Dzitnup Cenotes, X'Keken Valladolid, MexicoDzitnup Cenotes was a nice site that contains two cenotes: X’Keken and Samula. Upon arrival, we were greeted with a typical open-air market where vendors were selling shirts and other touristy souvenirs. We bypassed them and followed the signs to X’Keken. As we approached the entrance, we found a stone with the words ‘Entrada Del Cenote X-Keken’ and another more friendly to English speakers, “Entrance to the Cave”. From this moment, we left behind the typical tourist experience and descended into another world.Dzitnup Cenotes, X'Keken Valladolid, MexicoThe tunnel featured rough steps and the walls were carved even rougher. The feeling that we were venturing someplace forbidden came upon us, and our pulse quickened a bit as we bent over to fit into the cave and stepped through to where we could see ahead. The steps descended down toward glistening water far below. Holding onto the rope railing, we carefully emerged into this wonderland a step at a time.

Cenote X’Keken has a single large room, a cavernous opening that was an excellent natural dome complete with a single natural skylight above. I was reminded of the Pantheon in Rome with its oculus. The hole provided most of the illumination in the place and was devoid of mood-reducing artificial fixtures. The light shot into the room and penetrated the crystal clear water below, brightening it into a handsome aqua color. It was so intense that it looked fake, but the effect was simply caused by the optics and the purity of the freshwater. The water seemed to glow.

Dzitnup Cenotes, X'Keken Valladolid, MexicoSwimming about in the water were a half-dozen people, and a half-dozen more sat about the platform that hugs the side of the cavern where we descended. Finding a spot to sit, we put on our snorkel vests and swim shoes and pushed off into the water.

It is cool, but refreshing and we quickly grew used to it. A few small fish dart about in the water where we could easily see to the bottom even in the dim light. The water was too deep to touch bottom in most of the cavern.

The walls had a few stalactites and there were dozens of roots descending from the roof into the water. The plants above have grown these long tendrils down to the life-giving water and we were careful not to disturb them. We spoke in hushed tones as the room had good acoustics.

After an indeterminate amount of time, we exited the cenote and gathered our gear together. We had to pass back through the market to get to the second cenote.Dzitnup Cenotes, Samula Valladolid, Mexico

Cenote Samula was a little easier to enter with a nice nice stairway with several viewing spots, but the scene we were greeted by was very similar to cenote X’Keken. There was a single large room mostly filled with water and a single skylight in the ceiling. Here, a bit of debris directly under the skylight made a small island and the water was shallow enough to stand.

As before, there was only about a dozen enjoying the cenote. We slid into the water, easier this time as we were still wet from the last dip. We paddled out to the deeper area and floated about, the water bathtub clean and a beautiful azure color from the light plunging down from above. It was a very pleasant place to be, and we chatted in light conversation.

Dzitnup Cenotes, Samula, Valladolid, MexicoThis was to be the last cenote we visited on this trip. We had been in about a dozen at nine different sites and each had been a great memory. I immediately began considering when our next trip to the Yucatan would be. I hoped not too long.

To read about the logistics of seeing the Dzitnup Cenote yourself, go here.

A gallery of pictures from our trip to X’Keken and Samula cenotes is here.

Return to my ranked list of cenotes.


IT pro by day, avid traveler and photographer by night.

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