xkecken Mexico

The cenote is the name for a lake that form underground when the water table breaks through fragile limestone. Where you can swim. Xkeken Cenote has been on my travel “wish list” since National Geographic published this photo last year.  There are literally hundreds of cenotes, or sinkholes filled with groundwater located in Mexico, but Xkeken Cenote is the one of the most famous. Located in Mexico’s Yucatan region, it was a point of spiritual connection for the Mayans, who believed that this natural well led to the underworld. Today, it’s one of Yucatan’s most popular tourist spots, drawing thousands of visitors each year.

The natural wonders of the state of Yucatán are innumerable and some of the most important and unusual are the cenotes, or sinkholes. In the Yucatán there are over 3000 cenotes, with only 1400 actually studied and registered.

The Mayas called them dzonot, which the conquering Spaniards translated as cenote. Geraldo Díaz Alpuche was a military commander in the 16th century who was greatly impressed with these underground caverns and pools, and he tried to explain the meaning of the word cenote in the Spanish language as meaning "deep thing". The Motul dictionary, a dictionary of Mayan hieroglyphics, defines dzonot as "abysmal and deep". 

Cenotes are magical, enigmatic and unique in the world and were once the only resource for fresh, sweet water in the local Yucatecan jungle. They were the sacred places of the Mayas for that reason, but also because they represented the entrance to the underworld.

The Yucatán Peninsula is a porous limestone shelf with no visible rivers; all the fresh water rivers are underground. Being porous, caverns and caves formed where the fresh water collects – hence the cenotes or water sinkholes. The water that gathers in these subterranean cenotes is a crystal clear turquoise color with a very pleasant temperature of 78° F (25.5º C). 

The stalactites and stalagmites that form inside the cenotes are true natural works of art. In many, holes in the ceiling allow the sunlight to filter into the cenotes, giving the scene a magical feeling. The cenotes of Yucatán are a natural treasure that should be seen by all, keeping in mind that they should be protected so that man does not destroy in a few days what nature took millions of years to create.

Other places to see
If one would really like to relax, there are more than 3000 Cenotes in the location with about 1000 accessible. Valladolid has the Convent of San Bernardino on offer for tourists. The town is a popular base for visiting nearby major Mayan ruins such as Chichen Itza and Ek'Balam. The Zaci Cenote is another great place to visit with a restaurant on the property.

Directions, Duration and Accomodationa

The Site is located about 5kms from Valladolid. A lot of people also come from Cancun or Merida. Also the Cenotes are only about 20minutes from Chicen-Itza.  The Xkeken itself is worth half a day but should be included along with Chichen-Itza and Ek'Balam. Accomodation is widely available since visitors throng these places year round.


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