volando y nadando en cenote Azul (Bacalar, México)

English

naturist swimming 0007 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

El Cenote Azul es nada menos que un fantástico cuerpo de agua – agua clara y azure que llega súbitamente al abismo tan pronto se deja la orilla.

lake view 0000 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

Ya hemos descrito algunos pocos cenotes en la población de Tulum y Mérida, en la Península de Yucatán. Cada cenote es diferente pero éste tiene algo especial. En sí, su esencia es la enormidad, además de estar justo al lado de la mundialmente afamada Laguna de Bacalar.
Así pues, estaba bastante escéptico ante la posibilidad de disfrutar esta maravilla de la naturaleza au naturel, por fortuna estaba Saul George, mi anfitrión local de CS, quien me mostró los alrededores y sabía a dónde ir. La mayor parte de la orilla está cubierta de vegetación y hay un acceso “escondido” del otro lado del área turística con restaurante.

lake view 0001 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

De cualquier modo, ellos no podían ver lo que vestías no vestías bajo el agua.

naturist underwater 0001 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

– o arriba del agua, tampoco

naturist tree 0001 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

¿Y es de esta manera cómo los peces nos ven bajo el agua?

naturist underwater 0007 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

No sólo una linda toma, a menos que estén involucrados con el arte impresionista…

Nosotros, sin embargo, podíamos ver los peces bastante bien en esa agua cristalina y repleta de éstos.

lake fish 0001 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

Algunos nadando libremente, y otros apegados a los troncos de árboles bajo el agua.

lake fish 0000 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

Así nosotros – volando por encima del abismo azul

naturist swimming 0008 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

Con descansos ocasionales al amparo de los árboles sumergidos…

naturist underwater 0008 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

Haber nadado en este lugar fue como volar en el borde imaginario entre el viento y el agua…

naturist swimming 0000 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

¿Nos sentimos como aves o murciélagos?

naturist tree 0000 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

Al trepar por los árboles en realidad  despertamos algunos murciélagos, mas bien varios.

bats 0001 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

De otra manera no nos hubiéramos percatado de que dormían en las ramas.

bats 0000 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

Y fueron de algún modo una inspiración:

naturist diving 0000 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

Saltamos desde las ramas de los árboles

naturist swimming 0002 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

y volamos de vuelta hacia el abismo azul.

lake view 0002 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

Como lo pueden ver a través de esta historia, el Cenote Azul fue mágico.

naturist swimming 0006 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

Es imposible expresarlo realmente con palabras y fotos, pero quizá este video lo logre.

flying and swimming at cenote Azul in Bacalar, Mexico

español

naturist swimming 0007 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

Cenote Azul is nothing less than an amazing body of water – azure, clear water that goes immediately into abyss, right off the edge of its shore.

lake view 0000 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

We’ve already described quite a few cenotes in the vicinity of Tulum and Merida, Yucatan. Each cenote is different, but this one is very special. For once, it’s really huge, for a sinkhole, which it essentially is, and it’s right next the world famous resort at the lake Bacalar.

So, I was very skeptical of a possibility to enjoy this nature’s wonder au naturel, but luckily I had my local CouchSurfing host George to show me around – and he knew where to go. Most of the shore is covered  in vegetation, and there is a “hidden” access across from the tourist area with a restaurant.

lake view 0001 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

They wouldn’t see what you wear not wear under water anyway

naturist underwater 0001 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

– or above water for that matter either 😉

naturist tree 0001 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

And is this how fish see us from below?

naturist underwater 0007 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

Not such a pretty picture, unless they are into impressionist art…

We, however, could see the fish very well in that clear water, and plenty of it:

lake fish 0001 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

some swimming freely, and others attached to the underwater tree trunks.

lake fish 0000 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

So were we – soaring above the blue abyss,

naturist swimming 0008 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

with occasional rest at the underwater trees…

naturist underwater 0008 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

Nowhere else did swimming feel so much like flying, with the boundary between air and water seemingly imaginary…

naturist swimming 0000 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

We felt like birds! … or bats?

naturist tree 0000 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

As we climbed the trees, we actually awakened some bats, quite a lot of them!

bats 0001 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

We would never have noticed them sleeping on the trunks otherwise.

bats 0000 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

And they were quite an inspiration:

naturist diving 0000 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

we took off the tree branches

naturist swimming 0002 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

and flew back into the blue abyss!

lake view 0002 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

As you can tell by this story, Cenote Azul felt magical.

naturist swimming 0006 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

It’s impossible to really express it with words and photography, but perhaps this video will do a better job.

new cenotes in Yucatan

This will be the final post of the ‘Mexican series’ for now, and I feel that another review of recently discovered cenotes is an appropriate finale. After I found out how beautiful and unique cenotes were – they are a special kind of sinkholes typical to Yucatan peninsula – I wanted to explore more of them. The problem with cenotes, in my opinion, is that being a tourist attraction, many appear overdeveloped to the point when they don’t even look natural anymore (with convenient stairs, decorations, souvenir shops around). So, we set up a goal to find some of the least explored cenotes.

