As the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico continues to welcome more and more visitors each year, the government of Quintana Roo has taken a step towards ensuring the safety of these tourists who come to admire its spectacular cenotes. Cenotes are natural pits or sinkholes resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater. These fascinating geological formations have been an integral part of Mayan culture since ancient times, used as both water sources and sacrificial offerings. The “Ruta de los Cenotes” (Route of the Cenotes) is easily accessible from Cancun or Playa del Carmen. Both organized tours and self-drive explorations are popular attractions among tourists visiting the Yucatán.
In order to protect these sites, Quintana Roo’s government has announced plans to regulate cenote tours and activities heading into 2023 more strictly. These measures include limits on how many people can enter and swim in each cenote at any given time, as well as restrictions on what kind of objects can be brought in. However, one of the most noteworthy rules is that visitors must always book their cenote tour with a qualified guide who will provide information about the local ecology and ensure everyone follows all regulations for swimming safely in these unique environments. Tour operators are required to obtain authorization from the Secretary of Environment before offering a tour with access to cenotes.
These new regulations come as a response to increasing concerns about overcrowding at some of Mexico’s most popular cenotes, where inexperienced swimmers often find themselves in dangerous situations or fail to respect local wildlife and vegetation. The goal is to keep everyone safe and also to help preserve these incredible sites for future generations by limiting human impact and promoting sustainable tourism practices.
The new rules come into effect in 2023, giving tour operators time to be added to the government’s list of approved guides and to adjust their services accordingly. In addition, tour guides will have access to special training courses offered by environmental authorities so they can better understand how best to manage groups while navigating this delicate ecosystem responsibly.
By regulating cenote tours near Cancun and other locations throughout Quintana Roo state, officials hope both locals and tourists alike will enjoy greater protection during their visits while also reducing negative impacts on this unique natural resource over time.