In case you missed it, I’m an adrenaline junkie. Well, I guess it’s hard to miss if you’re a regular reader of this blog. So when an invitation to experience Riviera Maya’s adventurous side I could hardly contain myself. First, I took a few deep breaths before replying via email so it wouldn’t be too obvious how excited I was; I was sure it would show, even in type. The next thing I knew I was back on a plane to Mexico, my third trip this year. I’m going to write about my trip over several posts because we had too much fun to pack it into one post.
When I checked into Le Revé Hotel and Spa, I made a beeline for the restaurant and found out that they specialize in one of my favorite tropical dishes, ceviche. Shrimp, snook and octopus combined with creamy avocado and marinated in a citrus dressing with a spicy finish. Wow! Later that evening we were served the same ceviche as an appetizer and I almost licked the dish. Naturally, I had to have the recipe, which Chef Mario Kauil kindly shared. Watch for a post with the recipe in a couple of weeks.
Back to adrenaline. The next morning we loaded up for a ride to Alltournative Offtrack Adventures. I’m not a fan of organized tours, so I’ll admit to having some skepticism. However, Alltournative and the rest of the tour operators we used on the trip changed my attitude. The first thing our guide explained was that we would need to shower off all chemicals from our bodies to prevent contaminating the caves we would be exploring. No sunscreen, bug spray, make-up or deodorants allowed. “Okay,” I thought, “they’re ‘walking the walk’ on sustainability here, impressive.”
Alltournative is one of a growing number of Mexican tour guides that have embraced sustainable tourism and not just an idealistic endeavor, but as a means to preserve their industry. Their website states that they strive to, “Conserve biological and cultural diversity, by strengthening protected area management systems (public or private) and increasing the value of sound ecosystems.” From what I witnessed, these goals are more than words to the management and staff at Alltournative.
First up, rappelling into cenote Yaxmuul and the partially flooded pool below. A cenote is a sinkhole often leading to an underground body of water. The rappel was short (40 feet) and rigged high with double lines through a figure-8. That much friction brings an average sized person to a halt, so I had to “push” the rope a bit. It makes for a very secure feeling rappel, perfect for first timers or more timid guests. As for me, I wanted another 100-plus feet of height. Landing in the cool pristine water felt amazing.
We swam out of the cave and headed toward the zip-lines. Three segments of fast-paced fun! The last leg actually entered the mouth of a cave and skipped my butt along the water before dumping me in with a big splash. Wooohooo!
Continuing the cave theme, we donned our masks and snorkels for a swimming tour in the Nohoch Nah Chiich cavern. The cavern is only a small part of the Sac-Actun cenote system, the world’s second longest surveyed underwater cave system with 133.8 miles of passage. Many years ago the cave was above the water table and developed large formations of stalactites and stalagmites. Swimming above the formations and viewing them through clear fresh water seemed surreal. We followed our guides light through the darkness back toward the mouth of the cave where the sun’s rays pierced the blue water with spectacular shafts of light.
Leaving the cave, we climbed aboard an all-terrain Mercedes Benz Unimog for a wild ride that had us clinging to the padded handholds to stay in the vehicle. I couldn’t stop grinning, although I’m pretty sure I left a kidney along the boulder strewn road.
We fit all of this in before lunch. Later in the afternoon, we explored the ancient seaside ruins of Tulum, which I’ll cover in a photo essay shortly.
If you go: The tour I described here costs $99 for adults and $69 for children at the time of publishing. Children must be at least 6 years old. The activities require a reasonable level of fitness so I suggest reading their “Health” information to make sure it is suitable for you. Those with a major fear of heights may not enjoy the rappelling or zip-lining.
My trip was sponsored including airfare, food and lodging. However, my opinions are my own and I’m under no obligation to write favorably about the destination. As always, I will only give my honest thoughts.