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Special Issue, September 2011
7 UNFORGETABLE ADVENTURES THE MACAW EDEN
Special September 2011
TRAVEL TIMES Xcaret world
5 Presentation 6 7 unforgettable adventures 12 La Cava Xcaret 14 Trip to Ría Lagartos and Ek Balam 17 Souvenirs for everyone 18 The Macaw Eden 21 Life at an Henequen Hacienda 22 Hacienda Tres Ríos 24 Calendar
Everything you want to know about Xel-Ha can be found at
Magazine published by OVCET S.R.L. de C.V. Editorial Director: Luis Rubén Cuevas González Bravo Co Editor: Raquel I. Membrila Graphic Corrector: Rafael Sánchez Style Corrector: Horacio Rodríguez Collaborators: Rebeca López García and Vicente Ochoa INFORMATION: Tel. (55) 1742-1604. Edited at Cairo 164, Clavería, México D.F. www.traveltimes.com.mx/secretos email@example.com
Xel Ha, “where the water is born”,
is considered a Natural Wonder of Mexico and this is well deserved. Its 70 hectares have 5 different ecosystems and in its spectacular cove, which measures 14 hectares, you can practice snorkeling, swimming or simply interact with the wilderness. This year there have been more than 650 thousand visitors, it is administered by Experiencias Xcaret since 1994.
When I first visited Xcaret over seventeen years ago I was in awe at the project´s originality. It was a different theme park in which entertainment followed the lines of eco tourism and culture. Almost two decades later Xcaret has grown in an orderly manner and now, as a group “Experiencias Xcaret” offers four entertainment options for tourists to enjoy during their visit:
Xplor is the latest park to
open and it is an adventure tourism paradise. Here, you can find fun at any level: crossing the sky on the zip-line, exploring the Mayan jungle in a small amphibian vehicle or travelling subterranean rivers while swimming or on a rustic bamboo raft. As a result of the new excursions, which the group itself organizes to Chichén Itzá, Ría Lagartos, Ek Balam, Tulum or Valladolid, the fun does not stop here. These excursions allow visitors to experience expressions of the Mayan culture and the region´s nature with excellent and well known service. Those of us who witnessed the birth and evolution of the Xcaret concept should be proud of this company which is 100% Mexican. Those of us immersed in the tourism journalism world are committed to letting all of its attractions be known. It is only in this manner that due recognition can be given to sustainable tourism in Mexico. This is why we present this special edition of Travel Times “Expressions of the Xcaret World” to you. It is more than merely a guide to the parks, we present you with reports and news of the best which “Experiencias Xcaret” has to offer with the intention that you learn its characteristics and novelties. We hope this will inspire you to visit this paradise of world tourism. Are you a nature lover? Remember that those who read on line magazines, save trees. . Enjoy this edition!
Xcaret Park is the pioneer of sustainable tourism in México, it opened its doors in 1990 at the edge of the Caribbean Sea. Today, it receives over a million visitors a year on its 80 hectares. Although it is true that its Mayan name means “small cove”, the place now offers so many attractions for children and adults alike, that you actually need more than one day to visit them all.
Luis Rubén Cuevas
Due to its nature, the Yucatán peninsula presents a great amount of underground rivers and water deposits. One safe way to penetrate this world is swimming the rivers which Xcaret and Xplor offer their visitors. The currents allow you to move along with very little effort and you can enjoy the beauty of the experience thanks to the life jackets and visors which are provided.
The attractions which are offered by the parks at Experiencias Xcaret are quite diverse. There are activities for the young and the old and activities which are relaxing or vertiginous. Here we present seven options which are located at the three parks so that your appetite will be aroused.
An underwater excursion where the participants use the newest technology to come in contact with the area´s marine species such as gentle turtles, cat sharks and manta rays. Strangely enough, you don´t even need to know how to swim, a special diving suit is put into place which allows visibility and breathing. The adventurer reaches the sea base (some meters under the surface) and begins to walk in a safe circuit while holding on to a railing. There is special surveillance and the support of trained divers. This amazing experience is available at Xcaret and Xel-Ha.
Zip-line Xplor offers adrenaline lovers the best and safest zip-lines in Mexico. There are two different circuits with varying difﬁculty. The total length of both circuits is of 3.8 kilometers. The most challenging zip-line is 700 meters long and hangs 45 meters high. The design is quite enjoyable since you move at high speed over the tree tops and end the run in a refreshing splash into the river. It is important to mention that the traveler is secured to a harness with a double cable which guarantees your safety and stability. Piedra de Valor
At Xel-Ha all of the visitors can prove their bravery by jumping off a cliff. The peak is at a height of 5 meters. The adventurous soul must dive into the Xel-Ha river´s crystalline waters, which is 4 meters deep. The best way to do this is to walk to the edge and jump without giving it a second thought. The adrenaline and the splash offer a wonderful sensation to those who show their bravery. Are you up to the challenge?
