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Maya Ruins > Kohunlich

Kohunlich, unlike most Mayan sites is actually not a Mayan name, but is an English version of 'Cohoon Ridge.' Cohoon is Belizean name for a species of fruiting palm common to the area. The name has been "Mayanized" into Kohunlich. The ruins weren't discovered until 1967 by a local Mayan. The Cohoon palms (shown below) create a park like feeling to Kohunlich that is peaceful and beautiful.

Kohunlich is best known for it's Pyramid of the Masks. It is one of the oldest structures at Kohunlich, built before 500 AD. The building has a giant staircase flanked by six huge heads modeled in stucco. Each mask is over 8 feet tall and is slightly different. While there is no known identification attributed to the masks, some theories say they represent Gods, other that they are faces of ruling members of Kohunlich.

Open Daily 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Kohunlich is a 2 hour drive from Mayan Beach Garden. To get there, you head south on 307 past the town of Bacalar. Exit before the overpass at the signs to Escarcega, on high-way 186. There are good signs indicating the turn-off road to Kohunlich which is 9 km. from highway 186. Once there, the bathrooms are very good and they usually sell cold water at the entrance. Occasionally guides are avaialble, especially during high season.

Kohunlich location map

The Photo to the right is the top three levels of the mask, view of one of the largest of the two base level masks is shown below.


Kohunlich Masks

Trips to Dzibanche and Kinichna can be combined in a one day trip from Mayan Beach Garden. We pack lunches for our guests because one can't guarantee where one will be anywhere close to a restaurant at lunch time. Although Kohunlich is visited by the tour buses, they don't stay long and never go to the residential area (shown below) so it is easy to escape and wait them out.

Huge Cohoon palms flank all the pathways at the Palace complex. From the top of this building there are great views in all directions.

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Kohunlich has several structures that are interesting to take note of. This temple is the temple of the stella, although none of the writings can be read at this point in time, the stairs are adorned with several Stella.

Kohunlich Mask
Temple of the Masks - one of the larger Masks.

kohunlich stellea

Few Tour groups visit the temple of the 27 steps. One day I was there and my friend and I surprised a group of about 30 coatis/terhunes rooting around for insects. I was glad the area was isolated..

Temple of the 27 steps - leading to the residential area

Temple of the 27 steps

Up above the main acropolis of Kohunlich, and often missed by many visitors, is a residential area called the Temple of the 27 steps. Being the type who take every trail we see, we followed one that seemed to lead up hill to the south. It was quite steep, but well worth it, for at the top was a beautiful group of buildings with manicured lawns and bougainvillea. It gives you a good sense of the grandeur of Kohunlich and the type of people that might have lived there.

Every part of Kohunlich says you are in a park in the Jungle, even around the ball court. But listen carefully, because Howler Monkeys may be in the distance calling to each other. They like the tall trees and protection of the jungle. During Mayan Times, there wasn't a cohoon palm growing in the middle of the ball court, but it makes the walkway shady.

Bring insect Repellant.

Kohunlich ballcourt

Last updated: June 21, 2012

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