Las Mojarras

Quintana Roo, Mexico


This is a large lake located on the Cenote Route at Puerto Morelos. It is an adventure park with jumping towers, zipline and a Tyrolean traverse.  Or you can ride ATV cars and use the rope bridge in the jungle.


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This cenote is on the Ruta de Cenotes (Cenote Route) that extends about 35km, just inland from Puerto Morelos. This route has a variety of cenotes: open, semi-open and underground.

The name of the cenote is basically the name of the fish species. The name mojarra describes a family of fish (Gerreidae) which are present in this cenote. Mojarras are also known as Atomic Sunfish, False Red Terror, Mojarra Castarrica, Mayan Cichlid, Orange Tiger, and Red Terror. They are widespread in Central America (and a local delicacy) and can be found in both fresh and saltwater habitats over shallow coastal lagoons, freshwater marshes, mangrove swamps and rivers. Interestingly, these fish breed their eggs in their mouths to protect their young.

 
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The cenote is truly large: 65m in diameter and 14m deep. The water is green and not very transparent. In essence it feels like a lake, but being a cenote, it has a freshwater spring supply. The water is warmer than in the cave cenotes (where the temperature is on average 25°C; being open it gets a lot of sunshine.

 
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The entry price depends on the package you take. We just wanted to swim in the cenote and that is 200 pesos. (Locals get discounts.) If you want to rent an ATV and roam around and do some rope-bridge fun, the package is 400 pesos (for two people in a car).

 
One of two jumping platforms.

One of two jumping platforms.

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I came here with my friend Mike in May 2018. We came just for a picnic and a swim. There were not many people about so it felt very tranquil; we just rested in the hammocks and listened to the sounds of the jungle and observed people traversing on the ropes, jumping from platforms or zip-lining. They all loved it.

 
Cenote hole formation, this view is from the jungle park.
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The access to the water is either by a wooden staircase (the last step was missing, making it a bit challenging) or from the side of the lake, using the stepping stones.

The picnic area is well set up, with wooden tables, chairs, and hammocks between the trees. There is also a palapa restaurant. They cook here (which is not common to many rustic cenotes in the jungle). The food is basic but great, empanadas stuffed with grilled chicken, prepared by the local Maya in a pit oven (outdoor earth oven), with a metal grill. In the Mayan language they call it pib cooking (pib means 'hole in the ground' in Mayan). Traditionally, the Yucatec Maya used clay balls. The cooking method basically involved digging a shallow pit, lining it with stones or clay balls, building a fire on top and waiting until it is reduced to embers. Then they placed whole roots, squash or packets of food wrapped in maize on the hot stones. Everything was then covered with earth and leaves to seal in the heat.

 
Chicken and empanadas.

Chicken and empanadas.

The palapa restaurant.

The palapa restaurant.

The local Maya women prepare the food in the rustic 'kitchen'.

The local Maya women prepare the food in the rustic 'kitchen'.

I enjoy the shade under the jungle trees.

I enjoy the shade under the jungle trees.

 

Another unexpected element here was toilets with running water (in the middle of the jungle!) It is because they use the water from a well, undoubtedly fed by the water from the cenote spring.

 
The restrooms and the well.

The restrooms and the well.

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How to get there:

At Puerto Morelos turn off highway 307 (from Cancún to Chetumal) at the point where there is a big sign for the Ruta de Cenotes. Las Mojarras is at 12.5km.

You then have to drive along a dirt road, lined with some masks made of trees, until you reach the entrance. It is lined with ATV four wheelers and the staff will offer you the package to choose from (cenote or rope climbing and the ATV ride in the jungle, or both). If you choose just the cenote, you will still have to drive 1.8km along the dirt road.

 
Tree masks lined the dirt road.

Tree masks lined the dirt road.

A jolly tree person will welcome you at the entrance.

A jolly tree person will welcome you at the entrance.

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The entrance to the jungle experience with ATVs.

The entrance to the jungle experience with ATVs.

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Mix & Match:

You can go to another cenote along this cenote route; there are plenty just after Las Mojarras. Or you could spend the other half of the day on the beach of Puerto Morelos. Or combine it with a proper walk in the jungle, in the Reserva Toh, down the road from Las Mojarras.