Cenotes de Cuzamá
A tour of the cenotes at Chunkanan, better known as the Cenotes de Cuzamá (US$12 per trolley, up to 4 people), is one of our favorite non-archaeological outings from Mérida.
When the henequen plantations were functioning, the harvest was stacked on small trolleys that were pulled by horses over long networks of lightweight rails. The residents of the small town of Cuzamá have put their trolleys back to use, outfitting the carts to hold four passengers and offering horse-pulled tours to three beautiful cenotes along the rail line.
The trip to the cenotes is half the fun—there is only one set of rails and there’s an etiquette as to which driver has to pull over, which entails unloading the passengers and hoisting the cart off the tracks before the other trolley clatters past. With a few starts and stops, you make it to the cenotes.
The first is the largest and easiest to get into, with concrete stairs leading to a cavernous pool. The second two are more challenging—in both you have to negotiate a slippery steel ladder from the cavern roof down to the water. Wear Tevas or sneakers.
Once down, swimming in the crystalline water with sunbeams and tree roots angling down though the roof…well, it’s simply sublime. The whole trip takes about three hours with a half-hour stop at each cenote.
Tábanos (horseflies) are the only annoyance, buzzing around the horse and cart. They have a nasty bite, so be careful not to let one land on you.
The entrance to the cenotes is 3.3 kilometers (2 miles) from the center of Cuzamá; if you’ve traveling by public transportation, take a tricíclo (bicycle taxi) from the center of town to the cenotes (US$1.85 each way). If you’re driving, follow the signs through town.
© Gary Chandler & Liza Prado from Moon Yucatán Peninsula, 9th edition