A few weekends ago I was lucky enough to experience a true hidden gem in the middle of the Riviera Maya. Rio Secreto, literally means secret river, and that's exactly what it was. It's located in the midst of caves, pools of fresh water, and decorated with stalactites and stalagmites. I headed over to Rio Secreto with the social media gang from Cancun. We arrived to the check-in area where we watched an informational video and got ready for our adventure.
After the video we took a van through the depths of the jungle (no really), it was a rocky and rough dirt road all the way in! Finally we arrived and we got our equipment on and put our stuff in the lockers. We were given a wet suit, water shoes, a helmet with a light, and a life jacket.
Next we began a walk through the jungle where we stopped at an open area between the trees and met with a Mayan shaman. He performed a short ceremony with copal incense and said a few words in Mayan. These ceremonies are done before each tour enters the underground area of Río Secreto in order to keep the land sacred, as it is the only source of fresh water for the surrounding villages. It is actually a way to ask permission from the aluxes, a type of Mayan protection spirit, to enter the caves.
After permission was granted we walked a little further to where the caves begin. We had a quick meeting with our guide who told us to be careful walking inside the caves, look out for rocks and ledges, and not to touch any stalactites and stalagmites.
Finally we entered the amazing underground world of Rio Secreto and let me tell you it was amazing! We remained quiet for most of the trip and let our guide do the talking. He explained to us how the nature reserve came to be and about the beautiful and exotic elements of nature that it is home to. Limestone left behind from remains of coral, mollusks, and other reef organisms eventually met the air of the mountains after slow movements in the Earth over time. Caves were then formed with the help of frequent and heavy rain along with soluble, soft limestone.
We were amazed by the natural formations of stalactites, stalagmites, columns, and even helictites. Imagine if Mother Earth had a canvas, paints, and a brush, I think Rio Secreto would be her masterpiece.
It was a nice workout hiking our way through the caves and swimming through the fresh water. We were constantly being cautious not to trip on anything while keeping our senses alert to take in all the beauty around us.
At one point our guide stopped us and had us turn off our helmet lights. He shined his flashlight up into the ceiling and exposed bats in their natural habitats sleeping.
At another point in the cave there was a clear pool of water when the flashlight was shone just right, you could see the reflection of the ceiling on the water. It left us all speechless. It was by far my favorite part of the tour.
Venturing through the caves and cenotes of Rio Secreto was peaceful, intriguing, and breathtaking. When you enter a part of nature that most people haven't even seen or touched, and you are engulfed in its beauty, there is nothing you can do besides breathe, and take it all in.
Visiting Rio Secreto was a nice alternative to the adrenaline filled excursions that are common around Cancun. I enjoyed the calmness and tranquility. It easily reminded me of what a beautiful place I live in.
Rio Secreto is committed to keeping these caves and underground rivers as protected and natural as they can. I could tell our guide was very passionate about his work and conserving these sacred areas of the Riviera Maya. I would definitely recommend helping them spread this powerful message about our environment and the beauty of mother nature on your next trip to Cancun or the Riviera Maya.
Here's a few more jaw dropping photos: