What is a cenote?


Mud puddle or cave?  We don't know unless we jump in...

Cenotes are the enigmatic crystalline pools that dot the landscape of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.  It is thought that between 8,000-10,000 of them exist in the region, although no one really knows for sure.   It is difficult to generalize about cenotes because they come in all shapes and sizes.  What is true of most of them is that they are drop dead gorgeous.  In an otherwise hostile, humid, mosquito filled, thorny jungle they provide a welcome break as we hike out to find them.  Nothing gives me greater joy than hiking out with my friends to find a new cenote and the moment of discovery when we first set eyes on it and then plunge into its cool waters.  Those hikes are the first steps we take in the much larger game of exploration we are involved in here, for the cenotes are also entrance into the flooded caves that form the regions aquifer.  I say game, because, to me, it is one gigantic jigsaw puzzle, one that we don't have a box top picture for.   For all of us that are involved, this is exploration in its purest form. We really don't know what we will find until we get in and check it out.  The cenote may turn out to be a mud puddle, or it may be a huge cave system like Ox Bel Ha.  

Sam and Christophe finding Cenote Doblado, 2013