If a regular spa is relaxing, at Xcaret and Xel-Ha it is even more so. Let yourself be pampered and leave the treatments in the hands of experts on the banks of lakes which are surrounded with vegetation where the murmur of nature´s sounds will invite you to relax. There are various treatments, from the traditional massages to the authentic Mayan bath where you will enjoy mud exfoliation, application of essential oils and a bath under a waterfall in complete privacy.
Xcaret México Espectacular
Your emotions will peak in the presence of this display. It is presented every night at the Teatro Tlachco (Tlachco Theater) and it is a trip through Mexican history and folklore. Over 300 artists characterized with costumes and make up take part in blocks which include the game of the ball, the fusion of the two worlds through the mixing of the races and Mexican dances such as the jarana yucateca, the jarabe tapatío as well as the peculiar old man dance from Michoacán. You will feel the essence of Mexico beneath your skin as you witness the live music and excellent choreography.
Animal lovers will need more time to enjoy the contact with animal species offered by Xcaret and Xel-Ha. Swimming with dolphins, cat sharks, manta rays and manatees are only some of the options which are offered. Adventurers will always be accompanied by park personnel or animal trainers while they are in contact, petting or having fun with these species. It is a great opportunity to meet new friends.
A DISPLAY OF MEXICAN ENOLOGY:
Gastronomy plays an important role at Xcaret. The creation of Vino de México Xcaret, where you can sample, taste and purchase wines from the best Mexican wineries, is proof of this.
Designed to please the most demanding palates and promote consumption, culture and history of Mexican wine, Vino de México Xcaret is dedicated to the senses. Here you will ﬁnd over 157 Mexican wine labels which, depending on their region, present unique taste, aroma and body characteristics. While visiting the Tour de Degustación de Vinos de México, those present will be a part of a great enological experience. The audience will enjoy this exquisite beverage as well as be able to admire a great collection of articles dedicated to its production and tasting. You will be surprised by the collection of curious bottle openers. The impressive wine cellar was built under the park´s main store by the architect Antonio Portillo, and had an investment of over ten million pesos. The cellar´s underground design allows for the wine´s best conservation due to the lighting, humidity and temperature conditions. The place is made up of three sections: The Sommelier´s Warehouse: Warehouse: Here the most exclusive objects are stored: the guard wines, a collection of Riddel glasses, large Cuban cigars and a small table which seats 10 with the purpose of private wine tastings.
The Regions Circular Room: Here you Room: will ﬁnd an exhibition niche of the museology of the process of wine elaboration. There is a second niche with the history of wine in Mexico beginning in the colonial era. Finally there are three more niches which contain all of the wine bottles organized by their geographic origin and history. Small winery production also has its space. Combination and Tasting Room: With Room: a capacity for 25 people, it is the place where the house sommelier explains the criteria for wine tasting as well as its secrets. Here, 5 national wines are tasted and combined with Mexican snacks prepared by the chef. It is a complete experience ﬁlled with tastes, aromas and colors. Do not miss out on this oasis of tranquility and give yourself a gastronomic pause during your day of activities at Xcaret. Cheers!
Ría Lagartos and Ek Balam
The quality of the services at Experiencias Xcaret can now be enjoyed beyond the Mayan Riviera as a result of a new excursion program. The organizers take care of every detail as we immerse ourselves in the search of history and natural wonders of the Mayan world. Our appointment is very early in the morning so we can take advantage of the full day.
A luxurious bus arrives at the hotel entrance on which we head to the northern area of the peninsula. After a three hour road trip during which we enjoy a spoken guide and an on board lunch, we arrive to Ría Lagartos, in Yucatán. The name Ría comes from it being an arm of the ocean which breaks into the land. As far as the word “Lagartos” it refers to the reptiles that inhabited the area in previous eras which numbered in the thousands (today there are very few).
