Ring of cenotes of Chicxulub Crater, Yucatan
Ring of cenotes of Chicxulub Crater, Yucatan is part of the Tentative list of Mexico in order to qualify for inclusion in the World Heritage List.
Ring of cenotes is a geomorphological formation created at the end of the Cretaceous period by the impact of a meteorite. Not only did it cause the extinction of the dinosaurs, but also the formation of this network of sinkholes and caverns typical of the Yucatan. The combination of karstic, geological and hydrological phenomena present in the crater rim are unique to this region.
Map of Ring of cenotes of Chicxulub Crater, YucatanLoad map
The coordinates shown for all tentative sites were produced as a community effort. They are not official and may change on inscription.
After a delightful morning exploring the charming city of Izamal, our journey to Uxmal took us through the captivating Zona de Cenotes. This not only added another tick to our UNESCO travel list but also posed the enticing question: What better way to spend the afternoon than immersing ourselves in the tranquil embrace of a cenote? However, this enchanting opportunity came with the challenge of selecting the perfect one from the hundreds in the peninsula, with 99 specifically shortlisted for consideration.
To pinpoint the ideal cenote, I meticulously examined coordinates on the website using Google Maps, ensuring it catered to the needs of our adventurous souls while accommodating our three-year-old daughter. After extensive research, we settled on "Cenotes Hacienda Mucuyche" for several compelling reasons. The historical charm of the old plantation, the picturesque abandoned buildings available for exploration, and the chic, well-maintained landscape all contributed to our decision. The facility's amenities, including showers, toilets, changing cabins, and lockers, ensured a comfortable visit, while the restaurant offered delectable food and drinks at affordable prices.
The cenote itself was a marvel, featuring a visible sinkhole connected to an underground counterpart by a long, half-open, half-covered tunnel. The ambiance was enhanced by a small artificial waterfall, creating a soothing soundtrack. The covered sinkhole, well-illuminated and echoing with sounds, provided a unique experience. Our guide cautioned us to maintain absolute silence upon entering the cave, an instruction we adhered to until my daughter, in a moment of unexpected hilarity, shouted, "Daddy, I need to poo!" Laughter erupted in the previously silent group, quickly followed by the collective concern of whether she might choose the water for her needs. To our relief, she waited until the tour's end, and we hurried to the facilities in the final minutes.
Despite the relatively high entrance fee (600 pesos per person, with toddlers free), the overall experience was undeniably worthwhile, considering the exceptional services and memorable moments we gained throughout the day.
The cenotes were part of my plan but a lot of these are impossible to get to. Cenotes are everywhere in Yucatan, basically sinkholes, but there are only 99(?) as part of the Chicxulub crater which are supposed to be listed on some website but it doesn't work anymore. I had already given up on this until the second last day of the Yucatan trip until I met a French hitchhiker at Uxmal who actually mainly wanted a ride but was talking about "senoetes" and after some thinking I finally understood he was ALSO looking for the cenotes and he was told by a local guy at Uxmal where to find one! Now I don't know if it was part of the crater and will later be inscribed if ever but I was so happy to get to one in the end.
The cenote is called X'Batun and is 10 minutes off the main road. We tried to find another one as marked on the highway going the opposite way but after 5 minutes we gave up and figured it was indeed one of those that you would have to wade through the bush to discover. Anyhow, the X'Batun was open for visitors for a small fee and it includes two spots. The first one was large wide as pictured above and already had many people swimming in the cool water. With the temperatures so hot/warm this is the best place to dip and cool off. One actually doesn't need to swim to feel cooler, just hanging out in the sinkhole is pretty cool. The second one is used for swimming but also has access to the underground caves for scuba diving, with two small groups descending on that afternoon alone.
For a visitor this place is nice regardless of any world heritage status. The main reason these places are interesting are for the crater impact which is important for the Earth's history. One can read plenty about this on Wikipedia and the UNESCO website so I will not repeat it all. By visiting one it is not possible to see this but mapping them out and a bird's eye view does, so visiting is actually not part of understanding the site per se, merely it shows what the cenotes look like from a close-up. In the end they are "just" holes created by the crater impact.
Try visiting one of these as you cruise around Yucatan for a nice surprise.
Jorge Daniel Magana Garcia
Cenotes are sanctuaries, and the site qualifies to be a mixed one. Complementary sites could be included in the buffer zones, too. It's unfortunate though that other sites in several Tentative Lists have been removed, so it is understandable that the peresquites change. Increasing the list of delisted sites should be considered, and maybe even the option of broader transnational parameters. Of course, UNESCO has to allow for a broader debate, true to its Specialized agency status, but that shouldn't impede the inclusion of more adequate membership and even agents that remain truthful to their conditioned situation as citizens or ex profeso nature.
2012 Added to Tentative List
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