Video: Tourist whacked with stick, heckled after illegally climbing Mayan pyramid

A tourist was captured on video being surrounded and beaten with a stick after climbing a protected Mayan monument in Mexico. 

The incident happened on Jan. 29 at the archaeological site of Chichén Itzá on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula — a popular tourist destination. 

In the footage, recorded by Daniel Fretwell, an unidentified tourist is seen reaching the summit of the monument known as El Castillo, or the Pyramid of Kukulcan, before he is taken back down the stairway by security. One person can be seen punching the man as he walks away. Another person carrying a large stick is also seen striking the tourist.

Fretwell told Storyful that he started filming after he noticed the man running up the pyramid. 


El Castillo. Kukulc‡n Temple, Mesoamerican step-pyramid at the pre-Columbian city Chichen Itza, archaeological site in Yucat‡n, Mexico. (Photo by: Marica van der Meer/Arterra/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

"I could hear and see maybe 30 or 40 people shouting ‘no, no come down, don’t do it, no.’ People were whistling trying to draw the man’s attention that he was doing wrong," he said, adding, "After we left, we saw the man being taken away in an unmarked vehicle. The tour guide told us he will face a heavy fine." 

The man was reportedly arrested and held for 12 hours before being released.

The director of Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) told Mexico Daily Post that the tourist was fined 5,000 pesos ($263) for the incident.

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"Tourists must respect the security measures of the INAH in the archeological zone to preserve the cultural heritage of Mexico, take care of other visitors and enjoy that Mayan legacy," INAH Director José Arturo Chab Cárdenas said.

Climbing the pyramid has been banned since 2008 amid preservation concerns, and the Congress of the United Mexican States established hefty fines for such acts in the Federal Law on Monuments and Archaeological, Artistic and Historical Areas.

This follows a similar incident from November 2022, where a tourist was mobbed by bystanders and doused with water for climbing the same pyramid. 

Local news outlets reported the tourist was detained "and taken to the nearby town of Piste for questioning."

This story was reported from Los Angeles. Storyful and FOX News contributed.