Yucatan Peninsula is a destination highly esteemed by speleologists who seek to enjoy this playground full of surprises. More and more caves are enabled for tourism, there are something for all tastes. Do we go out to cave?

The geological nature of the Yucatan peninsula, of karst formation, allows the creation of cavities in the form of caves, cenotes, grottos, caverns. An underground world that preserves numerous traces of our historical past, the deepest wrinkles of our passage through the Planet.

Over time and experiences, I have been assimilating the great importance of these cavities: places of habitat of the first sedentary groups, of ceremonies, of myths and beliefs, of shelter, hiding, hunting. A whole life that passes under our feet, a world that I find truly fascinating.

In the Yucatan peninsula there are many caves to visit, some with limited access to professionals. If you want to go deeper into the subject, I recommend you to Ajau Speleological Group, without a doubt a reference in these lands. I am a fan of your great work. I am very grateful for the generosity of Fátima Tec Pool, an anthropologist who is a member of the Ajau Group, for giving me her wonderful images to complete the post.

Photo courtesy of Fátima Tec Pool
Photo courtesy of Fátima Tec Pool

THE 7 BEST CAVES TO VISIT IN THE YUCATAN PENINSULA

Those of us who are not professionals are fortunate to be able to visit some caves enabled to tourism. I show you some of the caves in the Yucatan Peninsula that you can travel with a guide. Do not go into a cave alone, they are not places to go without a guide.

1- LOLTÚN CAPS, YUCATÁN

It is surely the best known cave on the Peninsula, an impressive place to visit. Its main chamber, the gallery called Cuarto de las Pinturas, was the cover of National Geographic magazine. The grotto of Loltún (stone flower in Spanish) contains a wealth of paleontological evidence of mastodons, bison, camels, wolves, horses and a variety of mammals, all now extinct. So far, 145 wall paintings, 42 petroglyphs and ceramics from various eras have been located.

  • Location: the grottos of Loltún are located 7 kilometers south of Oxkutzcab
  • Opening hours: of the guided tours in Loltún: 9: 30, 11, 12: 30, 14, 15 and 16 h.
  • Entrance cost: 105 mxn foreigners and national 78 pesos. The tip of the guide is not included in the visit.
  • How to get there by public transport? The grottos are located at 7 km from the town of Oxkutzcab, where public transport arrives. The bus from Mérida to Oxkutzcab takes almost 2 hours, stops in all the small towns. Since Oxkutzcab You can arrive by private taxi, they wait for you at the exit.
  • Level: easy, at some times of the year it is somewhat slippery.
grutas_loltun_yucatan
Grutas de Loltún, Yucatán

2- GRUTAS KANTEMÓ, QUINTANA ROO

The caves of Kantemó They offer you something very unique, in a few places of the Planet you can see a natural spectacle like that. Before going to know them, I had been able to see this phenomenon in one of the BBC documentaries, and when we found out that we had it here, we took the car to the south of Quintana Roo. Here you can see how the spotted rattlesnakes (elaphe flavirufa) hunt bats waiting for nightfall…. and not through TV. A unique and impressive place, without a doubt.

  • Location: the caves of Kantemo (Yucatan) are located on the 184 highway, which links Felipe Carrillo Puerto with Peto and Mérida. After passing José María Morelos you will find Dziuché and at 2 km you will reach Kantemó.
  • Schedule: They visit at sunset. There are other activities such as visiting the Chachancanab lagoon that you can do with the Kantemó guides.
  • Cost: 250 MXN for nationals. I do not know if they apply another rate to foreigners.
  • How to get there by public transport? Public transport leaves from Merida, Felipe Carrillo Puerto or Peto.
  • Level: It is not a place for everyone, the snakes are hiding more and more, so you have to go deeper into the grotto, which means crawling on the ground. It's something claustrophobic, and if you do not like snakes, better not go, of course.
Kantemo caves
The 7 best caves to visit in the Yucatan Peninsula 1

3- GRUTAS SANTA RITA, YUCATÁN

This place was a great surprise on our way: For years I had seen a wooden sign on the road from Cancun to Valladolid «Grutas de Santa Rita», and I sensed that it was a good detour. The day we went, in addition to confirming that instinct should be followed, I enjoyed one of those places that are part of my list of essentials in the Yucatan Peninsula. From the hand of trained locals, you will discover a wonderful world, with painted hands and waters where you can cool off.

  • Location: the caves of Santa Rita (Yucatán) are located between Chemax y Xcan (to 28 km.), near Valladolid, on the federal highway 180, the free one from Cancún to Mérida. Arriving at the community of La Estrella is indicated by some wooden signs: a dirt road of approximately 7km. until the parking of the place.
  • Schedule: Open from 7 to 17 daily hours. There are toilet services and changing rooms.
  • Cost: 200 MXN
  • How to get there by public transport? It is difficult to access by public transport unless you want to walk the 7 Km. From the 180 federal highway to the community.
  • Level: Crystalline Mother It's easy to go, Aktún Ka'b It is somewhat more complicated, but suitable for all adventurers.
Grottos Santa Rita Yucatan
Grutas Santa Rita, Yucatan

4- GRUTAS XTACUMBILXUNAÁN, CAMPECHE

Bordering between the states of Yucatan and Campeche, we can visit this grotto very easy access. Some stairs allow us to go down to the grotto of Xtacumbilxunaan (hidden woman in Spanish), where we can see a recreation of how the ancestors of these lands used this place to collect water, among other uses. A curious look, do not miss it.

