There are adventures and then there are adventures that make it into the “never to be forgotten” area of your mind. Yucatán actually offers a fair few adventures of this kind and recently we found something new to store there: cenote camping.
There are a number of cenotes that offer camping opportunities around the state but it was Cenote Suhem, just outside Pixyá, that really grabbed my attention. If you know me or have followed my writing for any time, you’ll know that I really love nothing more than getting the kids out in the wild, having them roam free, and testing their own abilities. This trip ticked every one of my boxes. Note that this is not a trip for little ones who do not follow instructions well. I went with children aged between 7 and 11 and we had no concerns about their ability to listen and keep away from the cenote when not with an adult.
Camping in the jungle is different from beach camping, which is the more common Yucatán camping experience. In the jungle, there is no beautiful clear spot upon which you can pitch a tent. You need to engage the kids in the super fun game of “move the rocks and sticks” before the tent can even start to come out. I absolutely recommend good sleeping mats if you are jungle-camping.
Of course, if you’re camping by a cenote, you’re going to be swimming. We swam three times (we’d been heading for four but the after-dark swim was foiled by the need to remove a beehive). Each session was spectacular and unique: swimming in the same cenote at different times of day was a fascinating experience. At dusk, we swam in darker water while the swallows flew in magical circles over our heads. Before breakfast, we enjoyed the mesmerising reflections of water on the high cenote walls and, after breakfast, we swam, splashed, and jumped. A private cenote really isn’t something to turn your nose up at (note: there were no other people there when we swam, it wasn’t closed to other visitors).
The cenote is a beautiful, large open-air cenote. Do note that the fencing around it isn’t well maintained and the steps down are steep (but sturdy). The water is around a perfect twelve meters deep: the middle section is astoundingly blue and clear while the edges are darker and deep enough for high jumps. The platform remains underwater after 2020’s storms. The kids co-opted this into their games and no one minded at all.
When we weren’t swimming, the kids (we took a pack of them) were marauding around: they played so hard that they actually asked to go to bed at 9:30 pm.
You can order reasonably priced food to eat on-site (I recommend ordering in advance). We had three delicious meals including some of the best breakfast tacos I’ve ever had. We roasted marshmallows and then while the kids worked off the sugar, the adults sat, contemplated life, marveled at the stars, and enjoyed the tequila we took with us.
Cenote Suhem is not impossible to find alone but when you camp there you’re met at a point in the village of Pixyá (not far from Telchaquillo and Mayapán) and then taken to the cenote.
I have to add that we did get ticks from our trip; ticks are seasonal so aren’t always a problem. Still, this remains one of the most exciting adventures we’ve ever had in the state.
Editorial by Cassie Pearse
Freelance writer and blogger, born in the UK. Cassie has a BA from Oxford University and an MA from SOAS, University of London. She lives in Mérida and loves exploring Yucatán with her family.
Photography by Cassie Pearse for its use in Yucatán Today.
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