I first experienced a cenote last June when I stayed at Sandos Caracol in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. The resort conveniently has one of these natural sink holes on site and allows guests to swim and explore it. I found it intriguing and refreshing and when I returned to Mexico in September I decided to check out some more of the Yucatan cenotes.
A cenote is a natural pit, or sinkhole, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath. There are several different types of cenotes. I was able to experience an open cenote, cave cenote and semi open cenote on this tour.
The Xenotes Tour bus arrived at my hotel right on time at 9:00 am. The driver, and our tour guide, Ismael, came out to greet me and my traveling companion. He was friendly and enthusiastic and I could tell that this would be a fun experience.
There were already a few people in the bus and we headed out to pick up a few more. In total we had about 15 people in our group. Ismael named us "The Iguanas" and gave us a quick overview of the day ahead in both English and Spanish.
The bus was air-conditioned and comfortable, until the "Mayan Massage" began. It sounds delightful, but is actually what our guide called the constant and intense bumps we experienced on the back roads that led to the cenotes. Anyone with back problems or issues with a very rough and bumpy ride would find this quite unpleasant.
As we approached the first cenote, K'áak´, I saw a zip line that ran across. I immediately got excited and wanted to get in. Ismael, and our photographer, Jamie, took us to a shelter area with restrooms, showers and some picnic tables. Its important not to disturb the natural waters so we were all instructed to shower in order to remove any bug sprays, sunscreens, soaps and shampoo residue before getting in.
Next we grabbed our life jackets and formed a circle. It was time to ask the Alux for permission to enter the sacred waters. Once our chant was finished we lined up and took turns zip lining and dropping into the green water of this open cenote. The water was cool and refreshing and after the initial jump I allowed myself to just float quietly and take in my surroundings.
When we got out of the water we were treated to coffee, teas, fruit and snacks before heading to our next stop, the cave cenote guarded by Lu'um. This was bar far the most enchanting. When we arrived we were fitted with our rappelling gear, which included a harness and helmet before climbing up a steep set of stairs to a wooden platform built around the trees.
We were attached to our ropes and led down into the cave. The water here was the coldest. It was also the most beautiful. The water was a deep blue and there was a small amount of sunlight that shone in through the top. To my delight there were bats all over the walls, and there were tree roots that extended from the opening of the cenote all the way down into the water. It was incredible to be immersed in something so natural.
The next cenote was open and river-like. We all got into kayaks and floated down the water, surrounded by high rock formations. It was calm and peaceful. We followed that with snorkeling in another section of the cenote. There's not much to see in the water, but it was still a fun experience.
Lunch was great. As a vegetarian I was a little limited, but there was salad, a vegetable mix, bread and cheese. There was also lunch meat, soup and pasta salad. Wine and beer was provided, along with bottled water.
The final cenote was Lik, the wind cenote. This had two different options for zip lining. You could hang from a bar or use the sling. There was also a fantastic cliff that we were able to jump from into the water (That was my favorite).
This was an incredible introduction to several different types of cenotes in Mexico. I highly recommend the company, Xenotes Oasis Maya. The tour guides were professional and entertaining and I felt completely safe the entire time.
Interested in booking this tour? Visit LoveLandandSea.com for more information.