If you’ve been to the Riviera Maya, you’ve probably been or at least seen one of Xcaret’s parks. Xcaret is the parent company that has several all-inclusive hotels, Xcaret Park, Xoximico, Xenotes, Xavage, Xel-Ha, Xenses, Xplor, and also excursions. Each of its projects offers something new and an adventure for visitors. Xcaret has been working hard on a new project called Xibalba. This reservation is located in the center of the peninsula and will offer an amazing experience to those who visit it. We recently had the opportunity to visit it and see how the project progresses. We were impressed! We hope to convey the scale of the project and what it will be like when it opens in 2022.
What is the concept of Xibalba Reserve?
To understand what the Xibalba Reserve is, it is helpful to know a little about the Mayans and how they saw the universe. For the Maya there were three levels, the sky, the 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 along the peninsula indicating that the Maya used these spaces for rituals and a place to connect with the dead.
The Xibalba reserve is mostly cut at the stone base of the peninsula, connecting cenotes and creating an underworld for visitors. Throughout the reserve you can see Mayan symbols, such as the ceiba tree, which was sacred to the Maya. This reservation is not just for seeing some nice cenotes, it’s so much more!
How is Xibalba now?
Our video of what Xibalba’s reservation is like now
We went through this new Xcaret project to share with you what Xibalba is like now. It’s important to keep in mind that the project isn’t over, 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 you in this amazing reservation.
What will differentiate this Xcaret project from other parks?
To begin with, this is called a reserve because it is more of a nature reserve. The rest of Xcaret’s parks, although many include the natural world, are more adventure-oriented and an attraction for tourists to enjoy. Xibalba is a large property that Xcaret works 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 have an authentic look at Mayan culture, especially with a visit to the Mayan village of Xibalba.
Visitors will be in small groups and will visit all areas of a circuit. Along the way there are activities such as swimming, canoeing, zip-lining and snorkeling.
Where is Xibalba?
The Xibalba Reserve is located near Valladolid, in the center of the Yucatan Peninsula. The nearest small community to Xibalba is Yalcoba. From Playa del Carmen the Xibalba reservation is about 2 hours and 15 minutes. From Cancun it is 2 and a half hours.
What is the future of the Xibalba Reserve?
We will make some predictions even before this new project is open. The size of the project means that Xcaret is investing in the future of tourism in the Yucatan Peninsula. For decades, the tourist award has been the Riviera Maya with its turquoise waters and great all-inclusive hotels. There is now an effort to attract some of this tourism to the interior of the peninsula and beyond. We have seen an increase in the popularity of places like Valladolid, a small town near the site of the Xibalaba Reserve.
Valladolid is a small colonial town in the center of the peninsula. It has grown by leaps and bounds since 2010. More hotels, restaurants and cenotes have opened that were previously only visited by a few people a day, are famous on Instagram and people are looking for them. Valladolid has also benefited greatly from the labeling of Chichen Itza as a new wonder of the world. Many bus excursions from the Riviera Maya pass through Valladolid (including two from Xcaret, the Xichen Clasico and the Xichen Deluxe). Although tourism is a much larger part of Valladolid now, it is still not enough to maintain the reservation, so how will they get enough tourists to visit?
The Xibalba Reserve is located between 2 and 2.5 hours from the Riviera Maya. This means that bus tours can go during the day to experience this new project. Although tourists have many options for parks and attractions, this new project will generate some visits just for the interest of this reservation. But we don’t think it will get so many people, for example, to visit the other parks in Xcaret. So what else could be at stake?
The new Mayan Train project and beyond
If you haven’t heard of the Mayan Train project, you’re missing out on a new gigantic infrastructure project for the entire Yucatan Peninsula that will connect five states. The Mayan Train will connect the Riviera Maya with historic sites such as Chichen Itza and colonial cities such as Merida, Izamal, Campeche and others. The train will be more touristy in the interior of the peninsula and will create new connections and transport cores, making exploration a little easier. We still don’t think this will bring enough people to visit Xibalba, but there could be another project in the future. If Xcaret were to build a hotel in the center of the peninsula, it would be a base for exploring Chichen Itza (with one of its tours), visiting the Xibalba Reserve and perhaps a combination with its other hotels on the Riviera Maya.
Xcaret’s first hotel, Xcaret Mexico Hotel, has been a resounding success. Not only does it capture the imagination of the magic of Xcaret Park, but they have set a new standard for all-inclusive hotels. We believe that Xcaret hotels are some of the best in all of Mexico and are also quite competitive worldwide. Creating another hotel in the future to expand the Xcaret network would be a smart move in line with current projects being developed. We will see what the future holds, in the meantime, you can visit the Xibalba Reserve which is scheduled for June 2022.
Thanks for reading and watching our video on this new Xcaret project. If you are interested in more information about the other parks in Xcaret, we have articles and videos of each of them on our website. Just use the search box to search for anything you need for your next trip to the area.