Misnebalam Yucatan is about as off-the-beaten-path as it gets in the Yucatan peninsula. Very few people have even heard of this town and those who have, often choose to avoid it…
Once upon a time, Misnebalam was a thriving town that was once home to 170 residents that made a living working in the henequen industry. However, a series of terrifying and supernatural events in the area caused the inhabitants to gradually move out of town.
The last two residents of Misnebalam left in 2005. Since then, the town has laid in abandon, overgrown with weeds, and reclaimed by nature.
In 2005, Misnebalam was documented as being depopulated. It is a “Pueblo Fantasma” – a Mexican ghost town.
During the 19th and 20th centuries, the henequen industry was booming in Southern Mexico. Henequen (referred to by locals as “green gold”) is a species of plant of the agave genus that is native to the Yucatan.
It was used to make rope, cords, hammocks, and apparel items and helped inject a lot of money into the economy of the Yucatan peninsula. However, sadly, this good fortune was not to last.
The invention of synthetic fibers at the end of the 20th century put a lot of people out of business and led to the downfall of many Yucatan haciendas. By the 21st century, the last few haciendas still working with henequen realized that this was no longer a viable way to make money and shut up shop.
Throughout most of the 20th century, Misnebalam hacienda was one of the main places where henequen was cultivated in the Yucatan. The name Misnebalam comes from two words of Mayan origin: “Misne” meaning “cattail” and Balam meaning “Jaguar”.
Many of the 170 people that lived in the area were farmers and their families. The settlement and hacienda were founded by Don Fidencio G. Márquez, the first owner of the hacienda.
For a period, Misnebalam was a lovely little rural town. But this was not to last and the town would only enjoy 95 years of occupation – from 1910 to 2005.
Ghostly Activity in Misnebalam
In 1921, Don Fidencio G.Márquez, was driving down one of the little roads (sac bé) that led into Misnebalam Yucatan when he was assassinated. His son and a farmhand were in the car and witnessed the murder.
Nobody was ever caught or charged with the assassination and as far as most people are concerned, that was the turning point that started the supernatural events in the village. From then on, many townsfolk would see Márquez’s ghost wandering around the grounds of his hacienda, unable to rest, as if he had unfinished business.
He is not the only ghost of Misnebalam either. Yucatecans will tell you stories of a small boy named Juliancito who haunts the town.
There are no records to confirm whether Juliancito did or did not exist or whether he was made up as part of a scary story about the town. Legend has it that Juliancito was a small boy who took his own life after being sexually assaulted by one of the farmhands.
He hung himself from a tree outside the Misnebalam hacienda and sightings of him have been reported by many people, particularly at night. Some people have reported hearing a child laughing and others have seen little Juliancito running and playing with a ball.
Just across from the ruins of the hacienda, you will find the sunbleached, roofless remnants of an old church. The ghost of a priest donning a black gown has been documented dashing through the church and its grounds after dark.
It was apparently the constant, ever-increasing, paranormal activity in Misnebalam that drove its residents out little by little. People camping or passing by the site have reported unexplained phenomena such as orbs, lights turning on in houses that do not have electricity, and strange voices and whispers.
Abandonment of the town
Misnebalam’s abandonment was fairly recent (2005). However few official records exist of the town.
The stories of ghosts and supernatural activity are perhaps the most exciting. There are also rumors that people left due to water supply issues or quite simply that the town inhabitants decided to move away after the end of the henequen boom.
Regardless, it is very rare to see a town in Mexico abandoned in such a way. Yes, you may see the occasional abandoned town or hacienda, but very rarely do you see entire towns abandoned.
In recent years, Misnebalam has attracted a lot of Satanists, cults, Paranormal Investigators, and anyone interested in the macabre. In some ways, this only adds to the mystery of the place.
Visiting Misnebalam Yucatan
Misnebalam Yucatan is something of an unofficial tourist attraction. A few brave souls venture here each month but it is far from one of the main places to visit in the Yucatan.
