Riviera Maya’s cenotes were sacred sites for the Maya. // © 2013 Experiencias Xcaret
While the end of the Mayan Calendar in 2012 may have been a lot of hoopla, it did have a positive result: It put Mayan culture front and center in the promotion of tourism to Cancun and Riviera Maya. Some of the most visitor-friendly entry points to Mayan culture are the cenotes that dot the landscape, where visitors can take a dip amidst lush surroundings. Cenotes are naturally formed crystal-clear pools that house underground rivers. They date back thousands of years and were a primary source of fresh water for the Maya.
Cenotes were also sacred sites. The Maya believed that they were the entrance to Xibalba, the Mayan underworld. The Maya also believed that the depths of the cenotes pools and caverns were inhabited by tiny, nimble and mischievous creatures known as aluxes, or guardians of the jungle. These aluxes were thought to wander through fields and hills after sunset. The Maya would give prayers and offerings to the aluxes and ask them for permission to walk on their land. The Maya would also pray that the aluxes would take care of the crops.
Experiencias Xcaret is offering a new tour, Xenotes Oasis Maya, which brings participants to experience four different kinds of cenotes in Riviera Maya. Participants will kayak, rappel, snorkel, zip-line and go tubing while learning about Mayan history and culture.
The tours include transportation service to and from the participant’s hotel in the company of a specialized guide. En route, a welcome coffee, chocolate, Mexican sweet breads, non-alcoholic beverages (water and soft drinks) and seasonal fruits are served. Participants are equipped for all activities with a life jacket, snorkel equipment, rappel gear, a kayak, an inner tube and a towel. Facilities include restrooms and changing areas.
During the tour, Experiencias Xcaret offers what they call a “Glam Picnic,” with a menu that includes fussili vegetable soup, premium cheeses and deli meats, rustic breads, fresh salads and drinks, including beer and wine.
The tour costs $109 for adults and $54.50 for children.