We Found a Mayan Jungle in Our Backyard

After the long travel day, we decided to keep our first day at the Sandos Caracol resort low-key. Just sniff around the large site and get our bearings.

There’s a covered bridge leading to La Laguna International Buffet and we quite enjoyed spying turtles in the Tortuga Lagoon. The water is an interesting milky green/blue colour, due to the mineral content, and is actually very healthy and well maintained.

15X Tortuga Lagoon

I absolutely adored the buffet’s pancake syrups made with condensed milk. My favs were the vanilla and the caramel. I’ll confess right here and right now to having two pancakes, one with each flavour, along with fresh fruit, chocolate milk and a cup of coffee—every single morning for ten days straight. Hey, I was on vacation and it was so yummy. (I don’t wonder why I came home three pounds heavier, although the daily Piña Coladas may have played a part as well.)

We spotted this little guy on our morning walk. Iguanas have the ability to grow back their tails if they lose them, although, as you can see, they don’t look quite the same afterwards.

19 Iguana

Our room’s cute towel art.

23 Towel art

We’ve stayed at lots of Mexican resorts over the years. Some had gorgeous ocean views and some had interesting pool views. None has ever had the view we had at this resort.

From the front window.

25 View from front window

From the balcony.

27 View from balcony

Good thing we weren’t there for the view. We didn’t exactly have a balcony to relax on either. It was almost comically small, but we didn’t have the time or inclination to sit out there anyway.

26 Our tiny deck

The trail to our room.

31 Trail to our room

This gorgeous big thing is called an Alamo tree and we passed it several times a day on ‘our’ trail.

30 Alamo tree

Just so you don’t get the mistaken idea there was nothing but jungle, we also saw plenty of this.

42 Sandos Caracol 43 Sandos Caracol 44 Sandos Caracol

And this.

45 Sandos Caracol 46 Sandos Caracol 47 Sandos Caracol

After lunch, we set out on a safari to find monkeys. Sadly, we weren’t successful, but we did see lots of interesting sights along the way.

The mangrove trail.

48 Mangroves

Swimming in the Mayan River is one of the free activities available at the resort. This young man is Alex, a hard-working resort employee.

49 Alex, Mayan River

The main entrance into the Xcalacoco jungle.

50 Main Xcalacoco trail entrance

The Sandos uses natural resources as much as possible, including constructing their railings with fallen trees.

51 Mangrove trail

In the picture above, a small yellow and black rectangular box can be seen on the left. This is bug repellent and it’s there for a good reason. From reading reviews, I knew of the potential for bugs (and the inevitable bites) beforehand, so we came prepared with Off, which I used liberally. I still got bit quite a lot. Even Hubby, who’s usually immune, had several bites. Here’s the strange part, although the bites looked swollen and red, but they didn’t bother us at all. They didn’t hurt and they didn’t itch. They just looked ugly. I spoke with some other guests who said the same thing about their bites. Totally bizarre.

As we wandered along the trail, we happened across this beautiful little cenote, which I learned later is called Cenote Sacrado.

54 Cenote Sacrado 57 Temazcal path

We followed the stone steps up to a small circular hut. A woman in Mayan garb was warming rocks in an outdoor oven and it smelled heavenly. Because we didn’t know her purpose and didn’t want to intrude on a private ceremony, we didn’t take any pictures and just carried on. I’ll explain about this hut in a future post.

This is a Chachalaca. It’s a good-sized bird, and its name comes from its loud and frequent call.

60 Chachalaca

The trail ended at the Plaza del Sol (Sun Plaza). This is the site of the Fire of Life ceremony.

62 Plaza del Sol 64 Plaza del Sol 65 Plaza del Sol 66 Plaza del Sol


67 Banana tree

The Plaza del Sol is also home to many iguanas, which love to sun themselves on the stone benches circling the plaza.

68 Iguana 69 Iguana

Fattest iguana ever.

72 Iguana

From the plaza, we searched out some of the small Mayan ruins.

84 Mayan Ruins 85 Mayan Ruins

This is the Sacred Kapok Tree, also known as the Ceiba (pronounced say-bah). I have stories to share about it another time.

87 Sacred Kapok Tree (Ceiba)

A small Mayan temple near the Ceiba tree.

88 Small Mayan temple

The limestone path, itself, is extraordinary. Coral and shells can be found embedded in the rock.

90 Limestone path

There’s also interesting imitation Mayan stonework and statues sprinkled throughout the area.

91 Sandos Caracol 92 Sandos Caracol 93 Sandos Caracol 94 Sandos Caracol 95 Sandos Caracol

A pigeon might just be a pigeon, but I liked the brown and cream colours on these two chubby guys who hung out at the snack bar.

102 Pigeon 103 Pigeons

It was almost jarring to be reminded, even though the temps were in the upper 20s Celsius, we weren’t even two weeks past Christmas. This tree, one of many, was set up in the Las Mascaras Mexican Buffet.

104 Las Mascaras Mexican Buffet

And just outside that buffet was a tequila station where Hubby enjoyed experimenting with the many different flavours. He thought the strawberry tequila was ‘damn good’.

105 Las Mascaras Mexican Buffet

We enjoyed a lovely full moon that evening.

106 Full moon

A Mariachi band entertained in the theatre before the main show.

109 Mariachi Band

One of several things that impressed me about this resort was the quality of their evening shows. I’ve already touched on the three Xcalacoco ceremonies, which are beyond excellent, but all their shows were first class. This Monday night was Superheroes. Aimed at the much younger crowd, it still managed to impress the adults with its pyrotechnics and professional polish. (My apologies for the poor quality photos)

111 Super Hero Show 117 Super Hero Show

Not surprising, Spiderman was an excellent acrobat.

114 Super Hero Show

But who knew the superheroes were such good dancers?

122 Super Hero Show 124 Super Hero Show 125 Super Hero Show

After the show, we wandered to the front of the resort, drawn by the lights.

127 Lobby Entrance 128 Lobby Entrance

And so our first day, full of new sights and experiences, came to a close. Jump to next week’s post here. Start from the beginning here.


3 thoughts on “We Found a Mayan Jungle in Our Backyard

  1. Pingback: The Xcalacoco Experience | joyceholmes

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