It’s been a while since I was in Mexico, and I miss the food, culture and warmth of the people. When Melanie and Marla from Grans on the Go got in touch with me about their trip to Mexico, I was excited to read what they got up to on an Ecotour excursion from Cancun. Here’s how they got on learning about the Maya culture, ziplining, swimming in cenotes and exploring the magnificent Coba Ruins on a tour with AllTourNative!
This eco-tour brings tradition, custom, and adventure together for travellers and backpackers, where you can immerse yourself in an all-day Cancun excursion to an authentic Maya village near Coba. Only a short distance from Cancun and Playa del Carmen, the Coba eco-park and ruins are hidden in the jungle. A tour with AllTourNative is a great way to learn about the history and preservation of the area and to have fun along the way!
Experience adventures like zip lining, canoeing, swimming in a cavern (cenote), rappelling, and learn more about the Maya culture by attending a Maya blessing ceremony and exploring the ancient Coba ruins in the lush jungle park.
Ecotours help Maya descendants
The Maya descendants live in their villages around the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, and over 6000 people still speak the Mayan language. AllTourNative Tours developed ecotour projects that benefit the economic, social and cultural development of the Maya communities, who are some of the poorest people in Mexico. Ecotours provide tourism occupations for the Maya people and are of vital importance as adverse conditions of the land do not allow agriculture for these communities.
Without the services of a company like AllTourNative Tours you wouldn’t be to visit the Maya village and partake in these activities, so this is a wonderful way to learn more about the Maya culture and explore the area around Cancun.
Experience a Maya Blessing Ceremony
Our journey began as a Maya Shaman greeted us on the jungle trail. He spoke in the Mayan language while our guide translated what he was saying. The Shaman asked for our safety and protection while we were in their village. Using the ancient practice of incense, he called forth an Encanto, a guardian spirit which protects a shrine, altar, or sacred place in nature.
He blessed each of us with an individual blessing and as a group, allowing us to lift the veil between physical and spiritual realms. Archaeologists believe that the ritual dates back 40,000 to 100,000 years.
Find solitude while canoeing a small lake
The villagers asked us to leave our cameras behind at this juncture of the tour. They are trained as photographers as part of the Ecotour, helping to sustain their village. We were happy not to lug additional equipment around and enjoyed our afternoon without thinking about photos while experiencing our adventure. Photos are available for purchase at the end of the tour. The photos turned out to be beautiful and professional looking as you’ll see throughout this article.
Two-by-two, we canoed across a small lake to the trail leading to the zip line platforms. We enjoyed the quietness of the time on the water on this remarkably calm day. Our guide said there were crocodiles in the lake, which I don’t doubt at all. Predators could have easily hidden in the tall grasses on each side of our canoe path before reaching open water, but thankfully there were no crocs to be seen that day!
About the time our guide pointed out to be aware of animals who call the jungle home, we saw a large road sign with a picture of a jaguar on it. This indicated “jaguar crossing,” just like our deer crossing signs in the U.S. and I became much more aware of my surroundings at this point in our travels!
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Travel two ziplines in the Maya village
I experienced sheer happiness while soaring on the two zip lines at the village. My mind was cleared, and I made sure I was ready to enjoy every moment as they hooked me up to fly across the small lake backwards! I remember laughter from the smiling faces of my travel companions waiting their turn on the platform as I went flying off the platform.
We reached the second zip line platform after crossing an awe-inspiring bridge. Facing forward this time, I took in the breathtaking view of the surrounding jungle, dense vegetation, and the village. The span was over a massive sinkhole.
Rappel into a massive sinkhole
There’s a first time for everything, and rappelling was a first for me. It was actually much easier than I had expected. The guides helped us with hookups and instructions, and as a first-timer, I was happy to have direction down the cliff into the bottom of the sinkhole.
I felt completely safe in case of a rookie mistake as I gently braced the bottoms of my feet against the rock wall and slid down. I used my hands to guide the rope to the bottom of the sinkhole after my feet left the rock wall. The drop is about 55 feet, and the view is breathtaking.
Swim in a magnificent, clear-water cenote
Our cenote swim in the cavern invigorated us and was quite surreal. Cenotes are natural sinkholes found in the Yucatan area of Mexico. They are collapsed rock, exposing hidden pools of groundwater underneath the soil.
The villagers generously allow visitors to take a dip in their drinking water. We were understandably required to take a shower with soap before entering for a swim. They led us to an opening in the ground where we came upon steep, dark steps guiding us to a beautifully-lit pool inviting us in.
Cenotes are vital to Maya villages, as there are few lakes and rivers in the Yucatan. I have a vivid memory of the reflections in the crystal clear water shimmering off the stalactites and stalagmites.
There are approximately 6000 cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsular of Mexico, yet only 2400 cenotes have been studied and registered. Snorkelling and diving in cenotes is another popular activity in the Yucatan.
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Enjoy an authentic meal prepared by villagers
We were ravenously hungry and ready to eat after we completed our adventures. The villagers prepared a delectable meal which was ready and waiting for us in an outdoor pavilion in the middle of the village.
Coba Ruins Tour and Visit
The Coba ruins visit was included in our tour by AllTourNative Tours. Upon arrival at Coba, 64 miles from Riviera Maya, we had the option of walking, biking or riding in the “Maya limo” to view the ancient ruins.
Our guide explained the Maya history and how the large temples and communities were abandoned after the Spanish conquered the peninsula in 1550. The largest Coba community lived there between 400 and 1000 A.D. and was built around small lakes. Only a few of the 6500 structures in the village have been uncovered from the jungle overgrowth.
After exploring several of ruins at Coba, our group climbed the tallest of the pyramids.
Climb the Nohuch Mul Pyramid
There were 120 very steep steps to the top of the Nohuch Mul Pyramid. Breathtaking views awaited us overlooking the top of the surrounding jungle.
Travel the Sacbe Road
The Sacbe “White Road” was essential to the Maya people. Our Maya limo driver pointed out the old Maya road, Sacbes, which to us looked like a small raised berm. He told us how important the roads were to his descendants.
Coba was a central hub of many settlements joined by Sacbes. They are unique to Coba and not found in any other Maya cities. Over fifty Sacbes have been discovered around the area of Coba. The roads were constructed for commerce and the ancient people carried goods while temperatures were cooler at night. White limestone illuminated by the moonlight would light the way for travellers to see.
Support the Maya people with AllTourNative Tours
Don’t miss a visit with AllTourNative Tours to immerse yourself in the all-day Cancun Ecotour excursion to an authentic Maya village. Your experience zip lining, canoeing, swimming in a cavern (cenote), rappelling, and attending a Maya blessing ceremony, along with the Coba ruins, will be an experience you will not soon forget – and you can’t do this ecotour on your own. To book or for more information, visit AllTourNative Tours website here.
About the Authors
This post was written by Melanie Pollard and Marla Monk. Marla & Melanie are the duo behind Grans On The Go. Their families have always travelled but after retirement, they found themselves with more time than their husbands so they struck out on their own. They are adventurous Baby Boomer Travellers who are willing to try MOST things, especially if it means connecting with people and learning about other cultures. Writing about their travels has taken them in an exciting new direction.
Melanie & Marla received a complimentary tour in exchange for this review, but all opinions are their own.
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