Toddler Adventures at the Mayan Ruins of Cobá, Mexico

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“Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go” -T.S Eliot

Anyone who has a toddler knows these are the words a toddler lives by. Every day with a toddler is an adventure! Now take a toddler with an older sibling and they’ll really prove to you what they can do! Our little guy keeps a very close eye on his older sister and never misses an opportunity to mimic her behaviours – especially those that seem the most fun (ie. the ones that mom & dad like the least).

This was our experience taking our toddler and preschooler to the Cobá ruins in Mexico

Visiting Cobá, with its natural setting in the jungle, makes it truly a unique experience. It’s been said that Cobá had the largest population of all the Mayan cities and only a few of the estimated 6,500 structures have been uncovered. The Nohoch Mol pyramid found at Cobá is the tallest Mayan temple in Mexico.

We arrived at Cobá as early as we could given the 100km drive from Playa Del Carmen. Cobá, though less popular with tourists than Chichén Itzá and Tulum, is one of the few ruins left that you can climb. We had been to Chichén Itzá earlier in our trip, so the kids were familiar with visiting ruins yet we had spent the majority of that visit trying to keep our kids off the ruins! We weren’t exactly sure how it would play out but this time we were going to let them climb. Our goal was to climb the 120 steps up the 138 foot Nohoch Mul Pyramid but with small children, you never know how things will go.

We knew our best chance would be to get up and down the Nohoch Mul Pyramid before the tour buses started arriving, and to hit it when their energy levels were the highest. We could then spend the rest of the morning enjoying a walk through the jungle to see the remaining ruins. We knew there were bikes available for rent (though unfortunately no child seats) and bici taxis (pedicabs), so we opted to hire a bici taxi. (We had a sneaky suspicion that our kids would love it and we were right!)

Children having run riding on a taxi bike

When we arrived at the Nohoch Mul Pyramid, there was really no stopping our two. Before we even had a chance to take pictures, they were off like a flash. This time, our 4 year old daughter knew she could climb it if she was up for it. And boy was she up for it. For our toddler, if his older sister was doing it then so was he. That’s how toddlers operate right? If it can be climbed then so it shall be!

Children at the base of the Nohoch Mul Pyramid

Children climbing the Nohoch Mul Pyramid

To be perfectly honest, if this had happened when our daughter was 2 years old, I’m not so sure we would have been quite as relaxed about her climbing it. But as things go with the second child, we went along with it.

Mother and child climbing the Nohoch Mul Pyramid

To our surprise, our 4 year old climbed it without issue and our 2 year old was right behind. The joy of accomplishment on their little faces was worth so much more than the incredible views you get standing up top. And that view overlooking the jungle and seeing other temples in the distance is a pretty amazing one!

Children smiling at the top of the Nohoch Mul Pyramid

After taking in the view and snapping a few pictures, we could see more and more people starting to arrive. Not to rush the experience, but for the safety of our kids we wanted to make sure we had plenty of space and time to climb down. This was going to be the tricky part as it was pretty steep and some of the steps had been smoothed over from thousands of visitors over the years, making it a little slippery in spots.

Mother and child smiling at the top of the Nohoch Mul Pyramid

We are no strangers to carrying our kids in backpack carriers or structured carriers, so out came our Onya Baby Nexstep! Using the carrier and having my hands free was the best way to get down. I would have preferred having him on my back, but toddlers (at least mine) are pretty particular about what they want. This time, it was on the front or nothing! Since I’m pretty comfortable carrying my kids in all sorts of situations and I never let an opportunity for snuggles like these to pass me by, on he went and down we went!

Mother and children climbing back down the Nohoch Mul Pyramid

Thankfully, there’s a rope for a little extra security. I didn’t feel it was absolutely necessary, but I do take extra precautions when my kids are involved. It’s steeper than it looks and the way down is much harder.

Once the climb was done, it was time to sit back with a snack and marvel at what was before us. Now good luck telling them the rest of the ruins couldn’t be climbed!

Children staring in amazement at the base of the Nohoch Mul Pyramid

Child taking first steps up the Nohoch Mul Pyramid

We then meandered back walking through the jungle, playing with sticks and rocks (as toddlers do) and taking a little time to jump out from behind the trees (because again, toddlers). Then just as we were visiting one last structure, in true toddler fashion, we had an epic meltdown on our hands. He was obviously over this visit and it was time for food.

Child smiling next to a tree

Children walking down path and playing

Delicious Mexican food with a view of the lake… that’s the best way to end an adventure. What’s even better is I actually got to enjoy my food without having to chase a toddler. Not only is the Onya Baby Nexstep made of 100% recycled polyester with an air-mesh lining, but my favourite part is that it converts to a highchair. You all know I get just a little excited about baby gear that’s multipurpose! I’m a big fan of a fabric highchair for travel, and this works in the exact same way. If I can carry one less thing with me, then I’m all in!

Mother and children sitting at a table eating

A few tips for climbing the Nohoch Mul Pyramid with a toddler:

  • • Only do it if you are completely comfortable doing activities like this while carrying a toddler.
  • • Wear proper shoes, especially if you plan to climb the pyramid.
  • • Nohoch Mul is three kilometres from the entrance. Consider hiring a bici taxi at least one way.
  • • Don’t forget hats, sunscreen and bug spray.
  • • Bring plenty of water and snacks.
  • • Go early and make sure you visit Nohoch Mul when energy levels are high.
  • • Take breaks – as much and as often as needed.
  • • Use the rope going up and down. Another option to go down is crab style by scooting on your bottom.
  • • Bring a Baby Carrier for going down or when your little one gets tired.

    Please note: we are very comfortable carrying our toddler in all sorts of scenarios. Please make your own risk assessment based on your skill and comfort level before climbing the Coba pyramid.