So much to see, so little time: Xel-Há (part II)

Filed under: Things to Do - by Louise Hennessy

We thought that 8 and a half hours in Xel-Há would be plenty of time, however in order to take advantage of the all inclusive buffets, explore to our hearts´ content, and also have time to just lie back, relax and smile contentedly, it just wasn’t enough! We actually found ourselves running to get the bus at the end of the day, happily exhausted and ready to snore all the way back to the hotel…

Read Also: So much to see, so little time: Xel-Há (part I)

Where did we leave off? Oh yes, the Zip Bikes. Perhaps this is the perfect moment to mention the Snuba Cenote which we tried out on a different visit, and is another optional activity on offer. Basically, it’s like a transition between snorkelling and scuba-diving, whereby you don’t have your our tank and don’t necessarily need a wetsuit. In this case we would be exploring a cenote (natural sink hole) which entailed a dip of about 7 metres and into some caves. Our guide, Roberto, was very professional and quickly got us all practicing breathing underwater through our individual oxygen lines, which led to a tank on an inflatable dinghy; and then, we were off. Bit nerve-wracking to see some people get nervous and shoot up to the surface, but really and truly it all boils down to who can keep their mind calm and not panic; which we are proud to say we were able to do! Definitely good fun and nail-biting for us, but not too many fish to see with it being a cenote instead of the sea, perhaps the Snuba Caleta (cove) might have even more to offer…

Xelha-web-2

Anyway, back to the day in question. The main attraction at Xel-Há is heading downstream right from the top of the river, all the way back down to the floating bridge, which takes a good long while. As we had seen many inflatable rings abandoned at different points down the river we chose the flippers and snorkel option, which we would definitely recommend. The floating rings are good fun, but very slow moving, and most people end up getting into the water and leaving them behind at some point! The first few bends in the river are somewhat cool as they are heavily shaded with trees, and then suddenly they spurt you out into a much wider stretch which becomes inundated with people who took the ring option. There are a couple of points down the river where you can do 10-15-metre high jumps from the sides (with a lifeguard making sure it’s all safe), one of which we braved and produced a lot of laughs from bystanders, mainly on witnessing our cara de miedo (face of fear). Following this, we actually laughed so hard that our stomachs hurt while attempting to cross the rope bridge further downstream, and hanging on for dear lives as evil male tourists tried to shake us off or push the top rope up so high that we either had to let go or turn into Inspector Gadget to stretch that far! The river is great great fun, and a wonderful way to work up an appetite for lunch…

The alternative routes to the top of the river are via a “train” (more like a bus, but painted like a train), or weirdly brakeless bicycles, which take some getting used to. In order to stop, you have to pedal backwards, but not too sharply otherwise you come to a brisk halt and may topple over (speaking from experience). Thoroughly recommended though, for the giggle opportunities, and to be able to say you tried everything at Xel-Há!

Snorkelers_at_Xel-Ha

And no visit would be complete without a visit to the lighthouse, where you can watch the waves crashing upon the rocks and then wander around to the beach if you fancy a swim in the sea. All in all, there is a ton to see and do, and even a spa where you can pamper yourself while immersed in nature and beauty. Make the most of it and try as much as you can, you can sleep on the way home…

Our crucial tip: Be sure to keep a tight rein on your snorkelling gear until you hand it back in, we lost a flipper and had to do some diving to recover it and not get charged!

Our special tip: Take loads of photos, using the bracelet scan devices. You are not obliged to buy them, but you might want to, as they tend to be very flattering!

Our retrospective tip: Unless you have a waterproof camera or phone, leave them safely in the locker or at the hotel; if you are at Xel-Há you WILL get wet!

See your concierge for more info on day trips to the beautiful park!

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