Cancun, Mexico is known for its luxurious resorts where you can spend days relaxing on the beach, but it is a good idea to leave the resort and see some nearby attractions. The most popular day trip from Cancun is to Ik-Kil Cenote and Chichen Itza. Many visitors choose to book day tours from their resort to go there, but if you don’t want to take a tour you can take an ADO bus, a colectivo bus or rent a car. I booked a day tour to Chichen Itza, Ik-Kil and Valladolid with Viator. The guide, Luis, was entertaining and very informative!
Depending on traffic and weather conditions, the order of the stops on your tour will vary. The first stop of our tour was Valladolid, a colonial town. Its most famous attraction is its cathedral, San Gervasio.
The next stop was Ik-Kil Cenote. A cenote is a natural pit formed after limestone has collapsed into the underground water system. The Mayans considered cenotes sacred and performed rituals there. At some cenotes, they even did sacrifices!
Remember to bring a towel and your swimming gear to the cenote.
We were given the choice of eating lunch first or swimming first. Some people on the tour ate first but we went swimming first. The water looked very refreshing!
Ik-Kil is 40 m (130 ft) deep, so I recommend renting a life jacket unless you are a very very strong swimmer. There are only a few ropes to hold onto if you get tired. Even though I can swim, renting a life jacket allowed me to lie on my back, relax and enjoy the view of the vines dangling from above and the sunlight streaming down into the cenote. I took my GoPro into the cenote with me to take pictures.
After changing, you will need to rinse off at the outdoor shower. Then you can make your way down the stairs to the cenote. If you are brave enough, there is a platform which you can jump or dive from. If not, there are ladders you can use to get into the cenote. Many black catfish were swimming around.
After a stop at a Mayan gift shop, we headed to Chichen Itza, one of the 7 Wonders of the World. It is most famous for its Pyramid of Kukulcan, El Castillo.
As we entered the site, there were many vendors waiting. One wore many sombreros piled one on top of the other. The vendors shouted at tourists “Sombrero, amigo? Almost free, almost free!” As you walk past vendors, you will hear the loud noise of them blowing Mayan jaguar whistles. It is because of all these vendors that there are rumours that Chichen Itza may lose its status as a Wonder.
El Castillo has 4 staircases on each side of the pyramid, each representing 91 days. Combined with the top step of the platform, they represent the 365 days of the year. You will hear many tour groups clapping in front of the pyramid because the echo sounds like a chirping bird.
In the late afternoon (around 3-4 pm), the site was not that crowded.
A stone ring, which some historians believe was used to play ball games. However, others believe that the Grand Ballcourt was actually used for ceremonial purposes.
The Osario is also known as The High Priest’s Grave because there is a communal graveyard under its foundation.
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