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Hiking in Yucatán: A Beginner's Guide

05 january 2024
4 min. de lectura

It’s safe to say that every hiker deeply cherishes the feeling of being surrounded by nature. There’s a special kind of magic that unfolds as we walk the trails of the Yucatecan lands, much like the Maya have done for centuries. The scent of plants releasing their fragrances with every step. The sounds of the local fauna. The whimsical shapes of the paths.

The truth is that, unlike in the United States and other parts of the country, hiking is not as popular around these parts. Whether it's due to a lack of tradition, the heat, or some other factor, well-established trails are hard to come by. However, this doesn't mean you can't go hiking in Yucatán. Here are some tips to consider before venturing into it.


Hiking in Yucatán: the terrain

An important difference that might surprise you if you've hiked elsewhere is the lack of elevation in the terrain. There are exceptions, especially in the southern part of the state, where there are hillier areas, but they do not exceed 700 ft at their highest points. This makes the activity very accessible for beginners.


The terrain is mostly rocky, so a good pair of sneakers (or ideally, boots) will be essential to protect your feet and ankles. You won't come across any rivers, but you can plan a route that takes you near one of the over seven thousand cenotes scattered throughout Yucatán. This is an excellent option to cool off after a long walk under the sun, although there are also water holes and lakes throughout the state.



Precautions when hiking in Yucatán

Depending on the season, mosquitoes, and insects in general, can be quite bothersome. But don't worry; this can be easily resolved with a good, preferably eco-friendly, insect repellent.


To reduce the effects of extreme weather conditions in Yucatán, with heat being the most significant factor, it's essential to carry cold water and wear long sleeves, a hat, and plenty of sunscreen. Additionally, it's recommended to hit the trails early in the morning or in the evening, when the sun allows for a more relaxed journey. Likewise, there's the option to go out at night, providing a completely different perspective where the same trail can seem to transform under the moonlight.


 What to expect when hiking in Yucatán?

One of the things that makes hiking in Yucatán unique is that it comes with the rich history of the state, and the tangible evidence it has left behind: archaeological sites, colonial structures, abandoned haciendas, and many paths forgotten by the passage of time. It's common (depending on the area) to come across these ancient marvels that were such an integral part of this land's history. There's something magical about walking the same trail that has been traveled by thousands of people over hundreds of years.


Walking through the jungle in Yucatán, you will also encounter an array of colorful and diverse birds, as the Peninsula is home to more than 400 species. However, it's also normal to spot deer, coatis, raccoons, and the occasional monkey if you're lucky. Not to forget the reptiles and insects that without exception, accompany us on any hike. Thus, nature becomes a witness and companion, presenting a rich diversity of trees and plants that interweave with the surroundings.



Why go hiking in Yucatán?

Walking the trails of Yucatán will immerse you in a universe where the exploration of nature merges with historical heritage, offering a unique and enriching experience that leaves a profound mark on the souls of those who dare to discover these natural and cultural treasures.


However, especially for beginners, it's not advisable to venture alone, whether during the day or at night. The best option is always to join a pre-existing group. This is also an excellent way to meet like-minded people and, most importantly, to navigate existing trails and paths safely.


On social media, various active groups announce their hikes in advance on dedicated hiking groups, such as FB: Senderismo Yucatán. One of them, which I am a part of, is FB: Ecoaventura Yucatán, led by Roberto Casares (Tel. 999 278 1663).


Now is the best time to get started. Especially during the Yucatecan winter, hiking is an excellent way to explore the state and its people sustainably and appreciate the beauty that surrounds you. Don't wait for the temperature to rise!


Photography by Ecoaventura Yucatán for use in Yucatán Today.

Gonzalo N. González

Author: Gonzalo N. González

Yucatecan accountant. Lover of nature, video games, plants, new places, and silence.

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