After our short visit on Isla Holbox we made our way mainly on Mexican backroads towards Ek Balam where we would not only find some ancient Mayan ruins but also cenote X’Canche. The area also offered a camping option where we planned to stay for a night before heading towards the town of Valladolid.
What is a cenote?
A cenote is basically a former cave in the limestone that collapsed. More than 1000 cenotes can be found in the state of Quintana Roo on the Yucatán peninsula. These sinkholes are usually connected to the ground water and maybe the main reason for the success of the Mayan culture. A lot of cenotes in Yucatan are a part of what is supposed to be the world’s biggest underwater cave system.
During dry season the cenotes are often the only places with water and therefore spoil a rich flora and fauna.
Camping at Cenote X’Canche
It was a very hot day. We had left our campsite next to a farmer’s field early in the morning and cycled already for more than five hours (without breaks). It was 4 pm when we loaded up on water in a small Mexican village. The cenote X’Canche was still 10 km ahead and we started to get tired.
I felt stinky and sweaty and couldn’t imagine to crawl into the tent like that. I would definitely glue onto my mattress all night. Therefore I insisted that we could make it to the cenote on the same day. Brad mentioned that according to Lonely Planet it closed at 5 pm. When we cycled on we were a little bit afraid of not getting access to the cenote anymore.
But when we got there it was no problem at all. We checked in at the nearby campsite and were told that we could go to the cenote all night if we like.
We pitched our tent and locked our bikes to a tree before we turned into swimming clothes, grapped a towel and made our way to the cenote. Only one other tent was pitched at the campground.
My first cenote!
We made our way to the nicely maintained tourist area. I didn’t know what to expect. Of course you can look at photos beforehand but the reality is often very different.
All of a sudden the trail followed along a big hole. Much bigger than I thought it would be. And also much deeper. Rope swings were attached to some trees and some abseiling gear was hanging around.
Not one other person was around. We had the cenote all to ourselves! Fascinated by the view we took some photos and then prepared to climb down the stairs. Did I mention it was deep?!
A private swim in cenote X’Canche
Successfully we made it down the stairs. They look very steep and yes they are! Around the cenote you can walk on wooden boards connected to further stairs to reach the water. It looked like a place prepared for many tourists with swim vests for rent and lots of additional ropes for safety.
We couldn’t believe how lucky we were to be alone. The priviledges of the camper! Slowly I made my way down the stairs towards the water. I realized that the right wooden handle was a little loose… well, Mexican security standards are not comparable with German ones.
I dipped one foot into the water. It was surprisingly cold. And very clear so I could see black fish swimming around. They were not shy at all. I was – a little bit and so it took some time until I dived into the water and swam around. Brad joined me and we enjoyed the refreshing wet on our skin after a day of hot bicycle touring.
After all it was a good decision to push through and cycle all the way to cenote X’Chanche. Having this wonderful place to ourselves was just priceless!
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