About an hour out of Mexico City lies the supposedly magnificent ruins of Teotihuacan, making it an incredibly easy option for a day trip from the capital.
Our hostel offered tours there for $750.00 pesos per person, however we were eager to both save on costs, as well as avoid the tourists if possible, and thus was hatched our plans for a do it ourselves Teotihuacan tour!
A quick internet search convinced us that it was very doable, so we hatched our plans to leave the hostel before 07:00 on our second day, where a quick walk to a nearby metro station saw us heading out to Terminal Norte (the same bus terminal we arrived at a couple of days earlier) to seek our bus to the ruins.
Even at such an early hour, the metro was packed (we had to squeeze and push to get on board)… not all that surprising for a rail network that shifts over 4 million people on a daily basis.
It wasn’t long before we were at our station, got to the terminal and found the counter for Autobuses Teotihuacan (as you enter the bus station, their counter is to the far left) and had our tickets for the 07:30 bus.
All of our timing was going well given it was such an early time of the day!
In short time (I think it was about 8 minutes after we’d purchased our tickets) we were on board and on our way for the relatively quick trip to Teotihuacan.
Although only an hour, it may however have not felt long enough for the Mexican couple seated behind us, who for the whole 60 minute journey, managed to rather loudly keep their lips locked!
I guess it was one way to pass the time…
So here we were at Teotihuacan! At a time early enough that the ground was still slightly frosty and the air definitely carried a chill!
It was an incredibly peaceful time. The ruins were empty, even the urchins had not yet set up for the tour buses (which apparently arrive from 10:00 onwards), so we could wander around, at least initially, unmolested.
This was what we had hoped for, and we tried to hit the ground running, heading directly towards the two largest sights (both figuratively and literally), the Pirámide del Sol (the Pyramid of the Sun, the worlds 3rd largest pyramid) and the Pirámide de la Luna (Pyramid of the Moon).
A wrong turn, which took us towards the not yet open museum caused a small delay, but taking a direct route towards the Pirámide del Sol, saw us actually leave the main path, following a small service trail, passing an archaeological dig site, and eventually to our destination.
Standing at the base of this thing and gazing upwards, it looked immense!
With a rather steep looking set of stairs ahead of us, we wasted little time and began our ascent.
After a little huffing and puffing we were cresting the uppermost tier, our only company a lone woman at the pyramids apex, meditating before the morning sun.
Not surprisingly, this elevated position gave us wonderful views in every direction, most impressive being the ruins around us and the now dominant Pirámide de la Luna (given that we now commanded the other great height).
The sheer scale of this place was impressive, and to be able to experience it with only 5 or 6 other people around was a pretty magical thing, and I am sure there is little doubt it also helped us form better impressions and memories than we may have otherwise had.
A rapid descent saw us down on Calzada de los Muertos (the Avenue of the Dead), headed now towards the Pirámide de la Luna as we followed this broad thoroughfare.
This grand edifice to the Moon is considered to be far more aesthetically pleasing in style and shape and again we were eager to investigate before the crowds began to arrive.
Yet another climb saw us able to gaze back at the behemoth from which we’d just come (although the two pyramids are the same height, tourists are not allowed to ascend the full height of the Pirámide de la Luna) and gain further perspective on the amazing city these ancient people constructed.
Another spiritual sort had been seated at the top of this tier as we’d arrived, but her departure did allow me to use her for a sense of scale as she wandered across the plaza (before climbing and performing Tai Chi on top of one of the lesser temples).
This wonderful site isn’t all about the two grand pyramids however.
A purported 83 square kilometres is the size of this UNESCO World Heritage Site (it is also Mexico’s most visited archaeological site, hence our desire to get here early), so as you can imagine, there is plenty else to see, and many areas to explore.
At the southern end of the complex, a lesser known pyramid forms part of the Temple of Quetzalcoatl (this location has some incredible stone carvings), whilst on the fringes of the Avenue of the Dead, and impressive Jaguar mural remains.
We managed a solid 4 and a half hours at Teotihuacan, although from about 09:30 onwards the crowds did certainly start to build making us ever grateful for our decision to get here nice and early.
By 14:00 we were back in the capital, ready to relax our legs after a lot of kilometres walked, and hundreds of stairs climbed!
…and to think we did it all for less than half the cost for one of us to go as part of the tour!
* To travel to Teotihuacan is surprisingly easy and this is how we did it (prices are per person travelling with Autobuses Teotihuacan whose counter is at the far end of the terminal):
Metro from near our hostel to Autobus Terminal Norte $5.00 pesos
Bus from Terminal Norte (one way with Autobuses Teotihuacan) $45.00 pesos
Teotihuacan entrance fee (after a one bus hour trip, arriving 08:30) $59.00 pesos
Bus from Gate 2 to Mexico City (another 1 hour bus ride) $45.00 pesos
Metro from Autobus Terminal Norte to our hostel $5.00 pesos
TOTAL $159.00 pesos