For a glimpse into the formidable history and heritage of Mexico, a visit to Palenque National Park is indispensable and simply a must in this incredible country. This huge complex of Mayan ruins is awe-inspiring and, emerging from amidst the jungle, they certainly make for spectacular viewing.
Well-preserved, the temples and palaces are mesmerising to wander around and no visitor to Palenque will leave without a sense of awe at the ingenuity of the Mayans. One could spend a lifetime taking in all the wonders of these Mesoamerican ruins; breathtaking and unforgettable, they will certainly leave memories that will last forever.
Palenque (Spanish pronunciation: [pa’leŋke]; Yucatec also anciently known in the Itza Language as Lakamhaʼ (“Big Water or Big Waters”), was a Maya city state in southern Mexico that perished in the 8th century. The Palenque ruins date from ca. 226 BC to ca. 799 AD. After its decline, it was overgrown by the jungle of cedar, mahogany, and sapodilla trees, but has since been excavated and restored. It is located near the Usumacinta River in the Mexican state of Chiapas, about 130 km (81 mi) south of Ciudad del Carmen, 150 meters (490 ft) above sea level. It averages a humid 26°C (79°F) with roughly 2,160 millimeters (85 in) of rain a year.
Palenque is a medium-sized site, smaller than Tikal, Chichen Itza, or Copán, but it contains some of the finest architecture, sculpture, roof comb and bas-relief carvings that the Mayas produced. Much of the history of Palenque has been reconstructed from reading the hieroglyphic inscriptions on the many monuments; historians now have a long sequence of the ruling dynasty of Palenque in the 5th century and extensive knowledge of the city-state’s rivalry with other states such as Calakmul and Toniná. The most famous ruler of Palenque was K’inich Janaab Pakal, or Pacal the Great, whose tomb has been found and excavated in the Temple of the Inscriptions. By 2005, the discovered area covered up to 2.5 km2 (1sq mi), but it is estimated that less than 10% of the total area of the city is explored, leaving more than a thousand structures still covered by jungle. Palenque received 920,470 visitors in 2017.
Palenque National Park is located in a tropical and subtropical zone which affects its temperature and rainfall throughout the year. The climate can be divided into various periods:
- Rainy Season (May-October): During this season, the park receives a significant amount of rainfall. The rains are heaviest from June to September. This period is characterized by high temperatures and high humidity. Average daily temperatures can vary from 24°C to 32°C.
- Dry season (November-April): During this season, rainfall is less and the weather is generally more pleasant. Average temperatures are slightly lower than in the rainy season, with values ranging between 20°C and 28°C.
However, it should be remembered that climatic conditions can vary from year to year and can be influenced by factors such as global atmospheric phenomena, such as El Niño and La Niña.
Heavy rainfall and humidity during the wet season can make the ground slippery and muddy, so visitors should be prepared with proper footwear and light, breathable clothing. During the dry season, the weather is generally more conducive for exploration, but it’s still advisable to bring adequate sunscreen and hydrate regularly due to the warmer temperatures.
The Palenque National Park is characterized by a biodiversity of absolute interest.
The flora of the Park is typical of humid tropical forests, where a great variety of plants can be found, including tall trees with thick foliage and dense vegetation on the ground.
According to the National Information System on Biodiversity of the National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (CONABIO) in the Palenque National Park there are more than 1,475 species of plants and animals of which 139 fall into some risk category of the Official Gazette Mexican standards NOM-059 and 34 are exotic. 4.5
The flora of the park consists of tall evergreen jungle and grasslands.
Palm trees are often found in these forests, adding a distinctive component to the landscape. Typical palms might include coconut palm, date palm, and other local species.
These forests are home to hardwood trees such as mahogany and acajou.
Epiphytic plants, such as orchids and bromeliads, grow on trees and add unique splendor and color to the greenery.
Due to the dense nature of the tropical forest, lianas and vines are often encountered climbing the trees, creating intricate plant networks.
Many plant species in the tropical forest are used for medicinal and aromatic purposes by local people.
Since the tropical forest is home to a wide variety of exotic fruits, fruit trees or plants such as bananas, papayas, pineapples and many others are frequently encountered