Xcacel Sanctuary, a piece of paradise in Mexico

Xcacel is a stunning turtle sanctuary and also home to an amazing cenote with nothing else nearby just nature.

From Tulum we caught the collectivo that goes in direction to Playa Del Carmen and left in Xcacel (30$ Mexican pesos). To enter and visit the park they ask only for a donation.

DSC00865

The park is amazingly beautiful and very clean,  and if you go early in the morning is tranquil and very peaceful, away from Playa del Carmen or Tulum’s noise.

DSC00863

We went first to the cenote (X’cacelito), that is the most popular part of the park while was still empty, and was so so good, we spent hours in the water amazed with it’s beauty.

The Cenote is connected to the beach by a well kept sand road surrounded by jungle.
Later on we went for a walk through the path in the jungle parallel to the beach till the end of the park and walked back thought the beach.

DSC00970

The north end doesn’t have sand just rocks, and it’s always calmer and good for snorkeling.

We didn’t spend much time on the beach, because there’s little shade, if you can take an umbrella with you 🙂 The sand is white and the water has different shades of blue, but since 2014 Mexico is facing  problems with excessive seaweed (sargassum) washing ashore. For these reason the beach doesn’t have the ‘idilic Caribbean look’.

DSC01004

The park was full of signs alerting for turtle nests, from April to October, the turtles make their journey to nest along the Xcacel beach, please respect the signs.

Because the turtles lay their eggs down in this beach nobody is allowed to build resorts, hotels, palapas,  restaurants or something like that in this place.

DSC01007
turtle nests signs

While time passes more people arrives and some tour vans, but it’s still a very quiet place by local standards.

Later in the day we decided to go to the cenote again, but there was a big queue to go in. So try to go as early as possible and straight away to the cenote.

Bring your own beverages and food, be mindful of others, and pick up your trash in the end 🙂 they have some great shaded picnic area next to the beach, enroute to the Cenote.

We returned to Tulum by colectivo.  The park closes at 5pm.

DSC00949

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

SaveSave

The Three Cuzama Cenotes

The Yucatán Peninsula has literally hundreds of cenotes that are fed by subterranean rivers, these natural pools are incredible beautiful, and theres something mysterious and enchanted about the light and colours they have.

The Cenotes of Chunkamán were the first ones we visited, and we couldn’t really ask for anything more beautiful and peaceful. From Mérida to the small village of Chunkamán is an hour trip by bus.

Where the bus stops there are a couple of tuk-tuks waiting, they charge 10 pesos to go to the cenotes area to locals, but they will ask more to tourists. You have two options, negotiate the price, or walk (+-3km). We chose the last options, because the day wasn’t to hot and we love to walk.

The admission fee is 400 pesos ($22) for 1 to 4 people (non-negotiable) and believe me, we tried :). We arrived very early in the morning (around 8) and the place was absolutely empty.  We were the first visitors that day, so we had the canotes just for ourselves. It was amazing to explore and swim with no one else there, BUT…. to reach the cenotes your only option is going by horse-drawn railcart,  along an old railway track. This is an huge negative point about this place, the poor horses look rough, and very thin, they don’t give them any water during the journey, some have visible injuries, diseases and open bleeding wounds 🙁 it’s truly a shame and I rather much prefer to go to a place that doesn’t use or mistreat animals.

Unfortunately I didn’t know that before hand, otherwise I would go to a different one, and there are plenty to choose from, you don’t really need to finance any business that have abusive behaviour towards animals.

And again don’t get me wrong the cenotes are amazing, but please don’t make the same mistake as we did and just choose a different one, until they  change their ways, and again there are literally hundreds  of cenotes throughout Yucatan, all different but equally beautiful in their very unique manner.

The path to the cenotes is surrounded by dense vegetation and had thousands of colourful butterflies flying around.  The 3 cenotes are the Cenote Bolonchojol, Cenote Chelentún, and Cenote Chacsinicché.2017-07-25 11.21.09.jpg

The first stop was at the smallest but very picturesque Cenote, the Bolonchojol. To go in, you enter through a very small hole in the ground, once inside you discover an amazing cave with a small area with crystalline and refreshingly cool water.

The other two cenotes are bigger and have ropes-like roots descending with the light. The Cenote Chelentún has a long wooden ladder to a a concrete platform. The water is deep blue and has a fantastic light, this was my favourite one.

The last one, the Cenote Chacsinicché has a  mirador with a 15 metre drop down into the water.

To accesses this one theres metal steps. This was by far my least first wasn’t empty and because this is the more accessible one, some people don’t end up going to the others. And unfortunately there was lots of jumping going on, shouting and screaming.. as a teacher I get that all year round..and I like peace and quiet 🙂

The visit takes around 3 hours, and  you will get 30 minutes to swim at each of the cenotes.

2017-07-25 12.08.45
Cenote Chelentún 

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

SaveSave