The azure blue waters of Cenote Xkeken, Mexico were once thought to lead the way to the Mayan Underworld. The Mexican Underworld possesses a very different meaning before the severed heads in Mexico’s desert and the rise of the Mexican drug kingpins of the twenty-first century. Instead of reaching the Underworld by way of a backdoor of a cantina, the Mayans of pre-colonial times believes that the entrance to the Underworld was found in cenotes.

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On the Yucatan Peninsula, only a few kilometers away from the city of Valladolid, the landscape of the region is dotted with naturally occurring sinkholes, or also known as cenotes, that lead straight down through the earth. Despite their negative sounding name, these sinkholes are beautifully filled with blue-green, crystal clear water. These cenotes can be easily reached, and as a result, have become a popular attraction for tourists thanks to their close location to popular tourist destinations, such as Cancun.

Along with their obvious aesthetic appeal, the cenotes of this region of Mexico possess an interesting history that dates back to the times of the Mayan civilization that inhabited the Yucatan Peninsula before the area was colonized. Since the Mayans thought these cenotes were paths to the afterlife, important objects would often be dropped into the sinkholes. There are some legends as well that mentioned the cenotes were also used for human sacrifice, which is an often debated subject of the history of the Mayans. However, since most of these sinkholes throughout the region have been studied and explored by archaeologists during the beginning part of the twentieth century, it’s highly unlikely that visitors would find themselves swimming along with the remains of any Mayan sacrifices. Visitors are far more likely to have a relaxing swim instead among stalactites, as well as the radiant beams from the sun of the outside world.

Cenote Xkeken, or also known by the name of Cenote Dzitnup, is considered to be one of the best cenotes to visit in Mexico. This cenote is also one of the region’s prettiest, featuring limestone formations that arch over the beautiful water. The attraction offers a refreshing and fun place to relax and enjoy the surrounding natural beauty. The picturesque sinkhole is actually a beautiful natural underground oasis. Cenote Xkeken is located inside of a limestone cave that features just one opening in the ceiling that provides just the right amount of sunlight to highlight the crystal clear water’s natural beauty.

While the cavern of the cave that houses the Cenote Xkeken may be steamy and humid, the water itself stays relatively cool. The majority of the freshwater underneath the Yucatan Peninsula remains at around a constant seventy-six degrees Fahrenheit, or around twenty-five degrees Celsius throughout the year. The stunning water of the cenote is also crystal clear. Small bats can sometimes be seen nesting on the cavern’s ceiling, limestone formations overhang the clear waters, and small black fish can often be seen swimming in the water. The cenote offers visitors an atmospheric and unique place to take a dip and escape the heat of the Yucatan.

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