We found a description of Chaak-Tun in a travelog that made us believe it was a kind of untouched natural wonder. But when we arrived there, it became clear it was ready for mass tourism, just waiting for the road built next to it to get asphalted. The price was already quite steep, at 200 pesos (for foreigners, 60 for Mexican citizens). Nevertheless, we enjoyed the visit, and it was not crowded. There were two caves, both with stalactites and stalagmites.

naturist 0000 Chaak Tun cenote, Quintana Roo, Mexicocaves

The second one did not have any natural light, so the mild artificial lighting was justified.

naturist 0001 Chaak Tun cenote, Quintana Roo, Mexico

While there was no one around, I took a chance for skinny-dipping 🙂

naturist 0002 Chaak Tun cenote, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Another cenote that we visited in Tulum area  was ¿Cementerio de Mascota? (Pet Cemetery). It was discovered recently and has not been fully developed for visitors (yet). I put question marks around the name, because we are actually not sure if what we saw was cenote Cementerio de Mascota or an unnamed cenote in the same area. Tomas only knew that it was supposed to be further down the road that goes to the famous cenote Dos Ojos, and we got directions entering the park, but we never saw any indications to it, so we couldn’t be certain.

naturist 0004 Pet Cemetery cenote, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Once we passed the much-visited cenote Dos Ojos, we decided to continue the walk naked. The forest was green as the rain season was starting, and some trees were blooming.

blooming tree 0000 on the way to Pet Cemetery cenote, Quintana Roo, Mexicoblooming tree 0001 on the way to Pet Cemetery cenote, Quintana Roo, Mexico

And some were even fruiting, like this wild papayo (papaya plant).

papaya 0001 on the way to Pet Cemetery cenote, Quintana Roo, Mexicopapaya 0000 on the way to Pet Cemetery cenote, Quintana Roo, Mexico

I liked those ‘tree-hugging’ epiphyte cactuses too (they reminded me of myself on the coconut palm tree).

epiphyte cactus 0000 on the way to Pet Cemetery cenote, Quintana Roo, Mexico

As the air was cooling down (it was late afternoon), more and more birds started singing, but we didn’t see the possessors of this hanging nest.

hanging nest 0000 on the way to Pet Cemetery cenote, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Eventually, the road had a steep turn to the left, and there was a sign to cenote Sac-Actun (one of the longest underwater cave systems). We decided not to turn and continued in the same direction, passing through the wooden gates; but almost immediately after that, the road turned right. We were not sure whether it would bring us to Cementerio de Mascota, and decided to follow the road for not more than half an hour. We soon reached a spot with a layer of sand that seemed to have been washed out of somewhere… then we saw the pipe that was probably used for that and followed along it.

naturist 0003 Pet Cemetery cenote, Quintana Roo, Mexico

The trail was going downwards, and the trees were getting bigger and greener – a good sign of proximity of water.

banyan 0000 on the way to Pet Cemetery cenote, Quintana Roo, Mexico

There it was!

cenote0000 Pet Cemetery cenote, Quintana Roo, Mexico

However, there was something weird about it. It almost looked like a crime scene! Or like people were rushed out, leaving their diving equipment, food, and half-full (or half-empty? :D) glasses of wine!

cenote0001 Pet Cemetery cenote, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Well, what I guess in reality happened was that there were some ‘cleaning’ works on the site, which will eventually transform this cenote into another tourist attraction. To us, it would have actually been more attractive in its virgin state, but at least we could explore it a bit before it was going to be discovered by mass tourism.

naturist 0000 Pet Cemetery cenote, Quintana Roo, Mexico

We snorkelled, and given the atmosphere of the place (and its name too!), we were happy to have seen nothing but fish in water.

naturist snorkel 0001 Pet Cemetery cenote, Quintana Roo, Mexico

After we got out of water, we heard some noise in the woods, then we saw the trees shaking! Almost as if someone was trying to fell them with brute force. Soon we figured out what it was: monkeys were jumping from one tree to another. They were actually coming in our direction, so I quickly installed a telephoto lens on my camera. The monkeys got quiet for a moment… and then they reappeared right above us! But they moved so fast in the canopy that we didn’t manage to get any decent shots.

