A day in the Mayan underworld: exploring the hidden cave cenote

Feb 26, 2020Travel

Take a look at my story behind the Mayan Underworld and meet the real jungle man in Mexico. Mexico is the perfect destination to discover the most stunning cenotes, they are everywhere. But… what if you knew there were hidden cenotes in caves that only the “jungle man” has discovered himself.


What if you knew there was a whole other world out there just beneath your feet? What if you were able to meet the real “jungle man?”

Now living in Mexico, I have had the privilege to connect with some of the most intriguing people.


 I embarked on a Mayan Underworld adventure with the man who discovered the special caves himself in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico and close to Tulum, Mexico. This not only opened my eyes to another magical world that exists beneath our feet, but also to the people that know the animals and the earth better than most of us probably could.


The cave experience in Playa Del Carmen The real Mayan Cave experience with no other than Pako



So what are these Cenotes in the Riviera Maya, Mexico?


When you think of the Riviera Maya, what are some things that come to mind… Caribbean beaches, Mayan Culture, Food?

I was always intrigued by these pristine “natural sinkhole pools” and their “blue waters.” Before coming to Mexico, my ignorance told me that there were holes in the ground filled with fresh water. How silly do I feel now? I also was completely oblivious about the fact that there are rivers flowing beneath right where we stand.

Exploring these beautiful underworld Exploring the caves and admiring all the amazing features


 But, why hadn’t I heard about these cenotes more? When there are hundreds of them spread around the whole land of the Yucatan Peninsula and even more, there are so many more still to be registered. There is another world that is still to be discovered.


So when visiting the Yucatan Peninsula or towns such as Playa Del Carmen, this “underworld adventure” with cave expert, Pako, is an experience you will never forget.


Cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula


Cenotes are one of those special gifts that the Yucatan Peninsula has been given by the universe that everyone must experience.  

 They continue to captivate people from all over the world for all their natural beauty and impressive rock formations. They have even become the “trend” for Instagram influencers trying to get that “perfect” shot.


Cenotes in the Riviera Maya These colours will make anyone smile


 Despite the natural beauty of cenotes, they play more significant roles in the Yucatan Peninsula Region. They are the main resource of water in the Yucatan Peninsula and represent tourism income to the local people. Furthermore, cenotes, the same as caves, were entrances to the world of the dead or Xilbalba, sometimes converted into natural funeral chambers. They were considered symbolic paths between the world and the underworld to the ancient Mayans.



Meeting the locals in Mexico: the people connected to the earth


This is where Pako comes into the picture. Originally from Veracruz but a local in Playa del Carmen, Mexico he opened my eyes to another world that exists under this crazy life we live on earth.


There is another world full of beauty, peace, tranquillity and stillness below the soil and concrete we have built, and the jungle that we live in.


Meeting the Mexican local, Pako, so proud of his roots was an honour, and being introduced to the cenotes and caves that he calls home was like entering another kingdom. His passion for his culture, his roots and his abundance of knowledge about caving is something very special.


He is not a guide, he is a gift of the underworld wanting to share his home with the world (to those who appreciate this of course).

 He offers a unique experience that is completely underestimated and I am astounded that people still do not know about him and what he has to offer.


You can also check out one of my other posts about exploring Mexican food through the Mayan people. 



Entering the jungle in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico


Pako takes you on a journey through the dirt road, that looks like it may lead to nowhere. Now, this is the exact way to describe that cliche saying “off the beaten track.” You really do travel off the “usual” track.


Riding along the dusty road and through the tangled jungle that is full of life (it is another world out there), I am so impressed by the knowledge and stories Pako offers to us. He shares his wisdom about the different trees, flowers, insects, snakes and wild cats.. yes this is real people, maybe you will be lucky to see one. You know from the get go, this is an experience with special touches created by a local and an expert.