  • Location: the caves of Xtacumbilxunaan are located at 8 km from the population of Bolonchén, 110 km from the city of Campeche (1h45 ″) and 295 km from Mérida. Road 180 and 261 via Campeche.
  • Schedule: Open from 18 to 17 hours, Mondays closed. There are services at the entrance and some palapas for rent.
  • Entrance cost: 50 mxn adults, 25.00 mxn students and Inapam, 20 mxn children. 80.00 mxn audio guides.
  • How to get there by public transport? Transport arrives to Bolonchén from Campeche and other towns. The caves are located about 8 kilometers, you can go by taxi or tricitaxi.
  • Level: easy, access by stairs.
Grutas de Xtacumbilxunaan, Campeche
Xtacumbilxunaan caves

5- GRUTAS CALCEHTOK, YUCATÁN

Near the town of Calcehtok is the Grotto of Xpukil. I have not visited them, I was in the Mayan zone of Oxkintok, very close to the place and great visit to combine with the caves, but time wasted and we continued on our way. So one of my pendant from the Peninsula. They offer several tours, only recommended for the most adventurous. Get ready to get dirty and crawl on the floor.

  • Location: the caves of Xpukil, en Calcehtok (Yucatán) are located at 60 kilometers from Mérida, by the federal 180. Near Oxkintok, highly recommended visit to this ancient Mayan city.
  • Schedule: Open from 8 to 17 daily hours. There are toilet services and changing rooms.
  • Cost: 200 MXN
  • How to get there by public transport? It is difficult to access by public transport.
  • Level: If you do not like narrow places and crawl on the ground, it's not your place.
Xpukil
Photo courtesy of Fátima Tec Pool
Xpukil
Photo courtesy of Fátima Tec Pool

6- GRUTAS TZABNAH, YUCATÁN

I have been in the town of Tecoh several times, I really like this area. But the grottos of Tzabnah I have in my earrings: once because the cooperative were fighting and there was no way, another because I was with my mom and it was not a place to go with her, another to arrive late visiting other places ... and there I have yet to discover Tzabnah (king's house in Spanish).

  • Location: the grottos of Tzabnah (Yucatán) are located in Tecoh, to 37 kilometers of Merida, by the federal 180 on the way to Cancun. Take the detour of Acanceh, and continue to Tecoh.
  • Schedule: Open from 8 to 17 daily hours. There are toilet services and changing rooms.
  • Cost: 200 MXN
  • How to get there by public transport? From Mérida, buses leave for Tecoh.
  • Level: Depending on the route you take, there are 13 cenotes to see, the path I think has its complications.
tzabna 38 (07)
Photo courtesy of Fátima Tec Pool
tzabna 08 (07)
Photo courtesy of Fátima Tec Pool

7- GRUTAS TEKAX, YUCATÁN

One of the most interesting places at the cave level is the surroundings of Tekax. This town has become the undisputed benchmark for adventure tourism thanks to its caves and the good performance of their administrators. There are several caves to visit in the area, the best known are the Chocantes and Kaalmankal Caves.

  • Location: Tekax they are located 120 kilometers south of Mérida.
  • Schedule: Open from 8 to 17 daily hours. There are toilet services and changing rooms.
  • Cost: From 150 pesos onwards per person, depending on the cave and the activities you do.
  • How to get there by public transport? From Mérida and different towns there is a collective departure to Tekax. The caves are a few kilometers from Tekax, they offer transportation service
  • Level: to some you must descend in rappel, others are simpler.
Sabak Ha. Photo courtesy of Fátima Tec Pool
Sabak Ha. Photo courtesy of Fátima Tec Pool
Xmait. Photo courtesy of Fátima Tec Pool
Xmait. Photo courtesy of Fátima Tec Pool

PRACTICAL TIPS FOR VISITING GRUTAS

  • WHAT CLOTHES TO BRING TO VISIT THE CAVES: undoubtedly comfortable clothes that can be stained. Although you do not go with your chest to the ground at any time, as it happens in the Shocking caves or in the Calcehtok caves, if it is an adventure place where you can get dirty. Closed shoe or boot to protect the foot from insects and twists, and long pants. Do not forget your swimsuit and towel, remember that you can bathe in the cenote inside the grotto.
  • NEVER TOUCH THE STALACTITES: the process of stalactite and stalagmite formation is very slow, taking around 4.000 to 5.000 years to grow 2,5 cm. These speleothems continue their formative process, and if we touch them we kill them. Now that you know, you don't want to do that, do you?
  • DO NOT TAKE FLASH PHOTOS TO PAINTINGS: the flash flash damages the paintings, don't use it. You can light the wall with the flashlight and so you take the opportunity to take a photo.
  • DO NOT TAKE ANYTHING: It is punishable by law to extract objects, flora or fauna from places.
  • FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES: the guides of the Atilano and Feliciano community know the grotto with their eyes closed, they are trained for the tours. Follow their instructions and enjoy the place.
  • DO NOT ENTER WITHOUT GUIDE: I was not going to put this recommendation, but I do not want to forget those fanatical people who, by watching a documentary or living many adventures in the bush, believe they have the ability to get in without equipment or training or knowledge of safety and first aid in caves. Always enter with a guide.
The 7 best caves to visit in the Yucatan Peninsula 2

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Sandra Salvadó Training photographer, traveler by vocation and certified tourism guide by the Government of Mexico. We promote natural wonders and contemporary Mayan culture. Great fan of pre-Hispanic history. Author of the blog and co-founder of The Shortest Path Travel, agency that guides you through alternative paths in Mayan lands. Social and sustainable tourism in the Yucatan Peninsula and Chiapas.
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