Us Page.

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3 thoughts on “Rio Lagartos & Ek Balam: Searching for Wildlife and Ancient Ruins

  1. It sounds like a nice adventure 🙂 Going to lesser known ruins is almost always better since they’re less crowded and sometimes just as nice as the more popular ones!

  2. Definitely! Especially if you get there early, then you can have the place virtually to yourself for a bit 🙂

    Happy travels.

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