After gearing up, with helmets, headlights, wet shoes and just for me.. a wetsuit.. yes I am terrible with the cold, we were ready for our Xibalba adventure. If you are anything like me and you know you cannot handle freezing cold waters for 2 hours, suit up! I may be exaggerating a little but you will thank me after, and even if it is 40 degrees outside.


Ready to enter the cenotes 



The cenote at the end of the journey is just breathtaking


 Not only does Pako share everything you need to know about the cenotes, their formations and the cave system, but he shares everything he knows about their connection with the ancient cultures. You are immersed in his stories through his passion for life and nature.


If that is not impressive enough, he actually tracks the caves on his own and he is still discovering new paths. Incredible.


Before we entered the cave, I remember looking around me,  all I could hear were the sounds of the birds chirping and trees rustling through the breeze. That is it. There is no other life other than you and nature.  You are completely alone.. you, your little group (for me it was Carlos and my parents) and the jungle.

No big buses and no huge tour groups of people. Silence. It is a sanctuary and we hadn’t even started yet.


Exploring the Mayan Underworld: the Cenote cave adventure


 As you enter the hidden kingdom, expect nothing less than beauty. You are taken on a journey completely separate from the world you know. Expect some walking and be a first-row spectator to the beautiful exhibition of radiant decorations of stalactites, stalagmites and tremendous rock formations in every direction you look.


Also, expect to get wet. This is where the magic happens – Swimming through the freshness of the crisp water. There will be moments where you are walking through the water or need to start paddling.


I don’t know what it is but I hope you feel it too, when you are standing there observing and swimming, energies spread throughout the space. It is powerful and healing at the same time. As you swim, all your senses are elevated and intensified.

Exploring the underworld Every sense is heightened as we explore the underworld

There is so much beauty to see, you can hear the silence, you can feel the freshness. What a way to practise mindfulness and meditation. 

 Pako has spent so much time and energy making this caving experience an enchanting one. He ensures you are comfortable and well taken care of. He knows the cave and route from the back of his hand so there’s no being afraid of being lost!





Who is this Cave Cenote adventure for?


Basically anyone interested in getting to know the real Mexico.

Anyone staying in Playa Del Carmen and in Tulum. 

If you are that daredevil seeking more of an adventure or just want to take that stroll/swim, there is something for everyone and the second you meet Pako, he will know exactly what you need.

I do not want to give away too much but although the journey is what makes up the experience and to culminate let me tell you that the destination is another piece of heaven.

Pako’s awareness of protecting nature and his passion for preserving the caves is evident.  His message is one to take away in other aspects of our life.  


My thoughts about the cenote Experience in the Yucatan Peninsula


This experience is one of those special memories you cherish and will probably talk about for months or years with friends. It is a privilege to see these formations with someone as passionate and knowledgeable as Pako. It is not just about visiting a cave, jumping into a natural pool or taking an Instagram picture. The energetic impact will leave you feeling refreshed and cleansed. You will have long life memories of one of the most beautiful natural sites in the Yucatan Peninsula.


Cenotes in Tulum A beautiful open cenote in Tulum, Mexico


 Now after living here in the Yucatan Peninsula, what I have noticed is that most of these special, sacred places have been taken for granted or taken over by mass tourism. There is a lack of awareness about their context and spiritual connections for the Mayan people, and there are only a few sustainable programs in place to preserve the cultures and nature here.


 Caves hold delicate features that can be disturbed by changes in light levels, humidity and air flow and more importantly human interaction.I only wish or hope other tours respect the conservation of caves just as Pako does.


How you can book this Mayan Cave experience in the Riviera Maya

Make you sure you contact me to book your trip directly through me.


*If you are interested in learning more about cenotes, read Guillermo de Anda or Olmo Torres Talamante.

Hello there

My name is Jessica, Australian born, Italian blood and now a global citizen of the world.

I follow a holistic lifestyle, have a passion for samba dancing and travelling. Now I have followed my heart to start a new life with my love in Mexico. 

Through my love of storytelling, now I want to inspire you to find that confidence to take chances in life, to see the world with an open mind and find out where your travels take you.

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