Cenotes, a geological found-only-in-the-Yucatan tourist attraction, are a HUGE “must-see” in the Yucatan (as well as located in every village) and I knew that at some point in our Mexican vacation, we would visit one.
What exactly are cenotes?
In simplest terms, they are underground caves filled with crystal clear water. How they were formed is the more interesting part.
The Yucatan Peninsula is composed of limestone, a porous material. When the huge meteor hit the earth about 65 million years ago forming the Gulf of Mexico and wiping out the dinosaurs, the limestone cracked. A lot.
Caves and pockets formed underneath the ground and when it rained (which it does a lot in a jungle), the rainwater seeped through the stone, purifying and collecting in a cenote. The ancient Mayans always built their cities and villages near these cenotes because they were a source of fresh water.
Now they’re a cool tourist attraction.
After getting all sweaty at Ek Balam, I felt certain my guys would welcome a dip in Cenote X’keken (pronounced Esh-ke-ken) a short distance outside Valladolid. They refused to swim, but were curious about this underground phenomenon.
|Entering Cenote X’keken|
We managed to arrive as a tour bus was leaving (Cenote X’keken is one of the most famous and most photographed of the Yucatan cenotes) and paid a nominal fee to enter.
|People swimming in Cenote X’keken|
Artificial blue lights lit up the cenote and a few people were swimming. The water was unbelievably crystal clear, but alas, my boys still didn’t want to take a dip. I managed a few good photos (make sure to turn off your flash) and then the humidity of the cave did us in. We exited just as another tour bus entered having enjoyed Cenote X’keken (its partner, Cenote Dzitnup is across the street) without a throng of people to mar our visit.