Sunday, February 16, 2014

Cenote Dos Ojos & Bat Cave, Mexico

Entrance of Cenote Dos Ojos
Cenote is a sinkhole resulting from the collapse of limestone that exposes groundwater underneath. Dos Ojos means "Two Eyes". The Cenote Dos Ojos is located in between Playa Del Carmen and Tulum, on the Caribbean coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. This place was discovered in 1980 when a helicopter checking for fire in the area and found 2 holes on the ground which looks like 2 eyes. That's how the name derived. The Cenote Dos Ojos underwater cave system was featured in a 2002 IMAX film, Journey Into Amazing Caves, and the 2006 BBC/Discovery Channel series of Planet Earth. It is a cave system with connections to sea water and tidal influence in the cenotes. The visibility was exceptionally clear as a result of rainwater filtered through limestone.  It was my first fresh water dive and first cavern dive.

Transport to go diving
The dive group is small, there were only 2 other divers (father and son) and a Dive Master. We were given a torch, briefed about rules, safety and signal. The first dive was a Cavern dive, in PADI term if you dive within the light zone of a cave–the area near the cave entrance where natural light is always visible–you're in the cavern zone. From the dive center, we were loaded onto a tractor like transportation, the DM drove us to the dive site which is about 20 mins away. The opening of the cave is big, surrounded with forest and limestone rocks. The water was crystal clear! There was a platform where we suit up, we join a few other snorkelers who were swimming at the entrance of the cave.

Cenote Dos Ojos

When I first jump into the water, the fresh water immediately woke me up, lucky to have my hood with me as it gets colder in the dive. This is my first fresh water dive, I sank like a rock. We were told to kept our buoyancy in control. A few minutes at the beginning to get our buoyancy right and pre-check then off we go. We were told to follow the DM in line one after another and stay close (at least visible distance) Since I was more experience, I was asked to be at the back of the line. The DM is very careful to ensure that I was always visible by him. The initial feeling was a bit scary when I see nothing but my little torch light, after my eyes got adjusted to the dimness, I started to notice the bottom, wall and the surrounding stalactite and stalagmite. We surfaced a few time into different cavern, the maximum depth was only around 8m. The lights penetrating into the huge cavern made it looks so surreal.

Bats in Bat Cave
After our lunch break, we dove the Bat Cave. Another adjacent cave from the Dos Ojos. The Bat cave is usually dove second so as to gain confidence during the first dive. There were smaller swim thru and part of the cave goes without light. As the name suggest the Bat Cave is home to many bats that roost high up among the stalactites covering the ceiling which  we can see when we surfaced in the Bat Cave. 

The experienced was unforgettable, there are so many cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula if only I had the time and money to explore. Each one is unique in it's own way. Perhaps one day I will make it back.

Travel date :  17 Jun 2011
Travel route : On my round the world trip, by bus from Mexico City to Playa Del Carmen
Accommodation and diving : Couchsurfing, Hidden Worlds Cenotes Dive Center
Type of diving : Cavern, Cave
Water temperature : 21-25°C
Best time to dive : Diveable year round

 -F-> Flight -B-> Boat -C-> Car

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