Curiosities,  Holidays,  Mexico,  Nature

The cenotes: thousand-year-old water in Mexico

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A cenote is a freshwater well in which the water from the aquifer is exposed by the collapse of the ceiling of the cave. Cenotes are part of the aquifers which are interconnected by underground galleries. Cenote comes from the Mayan word ts’ono’ot or d’zonot and they are typically found in the Yucatán peninsula. The word d’zonot means “water cavern”.

The cenotes are bodies of water that are thousands of years old; they are very fragile and the water is home to flora and fauna that are extremely important for the conservation of the ecosystem. Before you enter a cenote, you have to follow some rules, such as bathing to remove any chemicals from your body (body creams, tanning lotion, make-up, deodorant, etc.). Do not touch the stalactites or stalagmites, as the oil from our bodies can break them; don’t hang on the tree roots; don’t feed or disturb the species found there. Each cenote will have its own set of rules. These rules are there to care for, protect and conserve this paradise for future generations. 

The importance of the cenotes

In the past, the water from the cenotes was hugely important as it was often use for rituals. Nowadays the cenotes serve as a tourist attraction and they constitute a great benefit for the regions where they are located. However, there are also industries such as agriculture and livestock rearing which depend on the water from the cenotes. It is for this reason that they need to be protected because any activity that depends solely on the cenote could lead to its deterioration.

The cenote is a fragile structure that is easily eroded, as the water and the aquifer can become polluted and it can eventually collapse.

The cenotes form ecosystems with a great wealth of flora and fauna which in turn are connected to other ecosystems through underground galleries, which in many cases reach as far as the sea. In turn, the cenotes are connected to numerous diverse habitats such as forests, mangrove swamps, wetlands and even the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, providing a home for a wide variety of lifeforms that depend on the water from the cenote and the aquifers.


Cenotes in Mayan Culture

The importance of caves and cenotes for the Mayans has been documented since the 16th century. Probably the most famous record of archaeological materials being recovered from these kinds of sites is the case of the Sagrado de Chichén Itzá cenote. In recent years, the Mexican National Institute of Anthropology and History has created a register of cenotes in the Yucatán and Quintana Roo states, with a diverse range of archaeological evidence. 

Caves and cenotes have been sites of great importance for the Mayans since ancestral times, as they were considered to be gateways or windows to the world of the dead and the underworld. Their ancestors and other supernatural beings were physically located in the soil beneath the ground or underwater, which is why it is also known as the underworld. It is for this reason that human sacrifices and rituals were often carried out in cenotes


The route of the cenotes

Yucatán is one of the best known regions for the number of cenotes found there. The province of Quintana Roo is also home to a wide variety of cenotes not to be missed. We recommend that you visit the following cenotes: Cenote Las Mojarras, Cenote Boca del Puma, Cenote Siete Bocas, Cenote Verde Lucero, Cenote La Noria, Cenote Kin Ha, Cenote Ik’Kil, Cenote Tsukán, Cenote Sagrado, among many others.

If you want to make the most of your holiday, we recommend that you visit Bahia Principe Tours for tours that are perfectly tailored to each person’s individual needs. Thanks to the professionalism of the guides, you will discover the culture of the Mayan civilisation and you’ll fall in love with the natural beauty of the place and get the chance to swim in its cool, crystal clear waters.

The Bahia Principe hotels located in Riviera Maya offer a unique opportunity to experience a holiday packed with culture and spectacular landscapes. What’s more, you’ll find five star all-inclusive resorts that offer all the comforts you look for on a holiday: spa, a la carte restaurants and entertainment. Whether you’re travelling with your family, with friends or with a partner, you’ll find the right accommodation option for you: a stone’s throw from the beach or surrounded by luxury and the Mayan jungle… Whatever you’re looking for, you’ll find it here. 

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