Are you looking for an opportunity to travel responsibly and give back to the local communities when you travel? Do you want to discover the history of an area all whilst leaving the smallest impact on the environment?
During our time in Tulum, a small townin the Yucatan Peninsula on the Caribbean Coastline of Mexico, we wanted to explore the great ancient Mayan ruins, trek through the lush green jungle, swim in the incredible Cenotes that make up part of the largest underground river system in the world, connect with and support the local Mayan communities. We were able to do this all whilst leaving very little environmental impact and help contribute to local Mayan businesses.
We did this by going on an Eco – Tour. The company that we used is called Mexico Kan Tours– their main goal is to introduce sustainable tourism to tourists visiting the Yucatan Peninsula whilst ensuring you have an incredibly enriching and fun experience. This is something that is so important to us as long term travellers. We want to have as little impact on the environment but still visit incredible tourist destinations. We want to have the opportunity to help local communities instead of putting dollars in the pockets of international businesses.
Mayan Inland Expedition
So on our first day in Tulum – we embarked on the Mayan Inland Expedition. All I can say is that we were simply blown away by how incredible this tour was. Phil and I are harsh critics when it comes to tours and hotels so when we finished this tour feeling overwhelmed with gratitude, we knew we had made a fantastic decision doing this tour.
To give you an idea of what we found so fantastic here are a few features of what we think it takes to make a successful sustainable tour.
Small Group Sizes
These tours are designed to take only small groups (of around 12 people maximum) so your impact on the environment is minimal. We travelled in an air conditioned minivan to our destinations. Not only does this provide a better impact on the environment but you also have a much more personal experience on the tour. There were only 8 of us on our tour and it was amazing being able to get to know everyone on a personal level whilst also being able to hear what our guide Luigi had to say.
Snacks and Beverages provided – in zero waste containers
When we first stepped on board the minivan Luigi, our guide offered us the most delicious homemade flapjacks. Made by a local German family using their secret family recipe, offered in a reusable container. No plastic or waste in sight. They also had bananas for us and stainless steel water bottles for each of us to carry. These were refillable from a giant insulated water container located on the minivan. Every little sustainable detail was thought of.
Supporting local businesses
The entire trip is designed to help support local Mayan communities. We visited some fantastic communities and families in the areas, something that most large generic travel companies would not give you the opportunity to do on such a personal level.
Luigi our guide had an incredible wealth of knowledge, but not only that he was so enthusiastic about the concept of sustainable tourism and creating such a fantastic experience for us on the tour.
By offering you the opportunity to travel in smaller groups it is easier to visit places that are not necessarily on the main tourist route. A majority of the tour we did not see other tourists at all, including the time spent at the local family run Cenote which we had all to ourselves.
The Ancient Coba Ruins
The Full day tour started at 8am where we were picked up at our hotel. We travelled first 44km Northwest of Tulum to the ancient ruins of Coba. We had the opportunity to cycle through the jungle uncovering the ruins and local residents including the wild Tarantulas. Luigi our guide regaled us with stories of the Mayan communities who lived here AD 600-900. The city of Coba became famous for being the largest network of stone causeways in the Mayan world. One of the main attractions of visiting Coba is that it is one of the few places where you are allowed to climb up the largest Pyramid. The views at the top are incredible, if you are brave enough to climb.
After visiting Coba we drove to the Mayan community of Punta Laguna. They provide eco-tourism activities aimed to help preserve their forest and culture. Here we were greeted with a traditional blessing before being led through the dense jungle. The main attraction here being the wild spider monkeys, our local guide here was particularly talented at spotting them for us. We also had the opportunity to zipline across the lagoon which was great fun, especially after Luigi told us there were alligators in the lagoon below. We then got in a canoe and paddled across the lagoon – always keeping an eye out for those underwater reptiles.
By this point we had worked up an appetite and visited the nearby village of Nuevo Durango. We stop at a local families house that served us a delicious Mayan meal and allowed us to help make tortillas for it. The house is located in beautiful gardens and is the location for an endangered species project where they are helping reintroduce injured animals back into the wild. By visiting these families and their businesses we are helping support them with our tourism dollars instead of giving it to companies who won’t pass it on.
Family run Cenote
To finish off the tour we visited a family run cenote and ended up having it all to ourselves which was so magical. For those that were brave enough they jumped in, and for those like myself who are afraid of heights there were stairs down inside. The water is so blue and clear, it was the perfect way to refresh after a jam packed day.
If you are planning on coming to Tulum we highly recommend this tour, having the opportunity to connect with the local communities, discover ancient ruins and refresh in tropical cenotes was an experience we will never forget.
Thank you to Mexico Kan Tours for hosting us, our tour was gifted and all opinions are our own. We truly only recommend activities that we absolutely love.