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.
The second one did not have any natural light, so the mild artificial lighting was justified.
While there was no one around, I took a chance for skinny-dipping 🙂
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.
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.
And some were even fruiting, like this wild papayo (papaya plant).
I liked those ‘tree-hugging’ epiphyte cactuses too (they reminded me of myself on the coconut palm tree).
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.
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.
The trail was going downwards, and the trees were getting bigger and greener – a good sign of proximity of water.
There it was!
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!
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.
We snorkelled, and given the atmosphere of the place (and its name too!), we were happy to have seen nothing but fish in water.
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.
It made a perfect refreshing skinny-dipping experience before we would get back to the main road to catch ‘camioneta’ (minibus) to Tulum.
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.
Probably for this reason, there was some rubbish around but surprisingly there was nobody there.
It was the perfect time of day to see solar reflections on the roof of the cenote.
The water was quite cold, and it seemed bottomless! Perfect for a skinny dip-dive 🙂
We were up to visit more cenotes, so we left pretty soon.
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.
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.
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.
Another disappointment came from the strictly enforced rule of wearing life vests, because “the bottom of cenotes hasn’t been explored yet”.
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 😀
Then we went to cenote Kaipech.
It was next to a cattle farm, but nobody was around; the cows seemed to be intrigued by our appearance.
Despite being next to the farm, Kaipech was probably the least developed cenote of this scale that I’ve seen!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!