Cenotes Yucatan in Mexico are one of the main pearls of this country. A slightest look on pictures of the cenotes will fascinate you with the beauty and mystery so much that visiting them during your trip to Mexico will become one of your dreams.
What is Yucatan cenotes and what is the origin of the name?
Cenotes in Mexico are a special natural hole or sinkhole created from the destruction of limestone bedrock that process groundwater underneath. Yucatan peninsula mostly consists of limestone that’s why cenotes can be found nowhere in the world unless here. More than 6 thousand cenotes are located on the Yucatan and only half of them are discovered. There exist one interesting theory that cenote of Yucatán peninsula in Mexico was created by aliens. Of course it’s hard to believe in this but still every theory has the right to exist. Cenotes not only looks like lakes and pits but very often they represent the existence of cave complexes with underground rivers. Formations of one cenote can last for hundreds of years.
The origin of the name cenote comes from the word “ts’onot” that on the Maya language means well. For the Mayan civilization yucatan cenotes were the source of fresh water but first of all they had a highly religious meaning. The Mayans considered them to be “gates to the kindom of the dead” and the water was said to be sacred.
The most famous sacred yucatan cenote is situated near Chichen Itza. Due to the Mayan ideas the great God of Rain Chack was living there and they were making sacrifices to this God by throwing victims deep to the bottom of the cenote. That’s why this cenote has another terrifying name – Victim’s Well. A little bit scary but in fact nowadays it looks pretty simple.
If you wish to see the best of the best you need to visit cenote Dos Ojos and Grande cenote which are also considered to be the best places for diving in the caves.
Cenote of yucatán peninsula in Mexico are divided into four categories:
- Cenotes that are located fully below ground – are qualified as underground.
- The one that are half covered semi-under ground
- Cenotes situated on the ground level which can be also called a little lake or pond
- Fully opened cenotes very often looking like a well.
This classification is directly connected with the age of the cenotes. For example, totally open cenotes are the oldest ones and accordingly to this classification, cenotes that still remain cover with domes are the youngest ones.
All the underground caves in the cenotes are decorated with stalactites and stalagmites that are creating very beautiful and magical stone alleys. When you are diving for the first time in one of such caves you can start feeling yourself like in the parallel reality. Another amazing fact about cenotes in Mexico is crystal clear water that really fascinates you the first time you see it.
What is halocline and how it is connected with cenotes in Mexico?
This astonishing phenomenon you can see practically in every cenote. It appears on the joint where salty and fresh water mixes together and right at this point you can feel a slight visual discomfort as you start to see things not very clearly but only silhouettes. Swimming through the halocline layer you can feel the temperature changes that make you feel a little amusing.
Water temperature in the cenotes comparing to the water in the Caribbean sea is very cold but after walking around the cenote territory or park enjoying the tropical nature it can be very pleasant to freshen up in the cave water.
Since there are so many magical caves in Mexico sometimes it may be really difficult to find out what is the best one or which one you like more. All the cenotes have the same meaning but look different. Maybe after the first excursion you will fall in love with these places and will decide to continue investigating in order to see as many of them as possible.
Following the next link you can check a photo session in cenote. Amazing and unforgettable experience!
And here is a video that I made in one of the most popular cenotes Ik Kil.