The site is free to enter and if you want (or dare), you can even consider camping overnight. Most of the time, you will have the town entirely to yourself, even on a weekend.
Whether that is terrifying or exciting is debatable. There are a few key buildings to look out for. Immediately on your left when arriving, you will see two grand colonnaded structures that once made up the hacienda.
While wandering around, it is not hard to imagine how this place looked in its heyday. Some features still remain of its former grandeur.
For instance, the ornate azulejo tiles along the broken kitchen sink, the patterned azulejo floors, the empty swimming pool, and the broken garden seats. A number of overgrown trails lead you through the woodland at the back of the house to a sculpture garden and an overgrown, forgotten cemetery.
Cross the road and you will see what remains of the Iglesia Catolica De Misnébalam San Jorge De Capadocia. Following the two streets to your right, you will find a couple of abandoned residential homes.
Is Misnebalam Safe?
While Merida is a very safe city and the Yucatan, in general, is safe, Misnebalam is very isolated. Make sure that you pack plenty of water, snacks, sunscreen, and comfortable closed walking shoes. Your wifi will not work here and you will not have a phone signal.
A lot of men from local villages come here to play “gotcha” with paintball guns and sadly, Misnebalam has been the victim of a lot of vandalism and graffiti. It is better to come here with someone else. If you are alone, especially as a solo female traveler, it could feel uncomfortable.
Other Attractions Nearby
There are a few things to do in this area after visiting Misnebalam. Consider continuing on to the beach town of Progreso for a spot of traditional Yucatan food and a day spent relaxing on some of the best beaches in the Yucatan.
Sac Nicte and Chablekal are nothing to write home about. Xcunya is worth a quick drive through en route back to Merida if only to check out the catholic church of Iglesia San Juan Bautista.
Nearby, Dzibilchaltún boasts some of the most interesting and underrated Mayan ruins in the Yucatan peninsula. The ruins here could easily rival Mayapan, Edzna, or Chichen Itza. They are a worthy addition to any Yucatan road trip itinerary.
However, do check to see if the site is open prior to driving there as it is often subject to closures. This is due to ongoing debates between the landowners and the Mexican governments.
Getting to Misnebalam
Misnebalam Yucatan is just 34.4km Northeast of Merida and 23.7km south of Progreso respectively. There is no public transport to the area.
Although cabs, Uber, and Didi cars operate in Merida and its surroundings, they are unlikely to take you to Misnebalam as the road is so poorly maintained. You really need to rent a car in Mexico and drive to get here.
Driving to Misnebalam
To get to Misnebalam, follow the main Carr. Mérida – Progreso/México 261 freeway. When you get close to San Ignacio, you need to turn and drive down the dirt trail on the opposite side of the road.
When you are driving north from Merida, this trail is on your right-hand side. It is not sign-posted and looks pretty unsuspecting.
It is a good idea to have a Mexican sim card and an offline map like Maps Me installed on your phone as there is no phone signal around Misnebalam. Keep following the dirt trail, past Rancho San Antonio and Hacienda San Diego Texan.
It becomes clear when you have arrived in Misnebalam because you will see the abandoned Misnebalam hacienda on your left-hand side. Keep in mind that the roads here are very poor so drive carefully.
They are rocky, bumpy, and filled with potholes. The drive to Misnebalam adds to the suspense of your visit as the journey down the dirt trail from Rancho San Antonio to the town feels endless. On your way, you will bypass random abandoned outhouses and farm buildings, roads to nowhere, and signposts for hotels that no longer exist…
A few tours run to Misnebalam from Merida and Progreso. Arguably the most popular is this ghost town ATV excursion that runs from Progreso.
Have you visited Misnebalam Yucatan or any other pueblo fantasmas in Mexico? What did you think?
If this is your first trip to Mexico, maybe you will enjoy reading this list of fun facts about Mexico. Have a wonderful time traveling here! Buen Viaje! xo