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One of the most awesome experiences you can have! We have done this three times over the past few years and continue to be thrilled. Only issue was with the tour company that could not get our pick up time and place established correctly. With a bunch of back and forth emails it was finally resolved but sure left a sour taste in our mouths for this particular tour company!
I am living in Playa Del Carmen for a year. I booked a tour to the Rio Secreto Nature Reserve. My first disappointment was that they would not pick me up from my condo. Nevertheless I decided to go anyway because I could go to the closest hotel. However, I wasn't told that when the hotel is in Playacar I could not pass the entrance gate to the compound. I had to stand in the rain outside the gate and get the drivers attention.
Okay after arriving at the reserve we took a shower, suited up in a wetsuit, shoes, helmet and walking cane. In order to get to the cave we needed to run through the forest as fast as we could to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. Of course that was impossible. My legs back and arms got bitten the worse. The same thing happened going back. The luncheon food was very bland and not enough variety of food.
Except for those unforeseen thing the tour was incredible.
FABULOUS tour. They provide you with everything you need - helmets with lights on them, wetsuits, water shoes, life jackets, and walking sticks. The underground caves are INCREDIBLE! You must hike a little bit to get to the caves, and also hike and walk in sometimes waist deep water and sometimes you have to swim a short distance. We are a couple in our mid sixties and it was easy to do. Certainly not over-challenging such that anyone should worry that they are not fit enough to do this tour. At the end of the tour they give you a shot of some kind of native alcoholic beverage and then a full Mexican buffet under a pavilion. AWESOME experience. I would highly recommend it. I agree with others that it is a shame what they charge for photos ridiculous amounts of money and they don't let you take any cameras or cellphones into the caves.
We booked our tour on the TripAdvisor website via Viator. The company that ultimately set everything up was Cancun Vacation Experts. We had a small group tour- only 9 people. Everything went as smooth as can be.
Rio Secreto is a natural wonder that we felt privileged to explore. It is a National Geographic site that, to date, only about 80,000 people have had the opportunity to visit. It has only been open to the public since 2008.
Our guide to the underground world was Alondra and although our tour was bilingual, she did an excellent job switching back and forth between the two languages. She was knowledgeable, witty and very informative.
From the main entrance, you will board a small motor bus and drive 7K through the jungle to the staging area. You will need to wear/ bring a bathing suit and you will lock up all of your belongings as you may NOT bring cameras, cell phones or any other belongings except for perscription eyewear, that might get wet or lost.
You will be required to shower off in cool water any lotions, creams, etc., so as not to pollute the fresh water. So don't bother with bugs pray or sunscreen...there are no mosquito's or sun in the caves. Don't worry about photos. They have professional photographer's that accompany you among the journey.
Next you will be provided with non-skid water shoes, wet suit, life vest and helmets with headlamps.
This is not a tour for very young children, people with mobility, balance, joint issues or if you are claustrophobic you do go through some tight spots or afraid of the dark. You must also be comfortable in water over your head.
After you suit up, you will walk a few feet into the jungle where a Big Man like a Shaman will perform a Mayan blessing for your safe journey to/from the underworld. Greet him with Maloob Kin or Good Sun in Mayan.
The caves are vast, about 17 miles long with only about 24 of them being fully explored. You will descend about 45 feet underground where you will enter the Secret River. The water temperature is between 69 and 72 degrees F. There are 4 different entrances/routes that can be explored. Our route was called Joy, so if you come back you can have a different experience. The tour takes about 2 hours or so even though you will only have travelled about 1/2 miles.
The tour ends with ceremonial toast of Xtabentun, a Mayan spirit that is made with honey and anise and is about 20 alcohol. A buffet lunch was also included with our tour, with choices of salads, lime soup, pulled chicken, rice, pasta, beans and various hot sauce's all served under a palapa. Lunch was very good.
As with any attraction, photo packages are available for purchase, we chose the 135 package as it included a USB drive with about 50 photos and you get a choice of any 4 souvenirs including t-shirts, hats and the Xtabentun the Mayan hooch.
This was an absolutely amazing experience and definitely unique.
The cave is not as pretty as it looks in the pictures but it was still a fun adventure. There arent any safety mesaures inside of the cave so you just step where u can and its sometimes deep, slippery, and you can lose your balance easily. I would definitely not recommend for children under 12.
I highly recommend this tour. It was a totally different experience. At the site we were given a wet suit , reef shoes, life jacket, a helmet with a headlight and were told to shower off any sunscreen on our body before we entered a cave that led to Rio Secreto. Some people decided not wear a wet suit and regretted it later as the water is quite cool. Also I recommend taking one of the walking sticks they offer as the ground in the river is very uneven. I had difficulty seeing in the caves so if you have a waterproof flashlight bring it along. The guide lent me his and it made a huge difference as I could clearly see the rock formations and stalagmites throughout the cave. We floated down the river on our backs led by our very helpful guide. This was a wonderful experience.
The trip was well worth the time and . Our guide was a trained archaeologist and a very good presenter.
They issue water shoes, wet suit, life jacket and lighted helmet. You are offered a walking stick. I took the stick and am glad that I did because you may not touch anything once inside the caves and the underground is uneven. It is a worthwhile experience.
We cannot express how memorable this tour was. As for natural wonders, it exceeds any other cave or underground experience because it is untouched by human hands. If we were in the same location 2000 years ago, the sights would be the very same. No man made lights, paths or modifications. What an opportunity not available anywhere else in the world.
It was very safe and the guide was excellent. A must see!
The Tour was Great, very impressive Cave and you can have the experience to explore inside the Cave and the underground river. The tour guide Gonzo very kind, friendly, and knowledgeable. But the negative part here in this tour, that is very bad, I was so disappointed and that is why I can not give 5 Star. The reason is that this tour have a Monopoly about the restriction of use smartphone camera, digital camera and Go Pro camera prohibiting to use those cameras because they want to control the photography. Only the Staff photographer assigned to each group is allowed to take pictures because at the end of the tour they want to sale the pictures for a very expensive price that it is not worth it. I try to get the pictures for a reasonable price, but they declined to negotiate with us, selling one picture for 25 US dollars and the cheaper package for 99.00 US dollars that I did not buy, so I couldn't have that amazing memory with that experience in the cave. So if you are looking to get pictures, get ready to be disappointed and frustrated about this tour and spend a lot of money regarding their monopoly of those pictures. My recommendation do not buy the pictures, take that experience in you memory and mind. Do not give that pleasure to that Company.