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Tuesday, 01 September 2020

Diving into the Mayan Underworld

Written by Bel Woodhouse
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It was a long way down peering over the cliff-like edge into the most beautiful cobalt blue water I’d ever seen. Capturing the sun streaking through it, huge electric blue butterfly wings appeared shimmering. As if by magic. That is how this pristine cenote got its name Mariposa Azul, Blue Butterfly.



It’s no wonder the ancient Maya believed these cenotes were sacred places and the entrance to the underworld. There’s an energy surrounding them. As if magic is in the air and anything is possible.


Thank all the Mayan gods and goddesses there were long steep staircases leading down to that glorious fresh water because I wouldn’t have had the courage to jump. Not from that height. People do, from about half way down and that still takes courageous soul in my book.

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This magical Blue Butterfly is one of seven secluded cenotes I experienced that day. All pristine. All on a private reserve about an hour and a half south of Merida, the Yucatan Peninsula’s capital, in south eastern Mexico.


Being a Mexican resident I’ve visited a lot of cenotes while living here for the last couple of years so please believe me when I tell you these are spectacular. Cenotes are one of the Yucatan’s biggest draw cards. There’s around 6,000 spread throughout the Yucatan but not all are created equal.


The larger tourist-filled cenotes, although beautiful, seemed to have lost their magic as the noise of laughter and splashing echoes off the walls reverberating through you, sounding more like a party than a place of natural beauty. Being a nature lover I prefer to travel a more tranquil path to experience the magic of cenotes and will pick the natural over the concrete tourist traps every single time.


This sanctuary is quiet – it's only accessible on a day trip with limited people so the noise of a hundred tourists is left behind. Exotic birdsong serenades from the trees overhead as we made our way by bicycle from one sinkhole to the next.


Wildlife roams free and iguana’s scurry off into the underbrush touched the nature lover inside of me. This was the perfect way to visit – by respecting and appreciating the natural beauty of the Maya’s sacred places.


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Last modified on Tuesday, 01 September 2020

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