How do you find cenotes? (Part 1)


Finding a cenote is the first step in the process of exploration here.  Over the years I have learned a great deal about how to best go about this task.  I have found cenotes by dumb luck, through a conversation with my plumber, by studying maps and aerial photos, by using sophisticated software to interpret satellite imagery, birds have even guided me to them we have also found them from underwater while exploring caves.  

Hands down, the nicest cenote I have ever been part of finding using the 'dumb luck' method.

Let's start with dumb luck.  This has only happened on maybe two occasions.  What becomes rapidly clear to anyone brave (or silly) enough to employ this method is that a) it does not work very well and b) the pain and suffering of hiking blindly through the jungle here is just not worth it.  Sometimes you get lucky but it is very, very rare. 

A dummy hoping for some dumb luck!

I once heard a seasoned explorer here claim that he was heading out to give blood.  I inquired where the blood drive was taking place.  He pointed to the jungle.  Lesson learned. 

Cenote entrance out by Coba 'found' using the 'just ask someone' method.  This place was beyond cool.

How then could you hike out into the jungle and increase the odds of finding a cenote without becoming anemic from bug bites and blood loss incurred by machetes and thorns?  It is actually easy; you just have to ask someone.  Remarkable for its simplicity, this is, of course, a very effective way of finding cenotes.  Not only that, hopefully the person you are asking can actually take you right there.  This has happened on a number of occasions, one of the most memorable being a quick conversation with my plumber which resulted in Chris and I being invited out to a small village near Coba which in turn lead to more invitations from other villages in the area.  The result was that over several trips we got to explore a number of sinkhole type cenotes, and developed friendships with the communities that last to this day.

To be continued...

Locals gather around my laptop to see photos of what is in their cenote.  In this case a lot of water pails.