Upon descending from the bus, we board a secure vessel. The owner takes us on a tour of the mangroves while he speaks to us of the local fauna: pelicans, eagles and the ﬂamingo community who have made this place their habitat. At a certain time of the year, the traveler can ﬁnd thousands of these long legged birds and the jungle will take on a pinkish glow when seen from afar. At the end of the Ría we ﬁnd “Las Coloradas”, a beautiful and colorful salt plant. You should
the year 300 A.C. until the arrival of the Spanish people. It is made up of 45 buildings among which the most signiﬁcant is the Acropolis, which is the largest structure. King Ukit Kan Le’k Tok’ tomb is located here, his eternal resting place is watched over by winged warriors which look very much like angels. There is also a ball game and two pyramids which are known as “gemelas” (twins). After this expedition we are quite hungry and the best way to satisfy this appetite is to visit the “La Casona” restaurant buffet, which is located in Valladolid. It is important to not forget to apply a mud mask which try the typical Yucatán food with its lime the locals claim will improve your skin. soup, cochinita pibil and the black stuffThe land trip continues to the nearby ar- ing. Almost at sunset and after getting to chaeological area of Ek Balam. This Mayan know a part of the great Mayan world, city, its name meaning “black jaguar”, rises we return to the hotel with the illusion that up deep in the jungle. It was inhabited since these unforgettable vacation never ends.
The most complete guide to your Xcaret adventure is located at
Souvenirs for everyone
Shopping is of course a part of a perfect vacation. Knowing this, Experiencias Xcaret offers a complete line of products at their parks designed not only to improve your stay, but also to take home as souvenirs or a gift for your friends. These range from a stuffed toy to remember the experience, to jewelry, clothing or shoes and gastronomical pieces
elaborated by neighboring communities. If you forgot something for your personal care or an article for your camera, you will be able to purchase it inside the parks. Don´t forget all the products sold here adjust themselves to the ideas of ecological protection and fair trade. This beneﬁts nature, producers and their communities. This is the best shopping in the area.
Mac Macaw Eden
Recently Xcaret park received the Récord Guinness for most macaws born in captivity anywhere in the world. This is an excellent recognition for the hard preservation work for this species which is in danger of extinction.
This is the most representative bird of the tropical jungles. The Mayans call it “Mo” and traditionally the macaw is the guardian of the jungle. A long time ago, large ﬂocks ﬂew across the sky of what is now the Mayan Riviera. Today the species has been largely reduced by hunters and collectors who do not hesitate to obtain a sample of this beautiful and colored feathered bird which belongs to the psitacideous family.
It feeds on fruits, ﬂowers, nectar and seeds. The raising and reproduction of this species is not easy, but Xcaret is committed to this program by incrementing the number of birds so that they can then be released and thrive in the wild. One difﬁculty for reproduction in captivity is that male and female specimens are the same. Biologists have been able to pair up the birds thanks to a procedure that allows them to identify their sex. A curious fact
is that once one of these birds chooses a partner, they become monogamous and will stay with their partner until death. Macaws can breed as soon as they are three years of age. If empathy is reached in the couple, the female will lay up to three eggs which incubate for one month until the young hatch. Once out of the shell, Xcaret veterinarians begin a careful feeding and caring program so that the bird develops normally and can show off its beautiful plumage. You can meet these famous macaws at the aviary during your visit to Xcaret. You also have time to take pictures and interact with these and other charismatic birds at various points inside the park.
Life at a
Culture is also an important part of life at Xcaret and visitors can come into contact with it in various forms. One of these forms is this hacienda which invites us in the form of a colorful museum.
sils will be of interest to visitors. The same interest will be generated by the children´s room which is full of colorful toys with which ancestors let their imaginations ﬂy. There are also mannequins dressed in costumes typical of that era. The main bedroom has a balcony which overlooks a very unique chapel. The benches have wood work images of Mexican celebrities such as Pedro Infante, Cantinﬂas and Maria Felix. Additionally, the pulpit is in the center of a pool of water. A large wooden Virgen de Guadalupe makes up the altarpiece. Even more impressive is the carved face of a Christ on a cotton tree whish seems to bid the faithful farewell as they leave mass. This is one of the many chapels where weddings can be performed inside the park. The stables are located near the main house. Here there are beautiful horses that participate in equestrian shows and you will also ﬁnd a section with blue agaves where you can get to know the plant from which tequila is produced. This living museum is proof of the commitment which Xcaret has with the diffusion and preservation of tradition. There is no doubt that with Experiencias Xcaret (Xcaret Experiences), culture is also a part of the fun.
