One of the things that drew me to Riviera Maya was its multitude of jungles and cenotes (underground sinkholes), offering the perfect setting for some blood-rushing extreme activities. While traveling with Riviera Maya Tourism Board, I had the opportunity to join Alltournative Offtrack Adventures on their Jungle Maya Expedition tour to get a first-hand feel of these unique ecosystems.
Our expedition started with a Mayan purification ceremony, where the priest burned copal (a type of incense made from tree resin) and blew the smoke around us while chanting prayers to purify our souls before entering the sacred caves. Feeling blessed and slightly dizzy from the copal smoke, we headed to the first stop of our Mayan expedition.
Rappelling into the Darkness
Our first activity involved a 40-feet rappel descent inside the Yaxmuul cenote. The descent felt very secure thanks to the double line arrangement although it was a little slow for my liking. But if the rappel was not enough to kick my adrenaline pump, ending it in the cool water of the pitch black cave definitely gave it a kick.
Zip-lining through the Jungle
Amidst the darkness, we swam out of the cave and emerged from the crystal clear water before strapping on a different set of harness at the zip-line track. We swooshed by the lush jungle through several zip-lines, one more exciting than the previous, while taking in views of the green canopy. The last zip-line actually ended inside a cave and right into the water, ending our zip-lining experience with a big splash.
Snorkeling in the Cenote
It was time to get wet: we took off our harnesses and strapped on our snorkeling gear to enter the Nohoch Nah Chiich cavern, part of the Sac-Actun cenote system. This is the world’s second longest surveyed underwater cave system and it spans for 133.8 miles. We swam inside the impressive semi-sunken cave as our guide beamed an underwater torchlight through the bottom revealing a myriad of rock formations and passages under the crystal clear water. The feeling of floating mid-air was surreal and I only wished I could get rid of my life-vest and dive into the darkness for a better look.
A Bumpy Ride
As if the adrenaline-pumping activities were not enough, we hopped onboard an all-terrain Mercedes Benz Unimog to traverse the rugged jungle. These World War II vehicles have been used for decades by the military due to their ability to handle just about any kind of terrain and they cannot be more suitable for this environment. During our 15-minute drive to the entrance of the park, this bad boy roared through the slopes, while we held on tight to our seats for the thrilling ride.
*All pictures above are courtesy of Alltournative.
Here are more of my pictures from Riviera Maya. I will be writing more about my experience in Riviera Maya soon, stay tuned!