Like Monte Alban, reasonably close to Oaxaca City sits Yagul, and again like Monte Alban, something I’d read of in advance and thought “we should check that place out”.
It wasn’t just that it was some more ruins (but hey, I think ruins are pretty cool, okay), but also that from all the information we could glean, for some reason Yagul has just never become popular.
Even when we got to Oaxaca itself, tours there are aplenty, but for some reason, Yagul was left off every itinerary.
Tours to Mitla and Hierve el Agua even drive right past it, without pulling in for a quick look.
This only piqued our curiosity further, so a DIY tour it had to be!
Some quick research told us that the 2nd class buses could easily drop us off at the turn-off on the main highway, so armed with this information, off we went to the address we had, seeking our chariot to get us there.
This proved harder than first expected… in truth, we didn’t actually have an address. Just the road that it was on, and a note that said 250m in this direction and you’ll find the bus terminal.
Guess what? We didn’t!
We walked all the way to the end of the road, saw a few city buses, but no bus terminal, and nothing indicating it was headed to Mitla!
With the road at an end, we took a right turn (the only option available to us and wandered a bit further) when Sarah spotted an old and faded sign to the bus terminal, behind the wall we were following!
We turned around, and retraced our steps, this time looking for an opening that would get us inside this wall.
Eventually we found it, the reason it had been missed early is because the street is lined with all sorts of street stalls and vendors, who but for a few small gaps completely covered up any sign of the terminal!
We sauntered in, bought our tickets for a bus that was ready to leave in a few minutes time. Perfect!
It may have been 45 minutes, I can’t recall fully, but it wasn’t long before we found ourselves deposited on the main highway, the green sign to Yagul telling us to follow the long road to the left.
The road was quiet, the only vehicle that passed us in either direction a police patrol that gave us a friendly wave.
Towards the end of a kilometre or so, it began to gently rise, but in the subtle heat (it was overcast, but pretty warm and humid) it felt a lot steeper!
It wasn’t long before we were at the ticket booth, and if the car park was anything to go by (it was empty of cars), we weren’t likely to be queuing for long.
Given the apparent lack of visitors, we’d considered that they’d be unlikely to change a $500.00 peso note, so had arrived with some smaller stuff, which it turns out they weren’t able to change either!
Fear not, the old lady at the counter advised us that by the time we viewed the site, she’d have our change, so in we wandered.
Compared to many of the sites, this place was small, and had it not been for a posse of gardeners, we’d have had it all to ourselves.
This place was actually pretty small, and whilst the ruins themselves were at no point going to truly get us excited (after all, we have already seen some pretty spectacular places), the setting with its feeling of remoteness, and the towering rock set behind the site itself was pretty impressive.
After we’d finished our circuit, our attention was captured by the heights above, even more so when we discovered a rocky path leading upwards.
It give us some pretty cool views both over the site, as well as of the surrounding countryside, so even from an early stage in the climb, it seemed pretty worth it.
Along the hike, we came across an old tomb which was pretty interesting (we could descend only to a certain point before it was protected by some bars), but the path continued to climb, so it was onwards and upwards we went.
Eventually we reached the top, and it was a pretty broad and wide plateau, covered by plenty of scrubby trees and rocky boulders.
Following the path, we then came across a most unexpected, but incredibly cool thing, a bathtub, hewn out of the very rock over which we walked!
We took in some more of the stellar views, before eventually make the descent back down to the ruins for one last wander (inside one of the last buildings actually remains some of the original red stucco).
Small it may have been, but this place even had, in excellent condition, a ball court. A little site just full of surprises!
True to her word, back at the main entrance, our little old lady behind the counter, did indeed have our change waiting, so after the walk back down to the main highway, we appear to have gotten fairly lucky.
After a wait of only 10 or so minutes, a local bus, headed back to Oaxaca cruised by, and we were quickly on board and back on our way to town.
* To get to the bus to Mitla (and Yagul) proved something of an adventure, but a pretty easy one at that (any bus or colectivo travelling to Mitla can drop you off at the turn-off). We caught the 2nd class bus from the terminal on Juarez Maza (look for the entrances hidden between market stalls) for $16.00 pesos per person (one way).
* From the highway it is an easy walk of around 1.5km to the ruins themselves with a gentle hill towards the end.
* Bring small notes and change, as with few visitors, the staff at the ticket booth in Yagul will rarely be able to change larger notes!