Cenote Exploration in Yucatan

23 April 2018

Richie, Dante and I got the opportunity to be the 1st divers ever to get access to a wonderful Cenote lost in the middle of the jungle, very close to Ek-Balam archeological site, in the Yucatan peninsula. 
We’re all happy to drive there for a beautiful dive together but first of all, we’ve gotta stop for our favourite Tacos de Canasta in Tulum.

When we arrived in that Cenote we all did that same wooooow and couldn’t believe our eyes. 
This massive depression was absolutely stunning. Plants growing all around the Cenote, hanging in the void, giving such a beautiful atmosphere to our adventure. 

The owners were building stairs all around the Cenote to get an easy access to the water but they didn’t finish the construction yet. We take our gear little by little down to the lower platform and get our gear ready before jumping 2,5m in the rabbit hole.
Fortunately, the workers are interested and willing to help us lowering the tanks for us with a rope. It made the adventure a little easier with all those extra hands.

We’re set, the 3 of us on the surface, lights are on, regs in the mouth, OK signal, let’s go down. 
As we are descending the water gets murkier and murkier. The visibility is not as good as what we have around Tulum but it’s usually the case in sink holes. The water temperature is also a little colder than around Tulum. Our computers say 23°C (73F), it’s only 2 degrees difference compared to the coast, but still, we feel it. 

Down at 42m (138ft) we can notice a very thin hydrogen sulphide layer due to the organic decomposition of the leaves and fruits fallen into that pit. 
The sinkhole keeps on going down deeper but we planned a dive to a maximum depth of 40m… We’re gonna have to come back if we want to explore the greater depths of this Cenote. 
While at the bottom we swim around the Cenote and start ascending little by little all around the Cenote looking for cracks and leads.

We dive all the way around the Cenote but nothing. Nothing… until we decided to do our deco stop where we dropped the O2 tank and what’s behind that stop? A black entrance just there, waiting for us.
Richie takes his line, goes in a little bit and we very shortly lose the visibility and can’t see him anymore. It’s a one man job. 
1min later, Richie turns around and hands me the reel and tell me to go. 
I very happily take the reel in my hand and try to find my way through the flying silt.
Very shortly after that, I see a black tunnel, about 1,5m wide, with black silt on the bottom, decent visibility but all very smooth, nowhere to do a proper tie off. I keep on going a little bit and the water gets cristal clear. I turn a little bit and see a room where I assume the cave ends. I go all the way to the end to be sure and when I look to the right, I see the cave that keeps on going and about 20 eyes reflecting in my light staring at me. A lot of white shrimps and catfish… the cave goes!
I turn around and see nothing, I silted out the whole place. 
The guys are still waiting for me and we said we wouldn’t split more than 5min. It’s time to turn around but I know I want to come back!
On my way back, I follow my line through that small tunnel being completely blind as the mong is really thick and black and my line goes right under a little crack in the tunnel. I managed to do a line trap, what a dumb ass. It was very tricky to do the tie offs I wanted to and now I pay the price.
The line being poorly laid made me decide to actually remove the little bit of line I laid in there to lay it in a proper manner next time I come back, without making the same mistakes. 
I reel back the whole line and make it out in the sink hole.
Dante and Richie are right here, waiting for me staring at the exit of that black tunnel completely silted out. 

The deco has washed off, we look at each others and thumbs up, let’s go up.

We all surface, happy of our dive and the guys lower the ropes to help us pull the empty tanks back up. 
After a little climb on the slippery walls of the Cenote, we make it back to the car and to the next village where the locals invited us for a great traditional meal cooked on wood fire with hand made tortillas on the comal in a little house they were building. 
What a fantastic day… now I just wanna go back there to push a little further in that small tunnel and check out more Cenotes in the area. 
When’s our next adventure yucateca?!

 

JC.

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