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  • Writer's pictureNatalie Dimmock

Donkeys, cenotes and the Yellow City

On 23rd January, we had a leisurely wake up in our Airbnb in Campeche, loaded the car up and started our journey towards 'the Yellow City' of Izamal. I had done quite a lot of research on the internet as I knew I wanted to take Tiger swimming in cenotes somewhere but wasn't quite sure where was best. I actually stumbled upon the Santa Barbara Cenotes which are in Homún via another family travel blog and it really could not have been better for Tiger and headed straight there from Campeche which was a 3 hour (218km) drive arriving around 2.30pm.

When you arrive you buy your ticket, pick up your life jackets and take a pony and trap train to the cenotes. It was just so exciting as we sped along. The first cenote we attempted descending into was Cenote Caskabel, a closed cenote with a depth of 10m. However, it is quite something trying to convince an almost 3 year old to descend into the unknown and essentially we were too scared to go into the next one.

Luckily, we swiftly met another family and went into the the second Cenote Chacksikín with them. This one was a 'semi open' cenote so perhaps a little less scary with a depth of 16m. With Tiger dressed in her flotation suit we had bought in Cancun, we went down the steps and let the fish nibble on our toes before having a little swim.

We had finally gained our confidence by the third Cenote Xooch’. This one was completely open and with a depth of 40m. It had life guards around it and truly was spectacular. We rounded our visit off with a lovely Mexican dinner with the family we had met before leaving at about 5.30pm when it was getting dark to drive the final hour (49km) to Izamal.

We found our little Airbnb 'Casa Ifan' with its famous 'instagrammable' front door really easily with parking right outside. It was huge and we had only booked in for one night for £53.81. I slept in the master bedroom and we put the cot in the bathroom. The next morning we explored our yard complete with hammock and even a swimming pool (we didn't go in but it would be lovely in the summer) and walked into Izamal town.

With a little over 15,000 people, Izamal is known in the Yucatán as the Yellow City (most of its buildings are painted yellow) and the City of Hills (that actually are the remains of ancient temple pyramids). It was a very authentic Mexican experience, we stopped for a quick brunch and saw the meat market and old fashioned arcade before succumbing to the full on tourist experience with a trot around in a horse and carriage, which sent Tiger off to sleep!

After checking out around noon, we drove onwards to Tulum, 3 hours drive and 214km arriving at around 4pm. Although our stop in Izamal felt quite fast, we saw everything we needed to and in actual fact one night was just perfect for us in the end.

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