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Tips for Visiting Rio Secreto

The Rio Secreto Nature Reserve was without doubt one of my favorite experiences I had during the three months I was living in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

In this enchanting reserve, you’ll find five cave complexes filled with many stunning stalactites as well as an inviting underground river.

Visiting Rio Secreto is an excellent activity for families with children who are looking for a fun day trip to Playa del Carmen, Tulum or Cancun. If you don’t have children with you You might feel like one exploring this underground river.

In this short guide an overview of Rio Secreto, I’ll go through the reasons to add this excursion to the top of the list of activities to take in Mexico as well as provide you with the practical information you require to make an enjoyable trip.

Was is the Rio Secreto?

Rio Secreto is an underground natural reserve located on Mexico’s Riviera Maya close to Playa del Carmen. It is made up of five caverns that form part of an enormous underground cave network.

I have to admit that prior visiting Rio Secreto, I was somewhat confused as to what exactly it was. It’s situated on the highway directly next to Xcaret and Xplor which led me to suppose it was something of an adventure park that was similar to those two parks.

The caves are brimming with stunning mineral formations that are home to an impressive array of wildlife. In the event that, as I mentioned the fact that my ticket was given gratis by the park I would have happily bought admission to have this fantastic and special experience.

How to Go to Rio Secreto

Visit Rio Secreto can only be only through organized tours provided by the reserve. The tours will take you hiking and swimming through about a one kilometer stretch from one cave (meaning that your visit will be only a fraction of the vast reserve).

All tours of Rio Secreto start at the park’s entry point, just from the highway. You’ll watch a brief video as you wait for your group to be there and sign a liability waiver (that’s why you need to make sure beforehand that you have travel insurance coverage for Mexico). Then you and your new companions will get in a van for the seven-kilometer journey deep into the jungle , where the caves are.

After arriving you’ll meet with your guide and receive a brief orientation on the area. There are lockers available for free, where you can change your clothes and store your belongings (you only need your swimsuit) In addition, you’ll be provided with special water shoes, a mandatory life jacket, as well as one with a flashlight. Wet suits are provided and are also available, but they’re optional (I have a wet suit but thought it wasn’t essential). You’ll also be required for a shower to avoid the introduction of foreign elements into the reserve’s delicate water.

Following that, your guide will take you to participate in a brief Mayan ceremony before heading back to the cave.

The actual tour of the cave will take about an hour but it’s a full hour that will be one you’ll never forget.

The tours are conducted with small groups of 10 of therefore, and you don’t see other groups during your tour, which means that you can truly feel a connection to the cave.

Your guide will talk to you about the story and cave’s history, explain how the magic minerals were are formed, and reveal animals throughout the journey (there are two types of fish that inhabit the river, and numerous bats, insects and other creatures).

About half of the time , you’ll walk through dry cave bedrock and the rest of the time you’ll be wading or swimming through an underground stream. The water is a refreshing and cool temperature, however, you’ll become used to it quickly!

My personal favorite part of the tour, though?

At one point the guide asked us to shut off our headlamps and lie in pitch black silence for a while to take in the dark sounds that emanated from the cave. It makes for quite the sensory experience!

Once the tour has ended after which you’ll get a chance to shower and change up before enjoying a complimentary breakfast before heading back to the entry point.

Tips for Visiting Rio Secreto

If you’re thinking about a trip towards Rio Secreto, here’s a few points you need to know:

How to travel to Rio Secreto from Playa del Carmen, Cancun or Tulum

Rio Secreto lies just a few miles away from 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 simple ticket that does not include transport ($79 cost per adult).

It is also possible to arrange your own transportation into the area. Any taxi driver will know its location. A taxi ride one-way from Cancun or Tulum can cost anywhere from 500 to 1,000 pesos ($25-$50 USD) depending on your negotiating capabilities, while a taxi ride one way to Playa del Carmen should be approximately 120-150 pesos ($6-$8 US dollars).

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

What Should You Bring What Should You Bring Rio Secreto?

Really, all you’ll require for your tour of Rio Secreto is your swimsuit and possibly a towel to dry. Everything else is provided to you. It’s not necessary to worry about sunscreen or insect repellent, since there’s no sun and you’d need to wash them off at some point.

There’s no need to bother with cameras either, since there’s not enough light in the caves to take pictures (don’t worryabout it: each group is accompanied by a photographer and you are able to purchase their images later).

What else are there to Do at Rio Secreto?

The standard admission package includes a tour of the cave and the underground river as mentioned above. While this is the main highlight of the park, it offers the “Admission Plus” package which starts at $99 for adults and includes a light show in the underground projected on the mineral formations. Although I haven’t seen it , it seems like it would be spectacular!

Other Tips for Touring Rio Secreto

Here’s some other suggestions to get the most out of your journey in Rio Secreto:

Make sure you wash your hands before entering the caves, as there is nowhere to go inside and the guides are very serious in ensuring that the underground is not polluted by dumping your waste.
You have the option to wear a wetsuit I did and in retrospect I’d suggest giving the wetsuit a miss. I was surprised that it was hot and smelly, and frankly the water was not cold enough to need one.
It isn’t possible to bring your camera along however there is an experienced photographer who will take lots of awesome pictures of your group. He will put them up for sale to you via the USB after the tour.