Riding a Horse-drawn Train Car to Underground Lakes
I’ve been to the Yucatan state of Mexico so many times now I’ve lost count, but I’ve never experienced anything quite so different as the cenote tour of Cuzamán. Most of the posts on this blog are informative rather than the “Yo, check out what I’m doing” type, but this place is so strange it’s worth a shout-out. Here’s a video tour to give you an overview:
Unless you go on an organized tour that hits this area, you’ll need a rental car to get there as it is way out in the middle of nowhere and we had to ask directions twice coming from Izamal. (From Merida it’s a bit more direct.) You’ll go through sad little pueblos and a whole lot of flat scrub brush lands until all of a sudden you’re at a giant dirt-and-gravel parking lot filled with cars.
You pay 250 pesos for the driver/guide and his horse-drawn cart. That’s about $23 at current exchange rates, whether you have two people or six. (Your horse may struggle if it’s the latter though.) You bump along a surprisingly long track through old hacienda land to visit three different cenotes—underground cavern lakes big enough for swimming. The water stays the same temperature all year and if the weather is hot, which it usually is around Merida, then you’ll welcome the chance to dive into the deep waters and swim around with the fish.
You need a good stretch of time for this Cuzamán cenotes tour, as in three or four hours. If it’s busy, you have to stop now and then when another group is coming the other direction. It’s a single rail track, so the driver has to get everyone off and physically push the cart off the track so the others can pass. Bizarre.
Most guidebooks have something about this trip, from a quickie paragraph in the Lonely Planet one to a full page in the Moon Handbook for the Yucatan. If you have any interest in visiting Izamal, you can hit both of them in one day.