What makes Mucuyché different from the other haciendas in the region is the presence of two cenotes. Cenote Carlota is a vast half open cave with 7-metre crystalline blue water and named after Marie Charlotte Amélie Augustine Victoire Clémentine Léopoldine, Princess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Duchess of Saxony and Empress of Mexico. Empress Carlota – Spanish spelling – was a guest at the hacienda and, told of the miraculous waters of the cenote, asked to bathe there and so anecdotally became the first non-Mayan person to enter the sacred pool.
To access the cenotes you first need to be fitted with a lifejacket and take a brief shower (in pristine cenote water), then climb down the stone steps, past the tiled image of the Empress to the cave entrance below. We arrived early at the hacienda to beat the rush, so remarkably we had the place pretty much to ourselves. Easing ourselves in, we bobbed away, marvelling at the cave walls, the incredible clear blue water and the tiny swallows flitting around us from their nests in the limestone.
We then bobbed on through a dark narrow channel and into a sparkling blue green pool surrounded by high jungle walls covered in monstera. We continued swimming along a narrow channel, passing under a cascade of water until finally emerging onto steps – then walking through a curved stone tunnel and into a dark cave.
Amazingly the Azul Maya cenote was only discovered around 17 years ago – with the channel connecting it to Cenote Carlota being constructed in recent years. From the surface there’s a deep well where you can see water far below, but incredibly, no-one thought there might be such a cenote beneath. Because what they ultimately discovered was remarkable. A pristine flooded cave system filled with impressive stalactites and stalacmites beneath a vast domed ceiling, pin-pricked with beams of natural light.
Swimming in this azure crystal-clear cenote was really incredible and an entirely other-worldly experience. We had a guide with us in the cenote who encouraged us to be silent and still and just take it all in. It was like floating in a Mayan universe with the gateway to the underworld beneath our feet and a galaxy of stars shimmering on the ceiling.