Muyil is one of the two main parts of the Sian Ka’an Biosphere reserve. This area is less frequented by tourists compared to Punta Allen. Punta Allen is traditionally known as the go-to spot for dolphin and turtle sightings. but this is not possible in the Muyil area. However, Even though you can’t spot dolphins at Muyil, the place is teeming with its own wonders. From its rich plant life and archaeological sites to the natural canals and a plethora of birds to watch, Muyil boasts its own unique attractions. So, if you are looking what to do in Sian Ka’an, here we will especially talk about the Muyil area, read our guide !
1. Muyil Floating Canals
The Muyil Floating Canals are a part of an ancient Mayan trading route, weaving through tranquil freshwater channels surrounded by mangroves and distinctive vegetation. Visitors can experience a serene float on these canals, guided only by the gentle currents. The journey through the canals offers a unique and peaceful way to explore the reserve, immersing travelers in a pristine natural environment rich in biodiversity. Bird watchers and nature enthusiasts, in particular, will appreciate the array of avian species and the dense, untouched mangrove forests.
2. Muyil archaeological site
The Muyil archaeological site, also known as Chunyaxché, is one of the earliest and longest inhabited ancient Maya sites on the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. It’s nestled within the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, blending both historical and natural wonders.
Historically, Muyil was occupied as early as the Middle Preclassic period (350-250 BC) and remained an active site through to the Postclassic period (1200-1500 AD). This prolonged habitation has left a rich tapestry of structures spanning various architectural styles and epochs.
One of the standout features of the site is the “El Castillo” (The Castle), which is a 57-foot tall pyramid. This pyramid serves as a prominent landmark and offers a panoramic view of the surrounding reserve and the lagoons connected to the site.
Muyil played a significant role as a trade center. The site’s proximity to the Caribbean Sea and its location by the lagoons and waterways made it an integral part of a trade network that facilitated the movement of goods like salt, honey, feathers, and cacao between regions.
Apart from its main structures and the Castillo, the site also has several stelae, small temples, and platforms. The site’s architecture and artifacts provide valuable insights into the socio-political and economic life of the Maya during their occupation.
Surrounded by lush forests, the experience of Muyil is distinct from other Mayan sites in the Yucatan. Exploring the Muyil archaeological site can indeed evoke feelings reminiscent of an Indiana Jones adventure! 🤠
- 💰 Entrance ticket to Muyil ruins: 70 MXN Pesos per person (a tour guide costs around 300 Pesos MXN for a 40-minute visit).
- 🕒 Opening hours: Monday to Sunday, 9am to 5pm.
3. Birdwatching in Muyil 🐦
You will find a luxuriant nature in Muyil. Bird observation is a must see activity in Muyil. To observe them, we advise you to opt for a tour with a guide. Thus, he will explain to you the fauna and the different species of birds inhabiting the Muyil area. You can observe 40 to 80 species of birds in this area, depending on the season.
Most of the tours take you bird watching in a small Mayan community, on a trail through the heart of the jungle, and in Muyil.
While the exact species you can spot might vary depending on the season and time of day, here are some birds commonly sighted in the area:
- Oscellated Turkey: This is a vibrant and colorful turkey species native to the Yucatan Peninsula.
- Yucatan Jay: Recognizable by its bright blue body and yellow legs and eyes.
- Hooded Oriole: A striking bird with a combination of yellow and black colors.
- Tropical Kingbird: Often seen perched on treetops, this bird has a gray head, olive upperparts, and a bright yellow belly.
- Black-headed Trogon: This bird has a bright yellow belly, green back, and blue-gray head, making it quite noticeable.
- Great Kiskadee: Recognizable by its loud call, this bird has a yellow belly and a distinctive black and white striped head.
- Wood Storks, Roseate Spoonbills, and various Herons and Egrets: These are often sighted around the lagoons and waterways.
- Yucatan Woodpecker: A small woodpecker species native to the region.
- Tropical Mockingbird: Similar to the Northern Mockingbird but is a resident of the Yucatan.
- White-bellied Emerald and other hummingbird species: These tiny, swift birds are often seen hovering around flowers.
👉 Remember, the best times for bird watching are usually early morning or late afternoon, and bringing along a local guide or a birding field guide can help enhance the experience and improve identification.
4. Jungle trail & Observation tower 🍃
There’s a jungle trail called Canan–Ha that allows visitors to immerse themselves in the natural beauty and lush vegetation of the area. This trail is approximately 500 meters long. Walking through this path, you might encounter various plant species, hear the calls of local wildlife, and experience the tranquility that the dense canopy provides. it is sometimes possible to observe monkeys jumping from tree to tree. Keep your eyes and ears wide open. 🐒
Additionally, Muyil boasts an observation tower (often referred to as a “mirador”). This structure lets visitors ascend above the treeline to get panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. From the top, you can often see the expanse of the jungle, the lagoons, and sometimes even the ruins from a unique perspective. It’s not only a great spot for sightseeing but also for bird watching, as the elevated position offers a chance to see avian species that might be harder to spot from the ground.
5. Which animals can be observed in Muyil ?
Muyil, offers a diverse range of habitats, which in turn supports a variety of wildlife species. Here are some of the animals you might encounter during your visit to Muyil:
- Birds: As mentioned earlier, Muyil is a haven for birdwatchers. Species include the Oscellated Turkey, Yucatan Jay, Hooded Oriole, Tropical Kingbird, Black-headed Trogon, Great Kiskadee, and various herons and egrets, among many others.
- Monkeys: Howler and spider monkeys are native to the region and can sometimes be seen swinging from tree to tree.
- Coatis: These are part of the raccoon family and are often seen foraging on the ground.
- Jaguars and Pumas: While they are present in the reserve, sightings are extremely rare due to their elusive nature.
- Tapirs: Another rare sight but they do inhabit the area.
Reptiles and Amphibians:
- Crocodiles: The freshwater lagoons and channels may host Morelet’s crocodiles.
- Turtles: Freshwater turtles can often be seen in the lagoons and waterways.
Various species of frogs, toads, lizards, and snakes are also native to the region.
- Fish: The freshwater lagoons and channels are home to various fish species, some of which are unique to the Yucatan Peninsula.
- Insects: Expect a wide variety of insects, including colorful butterflies and dragonflies.
- Manatees: Although they are more commonly seen in other parts of the Sian Ka’an reserve, there’s always a chance of spotting them in the lagoons or channels.
It’s essential to remember that while many of these animals live in the reserve, actual sightings can never be guaranteed since these are wild creatures in their natural habitats. Early mornings or late afternoons are often the best times for wildlife spotting. Hiring a local guide can also increase your chances of observing and correctly identifying various species, as they are familiar with the habits and habitats of the local fauna.
How long does it take to visit the Muyil area?
Muyil is close to Tulum, you might like to read our article about how to get to Muyil. Half-day is enough to visit the archaeological site and the canals. If you want to experience bird watching, canals floating and a visit to the archaeological site then yes you will need a full day. It will also be an opportunity to eat in a Mayan village and have an authentic experience.