Campeche ’s Río Bec region is located in the southern part of the state, cut lengthwise by Highway 186. It’s flanked by the tiny towns of Xpujil  and Escárcega  and filled with the remarkable—and remarkably untouristed—Río Bec archaeological sites.
The earliest occupation of the Río Bec area occurred between 1000 and 300 B.C., though the height of construction was much later, between A.D. 550 and 830. At the end of the 9th century, however, Maya cities across the region suddenly collapsed, and their populations dispersed. By the time of the Spanish conquest, the once-glorious cities were almost completely abandoned.
The Río Bec sites were rediscovered early in the 20th century by chicle tappers and are still being explored and excavated today. Indeed, this area has been the source of many of the most noteworthy archaeological discoveries of the last decades.
Today, you’ll find the massive Calakmul ruins , the mother of Río Bec sites, and possibly the Maya world. It boasts the largest Maya pyramid, the most number of stelae of any Maya ruin, and possibly the greatest number of total structures (they are still being mapped and counted). If that weren’t enough reason to visit, Calakmul is located deep in a nature reserve, and it’s common to spot monkeys and tropical birds in the thick tree cover.
Farther along Highway 186, there are several smaller sites, and, while lacking the sheer size and scale of Calakmul , are no less compelling. Balamkú  is near the turnoff to Calakmul; Chicanná , Becán , and Xpujil  are closer to the village of Xpujil  (the only town of any size in the area); and El Hormiguero  is down a rough dirt road. Río Bec archaeological site  is currently off-limits to independent visitors, but tours can be arranged.
Most share the distinctive Río Bec architectural style, with its meticulous stonework and high steeple-like towers. There’s no doubt that this area is the next Puuc Route , but for now you can have stunning sites practically to yourself.