On the way back, we stopped by another small cenote just a bit off the road to/from Dos Ojos.

naturist 0000 on the way to Pet Cemetery cenote, Quintana Roo, Mexico

It made a perfect refreshing skinny-dipping experience before we would get back to the main road to catch ‘camioneta’ (minibus) to Tulum.

naturist 0005 Pet Cemetery cenote, Quintana Roo, Mexico

A couple of days later we were joined by Miguel, who showed me some less known cenotes previously. This time we wanted to see recently open cenotes in a place that was called, very promisingly, Cenotillo.  Apparently, Cenotillo boasts more than a hundred of cenotes! We had a map that listed just a few of them.

Cenote Usil (Ucil) seemed to be the closest to this little town.

cenote 0003 cenote Usil, Yucatan, Mexico

Probably for this reason, there was some rubbish around but surprisingly there was nobody there.

cenote 0002 cenote Usil, Yucatan, Mexico

It was the perfect time of day to see solar reflections on the roof of the cenote.

naturist dive 0010 cenote Usil, Yucatan, Mexico

The water was quite cold, and it seemed bottomless! Perfect for a skinny dip-dive 🙂

naturist-dive,-cenote-Usil,-Yucatan,-Mexico-(s)

We were up to visit more cenotes, so we left pretty soon.

naturist 0000 cenote Usil, Yucatan, Mexico

By the way, cotton trees seemed to dominate the forest around Usil, but I preferred them to keep the cotton for themselves. I don’t mean that just because we didn’t need clothes in that weather, but also because quite a lot of that fibre was accumulated on the water surface of cenote.

cotton tree 0001 cenote Usil, Yucatan, Mexicocotton tree 0000 cenote Usil, Yucatan, Mexico

After that, we went back to the village in hope to ask for directions for other cenotes. Local police happened to be the best at giving advice, and we were even escorted by a policeman to a guide-vigilante Dani who curated some of the cenotes just recently open to public.

The first one we went was cenote Xoch. Luckily, Dani was absolutely cool with the idea of naturism and didn’t even blink when I got naked while walking through the forest on the way to cenote.

naturist 0003 cenote Xoch, Yucatan, Mexico

We were truly amazed when we reached the cenote. It was almost as big as the Sacred Cenote at Chichen-Itza. Unfortunately, to my view at least, they’ve already made some basic constructions next to it, but hopefully there won’t be much more than that.

naturist 0000 cenote Xoch, Yucatan, Mexico

Another disappointment came from the strictly enforced rule of wearing life vests, because “the bottom of cenotes hasn’t been explored yet”.naturist 0001 cenote Xoch, Yucatan, Mexico

For someone who can swim well, it seems to be an absurd requirement for swimming in absolutely tranquil waters of cenote, but at least Dani didn’t make me wear swim trunks 😀

naturist 0002 cenote Xoch, Yucatan, Mexico

Then we went to cenote Kaipech.

cows 0001 cenote Kaipech, Yucatan, Mexico

It was next to a cattle farm, but nobody was around; the cows seemed to be intrigued by our appearance.

cows 0000 cenote Kaipech, Yucatan, Mexico

Despite being next to the farm, Kaipech was probably the least developed cenote of this scale that I’ve seen!

cenote 0002 cenote Kaipech, Yucatan, Mexico

There was no ladder, so we had to go down by the rocks (luckily trees and their roots were of great help with that), but this is what made this cenote my favourite one perhaps.

naturist 0001 cenote Kaipech, Yucatan, Mexico

This cenote still felt untouched, although we definitely weren’t the first ones to visit it: a couple of plastic bottles were floating in water. Dani said this cenote was next in their plans for development to bring tourism in the area. But in my opinion, they should not change anything about it, it is just as perfect in its virgin state as it gets. They should only keep it clean…

We cleared the entry point of floating rubbish and went for a swim.

naturist 0000 cenote Kaipech, Yucatan, Mexico

This place seem to be teeming with wildlife. Judging by the constant buzz in the distance, there was a beehive around, so one has to be careful not to come too close to it. I also saw a basilisk, aka Jesus Lizard because of its ability to run on water, but this time it was just sunbathing on a branch above water. The seeds on the photo below are “snakes’ food” according to Dani, but it is hard to believe that, as all snakes are exclusive carnivores, as far as I know. I wouldn’t mind sitting there for a while and observe if any snakes come to eat those berries.

