Xcaret is located just outside Playa del Carmen in heart of Mexico’s Mayan Riviera. The best way I can describe it is as a fun-filled theme park crossed with a vibrant, open air, interactive ecological, archaeological and cultural museum.
The park is built on the site of an ancient Mayan port called Polé and really takes advantage of this. Dotted around the site, amid the thick Yucatan jungle, are actual archaeological ruins (which we thought were fakes to begin with… ooops!).
For us, as for many other visitors, the best ‘rides’ at Xcaret were the two branches of an underground river, each roughly a third of a mile long. Donning lifejackets and snorkelling gear, you float and paddle along at your own pace, through natural caves and artificially enlarged tunnels and canyons. Fantastic!
Around lunchtime we watched the Papantla Flying Men perform their vertigo-inducing rituals, dancing and spinning from the top of a tall wooden pole by ropes attached to their ankles. Apparently, part of the ritual is a sort of rain dance, and sure enough the only rain of our entire vacation (all 20 drops of it) came just as the ritual ended. Honestly!
In the afternoon, we explored as much of the rest of the park as we could, but still fell short. Here’s a bit of a photo-montage of what we did get to see:
That evening, we stayed on for the ‘Xcaret Mexico Espectacular’ in the beautiful, purpose built Tlachco theatre. For me, the most interesting part of the show was the first half, which included re-enactments of the enigmatic ball game played by the Mayans in the ball courts mentioned earlier.
As you can probably tell, we had a wonderful day at Xcaret. Which is why I’m so excited to be going back there in November!
For more images of our adventures in Mexico, visit Rich and Sue’s Flickr album 2011: Mexico.
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