The Yucatan Peninsula straddles three states (Campeche, Quintana Roo and Yucatan) in Mexico, including the neighboring countries of Belize and Guatemala. Once a seabed, its topography consists mainly of limestone. The peninsula is dotted with white sandy beaches, cenotes or sinkholes and has a prolific wildlife. A perfect destination for nature and culture lovers, there are many places to explore including its numerous biosphere reserves, historic archeological sites and the second largest barrier reef in the world. In short, it is a great place to do outdoor activities such as hiking. Here are a few trips that both amateur and experienced hikers can do.
Rio Lagartos Flamingo Sanctuary
Rio Lagartos is a town situated 42 km from Tizimin. It is located at a lagoon that is part of a natural reserve. This is a flat and easy walk for amateur backpackers. Most do this hike to see the pink tropical bird that is in the area. Birdwatchers can also spot different species of birds, and along its beaches are white marine turtles and crabs. To unwind, you can experience a Mayan mud bath.
Tankah Ecological Park and Nohoch Jungle Crossing
Imagine visions of dense tropical jungle with a fantastic biodiversity and you will end up at this beautiful park. It has many pristine swimming holes and breathtaking Mayan ruins.
Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve
South of Tulum in the province of Quintana Roo is a park of more than 1.2 million acres. It has also 23 Mayan archeological sites and the ruins of Muyil. If you are up for the challenge, the reserve holds many wonderful things to be discovered such as reefs, wetlands and estuaries. Visitors can book guided tours to the reserve or do it on their own with different modes of transportation (boat, foot and bus).
La Ruta De Los Cenotes (The Cenotes Route)
No visit to the Yucatan Peninsula is complete without swimming in a cenote. This hike covers walking and the option of sinkhole swimming. Near Cancun and Puerto Morelos, you have the choice of using transportation or hike all the way to the cenotes. There are 8 cenotes that you might want to explore including Sapodilla, Kin Ha, The Noria, Chilam Balam, Cenote Verde Lucero, Cenote Seven Mouths and Cenote Boca del Puma. The Mojarras Cenote is just 12.32 km from the Cancun-Tulum highway. There are bathroom, picnic, and camping facilities.
Adventurous hikers will certainly love this cave located about 5 blocks from the main square in Valladolid. After paying a small entrance fee, you descend a staircase and see the lovely cenote.
The Mayan Route will take a bit of your time as it is a trip that needs to be enjoyed at a leisurely pace. Allow anywhere from 2 to 3 weeks to complete hiking tours. One of the best trips you can organize is a tour of the ancient Mayan civilization that covers Tikal in Guatemala and Palenque in Mexico as well as Bonampak, Campeche, Uxmal, Merida and Chichen Itza. For beach lovers, explore the Mayan coast with Tulum, Bacalar, Cayes in Belize and Lake Atitlan in Guatemala.
What to Wear and Bring
Sturdy shoes are essential for comfort and support especially when maneuvering on rocks. It is also advisable to wear lightweight cotton clothing. If you plan on camping for the night, make sure to have all essential items with you. Pack a rucksack with plenty of water, snacks, a hat, sunscreen and repellent. A pair of binoculars, swimming gear and towel are helpful, too.
Tip: December to April is marked with pleasant temperatures and less rainfall so this is an ideal period to do hiking trips along the Yucatan Peninsula.
by Jenny Holt for The Yucatan Times
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