There are many reasons why…. the food, the history, the culture, the hospitality and charm of its people, and its unique natural beauties.
Hidden among the dense jungle of the Yucatan Peninsula are one of the most capricious and unique formations of nature, the “cenotes” (from Maya Dzonoot: ‘hole with water’).
What are the cenotes?
A cenote is a geological depression (dolina) characteristic of the reliefs caused by chemical weathering of certain rocks, such as limestone, the main component of the soil of the Yucatan Peninsula, composed of water-soluble minerals.
The filtration of rainwater to the subsoil causes the dissolution of the limestone rock producing small chambers that increase in size as the rock erodes to finally be exposed to the surface by the collapse of the dome.
This natural process allows to classify them into: cenote in grotto, underground or semi-closed, and open. Likewise, this process helps to calculate the age from the oldest cenotes, those that are completely open or exposed to the surface, and the youngest cenotes, those that still keep their dome intact.
The cenotes and the Mayan culture.
The cenotes were the main water supply in the middle of the jungle, that is why many cities and settlements were built nearby them. Also, they were sacred spaces because the Mayas believed that these places were entrances to the underworld or world of the dead and were the perfect symbolic scenarios for the development of rituals to worship the rain, life, death, rebirth, and fertility. The divine dynasties of Mayan rulers knew that the practical and symbolic control of the cenotes meant political and social control over life and death; hence their deep and ancient veneration, clearly demonstrated by the altars and shrines erected next to them and by the abundant offerings that lie at the bottom of their deep blue waters.
In the states of the Yucatan and Quintana Roo where they have been exploited for tourist use, it is estimated that there are approximately 10,000 cenotes. There is a government program to inventory, preserve and make them available to visitors whose number is increasing every day.
Today, their beauty and mysticism has made them one of the most popular attractions in the Cancun and Riviera Maya areas, where you can travel in time and imagine how the passing of the years has been forming these natural wonders. Swimming, snorkeling, or diving, it will undoubtedly be one of the most memorable experiences of your life.