Immerse Yourself in the Cenotes of Cancun
What’s up with the cenotes in Cancun? How were they formed? Why are there no cenotes in other parts of the world? To solve this and other questions, let’s go back a bit in time, only 65 million years. We are in the Yucatan Peninsula, the exact place where the Earth suffered an immense cosmic impact, an asteroid or a comet of approximately 15 kilometers in diameter collided with our planet causing the mass extinction of almost all species that then inhabited the earth (yes , the dinosaurs among them).
The crater resulting from this devastating event is 180 kilometers in diameter, no more, no less; it has been named “Chicxulub crater” by the name of the town near its center. After this catastrophic impact, in the last glacial era of the planet, the entire region was flooded.
As the water level dropped, a limestone base was exposed, its porous nature allowing water to penetrate and filter through. This created underground rivers and huge cave systems with incredible stalactites and stalagmites that formed over thousands of years. There are no rivers on the surface of the Yucatan Peninsula, all the drinking water is in the cenotes in Cancun, Playa del Carmen and the Riviera Maya, which makes them invaluable treasures since before the appearance of the ancient Maya.
What is a cenote?
From the maya tz’onot ‘well’, ‘abyss’. Spring water reservoir located in the Mexican state of Yucatan, generally at some depth. There are several types of cenotes in Cancun: open-pit, semi-open and underground or in a cave. This classification is directly related to the age of the cenote, the oldest cenotes are those that are completely open and the youngest those that still preserve their intact dome. Like many other geomorphological structures, the cenotes are transitory structures, which can eventually end up filled and dried out.
Numerous fossils and remains of prehistoric animals have been found inside the cenotes. One of the most important findings is that of the “Woman of the Palms”, the fossilized remains of a woman thought to have inhabited the earth in the “Ice Age”, approximately 13,000 years ago. Her skeleton was found in 2006 in a cenote near Tulum.
For the Mayans, the relevance of the cenotes surpassed mere subsistence and entered the realm of the spiritual. For this ancient civilization, the cenotes were entrances to the underworld, important rituals took place and valuable offerings were made.
With so many cenotes in Cancún still to be discovered or explored, there is a whole world of history waiting to be revealed behind the dense jungle below the earth.
Travelers from all over the world have the opportunity to immerse themselves in these natural wonders, the cenotes in Cancun. Since many ancient Mayan cities such as Chichén Itzá, Tulum, Cobá and Ek Balam were built near cenotes to supply water to its inhabitants, there are a lot of tours in Cancun that combine archaeological sites with refreshing dips in these crystalline water tanks.
We invite you to visit all the cenotes in Cancun, Playa del Carmen and the Riviera Maya that you can enjoy during your next vacation! All have spectacular scenarios and each offers different adventures: diving platforms, ziplines, snorkeling, rappel and even kayaks.