X'Canché

Yucatán, Mexico


X'Canché (pronounced shkan-che) cenote is an oasis in the middle of the jungle of Ek' Balam. It is great for those who like rappelling, ziplining and swimming and who want to have a cenote to themselves.


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This is a great way to cool down after a visit to the nearby ruins of Ek' Balam. I also believe that to have a really great day out in Yucatán is to combine a visit to the ruins with a swim in a cenote, so history mixes with adventure for a well-balanced trip.

Cenotes are natural sinkholes created by a collapse of limestone bedrock. The crystal-clear waters make cenotes really magic. Often they are connected by underground rivers. Once you try one cenote, you may want to try them all (which is not possible, as there are thousands of them in Yucatán).

 
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The cenote is at the same property as Ek' Balam ruins. You can trek through the jungle (about 1.5km) or take a bici-taxi (pedalled by a local Maya) to get there faster. Either way, the track through the jungle adds magic to your trip. If you are not visiting the ruins, just pass them and the main cenote entrance is on the access road.

 
Reception at the entry from the ruins.

Reception at the entry from the ruins.

Entrance from the main road, if you bypass Ek' Balam.

Entrance from the main road, if you bypass Ek' Balam.

 

The tree roots hang down from the earth above. Places like this feel to me very primordial. I always imagine the Maya people coming down here to get water but also to place their offerings and talk and pray to the rain god Chac, who dwelt in the cenotes. In any case, cenotes represented the underworld (called Xibalbá) for the Maya and I personally feel that very strongly when visiting cenotes with deep drops, like this one, or cenotes in caves.

The power of nature really speaks out here. And it is this eeriness that brings the ancient history right back to me, as if time had stopped.

 
The bici-taxi to the cenote, within the ruin site.

The bici-taxi to the cenote, within the ruin site.

The path to the cenote. It is a 20-minute walk.

The path to the cenote. It is a 20-minute walk.

 

How to get there:

There is no public transportation that regularly makes the trip to these cenotes so you will need your own car. This cenote is located 192.5 km east of Mérida city, taking the highway Mérida-Valladolid. From Valladolid, take the highway to Tizimín; 6km after Temozón turn right, then 4km more until you arrive at a crossroads which indicates the road to the archaeological site; go straight 1km to reach the ruins of Ek' Balam. From there you will be pointed to the 1.5km road that reaches the site. 

 
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Mix & Match:

If you combine this cenote with your visit to Ek' Balam, it will make a nice half-day trip. Add the colonial town of Valladolid (half an hour's drive) and its main square with a Spanish colonial cathedral, and you are into a whole-day trip (if you have come from Mérida, Cancún or Playa del Carmen)..

Sources:

1. Cenote origin