If you’re looking for a fun excursion for your family, then I highly recommend the small town of Tekax, located an hour and a half to the south of Mérida, along Highway 184. Here you’ll find plenty of outdoor activities to keep the whole family entertained.
Take the time to explore Tekax Centro. The main church is the second biggest in the whole of Yucatán, and right next to it there’s a kids’ playground, the plaza, and a bandstand, all perfect for the kids to let off a bit of steam. By late afternoon, the bandstand will have turned into an ice-cream stall with tables and chairs surrounding it. If you have a tour guide, the kids are sure to be interested in seeing front doors with machete marks from the Caste Wars.
Right in the center of town you’ll find La Ermita, an 80 meter hill with a small church on top (it’s Yucatán, it won’t be hard to spot the hill, I promise you!). Climb up the steps to enjoy nice views across town, check out the church and let the kids explore around a little. Behind the church and to the left you can take a short walk to a little cave called Gruta Chac Xix, which is easily explorable with kids.
It’s well worth getting a guide to tell you the story of San Diego de Alcalá, the saint in the church up here. If you’re visiting in November then you can take part in the saint’s festival too.
We had the entire place to ourselves when we visited this archaeological site some 15 minutes from Tekax. The kids loved, as ever, being able to explore and run to their hearts’ content. As we arrived and my son ran off to explore, he yelled over, “hey, I’ve found the pelota court, it’s so cool!” From a 7-year-old this is pretty exciting, as it means he’s taken in some of what we’ve told him about Maya sites and hasn’t found us too boring. We know he loves the sites themselves and we’re pretty sure our not forcing too much history on the kids has been what keeps the enthusiasm alive.
Caves and eco-parks
Tekax may not have the cenotes of other Yucatecan towns, but it more than makes up for this by having over 200 caves. In one weekend my family and I visited four of these caves. I wonder if it’s possible to visit more in one weekend? In order to explore the caves, you’ll need to visit one of the town’s eco-parks because this way you get a guide, equipment, and access to other activities too. You need to book your visit to these eco-parks in advance, and should you wish them to feed you, let them know. These parks are relatively new and they are still ironing out some of their housekeeping.
Kaalmankal is a short drive outside of Tekax, and is a great place for you to explore together with your kids. Once you arrive at this small eco-park, the kids will just want to explore and run. You can sit and relax at the table while they go wild for a bit. Kaalmankal has one of Tekax’s many caves; it isn’t deep or scary, but the kids will feel very grown up as they put on their caving gloves, knee-protectors, and helmets (we were asked to use the adult-sized equipment on our kids as they hadn’t any child-sized equipment). Older kids and adults can rappel down into the cave, while younger kids and those less keen can walk down the steps. Once in the cave your guide will be happy to do a little exercise in stillness with your kids (if they can manage it. Mine couldn’t…sigh…), to explain what you can see and some of the history of the cave.
After exploring the cave, it’s time to head outside for some zip-lining and Tarzan swinging. These are safe for most kids. (All four kids we had with us (ages 5 to 7 years old) were big enough for the zip-line and Tarzan swing.) After some discussion it was decided that all were big enough to rappel too, as long as they were controlled from both the top and bottom.
There is also a hiking trail at the back of the eco-park and a quad-bike available for use. We didn’t have time to explore either of these options since we couldn’t tear the kids away from the Tarzan swing!
As we left here the kids jumped up and down and begged to stay and then to return the next day.
$150 pesos adults, $100 pesos children, for full day access to activities (not including food and drink)
$100 pesos lunch: you need to tell them in advance that you want to eat. The food is fresh and very tasty.
Facebook: Chac Bolay Tours and Parque Ecoturistico Kaalmankal
If you’re more interested in caving than rope-based activities, Las Sartenejas II may well be right up your street. There are four caves on the property of this harder to reach eco-park (it’s just over 1 km off the main road on a rocky path). With our small kids in tow they immediately recommended an hour and a half tour that took us to two caves. When we told them that we had four brave kids they said we were welcome to try the bigger cave that requires a rappel down. We opted for the two easy access caves because we were tired and hungry at this point, but if we go back we will certainly try the deeper cave.
We visited Grutas Trincheras and Murciélagos. We had an absolute blast and the kids thought the caving experience was super exciting because we crawled through a couple of small tunnels and at one point our guide took all the children through a tiny tunnel no adult fancied trying! The kids felt so grown-up and special that they’d been allowed to do this. It was a lovely touch.
There aren’t other activities available on site but the kids will enjoy looking at the animals, and if you order a meal you won’t be disappointed as the food is very tasty here.
$290 pesos per adult and $190 pesos per child for caving and a freshly cooked meal. It’s $200 pesos and $100 pesos without the meal.
Facebook: Grutas Las Sartenejas II
Editorial by Cassie Pearse
Photography by Cassie Pearse for use in Yucatán Today
Read More about Tekax:
- Tekax: The Gateway to the South
- Tekax, The Adventure Starts Here
- Legends of San Diego, Patron Saint of Tekax
- Get Ready to Fulfill Your Dream of Flying in Tekax
- San Marcelino, A Taste of Rural Tourism
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