If you think its name, Cenotillo, is related to cenotes, you are correct. This municipality, located just over 100 kilometers from Mérida on the road between Izamal and Tizimín, owes its name to the large number of cenotes (“dzonot”) found there, and specifically to a small one located right in the municipality.
When you get to the center of this town, you will notice a peaceful atmosphere. In its central square you will find a kiosk, benches and gardens… but not very many people; in the heat of the tropics most daily life takes place early in the morning or when the sun goes down.
To one side is the municipal, unique because of its clock tower which dates from 1884, and that still marks the hours with the sound of chimes. You can also visit the churches of Santa Clara, with a cenote for observation in the back, and the church dedicated to the Virgin of the Nativity; both built in the 17th century. On the outskirts of the city is the town of Tixbacab, where you can visit the former hacienda and the archaeological remains of Tzebtún.
But let’s return to what you are really waiting for: the cenotes of this town. To discover them, be aware that what stands out about the inhabitants of Cenotillo is their kindness, and their willingness to tell you how to discover those hidden cenotes that only they know about, since most of them are located on “ejidos” (cooperative lands) with access for locals.
In Cenotillo you’ll find open type cenotes and others located in caves. There are 12 cenotes registered for tourist purposes by the environmental authorities; however, the inhabitants know of more than 130. Noteworthy are the open-type Catak Dzonot, Itzamná, Mul’Dzonot, and K’ai-pech cenotes, suitable for swimming, diving and observing; A’yin, Xoch, and San Miguel are just to admire.
The most important is cenote Usil, a semi-closed cenote inside a cave, 2 kilometers from Cenotillo, on the Buctzotz-Tizimín road. Accessed by a side entrance and down some stairs to reach the mirror-like blue water, that measures 20 meters long and 6 meters wide. Its great depth of 112 meters makes it extremely attractive for diving. It is advisable to wear lifejackets even if all you do is swim, avoid the use of sunscreen, and be very careful when descending the slope.
There are many stories about Usil, because it is believed to be inhabited by a guardian that has been identified with an elder or with a snake that lives in its depths. What we can say is that you should be cautious and take a local along with you. Another cenote located 4 kilometers from Cenotillo is Xooch. It has palapas, life jackets and ideal conditions for cave diving; go to the Tsonot Kaaj tourist information center. To get to these cenotes don’t hesitate to grab a “tricitaxi” or “mototaxi” in the center of town. Remember to wear comfortable clothes and shoes.
This route is ideal for those looking for different cenotes to discover, for those who love adventure and nature, as well as those who want to have up-close contact with locals.
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