Hidden Worlds Cenotes park
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  Posted June 2nd, 2016 by Zdenko  in Travel | 4 comments

Traveling Mexico

By: Zdenko Kahlina

Cenotes in Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico.
Down in the Riviera Maya and only about a 30 minute drive from Cancun there are beautiful cenotes to make for some scuba diving. But first, what is a cenote?

Hidden Worlds Cenotes 

A cenote is a hole or underground cave in the Yucatan Peninsula that represents the main entrance to an underground lake or river. A cenote is a deep water-filled sinkhole in limestone that is created when the roof of an underground cavern collapses. This creates a natural pool which is then filled by rain and underground rivers. In Yucatan peninsula there is a lot of cenotes. Some cenotes are vertical, water-filled shafts, while others are caves that contain pools and underwater passageways in their interior.

Cenote with stalactites and stalagmites 

Most cenotes in Yucatan peninsula are underground dwells that are thousand-year-old, with stalactites and stalagmites. The Yucatan Peninsula is, in part, a mega-sized slab of limestone. As ground water drips through the limestone caverns are created.

Hidden Worlds Cenote 

Hidden Worlds Cenote 

The Mayans considered the cenotes as sacred places and they used them to perform their sacrifices or their purification rituals. There are hundreds of cenotes in the Peninsula, and it is usual to discover a cenote in the backyard of a new house or development (sometimes they just have to drill a few yards in the land and there you have a new brand private cenote).

 

Hidden Worlds Cenotes Park
When we were in Playa del Carmen several years ago, Vera and I visited “Hidden Worlds Cenote park” to swim in the cenotes. It was an amazing experience.

Hidden Worlds Cenotes Park offers unlimited fun at their cenotes park. The activities include cenote snorkeling, cenote splashdown zipline, cenote rappel, jungle canopy zipline, and the fantastic SkyCycle experience. You can book the Ultimate Adventure package which includes all the park activities with unlimited access throughout the day, or choose the activities separately. In both cases you get to choose your own adventure. We didn’t make any advanced bookings, rather we simply showed at the gate early in the morning (9 AM). Several other couples did the same, and we had a group…

Wetsuits and snorkeling gear was provided by Hidden Worlds

Our small group ready to explore 

After signing in and getting a harness and snorkel gear, we were given a short briefing on the park. The adventure begins in a truck through the jungle that takes you to the Jungle Welcome Center where there is a restaurant with Mexican food, restrooms, lockers and a gift shop.

The Jungle Welcome Center is the base for all the activities that you can choose in order of preference and repeat the ones you like the most. We had high expectations of this place based on reviews. The attractions themselves were amazing. We were all blown away with the beauty of the cenotes, the attentiveness of the staff, the small, family like feeling of the place.

Jungle buggies – waiting for adventurous tourists

Boarding “our” Jungle buggy 

Hidden Worlds Adventure Park is truly a Hidden Gem when it comes to day trips in the Mayan Riviera. The park is located right by the Mexico’s federal highway 307 that follows the shore line down south, towards Tulum. This is a small friendly operation that makes you truly feel you are experiencing a jungle outing. The buildings are unassuming yet clean and the vehicles are bare bones yet rugged and fun.

Bumpy road through the jungle

Hold tight…

The bumpy ride out to the cenotes is an adventure in itself. Our guide Martini called it the Mayan Massage. We were then loaded onto a “jungle buggy”, aka giant piece of junk, and driven on a VERY rough ride to the actual activities area. At one point we even had to push our truck over the small bump on the road, as the truck couldn’t make on its own. These jungle buggies are amazing… I can’t believe they are still using them to transport tourists! It would never happen in Canada.

We stopped at two different cenotes. The cenote that we swam and snorkeled in was beautiful. The water usually is colder in those “almost closed” cenotes with no sunlight (like the one of the picture)… but still the temps are around 21°C… and believe me that’s a blessing, when you are trying to escape the 40°C felt on the ground outside.

Entrance to one of the cenotes

To enter cenote is not easy

In the cenote

Snorkeling starts here

My favorite activity was snorkeling in the cenote; besides that’s what we were here for. The caves are a natural wonder full of stalactites and stalagmites and friendly little tetra fish that dart around you. Others liked the zipline splashdown into the cenote.

Zipline through the jungle

Zipline is lots of fun

Splashdown from the Zipline 

Jungle caffe lunch
If you book the package lunch will be included in your package and you had a choice between tacos, fajitas, quesadillas, and hamburgers. You could also choose between chicken or beef and sides included refried beans, salsa, potato chips, etc… No worries about the quality and the meat is grilled right before your eyes.

Under the water

Under the water

Photos
A photographer is assigned to each group and follows you throughout the day. Don’t worry he is friendly and stays out of your way. Ve had our camera with us and I was taking pictures all the time. There is a problem, where to leave camera, when we went swimming in the cenote. There is nobody to look after the items you can’t carry with you (under the water). I took a risk and left my backpack there and upon our return everything was there.

At the end of your outing you will be given the option to buy some or all of the photos taken. We were quoted $50 US for our family of four’s shots however we did try to get them for $30 as suggested by other travelers. Our offer was refused and because we had taken our own photos we opted not to buy theirs. The photo company is under contract by Hidden Worlds and seems to govern themselves.

Vera with the group of tourists

Unforgettable ride in the jungle buggy

Zdenko as a driver

Pricing/booking
If you booked online you will save quite a bit off of the regular price. It is easy to arrange transport from any big hotel and they will pick you up right at your resort. The Dolphin Royal and Adventure Park package cost is $149 USD. Like I mentioned before, we paid regular price at the entrance, because we arrived with our own car.

Final thoughts
We think our guide Martini was the best guide at the place, however I have seen good reviews for other guides too! He was young and very patient with our small group. Martini educated us on the Mayan Culture and was very professional and safety conscious. I loved how he gave our group that personal touch and we felt like he was our old friend not a tour operator.

This park was not advertised anywhere that we could see at the airport or around large Barcelo resort complex. What a shame! So many people are being ushered to the much more commercialized Xcaret, etc…

Oh well I guess it was better for us as we didn’t have to fight the crowds and endure long lines. Hidden Worlds own their own property, so we didn’t feel crowded or overwhelmed. There is a lot of potential for the park, and yes, it is Mexico; so the standards aren’t the same as pristine parks I would expect in Canada.

All in all, it was a great experience and excellent time was had by all in our group!

Things you are going to need for this adventure are:
-         water shoes are the best
-         money for souvenirs/photos
-         bottled water
-         camera or buy their photos

After the tour, we walked out with the knowledge of the following:
-         free lockers are available for your wallet and personal items
-         you can buy soft drinks, chips, etc.. in the jungle café
-         don’t bother bringing your own snorkeling gear the ones provided are fine
-         the water in cenote is warm and we didn’t need to use the wetsuits

Hidden Worlds Cenote

Web site: http://www.hiddenworlds.com/

Have a good and healthy season.

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