Are you looking for new places to visit and different activities for your next trip? How about something that enables you to meet the Maya and see nature and is that is both rewarding and helps rural communities? Go off the beaten track and discover Maya Ka’an, the Mexican Caribbean’s new eco destination.
Maya Ka’an is a large expanse of central Quintana Roo comprising the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve and the traditional Mayan heartland known as the Zona Maya. Formed by the districts of Tulum, Felipe Carrillo Puerto and José María Morelos, the Zona Maya is rich in natural beauty, history and traditions.
Venturing deep into the jungle in search of rare wildlife; floating along clear canals winding through the mangroves; learning about Mayan culture and witnessing timeless rituals, all these and more unforgettable experiences await visitors in Maya Ka’an.
Visitors can choose between 16 different tours and activities taking them to nine different communities in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve and the Zona Maya. Community tour operators handle all the trips, thus ensuring that local inhabitants benefit economically from tourism. With a master plan developed by Cancun-based conservation NGO Amigos de Sian Ka’an and funding from the Inter-American Development Bank, the goal of the Maya Ka’an project is to protect Sian Ka’an, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and bring sustainable development to villages in the Zona Maya.
The core Maya Ka’an communities are Punta Allen, Muyil and Punta Herrero in Sian Ka’an, historic Felipe Carrillo Puerto, capital of the Zona Maya, and the villages of Tihosuco (site of the Caste War Museum), Señor, Chunhuhub, Noh Bec and Kantemó. They all offer a range of activities, some showcasing natural attractions and others a glimpse of Mayan life.
Visitors can watch craftsmen at work and traditional cuisine being prepared, find out about Mayan farming techniques and the healing properties of native plants used since time immemorial. They’ll listen enthralled as village elders tell stories of the mythical Xtabay, a temptress part woman, part serpent who lures men to their doom deep in the jungle, and the Aluxes, the mischievous guardian spirits of the corn fields.
On trips to Muyil, Felipe Carrillo Puerto and Tihosuco, visitors learn about the history of the area from the days of the ancient Maya to the coming of the Spaniards and a series of Mayan uprisings against social injustice that culminated in the Caste War in 1847. In Muyil they’ll also see men climb the chicozapote tree armed with machetes that they use to slash the bark and harvest the white sap as it begins to weep from the deep v-shaped gashes on the trunk. This latex-like resin is collected, heated and processed to make bricks of chicle, the natural source of chewing gum.
Eco adventures include bird watching safaris in search of more than 350 species of birds that make their home in the jungle and wetlands, nature walks, boat and kayak trips through the lagoons and bays of Sian Ka’an and visits to the famous Cave of the Hanging Snakes in Kantemó.
Ask your Concierge about Maya Ka’an and the community tours available.