Incredible as it may seem, there was a time when Homún was not famous because of its cenotes. In fact, my parents tell me, people used to go there mostly at night, because people said UFOs would “land” there. Interestingly enough, in the end, it turned out that Homún does have a connection with outer space: it’s right on the Yucatán ring of cenotes (which is actually the edge of the Chicxulub crater; the one that killed the dinosaurs), so it has unique geological features. Not only does it have the occasional little hill (which is surprising in this very flat state), but it also has approximately 300 cenotes, of which “only” about 30 are open to the public. Not bad for a town with about 8,000 inhabitants.
As explained on our page 51, one of the most wonderful things about cenotes is that no two are exactly alike. That means, among other things, that you may need to visit a few to figure out what you like in a cenote. Homún is a great place to do this, as there are plenty of multi-cenote tours offered, even on unique vehicles: buggies, ATVs, or Mototaxis, the local version of a tuktuk. Each has its charm, and will make for a great memory (and a great story) in the future.
By far the most common option is the Mototaxi. First of all, because they’re much cheaper ($300 pesos per person, up to 4 people), but also very convenient, since you don’t need a reservation: as soon as you’re near the area, at least one Mototaxi driver will offer you a tour. If you choose to go by buggy or ATV, the price goes up ($1,600 pesos per vehicle), but they both offer better cushioning and speed.
Now, let me be clear: it is not that you have to take a tour including transportation. While some cenotes are on unpaved roads, they’re not all that rocky. However, a tour allows you to visit three different cenotes (and that’s the perfect number, I’ll explain why below) without worrying about changing or getting your car wet.
When I signed up for this assignment, I was told that visiting so many cenotes in one day was a daunting task. “Swimming and taking photos? Yeah, right.” However, I forgot about one very important detail: to get to a cenote you have to go down a bunch of stairs, and then up a bunch of stairs. And then, after you’ve swum, you go back up carrying water on you, your wet clothes, towel, and life jacket. Visiting 12 cenotes in one day isn’t exactly impossible, but it’s not what you’d call a recreational outing either: there comes a time when you feel your legs trembling as you climb. Three is a good measure to get the most out of the day, enjoy those natural wonders, finish in time for lunch, and still be able to walk the next day.
So, how do you choose which cenotes to visit? Many people just drive to Homún wearing their bathing suit; that’s not a bad technique, since there are plenty of signs leading to the different cenotes, and, as I mentioned before, Mototaxi drivers are more than ready to intercept you and guide you as soon as you get there. However, keep in mind that, when you hire a tour, your guides will most likely choose for you which cenotes to visit, according to what works for them (which, in some cases, means in terms of sales commissions). Regardless of whether you are a cenote expert or discovering their beauty for the first time, I suggest doing some research in advance to make sure that all three stops meet your expectations. You may want to, for example, focus on super rustic cenotes, or, on the contrary, more touristy cenotes with more infrastructure and services; perhaps even a mixture that will allow you to experience both ends of the spectrum.
As I mentioned before, I “only” visited 11 cenotes; out of those, one is closed off for swimming (as the water level has gone dangerously low), which leaves us with 10. In order not to leave you with a book instead of an article, check out our cenote guide at the following link. Here I’m only including a brief summary that will give you an idea of what to expect of each cenote, to help you choose. In every cenote listed, you will have to use stairs; some made of wood, some metal, and one or two made of concrete. All of them offer crystal-clear water and breathtaking geological formations; depending on the time and the time of year, you might also see swallows and even Toh birds, or blue-browed motmots (whose song, by the way, could easily be confused with the sound of a UFO).
Cenotes with tourist areas/greater infrastructure. Canunchen, Santa Rosa.
Rustic cenotes (minimum infrastructure). Chel Paak, Pool Uinic.
Concrete-free cenotes. Hool Kosom, Chenké and La Noria (both in Kampepen), Santa Lucía.
Cenotes open after 5 pm. Pool Uinic (if you call ahead).
Cenotes with cave paintings. Chulul, Balmil, Kixné* (Kampepen).
*Kixné can be visited, but the water level makes it impossible to swim.
Which one is the most beautiful? They all are. Which one is worth visiting? They all are. Which one did I like the most? Oh, I’ll never tell. Or maybe I will, but it shouldn’t make a difference. You’re better off making the short journey from Mérida to Homún (approximately one hour) and deciding for yourself. There’s no way you can possibly regret it.
Tour en Mototaxi
Cel. 999 355 5151
Tour en Cuatrimoto o Buggy
Buggoz en Finca Oz
Tel. 999 802 3081
FB: Finca Oz
By Alicia Navarrete Alonso
Communicologist born circumstantially in Mexico City, but who says “uay” since 1985. Life has allowed me to see the world, which in turn has allowed me to discover how much I love the place where I live.
Photography by Alicia Navarrete y Yucatán Today for its use in Yucatán Today.
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