Visit one of the 7 Wonders of the World 

In a tour to the Maya world 

It’s not every day that you get to visit one of the Wonders of the World… and after this year of pandemic-captivity, we all have a need to visit those incredible places in the world, but routine life has not given us the opportunity to do so.  

Most often, we must settle for photos and dreams of our next trip. Luckily, we can already visit some of the most impressive places again!  

360° Xafety at Xichén Deluxe tour 

The Xcaret Expeditions tour, Xichén Deluxe, adapted to the new normal with all the safety measures that Grupo Xcaret manifests in its 360° Xafety protocol. I must say that I felt completely protected at all times, as the guides and the driver are very attentive to the use of a mask, antibacterial gel, and constant disinfection of our backpacks and shoes. This way, they make sure to decrease the likelihood of infection. 

Before the crisis we lived last year, this tour was carried out without restrictions and it was planned so that visitors could enjoy it “as they should”. However, it has had to adapt so that the possibility of virus spreading is reduced to the maximum. Clearly, the operation has been modified and some activities are a little different.  

If you’re asking, how do we live the Xichén Deluxe tour with the new normal? Here I’ll tell you! 

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The pickup, in my case, was in Puerto Cancun at 7:30 am. When you’re booking your tour, you can name the hotel where you are staying and the operation team will handle your pick up at your hotel or at a nearby point. Before boarding, they checked my temperature, gave me an antibacterial gel, and disinfected me from head to toe.

Once on the bus, the guide was in charge of giving us the instructions that we had to know in order to adapt as safety measures, which are basically the following: 

  • Wear a mask all the time (except to eat or drink)          
  • Correct use of antibacterial gel every time we board the truck          
  • Disinfection of your backpack and shoes every time we board the truck          

These are three simple rules that, without a doubt, gave me the feeling of security, hygiene, and tranquility.  

In addition to the precautionary measures that are applied, such as the use of a mask, use of antibacterial gel, and disinfection, logistics details such as the bus spaces were added. There are well-marked spaces so that the distance from other visitors is adequate. In addition, the groups per guide are smaller, which helps to have more personalized attention from the guide and also reduces the probability of infection. 

Another precautionary measure is that you will have a refillable water bottle for your exclusive use. Another beautiful souvenir!  

The most comfortable part of this Xichén Deluxe tour is the included breakfast, water and beverages such as soft drinks (or even beer), very comfortable armchairs (extra point here because we will spend some time in this bus), and detailed explanation from the guides who, at all times, are willing to provide more information about the Maya culture or their lifestyle. It’s so much fun chatting with them! 

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The first stop: Chichén Itzá archaeological site 

Chichén Itzá never loses its magic. This was not the first time I had visited the famous Yucatan archaeological site, but there was certainly a special excitement to return after it had been closed for over a year. I wanted to see The Castle and The Observatory with my own eyes. If this year taught us something, it’s that everything can change without prior notice overnight, and I’m not going to lose these moments that make me feel alive. Therefore, I was excited to return to this magical place.

And, just as I thought, I was surprised once more, just as I was the first time, I visited this impressive Maya temple. I can’t stop thinking about how it must’ve looked hundreds of years ago, in full swing, surrounded by faithful followers of Kukulcán with stunning colors decorating the stone structure and basting with exquisite scents the festive atmosphere that is lived there. A real show!

Safe entrance into the site 

When trying to enter the site, I can see that, like me, many of us yearn to see the world again with our own eyes. The wait was about 10 minutes. Less than I expected and nothing that we are not used to when visiting a tourist site, but a bit strange, because surely, we are no longer used to seeing so many people in the same place.

 

While I wait to enter and rediscover the roads and buildings of this city, I see that INAH (National Institute of Anthropology and History), in charge of protecting the archaeological sites of Mexico, has invested in equipment and training of personnel so that the measures of the pandemic, such as measuring temperature, use of antibacterial gel and mask are present all the time. 

I would like to give you an extra tip: as part of the safety measures, the tour does not have the same duration as before. The activities have been shortened, so I recommend you pay attention to the guide’s instructions and not linger so much in some buildings. Make an effort to walk a little faster so you can discover the entire archaeological site. 

The guided tour through Chichén Itzá  

Once youre inside the archeological site, Xichén tour guides separate us in small groups and the most interesting part beginslistening about the Maya culture.    

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I never get tired of hearing about Maya religion, history, politics, culture, and society. But something that definitely catches me is their detailed study of the movement of stars. Each time I am surprised to discover that “El Castillo” (The Castle), the main building of Chichén Itzá has four sides with 91 steps each, and one that leads to the upper temple, resulting in 365 steps. That is one for each day of the year. Impressive!

