Xcaret Park

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This article is about the modern-day ecological theme park and tourism development. For the Maya archaeological site, see Xcaret.
Parque Xcaret
Location Kilometer Marker 282 Chetumal-Puerto Juárez Highway, Municipality of Solidaridad Riviera Maya, Quintana Roo, Mexico
Coordinates 20°34′41″N 87°07′09″W / 20.57806°N 87.11917°W / 20.57806; -87.11917Coordinates: 20°34′41″N 87°07′09″W / 20.57806°N 87.11917°W / 20.57806; -87.11917
Opened December 1990
Area 81 ha (200 acres)
Website Xcaret Eco Park

Xcaret Park (Spanish: el parque Xcaret) is a privately owned and operated theme park, resort and self-described ecotourism development located in the Riviera Maya, a portion of the Caribbean coastline of Mexico's state of Quintana Roo that has been designated as a zone for tourism development. It is situated approximately 75 kilometres (47 mi) south of Cancún, and 6.5 kilometres (4 mi) south of the nearest large settlement Playa del Carmen along Highway 307. It is named after the nearby archaeological site Xcaret, a settlement constructed by the pre-Columbian Maya some of whose structures lie within the boundaries of the park's 81 hectares (200 acres) of land holdings.

History[edit]

Xcaret pond
Mayan ruins in Xcaret
Xcaret Mexico Espectacular

The Ecological Park is built in the same area of the archaeological site and has the same name, Xcaret.

The land was originally purchased by a group of Mexican entrepreneurs, led by architect Miguel Quintana Pali. 5 hectares of the land was purchased in 1984.

When he began to clear the land, he started uncovering cenotes, sinkholes formed by collapsed cave ceilings weakened by 3 million years of erosion from underground rivers running through them and flowing into the sea. He saw the potential for tourism and formulated the idea of an Ecological Park open to the public, and soon joined forces with Oscar, Marcos and Carlos Constandse, achieving this goal in December 1990.

At the same time, contact was established with the National Institute of Anthropology and History (Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia) with the objective of rebuilding the remnants of the Mayan pyramids and buildings that were found in the area. The park’s administration subsidized all the operation and the INAH put in charge a team of specialists.

Attractions[edit]

The nature-based attractions of the park include a river that goes through the Mayan village, a subterranean concrete sluice in which people can swim and snorkel with a life vest. Near the inlet there are recreational activities at the beach, snorkeling, Sea Trek and Snuba in the nearby reefs, or swimming with dolphins. The park also has a coral reef aquarium turtle nesting site. Next to the inlet there’s an area for manatees. The park also has a bird pavilion, butterfly pavilion, bat cave, orchids and bromeliad greenhouse, an island of jaguars, and a deer shelter, among others.

The cultural attractions include an open church, replica of a Mayan village with real artisans at work, a Mexican cemetery, a museum, an equestrian show, Mesoamerican ball game, an open theater with performances of pre-Hispanic dances, Papantla flying men and the Gran Tlachco (theater with a six thousand people capacity) where the Mesoamerican ball game is represented, as well as the meeting of two worlds, the Mayan and the Spanish, and the presentation of several Mexican folklore dances. Other demonstrations of Mexican traditions include Day of the Dead celebration and the "Travesía Sagrada Maya" (Mayan Sacred Crossing), an annual rite when Mayans would cross the sea from Xcaret and Playa del Carmen to Cozumel to pay homage to the lunar goddess Ix Chel. The modern version is a re-creation of this rite done in late May to early June.[1]

The park also has a Temascal and Spa, has 11 restaurants, dressing rooms, souvenirs and handicrafts stores, as well as an adjacent all-inclusive resort hotel.

Criticism[edit]

The park is described in Lonely Planet Mexico as a 'precious spot once open to all' now a 'Disneyfied ecopark' with much of the landscape changed using 'dynamite, jackhammers or other terra-forming techniques'.[2]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Hinojosa, Beatriz (April 2008). "Travesía Sagrada Maya". Mexico Desconocida 374: 8. 
  2. ^ Lonely Planet Yucatán. Lonely Planet Publications. 2003. p. 125. ISBN 978-1-74059-456-1. 

References[edit]

Clavé, Salvador Anton (2007). The Global Theme Park Industry. Andrew Clarke (trans.). Wallingford, UK: CABI. ISBN 978-1-84593-208-4. OCLC 70921404. 
Fedick, Scott (2003). "In Search of the Maya Forest". In Candace Slater (ed.). In Search of the Rain Forest. New ecologies for the twenty-first century series. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. pp. 133–166. ISBN 978-0-8223-3205-3. OCLC 52821109. 
Lück, Michael, ed. (2008). The Encyclopedia of Tourism and Recreation in Marine Environments. Wallingford, UK: CABI. ISBN 978-1-84593-350-0. OCLC 152560388. 
Mowforth, Martin; Clive Charlton; Ian Munt (2008). Tourism and Responsibility: Perspectives from Latin America and the Caribbean (1st hbk ed.). London and New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-42364-9. OCLC 123136460. 
Simon, Joel (1997). Endangered Mexico: An Environment on the Edge. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books. ISBN 978-0-87156-351-4. OCLC 35559240. 
Slater, Candace (2003). "In Search of the Rain Forest". In Candace Slater (ed.). In Search of the Rain Forest. New ecologies for the twenty-first century series. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. pp. 3–40. ISBN 978-0-8223-3205-3. OCLC 52821109. 
Walker, Cameron (2005). "Archaeological tourism: looking for answers along Mexico's Maya Riviera". In Tim Wallace (ed.). Tourism and Applied Anthropologists: Linking Theory and Practice. NAPA Bulletin, no. 23. Arlington, VA: National Association for the Practice of Anthropology. pp. 60–76. ISBN 978-1-931303-22-4. OCLC 61285198. 

External links[edit]