They called it “oro verde” (green gold), a natural ﬁber that comes from agave which is abundant in the Yucatan peninsula which is used for weaving. It was in the XIX century, when the peak of its production and trading brought riches to the Mayan zone, making the construction of many beautiful neoclassic haciendas possible. As a tribute to the era and with the intention of making the culture and traditions known, the Hacienda Henequenera opened at Xcaret. Visiting the hacienda
is like travelling in time, you don´t only learn the history and the henequen production process, but you can also visit the Museum of Popular Culture of Xcaret which is located inside and is without a doubt the best of its kind in Quintana Roo. The museum reconstructs life in that era with a great amount of pieces from private collections. The main house has bedrooms, salons and a kitchen where the uten21
Lodging options in the Mayan Riviera and Cancún are ample. On this occasion and after great research, we present you a resort which harmonizes with the conservation of nature.
What some years ago was only a theme park focused on ecology and conservation, is now an excellent hotel which rises before the colorful Mexican Caribbean. It is surrounded by three rivers and mangroves which allow the guest to be in contact with nature without having to sacriﬁce any comfort or modern convenience. The installations at the Tres Ríos exist in harmony with the natural surroundings. It is enough to look at the area where one of the rivers that crosses the property ends to have an image never to be forgotten. The blue shades of the pools make an attempt to fuse into the Caribbean, this is only stopped by the impressive beach where families relax or play games. En22
joying the Jacuzzis which contain water at different temperatures is a gratifying experience. Sports lovers can swim in a crystal water river which sprouts from a still pool of water or can cross the same river in kayak. Other attractions include the botanical garden and the bicycle ride in the middle of the jungle. The Resort offers an “all inclusive” plan of great quality since the prized chef, Oscar Orbe, is in charge of directing a team which prepares delicious plates and refreshing beverages. If possible, we recommend you reserve at “La Mesa del Chef” (the chefs table) private dinner at which you will spend time with the expert and learn his culinary secrets.
The guest rooms are extremely comfortable and functional; all of them have ﬂat screens and many of them have a jacuzzi on the terrace with an ocean view. The spirit can also relax at Tres Ríos with a so called sensory adventure. With and expert as a guide, guests cover their eyes and submerge themselves in a sea of aromas, tastes, textures and sounds which invite reﬂection. This is without a doubt the climax of the stay at this hotel with an ecological conscience. If your departure point for travelling to Xcaret is Cancún, a good option there is the Royal Sunset Hotel which is a sister hotel to Hacienda Tres Ríos. Learn more at www.haciendatresrios.com
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The parks at Experiencias Xcaret hold special events year round so that guests enjoy different activities. Many of these events are tied Mexican traditional festivities. We present the following calendar so that you can take these into consideration when planning your visit.
September 15th and 16th
Patriotic Festivities. Celebrate the “grito” and Mexico´s independence Xcaret style with horse riding skills practiced by “charros”. The entire park dresses in green, white and red and the Mexico Spectacular Show has to be experienced. Don´t forget to wear the national colors.
Honey is traditional food in the Mayan culture, there is even a bee god called Ah Muzen Cab. As a part of an ancestral ritual, this event takes place during full moon in June and December. It consists of placing the hive of a certain type of bee without a stinger in a capsule. The bee is called Melipona. The event takes place at the Xel-Ha park.
December 16th to 24th
The main tradition to celebrate the arrival of Christmas are the “posadas”. Xcaret joins this celebration with full setting and characteristic rituals. Live your December vacation deep in these festivities
There is nothing more Mexican tan the cult to the Virgen of Guadalupe. On the eve of her birthday, Xcaret venerates her with an event ﬁlled with song and music which takes place in the midst of thousand of decorative ﬂowers. The emotional event is called “Las Mañanitas de Flor y Canto” (The Birthday of Flower and Song).
For the gourmet world lovers, there is the Festival of the Mexican Wine. Dozens of national and international wineries are presented along with their most acknowledged labels. Wine tasting is included.
The “Travesía Sagrada Maya” (Sacred Mayan Trip) is a festivity that began in the Mayan era when the faithful travelled in canoe from the coast which is now Playa del Carmen to the temple of the fertility God Ixchel on the island of Cozumel. Today, 300 men in canoes make the same trip amongst music and ancestral rituals. An emotional experience. para la ocasión. Una emotiva experiencia.
Octubre 29 a Noviembre 2
One of the longest existing traditions in Mexico is worshiping the dead. To commemorate this, Xcaret presents the Festival of Life and Death where, sticking to traditions, rites are performed in memory of those who have passed. It is a spectacle full of color and memories.
November 19th and 20th
The most prepared athletes will rise in victory at the Xel-Ha Triathlon before the eyes of thousands of spectators. The three tests to overcome by the athletes in the shortest time possible are swimming, racing and cycling.
Learn more about the Xplor
x p l o r e .t r a v e l
adventure park, visit
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