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Acanceh: Adventure Awaits by Night

12 may 2023
7 min. de lectura

Cuatrimotos en Plaza de las Tres Culturas by Acanceh Experience by Wayak TravelHave you ever imagined learning about the cultural and historical legacy of a place while you drive a quad bike? Visiting Maya pyramids, riding through the jungle, and dinner at the remains of a Hacienda? Personally, it had never crossed my mind, but now that I’ve tried it I can tell you it’s an impressive way to visit Acanceh. Acanceh, if you’re not familiar, is a captivating municipality on the northwest side of Yucatán, only 40 minutes away from Mérida. Wait, did I forget to mention that it’s a night tour?  


Our journey started promptly at 5:30 pm, when we arrived at Acanceh. This city, whose name is Maya for a “deer’s groan,” is a place where the streets are brimming with life, especially (as we soon came to find out) at night. We were welcomed to Acanceh Experience by Wayak’s team, the creators of this incredible experience, and our guides for the night. They patiently explained to us the correct handling of the quad bikes (regardless of our level of expertise), the safety measures that we had to take to ensure a fun tour, as well as the stops that we would make along the way, and which included an abandoned hacienda…but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.   Once our thorough tutorial was over, we headed to the Plaza de las Tres Culturas (The Square of Three Cultures) to start our tour. This lively Plaza is very different from a typical main square because there’s a towering pyramid on one side, a colonial church in the middle, and a modern food market on the other side of the square, hence its name.  


Norma, our main guide, gave us a rundown of the pyramid’s history.  Protected by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), the stones of this archeological site are carved in the Puuc style and have depictions of Aluxes on parts of its structure. Unfortunately, we were not able to enter this site since it closes at 5 pm and tickets are sold until 3 pm.   


The church is also a meeting point for many, as it is the main stage for the patronal festivities of the Virgin of Guadalupe. These 40-day festivities happen between November and December. People eat traditional dishes like Salbut de Choch (blood sausage), there is a procession, and an “Encendido de Torito” (Lighting of the Bull), a tradition that consists of a person being under a wooden structure with pyrotechnics covering it, chasing people around. How’s that for adrenaline? 


After this explanation (and taking tons of pictures), we visited the Palacio de los Estucos (Palace of the Stuccos), an archaeological site where there are engravings that narrate the birth of men made of maize, and the Maya astrological observatory, the latter being perfectly aligned with the planet Venus.   


By the time we moved on to our next destination, sunset had well passed, and night had quickly fallen. Nightlife on a Thursday, as we later came to find out, meant different things for different people. For some, a night out riding the light-covered buses, or a stroll through the bougainvillea-covered streets; for others, it might even be a baseball match with a pyramid as a stunning backdrop.  


Now, you’re probably wondering what it's like driving a quad bike in the middle of such a bustling place. Well, thanks to the incredibly attentive guides we had, who were constantly making sure we were doing okay, everything was smooth sailing.  


Remember the abandoned Hacienda I mentioned? Before we traveled through the trail to arrive at this last destination, our guides advised us to ask a Ceiba tree for permission to cross the path safely. Once every member of our party asked for permission, we hopped back on the quad bikes and continued on the starkly dark trail.   


To be completely honest, I must say I’m not a huge fan of completely dark places; some might even say I’m a scaredy cat . And while it’s true that the trail is free of any lights, I never once felt fear during the entire night. In fact, I came to appreciate the lack of lighting, because it gave us the chance to see every star and constellation (like Orion’s belt) in the sky, and a few unidentifiable objects moving around.  


Halfway through the trail, we stopped at an altar that was built by townspeople who claimed to see things or heard noises in the wilderness; some have even said to have seen the Xtabay. Whether you’re a skeptic or not, it’s important to note that it also serves as a tribute to the many people that violently passed away in the Hacienda way back before the Mexican Revolution.  


After this quick stop, we finally reached the Hacienda and we were greeted by Doña Betty and Doña Lupe, who kindly made dinner for us. Before sitting down for dinner, we approached another Ceiba tree and thanked it for letting us arrive safely, asked for it to protect us on our return, and then we made a ceremony, where Norma poured Aguardiente on the soil as an offering to the Xtabay. Everyone stayed outside for a few minutes, relaxing and letting go of their ailments among the incense-filled air.


2303 Chalupas y Salbut de Negrito by Sara AlbaBack to dinner though, the menu that day was Chalupas and Panuchos de Chooch (Negrito), which I’d fail to describe if I were to put its delicious taste into words. We had an amazing dinner, surrounded by ambient lighting, easygoing conversation, and excellent food; overall, a peaceful ambiance.  


Once we were done, we hit the road again. At this point in our journey, we requested our guides to drive faster, which they happily agreed to. I must admit I felt like a full-fledged Motomami, which also helped me ignore my fear of full darkness. Surely Rosalía would be proud.    


We safely finished our tour right where we started, at Acanceh Experience’s headquarters. And that’s how our night tour of Acanceh went. For me, it was the best of both worlds; I got to learn more about this beautiful place while being adventurous; it was definitely right up my alley.  


However, if quad bikes aren’t your scene, or being in the dark is not your thing, don’t worry, Acanceh Experience has got you covered! They also offer bike tours, which usually lean more into the historic part of the experience . Day tours are also an option, which include the entrance to the archeological sites, but no meals.  


Whichever option you choose, Acanceh Experience aims to customize every experience for you and the members of your party. So, whether you want to know more about the culture and history of Acanceh, or just take a bunch of pictures and ride a quad with your friends, Acanceh is waiting for your visit!  


Acanceh Experience by Wayak Calle 23 x 22 y 24, Centro , Acanceh Tel. 999 369 4652 IG: @acancehexperience FB: Acanceh Experience by Wayak     

Yucatán Today

Author: Yucatán Today

Yucatán Today, la compañera del viajero, es un medio bilingüe de información turística sobre destinos, cultura y el qué hacer en Yucatán con 36 años de trayectoria.

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