After busing it to Valladolid and then later to Merida, we decided that we wanted some more freedom to explore the Mayan backcountry not accessible by bus routes. So we rented a car to give it a shot, and learned the hard way that driving around the backroads of the Yucatan is not so easy.
On A Random Recommendation: Tres Cenotes of Cuzama
A Mayan we had met in Merida highly recommended the cenotes outside the village of Cuzama. The cenotes we visited near Valladolid were such a highlight of our trip so far that we heeded his advice in order to check out more. The man in Merida told us to go to the old hacienda a few kilometers south of Cuzama. We drove around the rural Yucatan countryside in search of this mysterious place.
Off We Go!
After several false alarms we finally came upon the hacienda and sure enough there was a man there asking us in Spanish if we’d like to go to the cenotes. We figured he was going to walk us to these underground natural swimming holes. Or perhaps he would simply point us into the right direction after collecting our fee. So we were a bit confused when he then directed us to two young boys (my guess of their age is 10 and 6) who were on something that looked like a mining cart on rails that was connected to a horse. So we hopped on the cart with the boys and were quickly whisked away on a bone-rattling ride deep into the Yucatan jungle! What a thrill!!!
A few kilometers later the niños stopped the cart and motioned for us to get out, then they led us down a path to the first Cuzama cenote. It was beautiful and we didn’t hesitate at the opportunity to swim around in for a while.
Visiting Each of the Three Cuzama Cenotes
They then walked us over to what simply looked like a small hole in the ground. I guessed they just wanted us to have a look into this cave. After peering over the edge, I noticed an old homemade wooden ladder that vertically stretched down into the pitch black, beyond what I could see. So we proceeded to climb down, found another ladder and continued climbing down until we reached a pool of water for the splashdown off the ladder! It was, in fact, the second Cuzama cenote!
There’s no place to stand. You go directly from ladder to water. A light connected to a generator on by long extension cords to the surface beautifully lit the surface of the water. With a mask on I attempted diving down this somewhat narrow pool of water and after about only 10 feet or so it becomes eerily pitch black. This particular cenote, although not as visually impressive or picturesque as the others, was a very cool experience to submerge on down into!
Visiting the three Cuzama cenotes was a great experience that I’m thankful was suggested to us. We likewise strongly recommend visiting the Cuzama cenotes if you ever find yourself in the Yucatan.
If You Go to the Three Cuzama Cenotes:
Price of Cuzama Cenotes: We paid the boys $250 pesos for their horse drawn tour of the cenotes that lasted a few hours in total. We’ve since heard the price is $300 pesos. They charge by the cartload (fits four), not by person. So you can share the cost.
Self-Driving from Merida to Cuzama: Take Highway 184 to YUC 10 toward Cuzama. Once arriving to the center of town make a right on the road to Chunkanán. Approximately another 2 miles past town and you’ll arrive at an old hacienda, where you’ll find people ready to take you on the horse cart to the Cuzama cenotes. Just be sure you go all the way to the old hacienda. When we went, there were people with signs for the cenotes flagging us down and trying to stop us before the hacienda. We were warned about them and told not to stop and instead proceed all the way to the old rundown hacienda. So be sure to ignore them as well if they’re still there.
Bus from Merida to Cuzama Cenotes: Busses leave the Noreste terminal located on calle 67 and 50 Merida downtown and takes you from Merida to the town of Cuzama. It’s another three kilometers further to the Cuzama cenotes. The bus to Cuzama twon costs 18 pesos each way, takes and 1.5 hours, and departs at: 7:45, 9:15, 10:45, 12:30 and 14:30, as noted from the timetable in January 2016.
Colectivo from Merida to Cuzama Cenotes: The colectivo station is located opposite the same Noreste bus station on calle 67. Price is $24 pesos per person, each way.
When taking a bus or colectivo, you will be dropped in the center of Cuzama and will need to take a motor taxi the remainder of the way to the entrance of the cenotes. So plan on another $25 pesos per person for the motor taxi.
Taxi from Merida to Cuzama Cenotes: From the taxi stand from Santa Ana expect to pay $900 pesos round trip to Cuzama but it may require some negotiating for a price that low.
Day Tour of Cuzama Cenotes: You can book this adventure tour to the Cuzama cenotes on Viator for $55 USD, that includes hotel pick-up, guide, all entrances, and lunch.