Left our villa a little late today. Everybody slept in after a long day at Xel-Ha yesterday. Stopped for an excellent brunch at a chicken joint (well, I was going to call it ‘restaurant’, but it doesn’t quite look like one). Couldn’t remember the name of the joint nor the address. But since it was pretty close to the place we’re staying in, I think it’s on 2nd Street between 15th and 20th Ave. It loooks like a big garage with an aluminum roof. You walk in there, tell them what portion of chicken you’d like to order, then have a seat wherever you’d like. The grilled chicken comes with spanish rice, tortillas, and condiments. OMG, muy delicioso!
After everybody’s tummies are full, we’re then on our way to Aktun Chen, a 988-acres park of unexplored rainforest, located along the Mayan Riviera (between Tulum and Akumal). In Mayan, Aktun Chen means cave with an underground river inside. Three caves with a cenote (underground river) have been discovered in the park. The main cave is now suitable for an easy walking tour which has been enhanced with indirect lighting for a better view and enjoyment of the thousands of stalactites, stalagmites and natural sculptures, all of them formed by water and calcium carbonate throughout five million years. Wow!
The entrance from the Highway 370 will go about 3 kilometres or so, until you arrive in the reception area; and it was quite an interesting driving. You’d go pass through the nature trails through the park, go slow… you might run an iguana over. There’s a warning sign on the parking area to lock your car, the wild monkeys have gotten smarter and naughtier. Cute.
After we paid the entrance fee (was it $20 per adult?), our guide took us to the serpent area and explain a thing or two about snakes. Do you know how to tell if a snake is poisonous or not? I do now. Then off we go on the nature trail to the main cave. Good thing we were given hard hats to wear, I lost track the number of time I hit my head on the stalactites. Such a beautiful place. So serene, and mystical in the same time. Unlike the other caves I’ve been in, Aktun Chen’s main cave isn’t claustrophobic-y at all. Good breeze with lots of room to move around.
But what threw me was the cenote. The underground river. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen in my life. Our guide took us to an area with a very dim lighting. All I could see was the shadow of the rocks around the river, stalagtites, stalagmites and some reflections on the water. I thought, “OK… what’s so great about this?” Then our guide turned the overhead lighting off, everything went pitch black, my son said ‘Uh-oh…’ and then he turned the underwater lighting on. The four of us went, “Whoa…” If only I could do better in capturing the view… but here it is…
From the cave, we’re exiting to the jungle where you can see a lot of white tail deer left and right. Should you need any refreshment or snacks, there’s a little cafetaria after you exit the cave. Aktun Chen isn’t only abundant in deer, but other wild animal as well: spider monkeys, birds, boars, etc. The walk in the cave took not more than an hour an a half. It’s worth it.