Have you ever considered spending a weekend around Valladolid? Yucatán’s second city has so much to do and see that a weekend isn’t, in truth, enough time to really see everything, but it’s a good start. I recently took my family for a socially-distanced, outdoor minibreak and we had an absolute blast.
You won’t believe where we stayed. It’s called Eco Camping Valladolid. While you can camp, actually the fun is the other options: my kids slept in a converted VW bug while we slept in a treehouse. There is also a transformed airplane and a VW combi. The kids told us that this was the type of place where they make memories to share with their own kids and if that isn’t the highest of praise, I don’t know what is.
And to add icing to this already fabulous cake, the whole site is ecologically friendly.
While we could have totally spent our entire weekend hanging out on the campsite, we did not. We took the opportunity to explore new cenotes, Valladolid itself, and to revisit Ek Balam.
On Saturday we drove to Hacienda Selva Maya where we spent a very pleasant time playing in the (chilly winter) water. The water level in most cenotes is higher than normal right now thanks to a year of heavy storms and hurricanes, but we still had a great time.
Selva Maya offers a cenote and buffet lunch deal. The cenote is large and open, which is perfect for socially-distanced fun. The restaurant is enormous and airy and since we sat right by a huge open door, we felt completely safe. The grounds are spectacular and the kids had a blast running around, watching the fish, and feeling free.
After lunch and a few hours spent chilling here, we returned to the campsite and let the kids play while we relaxed with a drink or two.
On Sunday, we headed first to the Convent of San Bernardino de Siena. The Valladolid city letters are here and the grassy area is just perfect for letting the kids run. We grabbed ice creams, took our photos, and then we drove to the archaeological site of Ek Balam, 30 minutes to the north of Valladolid.
If you haven’t had the chance to explore the city center of Valladolid, this would be a great opportunity to do so, by the way. The former convent is a short walk from the main plaza down one of the prettiest roads in the whole state (Calzada de los Frailes). My kids love the plaza as there is always something going on. You can find delicious ice cream just down the road at Wabi Gelato and if you’re looking for healthy and tasty food, Yerbabuena de Sisal is a good option.
Anyway, we got to Ek Balam and remembered that it was residents-get-in-free Sunday, so we did a little happy dance before heading to explore. When we visited, INAH had closed the Acrópolis at Ek Balam, deciding that they couldn’t guarantee proper social distancing atop a pyramid. Instead of climbing, we took a stroll through the jungle behind the structures. Oh, that was wonderful. The kids ran free, we marveled at the beauty of the trees and took the time to appreciate our good fortune to be able to explore such spectacular sites. Now the Acrópolis is open again and you can do both.
When we had had our fill, we drove less than a kilometer down the road to Cenote Ecoturistico X’Canché. Here the kids were over the moon to find a zipline over a huge, deep cenote. After the zipline, we grabbed lifejackets and headed down into the cenote for a swim. Again, due to the storms, the cenote is fuller than usual, which made it even more fun than it might have been as the walkways around the side of the cenote are currently underwater. The kids used these as a kind of water-ride, pulling themselves around on rubber rings (also wearing life jackets). The small restaurant onsite is delightfully low-key and serves wholesome, local food for very reasonable prices.
Of course, there are many cenotes that could be visited around Valladolid. These are just the two we picked. It’s also possible to use Valladolid as a base for visiting Chichén Itzá, Uayma, Cobá, Tizimín, and Rio Lagartos. Hurry, hurry, book your trip now!
Note: At both cenotes currently, life jackets are cleaned between users (I could smell the disinfectant) and facemasks were obligatory when wandering around but not when swimming.
Cenote Selva Maya
Carretera Federal, Valladolid – Merida Km. 3.5
Tel. (985) 856 3042
Open daily 9 am – 5 pm
Km 1.5, Zona Arqeuológica Ek-Balam
Cel. 9851 00 99 15
Open daily 9 am – 5 pm
Open daily 8 am – 5 pm
Entry fees: $153 pesos Mexican nationals, $413 pesos international visitors. Free on Sundays for residents of México presenting valid ID.
Eco Camping Valladolid
Prolongación Calle 40 Ejido, Saciabil, Valladolid
Tel: (985) 125 5593
FB: Eco Camping Valladolid
Editorial by Cassie Pearse
Freelance writer and blogger
Adventure lover who never lost her sense of fun or wonder
Photography by Cassie Pearse for use in Yucatán Today.
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