If you’ve been to the Riviera Maya, you’ve surely been or at least seen one of the Xcaret parks. Xcaret is the parent company that has several all-inclusive hotels, Xcaret Park, Xoximico, Xenotes, Xavage, Xel-Há, Xenses, Xplor, and also tours. Each of his projects offers something new and an adventure for visitors. Xcaret has been working hard on a new project called Reserva Xibalba.
This reserve is located in the center of the peninsula and will offer an incredible experience to those who visit it. We recently had the opportunity to visit and see how the project is progressing. The Xcaret team hopes to convey the scale of the project and what it will look like when it opens in 2022.
What is the concept of Reserva Xibalba?
To understand what the Xibalba Reserve is, it is useful to know a little about the Mayans and how they saw the universe. For the Mayans there were three levels, heaven, earth and the underworld. The exact translation of Xibalba is difficult to describe, but it refers to the Mayan underworld or the place where souls live. In the Yucatan Peninsula there are cenotes and caves that were thought to be the entrances to the underworld. Caves and cenotes with artifacts and ceremonial elements have been found throughout the peninsula that indicate that the Mayans used these spaces for rituals and a place to connect with the dead.
The Xibalba Reserve is mostly carved into the stone base of the peninsula, connecting cenotes and creating an underworld for visitors. Throughout the reserve you will see symbols of the Mayans, such as the ceiba tree, which was sacred to the Mayans. This reserve is not only to see beautiful cenotes, it is much more!
What does Xibalba look like now?
This is a sample of the new Xcaret project Reserva Xibalba. Today it looks like this. It is important to note that the project is not finished, but you can take a look at the scale of the project. The video is a bit long, but there was a lot to show in this incredible reserve.
To begin with, this is called a reserve because it is more of a nature reserve. Xcaret’s other parks, although many include the natural world, are more adventure-oriented and an attraction for tourists to have fun. Xibalba is a large property that Xcaret is working to preserve and reserve. Although there will be activities in Xibalba, you will be immersed in the natural world of the Mayan jungle. You will also get an authentic look at Mayan culture, especially with a visit to the Mayan village in Xibalba.
Visitors will be in small groups and visit all areas of a circuit. Along the way there are activities like swimming, canoeing, zip-lining, and snorkeling.
Where is Xibalba?
Reserva Xibalba is near Valladolid in the center of the Yucatan Peninsula. The small community closest to Xibalba is Yalcoba. From Playa del Carmen the Xibalba reserve is approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes. From Cancun it is 2 1/2 hours.
What is the future of the Xibalba Reserve?
We are going to make some predictions even before this new project is open. The project’s cut size means that Xcaret is investing in the future of tourism in the Yucatan Peninsula. For decades, the tourism jackpot has been the Riviera Maya with its turquoise waters and grand all-inclusive hotels. An effort is now being made to attract part of this tourism to the interior of the peninsula and beyond. We have seen the rise in popularity of places like Valladolid, a small town close to the Xibalaba Reserve site.
Location of Reserva Xibalaba
Valladolid is a small colonial city in the center of the peninsula. It has grown by leaps and bounds since 2010. More hotels, restaurants and cenotes have opened that once only had a few visits per day, they are famous on Instagram and people search for them. Valladolid has also benefited greatly from the labeling of Chichén Itzá as a new wonder of the world. Many bus tours from the Riviera Maya pass through Valladolid (including two from Xcaret, the Xichen Clásico and the Xichen Deluxe). While tourism is a much bigger part of Valladolid now, it’s still not enough to hold the reserve, so how are they going to get enough tourists to visit?
The Xibalba Reserve is about 2 to 2.5 hours from the Riviera Maya. This means that bus tours can go during the day to experience this new project. While tourists have many options for parks and attractions, this new project will attract some visitors just because of how interesting this reserve looks. But, we do not believe that there are so many people who, for example, visit the other parks in Xcaret.
Relation with Mayan Train project and beyond
If you have not yet heard of the Mayan Train (Mayan Train) project, you are missing information about a gigantic new infrastructure project for the entire Yucatan Peninsula that will connect five states. The Mayan Train will connect the Riviera Maya with historical sites such as Chichén Itzá and colonial cities such as Mérida, Izamal, Campeche and others. The train will attract more tourists to the interior of the peninsula and will create new transport connections and axes, which will make exploration a little easier. We still don’t think this will attract enough people to visit Xibalba, but there could be another project in the future. If Xcaret built a hotel in the center of the peninsula, it would be a base to explore Chichén Itzá (with one of its tours), visit the Xibalbá Reserve and perhaps a combination with its other hotels in the Riviera Maya.
Xcaret’s first hotel, Xcaret México Hotel, has been a BIG success. Not only does it capture the imagination of the magic of Xcaret Park, it has created a new standard for all-inclusive hotels. We believe that Xcaret hotels are among the best in all of Mexico and are also quite competitive around the world. Creating another hotel in the future to expand the Xcaret network would be a smart move and would be in line with the current projects that are being developed. We’ll see what the future holds, in the meantime, you can look forward to visiting the Xibalba Reserve, which is scheduled to open in June 2022.