My mission during these difficult times is to find ways to get my kids outside and exploring safely. Fresh air, nature, adventure, and time away from screens, that’s what we need right now. Spending time outdoors is quite literally nature’s cure for the anxiety and lethargy the pandemic induces and I’m on a quest to ensure my family gets it.
Our weekend at Genesis Eco-Oasis provided everything I hoped for and more from the moment we arrived to the moment we left. It’s an eco-lodge meaning that the natural world, its conservation, and our relationship to it is at the core of everything they do; from the type of food provided to the way they do laundry. Located in the village of Ek Balam (yes, right next door to the archaeological site of Ek Balam), this is the perfect place to take the kids. They’ll be in heaven running around the jungle paths, swimming in the gorgeous pool, interacting with the animals, and sleeping (eventually) in the extremely comfortable beds in the gorgeously-styled rooms.
Lee, the owner of Genesis Eco-Oasis is an absolute fount of local knowledge. Like me, she is passionate about getting people outside and reconnecting with nature. You can imagine that we got along famously.
How, What, Where?
As I said, the lodge is in Ek Balam village, thirty minutes north of Valladolid, a part of Yucatán just bursting with incredible outdoor activities. Genesis requires you to make a previous reservation for a minimum three-night stay (partly for COVID safety planning and partly because you need at least three nights to really relax and get to know the area). When you arrive, Lee will help you plan your stay, figuring out just how to get the most out of your time. She’ll help you really experience the area.
Guests often enjoy long, guilt-free sessions of hammock therapy in the garden or the sacred tradition of the afternoon siesta; but if you’re looking to stay active, you can leave the sitting still for after dark when the stars come out in all their glory. Let Lee help you pick from the plethora of activities nearby to fill your daylight hours.
Cenotes: Oh! The cenotes you can visit whilst in the area are just stunning. The very closest is the beautiful X’Canché, where you can swim, use the Tarzan-swing, zipline over the cenote, play, and enjoy a tasty low-key meal.
Also not far away is the magnificent Sac-Aua, which is where we visited when staying at Genesis. My family was absolutely blown away by this site, which offers both a cenote and the option of exploring a huge cave. Apparently, the official tour should last around thirty minutes but there is still some flooding in the cave after the awful storms of 2020. Our guide was very kind and let us spend as long as we wanted to prance around. We found animal bones, Maya pottery shards, a stunning mini-cenote, as well as stalactites and stalagmites. Once we had our fill of cave fun we headed to the cenote.
Oddly, this cenote isn’t especially well known, which is a shame as it’s really very special: it’s apparently the only cenote on the peninsula with a natural island and trees growing in it. We really enjoyed kayaking and splashing around and will absolutely return again and again.
Archaeological Sites: Obviously Ek Balam and Chichén Itzá are famously nearby, but Lee can also point you in the direction of ancient Maya sites that aren’t well known (and rent you bikes so you can visit them).
Nature: Beautiful coastal areas not far away include Río Lagartos, San Felipe, and Las Coloradas. Here you can take tours through the biosphere, get close to nature, enjoy the breeze of a boat ride on the Ría, and even enjoy the famous pink salt lakes.
Much closer at hand though, is Lee’s farm – Rancho Regenesis – from whence comes much of the food served at the hotel. My kids were thrilled to ride donkeys, meet the famous Yucatecan Pelón pigs, and generally roam around.
Cultural Activities: Lee has lived in Ek Balam for almost twenty years and has very close relationships with her neighbors. Together they offer a fascinating opportunity to learn about Maya culture and community life. It’s possible to organize sessions on making tortillas (oh, the tortillas in this village are insanely delicious by the way), Huipiles, cacao, hammocks, and more. If you’re interested in Yucatán’s famous non-stinging Melipona bees you can learn about them here, too.
Normally when we leave anywhere, I remind my kids to say thank you. When we left Genesis, I didn’t get the chance because as I walked down the stairs, I heard them chattering away with Lee. They were telling her how much they had enjoyed their stay, how they wished they didn’t have to leave, and offered her a litany of all the things they enjoyed: playing with the cats, running around the garden, kayaking, eating homemade burgers, and lime pie, sitting in the back of her pick-up truck, the pool, their room all to themselves…they went on and on. I actually had to drag them away.
In the near future there will be specific cultural retreat packages offered, so be sure to follow Genesis on Facebook. And if you’re interested in a three-night stay in this small oasis in the middle of our stunning state, use the information below to reserve your stay.
Editorial by Cassie Pearse
Freelance writer and blogger
Adventure lover who never lost her sense of fun or wonder
Photography by Cassie Pearse and Yucatán Today for use in Yucatán Today.
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