Xcaret Eco-Archaeological Park, Mexico

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.

IMG_3982The 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!).

IMG_3991For 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!

Entrance to the underground rivers

Entrance to the underground rivers

Passing through the canyon

Passing through the canyon

One of the tunnel sections

One of the tunnel sections

Sue among the mangroves

Sue among the mangroves

A few of the colourful fish we swam with

A few of the colourful fish we swam with

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!

The Papantla Flying Men certainly need a head for heights!

The Papantla Flying Men certainly need a head for heights!

Almost down... I wonder if they feel dizzy?

Almost down… I wonder if they feel dizzy?

I think they need to work on their bicycle design

I think they need to work on their bicycle design

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:

Dolphins playing (although I prefer to watch them in the wild, to be honest)

Dolphins playing (although I prefer to watch them in the wild, to be honest)

Cave route to the replica Mayan Village

Cave route to the replica Mayan Village

Gripping re-enactment of a Mayan ceremony in the Mayan Village, dramatically reconstructed above an open bend in one of the rivers we’d swam along earlier

Gripping re-enactment of a Mayan ceremony in the Mayan Village, dramatically reconstructed above an open bend in one of the rivers we’d swam along earlier

It must take ages to put on all that make-up

It must take ages to put on all that make-up

The Mayan re-enactment approaches its climax

The Mayan re-enactment approaches its climax

Jaguar Island

Jaguar Island

The vibrant and eclectic Mexican Cemetery

The vibrant and eclectic Mexican Cemetery

A dragon... I mean, er, an iguana! These guys run wild all over the park

A dragon… I mean, er, an iguana!
These guys run wild all over the park

Replica of the pre-Hispanic ball courts found at Mayan sites such as Coba and Chichen Itza

Replica of the pre-Hispanic ball courts found at Mayan sites such as Coba and Chichen Itza

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.

Xcaret Mexico Espectacular

Xcaret Mexico Espectacular

The show begins with a bit some Mayan ball skills

The show begins with some Mayan ball skills

Fire hockey! I’m sure this would be a big hit in Canada!

Fire hockey! I’m sure this would be a big hit in Canada!

The arrival of the Spanish

The arrival of the Spanish

And some sea creatures (I'm totally lost at this point, but still enjoying the show!)

And some sea creatures
(I’m totally lost at this point, but still enjoying the show!)

Nice fans!

Nice fans!

The Papantla Flying Men are back!

The Papantla Flying Men are back!

That's got to make your head spin!

That’s got to make your head spin!

I want to get off!

I want to get off!

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!

Rich & Sue in the underground river

Rich & Sue in the underground river

This post was inspired by this week’s photo challenges of Vibrant from Jen H. of The Daily Post and Organised Noise from Paula of Lost in Translation.

For more images of our adventures in Mexico, visit Rich and Sue’s Flickr album 2011: Mexico.

IMG_4147If you’re the sort of person that loves experiencing nature and history but with a twist on your travels, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal (on WordPress or Bloglovin’), or through my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr?

And if that’s not enough for you, the first three Jaspa’s Journey novels will soon be available to enjoy, both as ebooks and in paperback! Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

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About Jaspa

Star of my own award-winning adventure novels, Jaspa's Journey. Geocaching addict & F1 fan. Adventure Journeyer & blogger extraordinaire. Check out my website: www.jaspasjourney.com And don’t forget to download the books and see what the buzz is all about!
This entry was posted in Adventure, Environment, History, Jaspa's Journey, Mexico, Travel and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Xcaret Eco-Archaeological Park, Mexico

  1. Karen says:

    What an interesting place to visit…I’ll have to put it on my places to visit.

  2. Pingback: Vibrant Winter Sunrise 2 | Chris Breebaart Photography / What's (in) the picture?

  3. Paula says:

    Thank you for your contribution Jaspa 🙂 I am still trying to decide which photo fits best the “organised noise” theme.

    • Jaspa says:

      To be honest, the whole place was fairly frantic, Paula, which is why I thought of it. I would probably have gone for the one from the Mexico Espectacular. That said, the re-enactment of the Mayan ritual that you final chose was pretty intense, with the dancing, chanting, shouting, drumming and fire!

  4. Pingback: Guest Challenge: Organized Noise | Lost in Translation

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