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Alejandro Alvarez scootering through Yax Chen


Located south of Tulum, Yax Chen consists of a number of large cenotes connected by cave passages, forming a chain heading inland.  Situated in an area of mangroves and savannah, its water is high in nutrients and tannic acid.  Although this reduces visibility and makes diving more challenging, it supports a wide range of wildlife, including large tarpon, crocodiles and turtles, making Yax Chen a fascinating place to dive even though it is largely lacking in speleothems.  Yax Chen was originally explored by Kay and Gary Walten and their team from Proyecto Yax Chen during an impressive series of dives over a number of years, and we are grateful to them for making their survey data and dive logs available to assist us in our exploration.

During the summer, our efforts had focused on repairing some deteriorated lines in the open water area, to reach the far upstream end of the known system, where further progress had been thwarted by silty and unstable conditions.  In a series of dives during December, a breakthrough was made, with team members laying and surveying 2,015m of line, reaching a distance of 5,544m from their entry point and connecting four new cenotes:  "Tannin", "Sunhole", "Ma'Kai" (Mayan for "No Fish"), and "Naach" (Mayan for "Far").  Approximately 100m long, Cenote Naach is clearly visible on aerial photographs but had previously eluded connection.

Click HERE to view photos from the Yax Chen Project.

January 2004