Xcaret Park, A Gem for Families Visiting Mexico

On our second day at the Cancun Travel Mart Mexico Summit 2008, Cancun’s Convention & Visitor’s Bureau took us and other media to Xcaret to spend a day at what is arguably Mexico’s best attraction for families, Xcaret Park. Located about a little more than an hour drive from Cancun, this park offers a little of everything from Jaguar Island, where guests can view the park’s jaguars and pumas, to the Regional Wildlife Breeding Farm, an area filled with hundreds of birds and different species of regional wildlife, some of which are in danger of extinction.

Your clients can experience other wonders such as the Coral Reef Aquarium followed by a display of some of the largest sea turtles they’ll ever see. Clients can also catch a glimpse of some parrots and pink flamingos as soon as they enter, can opt to swim with the dolphins and, at night, can watch the Xcaret Mexico Spectacular, in which 300 performers display as much authentic Mexican traditions as they can cram into two hours.

We watched the show last night and couldn’t get enough, from the live music to an exhibition game of the traditional Mayan Ball Game, or “Pok ta’ pok,” a mythical sport that goes back 1,000 years. Our favorite part of the show, however, was the Burning Ball Game, or “Uarhukua,” a game that could be best compared to hockey except there’s no ice and the puck is substituted with a rubber ball. Oh, by the way, the rubber ball is then set on fire and the competitors takes turns whaling the fire ball with a wooden stick past the other team’s goal.

Coming in at a close second was the Papantla Flyers, four men of Totonacan blood who descend from the top of the “Universal Tree,” located about 30 meters from the ground. The park also offers an array of interactivity including snorkeling and the Underground Rivers, which we took part in. This is highly recommended and perfectly safe. We strapped on a bright pink life jacket, the only uncool part of the venture, and let the light current drift us all the way to the other side, spending primarily the entire swim underground. You can choose to rent a snorkel and mask and admire the river floor or you can do what we did and simply float the entire way on your back, getting lost in the limestone formations on the ceiling and the fossil encrusted walls.

There are 1,500 staff members at the park and guides are available all day for tours. It is open from about 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week. The evening show, however, begins at 7 p.m. and concludes at 9 p.m. Basic admission is $69 a person. The Xcaret Plus admission is $99 a person and includes lunch and access to exclusive areas and the Basica Con Cena admission is $114 and includes lunch, dinner and exclusive access. We recommend agents call Viangy Rocha, media relations for Xcaret, at 011-52-984-871-5200. Xcaret Park is offered through most major U.S. tour operators selling Mexico.

Visit www.xcaret.com.

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