Art, the lovely man at our hostel in San Cristobal told us about a tour which went to Palenque, stopping along the way at Agua Azul and the Cascades, before visiting the ruins at Palenque and then returning. The cost of the tour was about 30 pesos (£1.50) more than the cost of the one way bus. Unfortunately, the one time I have tried to be organised since we arrived in Mexico was me buying our bus ticket when we arrived in San Cristobal to 'save us time later'. We had heard about Agua Azul (beautiful bright turquiose blue waterfall) from some other travellers and  were pretty keen to check it out.  So despite not liking our chances we headed back down to the bus station, although we couldn't get a refund for our tickets, we were able to change the tickets for another route, so we swapped it for our bus from Palenque to Merida a couple of days later and Art booked us onto the tour :)

The day started pretty early with a 6am pickup, although it was just after 7 by the time we had everyone else from their hotels and all of our luggage was hoisted onto the roof ready to go. Because San Cristobal is in the mountains we had a pretty windy road downhill for a couple of hours, punctuated by the ever present judder bars, before we stopped for breakfast. The breakfast buffet was pretty miserable looking, and pretty expensive for what was on offer so we decided to give it a miss and tried our luck with a portion of quesadillas which turned out to be pretty pathetic ones but never mind they kept us going until later. 
Halfway up Agua Azul
At the top of Agua Azul
Our first stop was at Agua Azul, a series of beautiful turquiose blue waterfalls. The day was starting to warm up and it was very tempting to hop in for a swim but since we were going to be visiting another fall later in the day we decided we would save it until then. There are lots of locals set up selling fresh fruit, juices, crafts and food along the walk to the top of the falls, and although the empanadas left a lot to be desired the watermelon went down a treat on our way back down. 

Next stop was Misol-ha, a 120 foot waterfall, that you can walk behind to feel the roar of the water falling from above. The area is surrounded by Mexican rainforest which is cooling from the midday sun, but unfortunately also means the water is a little less appealing that at Agua Azul, and we immediately regretted not swimming earlier. Supposedly its wise to be off the road between San Cristobal and Misol-ha by mid afternoon (its a well known drug smuggling route) and so we headed off to the ruins of Palenque soon after. 

The Palenque ruins date back to 226 BC. By 2005 the discovered area was about 2.5km² but its estimated that this is probably less than 10% of the actual city area, with thousands of structures still covered by the lush jungle which surrounds the site. Much of the history of Palenque has been reconstructed from reading the hieroglyphic inscriptions on the many monuments and Ty became particularly taken by King K'an B'alam the 2nd (Serpent Jaguar King) declaring that it would be the name of our first born son. Sorry babe - thats a deal breaker!

Murals at Palenque
Looking towards the Grand Palace
Ruins at Palenque
Wandering around the site we were glad for the forest at the site as the afternoon had got pretty hot and we didn't have much water with us. A great thing about these ruins is that you are still allowed to climb up them which means you get different perspectives on the site from each one and allows you to appreciate the thighs of steel that the Mayans must have had walking up and down the extremely steep steps every day! I got pretty excited at one point when Ty spotted a monkey running along the branch of a tree but wasn't fast enough to get a photo of it.

Lonely Planet's opinion of Palenque town is pretty much spot on; apart from as a jumping off point for the ruins there's not really much to see and its rather uninspiring compared to the other towns we have visited so far but we ran into Nick and Nicky, a British couple we met in Oaxaca so it was nice to see them again. 

Next stop: Merida