Cenotes, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
There are very few surface lakes in the Yucatan Peninsula but the porous calcium carbonate structure of the geology of the area allows the surface water to sink through and form significant underground ‘rivers’. Small underwater ‘lakes’ can form where the ground falls away due to erosion and forms the equivalent of caves or sinkholes,. In Mexico, these underground bodies of water are referred to as CENOTES.
We visited two. The first was run as a very commercial operation with admission fees, reinforced side walls and comfortable steps down to the water’s edge.
It’s hot in Mexico and when it is hot there is nothing as refreshing as a quick dip in a Cenote. Tour operators and tourist-oriented enterprises know a good thing when they see one and many tours now include a dip in a Cenote as part of the Mayan experience in the Yucatan Peninsula.
Each of the Cenotes is different in shape and depth. Each can have its own micro climate supporting tropical vegetation somewhat different from the vegetation found in the countryside around the Cenote. Where the Cenote is open to the skies above, lush vines growing down the walls proliferate, but where the Cenote is an underground cavern, with very little light, the lush greens are absent.
The second cenote that we visited was much more ‘original’ in its nature and required descent on a steep set of stairs down to an underground cavern with limited electric lighting to allow visitors to see a bit in the cavern. Going from the commercial-style cenote, open to the skies, down to an underground cavern was a pretty significant contrast.
Playa del Carmen, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
The beach beckons, but my reason for traveling to Playa del Carmen had nothing to do with the beaches. I was running out of storage space on my CF cards and wanted to have my photos transferred to a CD so that I could just keep on shooting. (Location)
Coba, Mayan Ruins, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
For those visiting the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, the Mayan ruins at Chichen-Itza are likely the highest priority and certainly the most heavily visited by tourists. Unlike the Chichen-Itza site with its wide pathways and open grounds with local merchants lining the pathways, Coba is still the path less traveled with narrower pathways, a definite jungle feeling and only one location to buy souvenirs and that location is outside of the site.
A portion of the beach at Palladium Resorts, Yucatan Peninsula: After a day or two of trudging through jungles and looking at Mayan ruins at Coba and Chichen-Itza, a bit of sun, surf and sand sure looks tempting. And, of course, playing or watching beach volleyball can take one’s mind off of Mayan ruins.