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How to Visit Rio Secreto

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The Rio Secreto Nature Reserve was certainly one of the coolest things I saw during my three months living in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

In this enchanting reserve there are five cave complexes that are brimming with incredible stalactites in the thousands and an energizing underground river.

Visiting Rio Secreto is a great activity for families with kids who want to take a day excursion away from Playa del Carmen, Tulum, or Cancun. However, even if you do not have children with you, you might feel like one while exploring this underground river.

In this short guide as well as a review on Rio Secreto, I’ll go through the reasons why you should put this tour to the list of activities to take in Mexico I’ll also give you the specifics you’ll need to have an unforgettable trip.

How do you define Rio Secreto?

Rio Secreto is an underground natural reserve situated on Mexico’s Riviera Maya near Playa del Carmen. It is made up of five caverns which form part of the vast underground cave network.

I’m going to admit that prior visiting Rio Secreto, I was a little confused about what exactly it was. It’s located along the highway right next to Xcaret and Xplor, which made me think it was an Adventure theme park similar to the other two.

The caves are filled with some truly dramatic mineral formations and play host to a surprisingly variety of wildlife. While, in disclosure my tickets were provided at no cost by the park I would happily have purchased admission to experience this amazing and memorable experience.

How to Get To Rio Secreto

Visiting Rio Secreto can only be only through organized tours offered by reserve. The tours take you for a hike and swimming around 1 km through one cavern (meaning your visit is only a tiny taste of this huge reserve).

All tours of Rio Secreto start at the park’s entrance located just off the highway. You’ll watch a brief video while you wait for the group to arrive , and then take a liability release (that’s the reason you should ensure that you have travel insurance coverage for Mexico). Then , you and new pals will be piled into a van to take the seven-kilometer trip deep into the jungle . the caves are.

When you arrive you’ll meet with your guide and get a short introduction about the parks. There are free lockers that allow you to change and put away your things (you will need only your swimming suit), and you’ll receive a set of footwear for water, a mandatory life jacket and the helmet comes with a light. Wet suits are available too, but they are not required (I have a wet suit but, looking back, did not think it was required). It is also mandatory to wash off after showering to avoid the introduction of foreign substances into the reserve’s delicate water.

Then, your guide will accompany you to witness a brief traditional Mayan ceremony before entering the cave.

The actual tour of the cave itself only lasts about one hour however, it’s an hour which you’ll not soon forget.

The tours are only done in smaller groups of 10 or which you won’t encounter other groups during your excursion, which means that you truly feel a connection to the cave.

Your guide will inform you the history of this cave. They will explain the process by which the minerals magically formed, and will show you wildlife during your journey (there are two kinds of fish in the river, in addition to numerous bats, insects and other species).

For the majority of your time, you’ll stroll through dry cave bedrock and most of the time you’ll either be swimming or wading in the underground river. The water is refreshing cool temperature however, you’ll get familiar with it in no time!

My favorite part of the tour, though?

At one point the guide instructed us to switch off our headlamps and sit in complete darkness for a short time to relax and enjoy the haunting sounds that emanated from the cave. This is quite the sensory experience!

When the tour is over, you’ll have a chance to shower and change up and then enjoy a breakfast before heading back to the main entrance.

Tips for visiting Rio Secreto

If you’re thinking of making your own trip towards Rio Secreto, here’s a few things you should know:

How to Get to Rio Secreto? From Playa del Carmen, Cancun, or Tulum

Rio Secreto lies just a couple of miles to the south of Playa del Carmen. The reserve offers transportation-inclusive packages that will pick you up and drop you off in your hotel anywhere in the Riviera Maya for about $129 per adult. This is roughly $50 more than the cost of a standard ticket with no transportation ($79 $79 per individual).

It is also possible to arrange your own transport from the park. Every taxi driver knows the location. A taxi ride one-way from Cancun or Tulum can cost anywhere from 500 to 1,000 pesos ($25-$50 USD) subject to your negotiation capabilities, while a taxi ride to Playa del Carmen should be between 120 and 150 Pesos ($6-$8 US dollars).

It is also possible to take collectivos (public minibuses) from these towns, which will cost only a couple dollars for each person, at the most.

What Do You Need to Bring What Should You Bring Rio Secreto?

Honestly, the only thing you’ll need for your trip of Rio Secreto is your swimsuit as well as a towel or two for drying. Everything else is provided to you. There’s no need to worry about sunscreen or insect repellent since there’s not a sun, and you’d need to wash them off anyway.

There’s no need to carry around camera, because there’s just not enough light inside the caves for taking photographs (don’t worry: each group is accompanied by a photographer and you can buy their images afterward).

What Else is There to Do in Rio Secreto?

The entry fee for the basic package includes the tour of the cave and underground river , as previously described. While this is the main highlight of the reserve, the park does also offer an “Admission Plus” package which begins at $99 for adults. This includes a light show in the underground that is projected onto rock formations. While I didn’t see it myself, it certainly sounds spectacular!

Other Tips for Touring Rio Secreto

Here’s a few additional ideas to help you get the most of your visit in Rio Secreto:

Be sure to use the restroom before going into the caves, since there’s nowhere to go inside, and the guides are very serious in ensuring that the underground is not polluted with the waste of your body.
You have the option to wear a wetsuit I did so and I’d suggest giving it a pass. I found it a bit hot and smelly, and frankly the water wasn’t sufficient cold to warrant one.
There is no way to carry cameras with you however, there’s an experienced photographer who will take lots of awesome pictures of your group. They will then make them available for sale to you via the USB following the tour.