These pictures appear on our timelines over and over again. Friends and bloggers post impressive photos of cave systems, which look like something from another, exciting planet. It’s as if Avatar meets Tarzan; the way the green water lilies make their way through the cave opening down to the water, and, how the sun’s rays beam deep beneath the surface of the water, illuminating the way for divers.
What are cenotes? | How did they come about? | Where can I find them?
What are cenotes?
A cenote is an open karst cave, which can be found in Mexico, but also in the Dominican Republic. For a number of years, the cenotes have been regarded as an Instagram and selfie hotspot, as the cave systems’ unique atmosphere, makes for some very special and fascinating shots. Many divers and snorkelers stop here on their trips to Mexico and the Dominican Republic, to view the structures from up close. The Mayan’s previously used many cenotes as religious sacrificial sites and regarded the underground systems as a gateway to the underworld. For decades, archaeologists from around the world have been trying to find out the true meaning of the cenotes to the Mayans. During diving sessions, archaeologists always find extensive human remains lying deep inside the caves, which were used as sacrifices. An extremely exciting task in an impressive environment.
How do cenotes form?
Cenotes emerge in so-called karst areas, i.e. areas with unusual underground terrain forms, the karst caves. These cave systems are particularly common in Mexico, where many of the caves are crossed by watercourses. So that the unique open cave shape can form, a hole in the grotto must be formed by the collapse of the ceiling, which allows both sunlight and fresh water to enter. Depending on the origin and nature, each cenote has its own unique look. While some look like large, open lakes, others are small, winding and eerily beautiful.
Many years after the demolition of the ceiling, the edges of most cenotes are reinforced. A very unique and mysterious atmosphere is created inside – plants and animals reside in a sublime habitat here.
Where can I find the cenotes in Mexico?
Many of the caves are now real tourist attractions. Similar to the Chichén Itzá Mayan settlement, the caves are worth visiting earlier on in the day, in order to escape the crowds. Take a towel with you and be careful when descending into the underworld – it is often slippery, as the stones are covered with algae.
On this map is an overview of some highly recommended cenotes
My tip for your holiday to Mexiko
Don’t miss out on these wonders of nature during your holiday in Mexico – these different caves and lakes are really worth visiting and should definitely be on the top of your Mexico bucket list.
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