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Xelha eco park
We said farewell, -temporary- to Playa del Carmen early in the morning and headed south. The 307 highway has 2 lanes in each direction and large plates notifying you for the existence of a Theme park or a famous cenote. Cenote are small green or turquoise lakes in the middle of the jungle and the route is as enjoyable as the swimming in those lakes. The most famous cenote have hanging ropes at the nearby trees so you can hang like Tarzan before you dive in the lake which is fed by groundwater. There are over 2000 cenote in Yucatan Peninsula.
We chose the eco park Xelha for today as it was Sunday and in the weekends there is a great discount but they say it is more crowded too. I found it empty!
Here is a big map of the park:
At the entrance of the park we had to leave our sunscreens back because it is not allowed anything that can harm the park and it’s inhabitants but you can buy there ecological lotion if you want.
They led us to the reception where there are lockers to leave cameras, bags etc so you can go for swimming and you can go whenever you want with your number to ask the key from the receptionist. Throughout the park there are comfortable chairs, loungers and hammocks of course.
Six restaurants to choose to eat lunch, two of them with live music, bathrooms, showers and rooms to change.
Restaurant and lockers area:
We went to the train with the thatched roof and it took us to the top of the river which is fed by underground springs. There we were given masks and large coils and told us either to sit and let the stream drift us in the park lagoon either to dive with masks and watch what happens beneath the water while we would be getting carried away by the stream. The river flows through a wooded mangrove area where sometime you have to bend or manipulate your coil – so dense is the vegetation. We ended up in the big lagoon where the river meets the sea water. It was like a huge aquarium with crystal clear waters and offers unforgettable encounters with the underwater world. The park offers scuba, sea-trek, swimming with dolphins, but these are extra and cost more.
But there are many other activities included in the entry, such as to take the train that crosses the park, to bicycle on the tracks inside the jungle where you can stop to dive and take a breath or just to walk and see the indescribable beauty of nature.
After so much fatigue, a stop at the island of hammock was necessary.
My husband was amazed by the dolphins and their weird tricks that attracted the visitors. I pulled out of the water my son just when he was about to turn into a fish and reminded them that we had no room for the night. So we left the park with a little disappointment that this great day was over , and drove to Tulum.
We arrived in Tulum late in the afternoon. There is the Tulum village just off the highway, the ruins of the ancient city on the beach and one kilometer south, the zone with the hotels begins, covering 2km on the beach.
Hopefully nothing will be build here, since after the last hut and for 100km of the beach is a protected area. It belongs to the Sian Kaan biosphere which covers 5.2m acres. A dirt road goes along the peninsula continuing alongside the idyllic beaches on one side, jungle on the other and passes over improvised wooden bridges and beside lakes with fresh and seawater. It leads to Punta Allen a community of descendants of the Mayans who live from the lobster fishing and the hunting in the lush jungle, like years ago. We drove the narrow coastal road that runs through the hotel zone. The hotels are mostly shacks, some quite simple with hammocks instead of beds, some luxurious with a/c but Tulum is mostly a place for backpackers.