Explore a natural world wonder in one of the most beautiful underground river systems in Quintana Roo. Rio Secreto is a beautifully preserved cenote in the Yucatan Peninsula full of dramatic stalactites and stalagmites. This mysterious system of caves and underground rivers can be explored with a professional guide on a great adventure in the dark.
In this blog you can read all about my experience taking the Rio Secreto Classic Tour and a review of the tour company.
To me it was one of those Riviera Maya tours I had seen on the side of the road while on my Yucatan Peninsula road trip. The picture of people swimming in an underground river and climbing through caves got my attention. It seemed like a really cool adventure so I wanted to see the Rio Secreto, translated as The Secret River, with my own eyes and fixed myself a tour to this underground river.
Rio Secreto Classic Tour
The tour itself is not that spectacular long, it lasts about 1 to 1,5 hours, but it is full of adrenaline. There is a briefing before you slowly descent into the underground cave system where a guide will explain you everything about how this geological wonder has been formed. You will be caving the whole time until you see daylight again at the end of the tour. Lunch is included afterwards.
The Classic Tour is available 7 days a week at 9:00, 10:00, 11:00, 12:00 and 13:00. The Rio Secreto entrance fee for the Classic Tour is $89.00 USD for adults and $44.50 USD for children up to 12 years old.
Rio Secreto Wild Tour
There is also a Rio Secreto Wild Tour that lets you explore more of the Rio Secreto Nature Reserve. On top of the Rio Secreto Classic Tour you will also go hiking and mountain biking. Definitely something for the adventurers! As the tour is only recently available most of the places you are going to visit are just opened to the public. The tour takes all day and 3 meals are included (breakfast, lunch and dinner).
The entrance fee for the Rio Secreto Wild Tour is $119.00 USD and runs from Monday to Friday at 9:00am.
I would have loved joining the full day Rio Secreto Wild Tour, but unfortunately due to time restrictions I had to opt for the classic tour.
My Rio Secreto Classic tour experience
We took the last tour of the day around 13.00 but in fact we left way later, only around 14.00 or so. At first we were checked in and got our bracelets before we moved on to an area where they showed us an intro video of what Rio Secreto exactly was. In this video the briefing already started as we were introduced to the fragility of this underground eco system.
Eco tourism is something that is very important in such an environment, so we learned what was possible and not. Good job Rio Secreto for constantly reminding your guests about this unique eco system and how not to damage the Rio Secreto underground river system.
Basically for the Rio Secreto underground tour you only need to bring your swimwear! Everything else is not allowed to bring on the tour.
After the video briefing we were transported in a van towards the jungle base camp where we met our guide. We were introduced to each other and he showed us the lockers and changing rooms. There are enough lockers and they are pretty big to fit in at least two backpacks.
As you are not allowed to bring anything this is where you will leave all your stuff. You only need to wear water shoes, a helmet with a flashlight and a swim vest. You can choose to wear a wetsuit or not. All the equipment is provided and included in the price.
I would totally recommend you to wear a wetsuit. You are entering an underground river, this is not a jacuzzi! I was even cold while snorkeling in Puerto Morelos.The snorkeling was great, but I was freezing my ass off. Read all about it in my Puerto Morelos travel blog.
But then you understand that I was pretty cold even with a wetsuit on. The Rio Secreto water temperature is around 24 degrees.
Bringing any kind of camera is not allowed, but there is a photographer traveling with you on the tour constantly taking photos. I instructed him a little here and there of what kind of photos I wanted and he was all fine with it. Very relaxed guy! After the Rio Secreto tour you are able to buy a photo package.
Our tour guide was also a nice guy, but his English skills were a little funny. It seemed like he was doing his first tour in English and came across rather nervous. His explanation was ok, but he couldn’t really tell it with passion in English. I bet in Spanish he would do a ton better.
We were with 10 English speaking people in our group and he didn’t really get through to us.
Before we entered we went through the standard Maya ritual where all people going into the underground cave system are being blessed against the dark forces of the underground.
I did a much more extensive Maya ceremony on my Tulum and Coba Tour, see my experiences in the link.
Once we went down we stepped into the underground river and wandered through the cave system. Sometimes the water was only 10cm (4 Inch) deep, other times you had to swim a little.
The times we had to swim were actually very few as most of the time I was able to walk through the water. Swimming in an underground cave seems a little dodgy, but don’t worry in fact this water is crystal clear. You are wearing a head torch on your helmet which should you make more comfortable.
Once we were inside wandering through the Rio Secreto cave system no one of our group seemed the be too impressed by the darkness. The tour is very easy and accessible for all ages and levels of fitness. Sometimes you have to crawl a little or step over things, but the friendly guide and photographer were always there with a helping hand.
At a point were there was a bigger body of water we were all floating in a circle and we turned off our torches for like a minute. It was pitch black, like not even a single sign of light anywhere.
The underground scenery is absolutely spectacular and this definitely is one of those Riviera Maya tours worth doing. So skip the beautiful beaches of Cancun for half a day and book a half day trip to Rio Secreto, honestly one of the best Cancun tours I did.
I have never really seen such a preserved landscape and I hope Rio Secreto will do its utmost best to keep this Nature Reserve as it is and doesn’t fall for the big dollar signs. I must say there were several briefings before we even went inside the caves and how it took millions of years to create these geological highlights.
Having endless shapes of stalactites and stalagmites constantly around you never ceased to amaze me. It is just hard to phantom how long it took for our beautiful planet to create all this. A stalagmite or stalagtite grows in most circumstance less than 1mm (0.04 inch) per year! Now you can imagine that this has been formed over millions of years. Simply unbelievable.
If you are looking to witness something extraordinary while on you Riviera Maya holiday then get yourself a tour and marvel at one the many amazing secrets our beautiful planet holds.
In total I traveled through Yucatan Peninsula for more than 2 months and wrote more than 20 travel blogs about traveling in Yucatan and Quintana Roo. In my destination Mexico section you will find plenty of information about the most beautiful places to visit in Yucatan: Rio Lagartos, Isla Holbox, Merida, Valladolid, Costa Maya, Cozumel and more.
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Thanks for keeping up with the adventures of Traveltomtom.