Yucatán, Mexico – The main attraction for this press trip is Hacienda Chukum. This is the reason Aventuras Mayas brought us here. It is, quite likely, the highlight of the week.
Hacienda Chukum is a cenote — completely enclosed and mysteriously beautiful — that has only recently become accessible to the public. Aventuras Mayas purchased this property and turned it into a fabulous adventure scape for intrepid travelers. It opened only in January, so we were among the first the experience it.
We got a very early start and made the long trip from Playa del Carmen to Chichén Itzá. This super impressive Maya archaeological site is one of the biggest in Mexico. The centerpiece is El Castillo, a magnificent pyramid that is famous for the serpent that seemingly slithers down its slope at the spring and fall equinox.
We saw the Great Ball Court, the creepy Skull Platform, and countless tourists jostling to avoid interlopers in their photos. Chichén Itzá is definitely worth seeing, but the experience did not compare to my previous visits to Cobá and even Tulum, just because of the crowd factor.
It was also uncomfortably hot. Fortunately, we were on our way to Hacienda Chukum, which would prove it be a perfect place to cool off.
This place is a-maz-ing. The inland cenotes are different than the coastal ones (I learned). This one is a super deep underground sink hole. It doesn’t have the cave network like Dos Ojos or the cenotes we visited yesterday. Instead the walls go straight down, about 150 feet from ground level. It’s about halfway filled with water so the water is about 70 feet deep.
We rappelled down into the water through a hole in the ground! Once inside, it’s basically the funnest swimming hole ever, with platforms for jumping and a zipline into the water. With a mask, you can see all the way to the bottom, with all these cool limestone rock formations sprouting out of the walls.
Again, Aventuras Mayas owns this property so we had the place practically to ourselves. That said, independent travelers can go there without joining a tour. So I suppose it has the potential to attract crowds, when word gets out about how cool it is. It’s also on the way to/from Chichén Itzá, so it’s bound to be a popular stop.
And do I need to mention that this is an excellent family destination? My only regret from this trip is that I was not allowed to bring my favorite travel sidekicks.
Thrills vs Skills
After two days of tours with Aventuras Mayas, I think I am ready to make an admission.
I like to think I have an adventurous spirit. Unfortunately, the truth is, I don’t have the skills to go with it. Would I like to rappel into a hidden cenote deep within the Yucatán jungle? You bet! But only if somebody else goes first and shows me how to do it. Am I curious enough to swim into the cavern’s corners and explore its depths? Sure thing, if somebody else leads the way. Do I want to zip through the treetops dangling from my ankles? Maybe… if I am surely and securely strapped in. Aventuras Mayas strikes a balance between thrill-striking and hand-holding, because let’s face it, most of us want a little of both.