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Jungle Boogy: Aventuras Mayas' Extreme Eco-Adventures in Riviera MayaJune 4, 2011 By: Katie Tandy
Travel Agent magazine recently headed into the jungled fray of Riviera Maya with Aventuras Maya for an eco-adventure that will leave even veteran explorers short of breath - between the 60-foot-high zip-line course through the forest, to the glowing mystery of the underground cenotes (water-filled caves) - every escapade is equal parts excitement and beauty, a rare treat.
We decided to choose the most arduous and eclectic of the different tours - Tulum Extreme: Over the Edge seemed to fit the bill.
This rugged offering features a four-part day - it's not for the faint of heart. Underneath the strong sultry sun of Mexico, we first headed into the heart of the infamous Mayan culture - the sweeping ruins of Tulum - where enormous iguanas wander among the tumbling stones, columns and stairs.
The first hour is dedicated to a fascinating lecture (led by a certified guide) on the rise and fall of the Mayan people and the significance of the surrounding structures, but the next hour however is yours to fill with more strolling or swimming.
The ruins lie on the edge of the turquoise sea - follow the spindly staircase down to the white sands and lapping waves for a brief jaunt in the cool water before heading back to the rumbling white van.
Don't take your suit off just yet however - the (rather chilly) cenotes are next.
Framed by thousands of stalactites the underground cave system is impossibly serene and decidedly dramatic, echoing the mystical legends that surround these cenotes with a kind of supernatural glow that emanates from the tiny holes in the ceilings.
Don your snorkel, mask and buoyant vest and cruise around the shadowy nooks and crannies of the caves making sure to watch your head and of course, keeping your eyes peeled for the fish that thrive in the freshwater pools.
(And don't worry, there is an on-hand professional photographer that documents all your too-wet-for-the-camera excursions.)
Following the snorkeling, we grabbed our harnesses, hard-hat and gloves and suited up for four different zip-lines that sway you above the jungle canopy at 66 feet.
The view is incredible; the slender trees and darting birds stretch as far as the eye can see as you fly along, your legs dangling high above the forest floor.
And if you didn't get enough heart-pounding height on the last adventure, you're in luck because the next stop is rappelling - climb 60 feet of swaying wooden stairs into the sky and walk backwards towards the edge.
Step off the platform and become suspended, swinging in the air - but don't worry, you control the speed at which you descend - choose between a steady slow drop and stomach-turning plunge.
In addition to the inclusion of all entrance fees, snorkeling and climbing equipment, a professional guide and insurance (gulp!) there is also a delicious (and authentic) Mexican lunch included at the end of the excursion - help yourself to steaming hot, spicy chicken, rice and fresh salsa with tortilla chips.
Visit AdventurasMayas.com to learn more about the other tours (including snorkeling excursions with exquisite Caribbean coral reefs.)