There are many cenotes in Yucatán, of all shapes and sizes, but there are a few that are unique for the way in which they’re run. In some Yucatecan communities, locals form cooperatives and organize themselves to better utilize the natural resources found on their land. They do this to obtain financial benefit from a more responsible kind of tourism, one that is fair and conscious of the environment; so that they may preserve the nature that surrounds them and improve the community’s quality of life.
A trip to a cenote is always a good idea! Whether you need a break from the Yucatecan heat, or just want to relax for a while in its cool waters and enjoy a delicious traditional meal. We present four options for you to escape the city’s hustle and bustle, and support the local economy of rural communities while you discover the wonders of the Mayab.
The cenote has a diameter of 40 meters and is 45 meters deep. As you climb down its staircase, you’ll see the great roots of trees that reach into the water, and a variety of birds that inhabit this beautiful natural environment.
Also, the cooperative has a small restaurant/dining room where you can enjoy traditional Yucatecan dishes, or participate in a culinary workshop to learn how to prepare Panuchos and Salbutes with the pros.
If adventure is your thing, they have lots of activities! Zip line across the cenote and rappel down its stone walls. Now, if what you want is a quiet night spent stargazing, they also have a camping area. If you don’t have the equipment with you, you can rent it from the cooperative.
This cenote is one of Yucatán’s best-kept secrets. Psst! Today we’re going to share it with you.
Located near the town of Cenotillo, this beautiful cenote is perfect for those who are seeking out adventure. Next to a local guide, you’ll be able to take a bike ride along a pretty challenging path that goes from the town, right to the cenote. Although the journey may be a little tiring, the payoff is magnificent: when you arrive, you’ll find a stunning cenote, like an oasis in the middle of the desert, practically just for you.
You will have to descend down a vertical ladder and take a leap of faith towards its floating platform; but from here you’ll be able to contemplate its greatness.
When you wrap up your visit to the cenote, enjoy a restorative and traditional meal prepared by members of the cooperative, or try Cenotillo’s Chinese food, a curious tradition inherited from its migrant history. You can also spend the night in a cabin, or camp next to the cenote. After visiting, on the way back to Mérida, you can stop at the Pueblo Mágico of Izamal or continue your journey to places such as Valladolid or Ek Balam.
X’Pakay is located just outside of Tekit, off a detour on the Mérida-Peto/Chetumal highway. Together with the local cooperative, you can become involved in the daily life of this town. Participate in bakery and embroidery workshops, visit a Maya allotment to learn about local produce and to meet the sweet Melipona honeybees, or go shopping at the multiple shops selling Guayaberas and traditional embroidered blouses in Tekit; as this is their main economic activity.
The cenote is more than 40 meters deep, and from its interior, you’ll be able to appreciate how the sun’s rays shine on the crystalline waters. If you’re lucky, you’ll see turtles swimming near you. Pair this cenote with an excursion to Mayapán, or use it as a great way to wrap up an activity-packed day in Tekit. If you prefer to stay, the cooperative offers lodging so that you can continue your adventure the following day, or take a drive to Maní to taste their legendary Poc Chuc.
This beautiful cenote matches up perfectly with a visit to Ek Balam as its entrance is within the archaeological site itself. The cooperative is formed by locals who used to work in the surrounding Milpas, in fact some of them still do.
Like others, X’Canché is wide and deep. It has lush endemic plant life surrounding it, which makes the cenote perfect for a time of relaxation and communion with nature. The same cooperative offers local dishes in its restaurant just a few steps from the cenote.
Cenote X’Canché is the cherry on top of your getaway. Spend the morning enjoying a community tour of the archaeological site or visiting the milpa in the nearby town of Ek Balam, and finish up with a refreshing dip in its clear waters.
With these options, we’re sure that you will be able to take many incredible trips away from crowded places, in beautiful natural spaces and cooperatives that apply all the necessary health and safety measures. Keep in mind that due to the intense storms 2020 has brought to Yucatán, the water level may be higher than usual, so expect a little added adventure to your visit.
Editorial by Jan Martín Muller, Co’ox Mayab: Viajes, Ruralidad y Naturaleza.
Photography by Co’ox Mayab for use in Yucatán Today.
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