Palenque – hiking in the rainforest around ancient Mayan site

naturist 0024 Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico

I visited several Mayan sites throughout southern Mexico, and Palenque definitely stood out thanks to some of the most magnificent ruins surrounded by equally majestic tropical rainforest. It is a popular tourist site, so don’t expect me to streak right there.

naturist 0021 Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico

However, I didn’t miss the opportunity to explore the jungle right around Palenque ruins in the buff. naturist 0023 Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico

Given the warm and humid tropical climate, this idea was nothing odd. The only tricky part was that I was going to get a guide, as I was alone this time and didn’t want to get lost on the unknown territory. Upon arrival to the ruins, I was immediately approached by one of many certified guides awaiting tourists. His name was Cruz; in case you happen to be in Palenque and find a guide with this name, maybe you’ll be lucky to have the same guy! He first offered a tour at the ancient site itself and just briefly mentioned the protected rainforest around it. I was intrigued about the latter, and he convinced me that it was actually one of the best preserved virgin tropical rainforests in the area.  However, I figured that I’d be able to get around the ancient site on my own and would rather need a guide in the forest. As we were discussing hiking in the areas where very few visitors ventured out, it wasn’t long till I asked Cruz my burning question: “Could I hike naked?” He seemed puzzled for a second, so I briefly explained him the concept of naturism. Also, in that weather, the clothes is definitely obsolete… “and, – I continued – that’s probably how your ancient Mayan ancestors explored the jungle too”. Cruz seemed convinced and even murmured that I wouldn’t be the first tourist to do so either.

So, after I was done with the pyramids, temples and castles, Cruz met me again, carrying a machete this time, and we headed to the trail. Well, actually there was no trail, we just walked by a small spring. There were clear signs of more ruins still covered by the forest, and Cruz said that was what satellite images suggested; the whole site was taken over by forest after it was abandoned, and only a fraction was cleared after its rediscovery.

naturist 0000 Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico

There were a lot of snails in the creek, and Cruz collected them for a later meal.

snail 0010 Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico

In some places, we had to do a little bit of rock-climbing.

naturist 0001 Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico

Maybe it was the sweat after all that, or my ‘ancient Maya’ argument was so strong, but when I told my guide that he should as well hike naked like me, he liked the idea. It seemed to me he only waited till I would suggest him to disrobe.

Somewhere midway up the hill, we left the creek bed and turned right into the jungle. That’s where Cruz made use of his machete, although he still lead the path up the easier way, e.g., along fallen trees.

naturist 0002 Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico

We saw some beautiful flowers on the way, like this heliconia, for example.

heliconia 0013 Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico

However, these blue leaves appeared far more extraordinary, as blue is not a very common colour even among flowers, let along leaves.

naturist 0014 Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico

Cruz told me a lot about local plants, but unfortunately I cannot recall most of it. I remember seeing papayas in places where sunlight wasn’t blocked by tall trees,

papaya 0012 Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico

but there were also some fruits that weren’t edible.

palm tree fruit 0011 Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico

I thought that this vine was a passionfruit, but Cruz said it was something else. I forgot if he said it was edible, although it did not look ripe in any case.

passionfruit 0015 Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico

It was great to see such a diversity of fruits, it made me confident that with certain knowledge I’d be able to survive there, if I were lost; especially papayas looked encouraging in that respect. That was a tropical rainforest after all! Though after very good blueberry season in New York last summer, I can’t complain here either.

Well, the forest wasn’t just full of plants, there were animals too, but most of them would rather avoid encounters with humans, especially during day. There was one notable exception, though – a spider monkey!

spider monkey 0000 Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico

We were already on top of the hill, and Cruz pointed up one tree. There was a spider monkey, really close to us, munching some leaves calmly. It was fascinating to see how easily he moved through the trees, not without help of his fifth “limb”, the tail.

spider monkey 0003 Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico

And it’s not like he didn’t see us, he stared at us curiously for a while and didn’t seem to be worried.

spider monkey 0001 Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico

He continued his business and then would only pay attention to us when Cruz imitated spider-monkey calls.

spider monkey 0004 Palenque, Chiapas, Mexicospider monkey 0005 Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico

According to Cruz, monkeys are the only wild animals in the area that feel at ease near humans, maybe because of our close evolutionary kindred. Then it definitely helped that we were naked. Have I mentioned he was naked too?

spider monkey 0002 Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico

After he left, I realised I was hungry too, so I happily got to my mangos and other local fruits.

naturist 0008 Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico

Although we were on top of the hill, we could not see much around because of the trees, and I didn’t feel like climbing those.

naturist 0016 Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico

It was time to go down, but we went by the other side of the hill, and soon reached the dry bed of another creek.

naturist 0009 Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico

We heard some loud animal calls, so I hid under the huge leaf of anthurium.

naturist 0005 Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico

It had two holes that perfectly matched my eyes… but no one showed up.

naturist 0017 Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico

We continued walking, and I was mesmerised by some very tall trees.

naturist 0003 Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico

Even some lianas grew as thick as trees.

naturist 0018 Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico

When we reached the spring, it was nice to refresh in its cool water,

naturist 0006 Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico

and we continued our hike down along it.

naturist 0007 Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico

We were approaching the border of the forest, however, so after some final naked shots, it was time to get dressed again.

naturist 0004 Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico

Then I took photos of the ruins in the nice late afternoon sun.

naturist 0019 Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico

Now I had a pretty good impression of what that wooded hill next to the ruins was like.

naturist 0020 Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico

It was hard to judge whether I was impressed more by the magnificent constructions or the equally splendid forest… Probably it was the combination of both that made Palenque very special.

15 thoughts on “Palenque – hiking in the rainforest around ancient Mayan site

  1. J’ai aussi constaté qu’il est beaucoup facile d’approcher les animaux quand je suis nu.
    Je pense que eux aussi croient que c’est naturel de vivre nu.
    Merci pour les reportages que tu partage.


  2. On a trip to Palenque I heard there was a creek where it was OK to swim nude but when I got there everyone was in clothes – I did see guides offering jungle tours but wasn’t sure quite how safe these were. Where did you find the guide, inside the park or at the gates? Do you think many people actually hike naked – I would have thought that most would perhaps find somewhere to swim, strip and stay naked – I did that once in Cuba, the guide was absolutely fine with me being naked and although no one else was there that day it was clear that other people went nude. I stayed naked all the way back down, from the pools but though he swum he never stripped.


  3. At the risk of repeating what’s already been said, I’ll simply add that I too have been to Palenque, and hiked through the surrounding rainforest, but, unfortunately, textile-bound. I suspect that your nude globetrotting is not exactly your “job,” but the phrase that comes to mind is, I wish I had a “job” like yours. Love to catch up on your posts, keep up the great work!


  4. Another great travelogue! I’ve also been to several of the ancient Maya sites, but never nude. The rainforest photos were terrific. Thanks for posting.


      1. We actually visited some of the ruins south of Cancun last may but there was no way to get off the beaten path for any nude photos plus the hundreds of people around. As hot as it was that day shedding clothes would have been most welcome. Jean Michel’s photos are amazing as well. How in the world did he get isolated enough to get those without people all around. It would really be a nice experience to do that. Just hiking naked there would really make one feel connected with those ancient civilizations’.


          1. Will we went back and had a second look at them. We would love to have some us like that to share with friends. What an appropriate setting for some nude photography.


  5. Wonderful story supported by great photos. We love your nude photos. We too enjoy hiking nude but have not had this type of opportunity. What a joy it is to be one with nature. Keep up the wonderful submissions.


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