The Secret Cenote Yokdzonot
Nearly anyone who visits Yucatan soon learns of a rather unique feature of the landscape called a cenote (say-NO-tay) in Spanish or dzonot in Mayan. The Yucatan Peninsula is a flat, thick shelf of limestone with thousands of miles of underground, water-filled caves interconnected by rivers. When the roof of one of these caves collapses, it produces a sinkhole or natural well, filled with fresh water. The most famous cenote is the sacred cenote at Chichen Itza, but hundreds of cenotes large and small dot the Yucatan. Some cenotes are hidden deep in the jungle and others are inside larger caves. Some have been reliable sources of drinking water for centuries, which is why many Maya villages and ancient cities are located nearby.
During a visit to Hacienda Chichen, we learned of a small Maya pueblo called Yokdzonot, only a few minutes drive from Chichen Itza, where a group of citizens had formed an association that has spent two years converting their abandoned cenote into a project of sustainable tourism. The video below is our report of their efforts and our adventure.
style 8 years ago
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Agatha 10 years ago
Awesome place!! I am so there on my next trip to the Yucatan in 2013!!!
Working Gringos 11 years ago
There is a city-run tour that leaves from the information booths in downtown... we are pretty sure they still run it. However, its just for tourists and isn't going to help you if you are looking for the Mega store or Walmart. The best map of Merida that we know of is Google Maps... it is very accurate and you can print out the part you want to explore. That said, the maps they sometimes sell at stoplights are pretty good too. Finally, an easy and close cenote to visit is the one located on the grounds of the Maya archaeological zone of Dzibilchaltun. Yes, you'll have to pay to enter, but you get to see the ruins, the trails and when you get too hot, jump into the cenote. This cenote is an open-air cenote (not in a cave) and has lovely fresh water. It is shallow on one end and VERY deep (and disappears into a cave) on the other. We suggest you visit on a weekday when it won't be crowded with local kids cooling off. Have fun!
stacy 11 years ago
Can you please tell me if theres any free tours to take around Merida? We live here now and are still having a hard time finding things.
Is there somewhere we can get a great map of Merida? The Merida maps supplied for free by some places are difficult to read.
We find ourselves depending on bus drivers and taxi drivers for information which is sporadic.
Also, we would like to visit a cenote. We have checked for tours but all of them have cost no less than $40 dollars each person. Is there a way to go swimming at the caves and get there by a bus on our own without paying $40 dollars per person? We feel the $ 40 dollar price is a little steep and unfortunately will not do it for that price. Is there swimming hole that is easy to get to if we drive
Bill & Steav Bates-Congdon 12 years ago
We had a great time last year in the Yucatan. Stayed in Yokdznote at the Mayan Retreat and enjoyed every minute - so much that we are headed back this winter, too.
The cenote there is lovely and lovingly cared for by those who 'rescued' it several years back. The restaurant is splendid, inexpensive and with excellent food and hospitality. We could have not asked for a better place to be.
Yucatan Living - The Cenotes of Cuzama & Chunkanan 12 years ago
[...] The "secret" cenote of Yokdzonot [...]
paola giovine 12 years ago
this was really lovely! thanks !
Working Gringos 14 years ago
Mark and Michelle,
If you want to go to this cenote, follow directions to the archaeological ruins at Chichen Itza. When you get off the carretera, keep following the directions, into the town of Piste. You will come to a dead end, and if you turn left, will go to Chichen Itza. Turn right instead, and drive for about ten minutes until you get to the town of Yokdzonot. Turn left (there is a sign for the cenote) in the center of town and you'll find it. If you don't find it, ask someone... Donde estÃ¡ el cenote?.
As for other things to do, our website is full of ideas. Check out our weekly events, the Events Calendar and the weekly news, all linked on the front page in the middle column. Also, the Art in Merida page, which has all the galleries and museums.
Enjoy the adventure that is Yucatan.
Mark 14 years ago
We will be in Merida Next week and would like to go to this Cenote. Can you send us information? Also any other good info for Merida (area)? Thank you Mark & Michelle
Bill in Baltimore 14 years ago
Looks great! We will be staying overnight at Chichen Itza in December (2009) and want to swim in a cenote either in the late afternoon of the first day or following our tour the ruins on our second. I suspect the cenote at Ik Kil will be horribly crowed, so it's great to learn about this "secret" cenote at Yokdzonot!
Melissa 14 years ago
There are hundreds of secret cenotes all over the state. In fact, this project seems almost identical to the one undertaken by my husband's village. They've even got little rustic cabanas to rent for the night, thought it seems they're mostly used for the trysts of village taxi drivers and their sanchas.
We first fell in love at this cenote, and had walked there through his grandfather's land to get there. He grabbed a couple of grapefruit since no one was to be seen, but word that he'd lifted them had gotten back to his mother before we had arrived back home. The descent to the cenote was terrifying and slippery back then, but they've since built stone steps.
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