Cenotes in Valladolid (Yucatán, Mexico)
In Valladolid we were able to visit Cenote Zací (Cenote Zaci), Cenote Xkeken, and Cenote Samulá (Cenote Samula).
We spent time in the state of Yucatán on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. Quintana Roo is to its southeast and the Gulf of Mexico is off of its north coast. Merida is the capital and largest city in the state. In 2019 Merida was considered the second safest city in the Americas. Valladolid is a popular city filled with history, colonial era churches and the natural attractions, Cenotes.
What is a Cenote?
A Cenote is a natural pit or sinkhole. They are created when there is a collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater. Cenotes are specifically associated with the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. They were commonly used for water supplies by the ancient Maya and occasionally for sacrificial offerings.
Considered by the Mayans to be gifts from the gods, cenotes are beautiful and found throughout the Yucatan peninsula. There are more than 2,500 cenotes in the state of Quintana Roo and 10,000 cenotes in the entire penisula. Cenotes are named by the way the light shines through the opening of the cenotes.
There are 3 types of Cenotes: open, semi-open, and underground.
We chose to stay in Valladolid in order to be close to Chichén Itzá (One of the 7 Wonders of the World) and to be close to 3 Cenotes that really got our attention.
The settlement of Valladolid used to have in its center a Mayan pyramid. This was destroyed and the stones were used to build the church, city hall and main houses. In 1705 the local Maya revolted and killed town officials and took refuge in the cathedral. After the revolt, the cathedral was desecrated beyond repair and was torn down. A new Cathedral was built the following year. This is the one that exists today.
The name of the church is the Iglesia de San Servacio (Church of Saint Servatius). It is located on the south edge of the Parque Francisco Canton in Valladolid. The church is a barrel vault cathedral style building. The Mayan uprising of 1546 was from the Chemax people who then congregated in this church after the conquering of Zaci and the move to Valladolid. Legend says that only 22 inhabitants defended Valladolid during the 20 day siege.
In the city center of Valladolid we hung out at Parque Principal Francisco Canton Rosado. We enjoyed delicious marquesitas, sat in the 2 seater benches, and enjoyed the view of the Church of Saint Servatius (Iglesia de San Servacio).
We also saw the fountain of “La Mestiza.” The fountain of “La Mestiza”(mixed race woman) located in the center of the park, is an homage to the Yucatec woman, results of fusion of Mayan and Spanish cultures.
Two of our favorite meals in Valladolid were grains and spices rolled into balls and cooked. This was plated with plantains, tomatoes, and cucumbers. We also had a LOADED Mexican pizza. This flatbread was topped with mushrooms, green beans, corn, and onions.
Cenote Zaci is also within the city limits of Valladolid.
Cenote Zací (Cenote Zaci) was a 10 minute walk from our hotel. As we walked in, there were 2 different Maya Warriors burning incense and asking if we wanted to take photos with them. Cenotes are a natural phenomenon but they are not free to enter. The entrance fee to Cenote Zací was 30 pesos.
This cenote is only half covered which allows in tons of sunlight. We even took turns diving off of a cliff into the water!
Cenote Zaci is very unique because its shape resembles a massive cave. A man-made waterfall streams down into Cenote Zací. This creates a curtain-like stream into the natural swimming hole below.
It was such an amazing experience and we could walk there from our hotel! We visited 2 other cenotes in Valladolid; however they were not within walking distance.
We took a Colectivo van which was about a 10 minute drive. The day prior we tried this means of transportation to get to Chichen Itza but they did not open on time. We waited until around 11:30 am on this day and they were open. The tickets came out to 50 pesos each for a one way ticket.
Cenote Samulá (Cenote Samula) and Cenote Xkeken give you a nice 2 for 1 to provide your Cenote fix. They share a parking area and have passes that can be combined together. The entrance fee for one was 80 pesos. Entrance for both was 125 pesos. Also make sure to have extra money if you want a photo taken in front of a green screen that will be ready for you on the way out.
In order to enter the water, make sure to have enough money for life jackets. You can not even use one set of life jackets for both cenotes on site. You have to rent life jackets at the entrance of the first cenote, return them, and then get another life jacket before entering the second cenote. Life jackets are required if you want to swim in these Cenotes but you can go in and take a look around without one. There are life guards on duty to keep you honest. Life Jackets are 20 pesos per person; per Cenote.
Cenote Samulá is a beautiful cavern with clear turqouise water. It is a closed Cenote illuminated by a hole in the upper part of the cavern with a tree root hanging down. Going into this cenote you will walk down stone steps that will lead you to a nice overlook of Cenote Samula. The second level is where you can place your things and then take the steps down to the water. If it is busy you might want to place your things in a locker because you will not be able to see your things that well.
For a couple hours a day, sun shines directly down into the water making for a spectacular sight and photo. We were told that the best time of day to see this light coming down was 11:30 am or noon. This we can vouch for. We saw a great beam of light around noon.
We also visited the "Blue Cave" Cenote Xkeken (meaning "pig" in Mayan). This is smaller than Cenote Samulá.
There is not a natural light beam coming through so it is really dark inside and the water is really cold!
At the entrance to Cenote Xkeken is another dry cenote that has a small cave. You are able to walk around and look. Not much to explore but it makes sense to walk over and take a peak on your way in or out of Xkeken.
Bring these cenotes to life by watching our Cenotes in Valladolid Mexico Travel Vlog on YouTube:
Cenote Zací (Zaci), Cenote Xkeken, Cenote Samulá (Samula). All in Valladolid Mexico!
In this episode we visited some of the cenotes in Mexico. A Cenote is a natural pit or sinkhole. They are created when there is a collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater. Back in the city center of Valladolid we hung out at Parque Principal Francisco Canton Rosado. We enjoyed delicious marquesitas, sat in the 2 seater benches, and enjoyed the view of the Church of Saint Servatius (Iglesia de San Servacio). We also saw the fountain of “La Mestiza” (mixed race woman).
Thanks for reading our blog on Mexican Cenotes!
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