Bonampak is at the farthest reaches of Chiapas near the Usumacinta River in the Selva Lacandon — a rainforest jungle that is almost three hours from Palenque. It’s one of those magical places that I have dreamed of visiting but never imagined I might get to. To get as far as Palenque and not go another three hours to Bonampak would have been a mistake.
At the Palenque archeological museum and gift shop I bought Arqueologia Mexicana magazine, Vol. X, Number 55, that features the most recent reconstruction of the Bonampak murals. Since not all the paintings are clear and have degraded over time, archeological artists have attempted to reconstruct them using accurate colors and now infrared drawings. The magazine discusses (in English and Spanish) past interpretations, controversies and the most current reconstruction that uses the natural plant and mineral pigmentation.
Bonampak was part of the Yaxchilan alliance and was a smaller Mayan center. However, the discovery of the murals in the 1940’s overshadowed its more magnificent neighbor which I will write about in my next post.
It takes a special effort to get there and plenty of patience. The tour vans leave Palenque at 6 a.m. and you don’t return until 7:30 p.m. It’s a long day, but definitely rewarding. I took more than 80 photographs at Bonampak and can only show you a few of them here. Plus, there is lots of information online about the political, social and cultural history of place if you are interested in reading more.
As I mentioned in the previous post, I’d recommend staying at a lodge either at Yaxchilan or Bonampak so you have two days to enjoy these two extraordinary sites. One day is too rushed since day tours give only two hours at Yaxchilan and one hour at Bonampak. I told them we didn’t need an hour for lunch or 45 minutes for breakfast!