If you’re splashing out on a trip to the beautiful Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico and you’re checking on the local attractions, you’ve probably heard of them. The Cenotes. And if you’ve ever been to this wonderful region, you may have already visited some of them.
The Cenotes are one of the great attractions of Yucatan, and some of them have already become real celebrity. No wonder – each of them is different and unique in its own way. They are quite magical places that already instilled great reverence for the ancient Maya as an access to the underworld.
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How a cenote is formed?
Cenotes are technically underground caves in karst areas with access to groundwater. That doesn’t sound quite exotic at first, doesn’t it? However, due to the erosion of the limestone, the ceilings of the caves have often simply collapsed over time. The result are underground ponds and lakes of incredible beauty that get light through the collapsed cave ceiling.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eThe cenotes are often inhabited by fish and turtles and some of them also have vegetation, depending on the light. Many of the caves are decorated with impressive stalactites and stalagmites and act on the eye of the visitor like underground cathedrals.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eThe name u003cemu003eCenoteu003c/emu003e comes from the u003cemu003eMayathanu003c/emu003e, the Mayan language. He refers to these underground, water-filled caves as the u0022Holy Springu0022. And in fact, the water in the cenotes for the Maya was often the only supply of drinking water, as there is no fresh water on the surface on the Yucatan peninsula.
What types of Cenotes are there?
The cenotes are all completely unique – it is impossible to find even two that are similar to each other. They also have a very different age. And this leads to a completely different appearance. You can distinguish the cenotes according to the following criteria.
They are the youngest among the Cenotes. Their water level is still inside of a closed cave. The color of its crystal-clear water can appear between emerald green and deep blue. But it is only visible when the sunlight falls through the holes in the ceiling. The cavern cenotes usually carry magnificent decorations made of stalactites on the ceiling.
This type of cenotes is in middle age. You are still too young to be completely open. But a part of them is already exposed to the elements. Some of them are connected to other cenotes, and often you can see beautiful plants in their crystal-clear waters.
The open cenotes are already very old, and with the course of the millennia the cave ceiling has completely disappeared. They already lie free and open in the daylight. Their steep walls are often overgrown with flowers and plants, giving them a magical look. There are usually many species of birds and butterflies living in their vicinity.