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The Cenotes in Riviera Maya

Throughout the Yucatan Peninsula, where there are no lakes or surface rivers,
water hides in deep cave and underground canals. It comes from the rain that filters through the porous limestone rock, forming natural deposits in an immense labyrinth of underground rivers, a mysterious water world in the bowel of the Earth. With erosion, the limestone surface bedrock collapses and these stalactite and stalagmite-filled cathedrals and their transparent pools open to the surface. These are the famous Yucatan cenote.

The word Cenote derives from the Mayan dzonot, which means Abyss, because they
where thought to be the gateways to the Underworld. However, cenotes are really oases
of cool, crystal-clear fresh water coming from underground rivers, and surrounded by exuberant jungle vegetation. Most Cenotes are hidden deep in the Jungle or in caves; however, some nearer the cost connect to the sea and are felled with briny water.

The Flora and Fauna found near a cenote varies according to its distance from the sea.
Coastal Cenotes are populated with ocean fish that have found a refuge to these enclosed places to lay their eggs and raise their young. Manatees, sea turtles, sharks and crocodiles – that come to hide in the long interwoven roots of the mangroves – also visit the cenotes, while sea birds come to nest in their treetops.

Jungle cenotes are the kingdom of amphibians and polychromatic fresh water fish.
At dusk, large jungle cats, monkeys, deer and tapir show up to use the local watering hole. Bats, fancifully called “cave suns”, play a basic role in the food chain of these underground river system: has they eat hanging from the doomed roofs, they drop small seeds
or pieces of fruits that are then eaten by the fish and crustaceans living in the depths.
In the high braches of tropical trees, colorful irises and aromatic orchids perfume the air, enticing butterflies and hummingbirds to taste their nectar. You can tell a cenote is nearby in the jungle if you see an electric-blue Toh bird with its long tail feather, or the swallows that like to nest in caves. These cenotes, with their abundant flora and fauna, are recognized as having unique, tremendously fragile ecosystems. Like all closed systems,
they are extremely vulnerable to impact to external sources.

The Ancient Maya revered Cenotes and dedicated them to the rain god, Chac, who was highly venerated in this arid land. Although some were used as the main source of water for a community, still others had a ceremonial purpose. The Well of Sacrifices at Chichen Itza attracted pilgrims from the farthest flung corners of South America.
They came to toss offerings into the Sacred Well: object of gold and jade, copal incense and fine woven goods, not to mention the human sacrifices that were made to Chac
to beg for abundance.

The Maya also believed in the curative properties of cenotes. They discovered that thanks
to the sulfur, silica, quartz and other minerals in the water, cenotes are true fountains of health and eternal youth.

Today, their mysterious depths have been explored by divers and caves explorers and have revealed many secrets about the history of this land and Man.
Evidence has been uncovered to show that primitive man in the Pleistocene Age sought refuge in these caves and caverns (dry at that time).

Scientist have also found pre-Hispanic clay pots and figurines and the fossilized remains of many now extinct species in these cave systems.

On the Riviera Maya, many dive shops offer a magnificent adventure for certified divers, traveling along the underground rivers to discover the wonders and fantastic limestone formations of this silent, dark world. At Diving Playa Del Carmen you will find allot of this information. Dive instructors who have specialized in cave diving strictly supervise this type of entertainment, which also requires special equipment.
For snorkeling aficionados, the crystal-clear water of the area’s cenotes is perfect for exploring these open-air treasure. You can calmly swim along and enjoy the exuberant vegetation at the same time.  Here are a few other sites Cenote Angelita and Gran Cenote.  



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