Cenotes are a must-see when you visit Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. A cenote is a natural sinkhole formed by the filtering of rain water through the soft, porous limestone which is typical of the region. They can be found open to the surface or underground, in the latter case, cenotes are connected by underground tunnels forming rivers where thousands of flora and fauna species inhabit.
Here at Bonanza Ranch, we feel very proud to have one of this natural habitats inside our facilities. For this reason, we provide you with useful information before you take a dive in its mystical waters.
Meaning and origin of cenotes
The word cenote comes from the Mayan word “Tz’onot”, which means “water well”. According to Maya cosmogony, cenotes were considered as the entrance to the Mayan underworld Xibalba, which translates as “World of the dead”, and it was the place where the souls had to go through several tests imposed by the Lords Hun-Camé, Ahalcaná or Vucub-Camé, as mentioned in the Mayan narrative Popol Vuh (text that describes the origins of the universe).
Nowadays we know that cenotes are the result of a natural process in which the ceiling of a cave collapses due to water accumulation. Cenotes are classified as open, semi-open, underground and cave cenotes that were formed due to changes in sea levels during glacial periods of the Pleistocene geological epoch.
How to preserve cenotes
Cenotes play a very important role in maintaining a balanced ecosystem. This is why we should take good care of them by doing the following:
- Shower before getting in to wash off deodorant, sunscreen, insect repellent, hair conditioner and shampoo. These chemical substances can cause a serious damage.
- Use the restroom before swimming, once inside you may feel the urge to go, due to the cool temperature of the water; and this can contribute to its contamination.
- Respect local wildlife, here you will admire an array of plants and animals such as fish, turtles, water lilies, coatis and spider monkeys. Please observe them quietly, we will take care of the photographs.
- If you visit a cave, please make sure you DO NOT touch the stalactites or stalagmites. They are formed over a period of hundreds of years and the oil on human body prevents them from growing.
- For safety reasons please wear a lifejacket when necessary, even if you are a good swimmer.
Now that you know a little more about cenotes, come and live it yourself in our tour. Continue reading our blog where you will find interesting and useful articles, as well as the latest recommendations about our activities at Bonanza Ranch.