snake berries 0000 cenote Kaipech, Yucatan, Mexico

There was also a nest with one egg that could be easily seen, but I guess the trick was that it was on a palm tree leaf right above water, so any crawling intruders were likely to fall down.

nest 0000 cenote Kaipech, Yucatan, Mexico

As usually near cenotes, there were some blue-crowned motmots, locally known as ‘pajaro toh’. These birds are brightly coloured and have various distinct calls. I can still hear them calling to visit those picturesque and yet mysterious cenotes!

toh bird 0000 cenote Kaipech, Yucatan, Mexico

skinny-dipping in cenotes (sinkholes) and hiking in a “naked” forest in Yucatan

Frankly, before going to Mexico, I had never heard the term ‘cenote‘, which refers to a deep natural sinkhole, typical to Yucatan peninsula, but as soon as I heard the description and searched for images, I had no doubt I had to see those! They’re very different in appearance, size, history, accessibility. I’ve seen several cenotes, including the Sacred Cenote of Chichen Itza, but I was impressed most with two smaller but more secluded ones, that I was able to visit thanks to Miguel (who I got to know thanks to Couchsurfing again – have I mentioned how much I value that site?).

So, imagine yourself in a dry forest, and then you see a hole in the ground like this one.

naturist 0001 cenotes near Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

It’s just slightly bigger then the rabbit’s hole that brought Alice to Wonderland, and it feels like something magic is waiting for you there. It has a simple ladder that invites you to go down.

naturist 0002 cenotes near Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

It looks like it’s got a small exit to a magic garden all the way down in the end of the cave…

naturist 0003 cenotes near Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

But in fact, it’s just a reflection of the entrance, because the water is so clear, you can barely see it from above!

naturist 0004 Dzom-Bacal cenote near Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

When we arrived to this cenote, we were lucky to have no one else around, so surely enough I got naked. Skinny-dipping in cenotes, definitely something to remember!

naturist 0010 Dzom-Bacal cenote near Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

After a while we heard some people approaching to the cave, but it was the time to go further anyways. This truly marvellous cenote is called Dzom-Bacal and is located in the end of a dirt road in the midst of a deciduous tropical forest south of Merida. Since the road was barely used, we felt comfortable to bare it all and enjoyed our walk in the buff! It felt so right in that warm and dry weather.

naturist 0013 cenotes near Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

As it was just the beginning of spring, which in this part of the world is linked not so much to the warmer weather but to the arrival of rains after dry ‘winter’, most of the trees didn’t have leaves were naked too.

naturist 0005 cenotes near Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

Ironically, the most naked tree of all was a cotton tree, easily distinguishable by its fruits with cotton fibres.

cotton tree 0006 cenotes near Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

Boneto tree was also full of fruit, but they were not ripe.
tree 0008 cenotes near Merida, Yucatan, Mexicotree 0009 cenotes near Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

But besides trees, the forest was full of shrubs, cacti and agaves, so it was practically impenetrable,

naturist 0017 cenotes near Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

except for the parts where barren limestone didn’t let plants to grow over.

naturist 0011 cenotes near Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

So, we didn’t go away from the road much,

naturist 0014 cenotes near Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

just to look at some flowers once in a while.

naturist 0012 cenotes near Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

I used to have a similar species of cactus at home, it was nice to see its wild counterpart in natural habitat in a blooming state.

cactus flowering 0000 cenotes near Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

Some trees started blooming too, I bet this forest was going to turn into a beautiful garden as soon as rains would become more frequent.

blooming tree 0007 cenotes near Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

It was so nice to walk there just like that, surrounded by beautiful nature and caressed by the rays of the setting sun.

naturist 0015 cenotes near Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

We found a trail that didn’t seem to be used by cars at all, but unfortunately we didn’t have much time to explore it.

naturist 0016 cenotes near Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

We wanted to see one more cenote in the area, X-batún. This one looked a little more developed and touristy, but probably because we came so late, last visitors were leaving just as we arrived. So, guess what, we were lucky to be able to go skinny dipping in X-batún too!

naturist 0020 X-batun cenotes near Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

This cenote was more open, so banyan trees hung their long roots graciously from the edge of the upper level all the way down to the water. We let it all hang out too, and enjoyed a bit of splashy splash time on the warm evening.

naturist 0019 X-batun cenotes near Merida, Yucatan, Mexico