If you have done any research into visiting cenotes whilst in Merida or the Yucatan area, you most certainly would have noted that there are hundreds (possible thousands) of them spread out throughout the region. Many seem to be local secrets, kept from the internet and found only by exploring nomads looking to support the locals that run them. We managed to came across the cenotes of Cuzamá by a little bit of research, a little bit of luck, and asking around.
A cenote if you are not already accustomed, is an underground fresh river system that sometimes manages to find its way to the surface along its path. Once used by Mayans as their main source of water (there’s not much fresh water in the area), they are now discovered and used by locals and tourists alike as swimming, diving, and exploration spots. Many cenotes are accessed by going down long ladders and stairs into massive caves (complete with stalactites), whilst others seem like a small lake oasis in the middle of the jungle. The 3 cenotes of Cuzamá are the former, with ladders and stairs opening up to caverns with deep water for swimming and a spectacular site for photography.
We believe these 3 cenotes are some of the best of Yucatan, if not for the beauty of each of the cenotes, then for the horse and cart (on an old railway track) that delivers you to each one over the course of a tour (yes really!).
Here is the Nomadic Bones guide on how to visit the 3 cenotes of Cuzamá:
Transportation from Merida:
To get to the cenotes from Merida, you must firstly make your way to Calle 67 (between Calle 52 and Calle 50). Across the road from the Noreste Bus Station are colectivos that will take you the 1-hour trip from Merida to Cuzamá for the price of 24MXN peso (each way). Note that there are similar colectivos charging 25 peso in the area (up to you which one you take).
Once you reach Cuzamá, the colectivo will drop you in the centre of town where many bici-taxi’s will be waiting. These are motorcycles with the capacity to take 4 passengers at a time. The ride on the bici-taxi’s is certainly an uncomfortable adventure, though you are only travelling approximately 2-3km to the cenotes so don’t worry too much. We negotiated our fare to the cenotes to 20MXN peso each way, and asked them to return in 3 hours at the conclusion of our tour to take us back. The original quote was 30MXN peso each, so it is always good to negotiate!
The Tour of the 3 Cenotes:
As a disclaimer, the area that the 3 cenotes are on is owned and operated by a local group of families from Cuzamá, and is not controlled at all by any government entity. It did make us feel good to support a local cause, and also to pay the pre-determined price set out by the locals (they weren’t interested in negotiating in any case).
The cost for the tour when you arrive at the site will depend on how many people you have in your group. The carts that you travel on fit up to 6 people, though generally 4 is more comfortable. The pricing (as of November 2016) is as follows:
– 4 people: 350MXN peso
– 5 people: 400MXN peso
– 6 people: 450MXN peso
This price gives you a 3-hour tour, with travel on a horse and cart (on an old disused railway track) to each of the cenotes. You will get 30 minutes to swim at each of the cenotes before returning to the entrance.
The railway track you travel on was once used as a means of transporting farmed agave out, so whilst rickety is a kooky and adventurous method of getting around.
The 3 cenotes that you will visit along your tour include Cenote Bolonchojol, Cenote Chelentún, and Cenote Chacsinicché.
Cenote Bolonchojol is the first that we visited, where our guide (who spoke no English) walked us to a large tree and pointed at a hole at its base which seemed to lead down into a black abyss.
Yes, this was the entrance to the first of the cenotes, with a long ladder leading us down into a pitch black cave (being too difficult to get a permanent light source into). We made our way down with the guide utilising torches, until we reached a large cave. Being that we had gotten to the site early, we had this spot all to ourselves, which made it spooky in the nearly-dark as we walked around to the cenote itself.
Our guide indicated that we should get into the water, where he lit the way for us to swim around to a different exit spot once we finished swimming. It was a bit weird swimming deep down in a cave, but after a short while it became an exciting adventure. It was also quite fun attempting to get underwater photos with our camera with use of the flash.
This was the 2nd cenote we visited, but actually the furthest away from the entrance to the tour (so technically the third). When we arrived we found that there were only two other people swimming in the cenote – what a private paradise!
We went down a wooden ladder which seemed to go on forever, before arriving on a concrete platform overlooking some of the bluest water we had all ever seen. The tree roots and stalactites wound their way down from the roof, creating an amazing scene within the cave.
The advantage to this cenote is that unlike others we came across, this one had both a shallow end, and a deep end! This meant that the usual treading of water (cenotes can get to over 80 metres deep in places making them perfect for diving expeditions) was broken up by being able to stand and take in the beauty that surrounded us.
Once again, after 30 minutes of being in almost privacy, we made our way back up to our horse and cart to visit the final cenote.
The ‘middle’ cenote in the 3 that we visited, this was probably our favourite of the lot. When you arrive you come across a mirador (view point) of the cenote below you, with a 15 metre drop down into the water.
We made our way down the installed metal steps to the swimming area, and began jumping in from the many rocks that make up the cavernous area. We were also able to make use of the mirador – as an entry point into the water. That’s right, we took cliff jumping to new heights (literally) by being absolute daredevils and jumping in from the 15 metre high precipice.
After completing this cenote, we felt we had definitely gotten our monies worth, and made our way back to the entrance to head back to Merida.
To get back to Merida, go back the same way you arrived. Wait for the colectivo on the main road in town which will take you back to where you originally departed in Merida.
Overall, we had an amazing time visiting what we think are some of the most beautiful cenotes in the Yucatan. We were able to do the entire tour (including transport) for 170MXN peso per person, which meant that for each cenote and a horse ride we paid around 55 peso (a lot less than the entry to some we have seen!).
We would definitely recommend this place to anyone in the area, and if you need any further information don’t hesitate to leave a comment and we’ll guide you in the right direction!