Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Cenote Ik Kil

Of the large number of natural wonders on the Yucatan Peninsula, the most important and unusual are the cenotes, huge underground lakes. The term "Cenote" is derived from the word dzonot, which in Mayan means "cave with water".

02. On the peninsula there are no rivers or lakes. At the same time, indigenous people have never experienced problems with water. The explanation is simple.
The peninsula itself consists mainly of a thick layer of limestone, it is very sensitive to erosion. Tropical storms over millions of years have exuded Yucatan soil so that it resembles a piece of cheese with holes. Huge, filled with fresh water and underground caves passing one another, the cenotes are lost in the incredible depth.
Sometimes the body of the cave collapses - so cenotes are obtained.
03. On the peninsula there are more than 3,000 cenotes but only 1,400 are actually studied and registered. On the Internet, I came across an interesting map. Blue dots labeled cenotes.

04. Cenote Ik Kil is located 3 km from the ruins of the Mayan - Chichen Itza. The depth of the crater is about 85 meters. Enterprising Mexicans near the cenote built hotels. However, there are no pools in these hotels, Ik Kil replaces them.

05. Ik Kil can be visited on three levels. These pictures are from the ground level. Roots fall down to the water in which the fish swim around the tourists and absolutely do not fear them.

06. This cenote is also called "Sacred Blue Cenote". It is a perfectly round cenote with rich vegetation and waterfalls. The falls, however,  are artificial - it is done by the owner to give more "charm" to this place.

07. This is a view from a window cut through the wall. Stalactites that hang over people are also artificial. In some cenotes on the peninsula, there are natural stalactites, but in Ik Kil, they are unnatural.
08. The water in this cenote is crystal clear, with a turquoise color, and with a very pleasant temperature: 25.5 ° C.
09. There are different types of cenotes - those that are completely underground, those that are on the ground level as a lakes or ponds, or those that are open wells, like this one.

10. In this cenote, only swimming is permitted, but some are open for diving and underwater exploration. It is said that some of the underwater caves stretch for hundreds of kilometers.

11. If you look closely you can see black dots in the water. They are fish - cenote inhabitants.

12. Maya, who preferred to settle near places such as Ik Kil, used cenotes not only as a source of fresh water. Bottomless pits, in the view of the Maya, are seen as the gateways to the underworld.

13.  According to the beliefs of the Maya, getting the dead to the afterlife was not easy. The soul of the deceased had to go down steep steps to the underworld. There, the soul will face serious tests, after passing them, the soul went to the intersection of four rivers - the blood, white, yellow and black. The last led to Xibalba - the underworld. A special dog-guide helps the soul in these wanderings. What is most surprising is that the tunnels to the other world are not just a nice metaphor, but a very real man-made structure. Such tunnels are common around the Yucatan, and one of them can be seen in this photo.
You can pass through the mystique of this corridor down to the lower level of the cenote.

14. New owners of the hotel near the cenote, in order to attract tourists, say that Mayan kings and  their courtesans "reveled in direct contact with nature, with the help of meditation and relaxation" in Ik Kil.
Most likely this is fiction - cenotes - were places of worship to the Maya. But one can always dream while swimming in the cenote.

View Cenote Ik Kil in a larger map

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