Yucatan a peninsula East of Mexico receives many tourist. To protect the ecosystem, preserve culture and authenticity of the local communities, inhabitants are focussing more on sustainable tourism.
In 2017 I travelled to Mexico and visited Yucatan to explore the possibilities of sustainable traveling in the region.
I gathered some tips for you;
Visit the reverse of Sian Ka'an with consists of a long stretch of coral reef and slumps and for an other part of countryside with Savanne and Jungle. And when you visit this reserve let the guides from Community Tours Sian Ka'an lead you.
Community Tours is a cooperative run by local inhabitants of Maya communities in and around the reserve of Sian Ka'an.
The cooperative only organise small size tours, so when I join them I am the only one with one other family. They show us how a local Maya inhabitant cuts a tree with a machete and gathers the white liquid in a pot to cook so it becomes chewing gum. We meet a Sjamaan who performs a ritual with herbs of copa (tree bark) and guarantees us that we are protected during our trip.
My guide José tells me they want to keep the groups that join the tours small. "We rather have a small group of people throughly interested in our culture that the big mass!"
José teaches me about trees, the Chen-Chen and the Chaca who are brothers, Jose tells me "they always stand together." Which apparently comes in handy since the Chen-Chen has poisoning liquids and the Chaca has an antidote for the burning sensations.
When in Yucatan you can't mis the Cenotes. These are caves or natural pits formed by limestone that exposes groundwater underneath. These cenotes are connected and they form one enormous natural water network under the peninsula of Yucatan.
The cenotes in and around the beautiful Valladolid are much more quiet and you can find sweet fish all kinds of reptiles and birds right in the middle of the cute town Valladolid.
In Valladolid do stay in Meson del Marques: mesondelmarques.com
or even more quiet and eco-friendly La Flor Casa Boutique: laflorcasaboutique.com
Tulum is the hippie and yogi heaven of Yucatan alongside the coast.
Here I recommend you to stay in the treehouses of Papaya Playa. papayaplayaproject.com
This is a luxury oases next to white beach with some yogis and kite-surfers.
Papaya Playa is as eco-friendly and socially responsible as it can get. The lodges and treehouses are all build in cooperation with inhabitants of Maya communities from the surroundings. The guesthouses are build on stilts, this way there is no disturbance of the movement of all the organisms in the soil (earth). These ideas come from the Maya people who know that this region Rivera Maya used to exist out of pure jungle, clear and clean water and the most beautiful coral. These conditions are being tread by the huge construction projects for massive resorts.
Papaya Playa has a vegetable and herb-garden and works with local shamans who clean your energie with medicinal plats.
And perhaps the biggest must see: the Maya temples.
It is challenging not to end up in massive groups of tourists while visiting one of the amazing temples.
I went to explore the temple: Ek' Balam, north of Valladolid which is far less visited than Chichen Itza
and I visited Cobá, south-east of Valladolid with a cooperative of again mostly Maya people: Altournative
alltournative.com. The older generations of Maya communities that work around these temples mostly speak little Spanish or English, but they speak Maya and their children still learn Maya next to Spanish at school.
As long as tourist do choose the smaller scale organizations led by of local Mayan people to travel more responsible, their culture and language will be preserved more.
And if you want to do water-sports and perhaps even paddle board yoga in a cenote: Find my friend Sander of Aloha paddle club alohapaddleclub.com
There are plenty of other small scale organizations who can guide you to travel responsible in Yucatan. This is just a small selection.
You can find more general information on the website of visit Mexico.