Also, seeing the head Kukulcán on the base of the building and imagining how it looks at equinox or solstice is completely amazing. These people had incredible powers of observation!

Not for nothing does this impressive city have its own observatory dedicated to stargazing. That is how important it was to observe the starry sky for the Maya, who, in one of their main cities, built an impressive building exclusively to expand their knowledge of the stars. 

What sparked their creativity in the first place? We may never know, but it is a question that motivates me to continue learning about this impressive culture. 

Visiting this archaeological site is a unique experience. For a moment you forget that you are in one of the 7 Wonders of the World and you focus on knowing more, on nourishing your brain with information from the ancestors that inhabited this region and it is very exciting to know the reasons and the techniques they used and took advantage of to build this imposing city. 

Without a doubt, you will be able to connect with the traditions and culture that abound in this place. Feel free to ask your guide all of your questions, for sure he will answer and help you dig deeper into your curiosity to make your visit as fruitful as possible.

Get to know this Mayan city through a love leyend: The Ancient Leyend of Chichen Itzá

The second stop: Xcajum cenote 

A tour to a Maya archaeological site requires a stop at a cenote. Xichén Deluxe tour makes a one-hour stop at Xcajum cenote and this is one of the best ideas they could have had. 

It is an open cenote with a circular shape and is found several meters below the surface of the earth. Therefore, you have to descend a few steps to enter and admire its emerald-colored water up close. 

When you visit a cenote, you generally expect to see crystal clear or turquoise blue water, however, the emerald-colored water generates a special attraction for me. I know that this is not “dirty” water. Its color comes as a result of being an open cenote. Sunlight enters the water and allows marine plants to do photosynthesis, which gives a particular color to the water. Therefore, we may say that this water is alive!

Xcajum was perfect for us to meet the incredible nature of cenotes. We can appreciate the geological conditions of the rock, many plants, “toh” birds, emerald water, and, in addition, you can take a short ride in a small boat and get to know it better from the inside. Unfortunately, the logistics of the tour do not allow you to swim, however, touring it in a small boat and visiting it is well worth it.

Important: the logistics of the tour do not allow us to swim, but you can take a boat ride through its water. It’s absolutely worth it.

Once you finish your tour of the cenote, you can visit the handicrafts area, where you can see the colors of Mexican art and take home a nice souvenir. From a keychain, magnet, or something bigger like masks, hats, dreamcatchers, and much more. Don’t forget to make a quick stop there!

The third stop: a meal at the Magical Town of Valladolid 

The last stop on this tour through the Maya world is one of the most important Magical Towns: Valladolid. It is a very picturesque little town. Its houses and buildings were paused in time. Its cathedral has a unique “shine”. It attracts the eye immediately and captures your senses just by observing it.

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Walking around the center of this little town is very appealing. You will be able to know a little bit of the daily life of Valladolid, eat a typical marquesita and discover some nearby places, but the main objective of this stop is to eat. And not just any food… we will eat the best of Yucatecan cuisine in one of the best places to do it: La Casona de Valladolid.

Assisted buffet in La Casona de Valladolid 

As its name implies, it is an old and historic house that was repurposed to work as a restaurant. Its gastronomic offer is international; however, they focus on Yucatecan cuisine: cochinita pibil, panuchos, salbutes, lime soup, tenderloins, and everything for which it is considered intangible heritage. Are you going to miss it?

I recommend you order a lime soup and try at least a little of each of the Yucatecan dishes. Don’t miss the cochinita pibil with purple onion and a touch of habanero. You’ll love it!

The precautionary measures at La Casona de Valladolid are stricter. It is an assisted buffet, which means that you can fill your dish as many times as you want, but there will be someone from the house staff serving you the food that you choose. A simple and effective solution to maintain safety and hygiene. 

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After finishing your meal, take a walk through La Casona and find wonderful places such as the handicraft store where you will find typical products from various regions of the country. You will also find a beautiful fountain where you can take some photos for your Instagram and tell your friends and family back at home.

  

Goodbye, Chiché Itzá 

Chichén Itzá always has a message, a lesson, or just beautiful moments to remember. This was no exception. I ate deliciously, I saw “El Castillo” again, I learned more about the ancient Maya, I discovered a little more of Valladolid and I visited a beautiful cenote. Can I ask for something else in a single day? 

If you have any questions about the safety measures that Xcaret Expeditions took, do not hesitate to leave them in the comments. I will gladly answer.