The cenotes in Yucatan, Mexico: What nobody told you about the sinkholes

by | May 21, 2020 | meisight blog | 0 comments

The #cenotes in Yucatán: I bet, you know these incredibly beautiful pictures from people jumping into the blue water of the #cenotes in Yucatán, Mexico. In fact the title picture from @davidmrule is one of my most beloved picture, that we have on our website

Where do these beautiful cenotes come from?

I wasn’t really looking for more information on the cenotes in Yucatán. In fact, it was more by accident, that I saw a documentation from my beloved National Geographic Channel. This one was called “drain the ocean”. It covered the mystery on the ground of the Gulf of Mexico. Guess what it is – amongst millions of meters of oil pipelines?

It is the #Chicxulub crater, the result of the probably most damaging asteroid on earth. It killed 66 million years ago the dinosaurs and with them 75% of all life on earth. While half of the ring of this crater is covered under a more than 1000 meter thick sediment layer in the Gulf of Mexico, the other half of the ring is on the Yucatán Peninsula. And here comes the #cenotes into the game: They line up like small pearls on a string along this crater rim.

the crater rim in Yucatán

the cenotes are located around the rim of the crater

The role of the cenotes in the Maya culture

Maybe you know that Yucatán doesn’t have a lot of rivers or other sources of fresh water like lakes. That’s why the #cenotes have always been the primary source of water. Especially for the Maya, the #cenotes played an important role. Indeed, they saw the sinkholes as  entrances to a life after death. That’s why they paid homage to these places with all kinds of valuable gifts that they threw into the water. Besides that, there is also evidence of human sacrifice based on the skeletons found in the depths of the caves. Huu… isn’t that scary? I get goose bumps every time I think about the unspeakable dramas that must have taken place in some of these places.

Published in "Views of Ancient Monuments in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan" by Frederick Catherwood, 1844

Cenote Xtacumbilxunan, at Bolonchen, Yucatan; view by Frederick Catherwood, 1844

A gigantic underwater cave system in the cenotes

Many cenotes in Yucatán are associated with what is believed to be the largest continuous underwater cave system on earth. The two longest systems, Ox Bel Ha (256.6 km) and Sac Actun (222.7 km), are accessible through more than 140 cenotes each. The total length of all explored underwater cave systems in Quintana Roo is 1085 km (based on this information from January 2020).

In any case it is an absolute dream for every diver. Though not without danger. Some of them have already become fatal because of the widely ramified and partly very sharp-edged walls of the caves.

Dos Ojos in Yucatán, Mexico

Incredible underwater labyrinths

Beautiful spots for your social media feeds

For our user, however, the magic of these places lies above the water surface. With the many roots, often hanging for meters in the cenotes, there are many attractive motifs for spectacular images – which find their way into equally beautiful feeds on Instagram.

Do you also have pictures from the cenotes? Then feel free to upload them into our app #meisight and share your interpretation with others. You can download “meisight either on our website or in the stores.