During my recent trip to Yucatan and Quintana Roo, Mexico, I was fascinated by the cenotes. I am sure you have heard about them before. Just in case, let me clarify what they are.
A cenote is a deep natural pit, or sinkhole, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath. Although a lot of them follow this description, some of them also exist at the bottom of caves. They are characteristic of the Yucatan Peninsula. However, they occur in other part of Mexico and Central America. Sinkholes in other parts of the world are sometimes called cenotes (even though they are not technically cenotes).
Today, I want to present you photos of four of the cenotes I visited while touring Mexico. Hopefully, you will understand why I am so attracted to this magical holes or spots.
Sacred Cenote at Chichen Itza
This is probably one of the most famous and visited cenotes. It is a huge hole with white walls and greenish water. You feel really small while observing this giant from the distance.
The most interesting thing is that Mayas used the sinkhole for religious purposes. And when I say religious purposes, yes, I am referring to human sacrifices too. Take a look at the photo below. That flat surface at the bottom left corner is the platform from where the victims were thrown to their death. Gulp!! There is no room to mess up around here. You better watch your step. (don’t worry, there is a fence surrounding the cenote, just in case).
Zaci Cenote in Downtown Valladolid
Yes, believe it or not, towns in the state of Yucatan, can have a cenote in the middle of local businesses. Amazing, right? Well, this cenote is located a short walk from the main plaza. The name Zaci was the original Maya name of the city of Valladolid.
Swimming and snorkeling is permitted in here. Now, this cenote looks really deep. A lady who swam in it gave me conformation. She told me she felt like in a bottomless pit. She felt something she hasn’t experienced before (it wasn’t like swimming at the sea or at a pool).
Xkeken or Dzinup Cenote near Valladolid
This cenote is considered one of the most beautiful (and we are talking about hundred of cenotes). It is located about 2.5 miles from the center of Valladolid. It is safe to ride a bike to the area. Alternatively, a taxi can take you there (and to the Samula Cenote across the street). Tip: remember to haggle in order to get a good price.
Well, this cenote felt different because it is located inside a cave. There is only a small hole at the top letting natural light in. Artificial light (changing colors) provide a hint of clarity. The cenote is supposed to look as the photo below.
The natural light wasn’t cooperating. So, I was able to take so and so pictures. Maybe I have to learn more about taking pictures in dim lighting conditions.
Even thought I was not able to take the pictures I wanted, I felt in a different world. The place was extremely humid and hot. It was hard to breath. There were amazing rock formation everywhere. It was like a prehistoric or raw vision.
Samula Cenote near Valladolid
If you visit the Xkeken Cenote, it feels almost obligatory to visit its sister sinkhole. Across the street, you can enter the world of the Samula Cenote. Don’t get fooled to think all cenotes are equal. Each of these is worth a visit.
I was amazed when I entered. In this case, the light was entering beautifully the cave. I felt in paradise. Long tree roots entering the cenote thru its upper aperture. Shallow and clear water. Black fish resembling miniature sharks. One word: lovely.
Have you visited a cenote? Let me know in the comments section below.