Aktun Chen is an affordable excursion that promises an unforgettable adventure for the entire family.
Nestled in the heart of the jungle between Playa del Carmen and Tulum, this lush, nature park offers treetop vistas, glittering caves, and underwater fun.
Visitors can choose from among three, main, activities: zip lining, cave exploration, and swimming in an underground cenote. Arrive before midday and enjoy a combination of all three excursions for an action-packed day.
Upon arrival and check-in, an English-speaking tour guide will escort you to your activities. Along the way, catch a glimpse of a baby ocelot, white-tailed deer, agouti and other animals native to the Riviera Maya.
Here’s what you can expect with each activity or expect the unexpected.
Spread your wings like a tropical bird and soar among the trees during your zip line adventure.
Aktun Chen spans 400 acres of dense forest brimming with rare species of flora and fauna. Peek between a canopy of trees at the land below as the adrenaline of flight pulses through your veins.
Climb a spiral staircase to a platform that is 25 feet above the ground. There, your instructor will securely attach your harness to a steel cable. Push off the platform, lean back, and enjoy the ride.
Experience the rush of flight as you glide among the trees or break to slow down and savor the journey. Listen for the spirit of the Maya rustling through the leaves. Or let out a wild whoop as you swing through the air.
Ziplining is considered an extreme sport. Aktun Chen takes its zip line safety standards very seriously.
Before embarking on your zipline adventure, you’ll be outfitted with a sturdy, leather harness, helmet, and protective gloves. A qualified, English-speaking instructor will give a short, training lesson on zipline basics and give you an opportunity to ask questions.
If you’re a little nervous about heights, the patient staff will guide you through the process and even allow you to try the zip line for kids to get the feel of it. In all cases, follow your instructor’s signals to ensure a thrilling, safe, trip.
Burrow beneath the earth by touring one of the oldest and largest dry caves in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo.
The Aktun Chen grotto has been named third among National Geographic’s list of “Top Ten Underground Walks of the World.”
Formed about 5 million years ago, this cave was once part of a large, coral reef. When the sea levels decreased during the Ice Age, the coral reef rose to the surface and created a limestone platform in the Yucatan Peninsula. A thick, forested jungle grew over the reef when it died. The soil remained highly porous and sensitive to acid, which came in the form of tropical rainfall.
Over the centuries, these conditions created stunning formations of stalactites and stalagmites, which form the basis of the Aktun Chen grotto.
Stalagmites grow upward and are a mound of mineral deposits that have precipitated from water dripping onto the floor of a cave. Stalagmites have rounded or flattened tips.
You can spend hours exploring Aktun Chen’s caves and wondering what mysteries of nature and time lie within. It is recommended; however, you go on a guided tour, which ends with a bit of magic below.
Aktun Chen means “cenote inside a cave” in Mayan.
The nature preserve’s underground river and cenote are the heart of this eco-journey. Thought to be formed around 30,000 years ago, Aktun Chen’s cenote was created after the Ice Age when tropical rains pelted the region and produced underground rivers comprised of fresh rainwater and salty groundwater.
Cenotes are considered sacred to the Mayan people, who believed they were a portal to the underworld of the gods. Mayan shaman gathered at the cenote to conjure the spirits thought to be living at the bottom of the cenote, pray, and ask for a special blessing on their village.
Cenote water is often transparent, which makes the Aktun Chen cenote perfect for snorkeling and swimming for beginning, advanced, and non-swimmers. The maximum depth is 10 feet, but most areas are shallow enough to explore with ease its rock cascades, underwater tunnels, and arches rising from the water.
Go on a playful exploration. Dive from the rocks. Swim around the grotto. Watch bats fly overhead or peer into the water to observe rare fish in the shallow waters. Underwater diving is prohibited because the water isn’t deep enough for a scuba submersion. If you bring your camera and equipment, however, you’re free to take underwater photographs to capture and share your memories.
Rest and refresh at Aktun Chen’s full-service restaurant if you get hungry and thirsty between adventures.
Enjoy traditional, Mexican dishes like chicken or beef fajitas, quesadillas, beef or chicken tacos, and grilled fish or go for a tried-and-true cheeseburger. Most meals are under $10 USD. Savor a snack or cold beverage while drinking in the sights and sounds of the forest and its inhabitants, including parrots, wild boars, and spider monkeys.
Ready for an affordable eco-journey for the whole family? Lets start with a place to stay.