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Friday Allan and I brought our 6 employees to the adventure park, Aktun Chen,
just south of Akumal. It’s owned by our attorney’s family, and we’ve
heard great things about it, so it was time to check it out for
ourselves. Additionally we felt the need to give back to our employees
for their loyal service, and to share with them the most fun part of our job: exploring
the Riviera Maya’s many enjoyable activities. Aktun Chen certainly did
not disappoint, and offered many a first time opportunity to ride on zip lines.
45 minute drive south of Playa del Carmen
we traversed winding dirt roads through roughly 5 miles of jungle until we
reached the unassuming entrance to Aktun Chen. We were greeted by a
friendly guide who led us to lockers where we could store our belongings.
Visitors can pick and choose which activities they would like among zip line,
cave tour and a cenote swim. We opted for the all inclusive combo
entrance pack which includes all 3 since after all we are expected to provide
an expert review.
were then given hard hats and led further into the jungle to this massive
cave. The guide led us on an amazing subterranean tour through
stalactites, stalagmites and underwater rivers. It was like being on
planet Mars – the views from every angle were incredible. Furthermore the
informative guide helped us to better understand the history and geology of the
region. I can comfortably say that everyone in the group was
impressed. The waterways passing through the cave connected directly to
the sea and provided a crystal clear view of the bottom 12 – 100 feet below.
The cave tour ended will an above ground walk through the jungle and past a
flock of white tailed dear, which were close enough to almost touch. This
is when the guide began telling us the cave was discovered 30 years ago by
farmers searching for gum trees. Centuries ago the Mayan used the cave
system as a hurricane shelter and also believed it was a pathway of the Gods.
After the brief hiatus at the snack bar we were stripped of our hard hats and
led back into the jungle past a family of spider monkeys kept in a large
enclosure. We stopped for a few photos, but hurried excitedly on as the
one hour zip line tour was next.
The zip lines were certainly the most exciting part of our adventure,
especially because none of my employees, except Claudia, had ever been on one
before – they had never even worn a harness. I have been doing this since
I was a child at gymnastics camp. Although many were nervous, everyone
went, except for Connie, who is 6 months pregnant. The zip lines were not
as high as those at Xplor, but certainly allowed you to get closer to
nature. The 10 zip lines at Aktun Chen snake through the jungle at about
mid-tree level and pass rather close to the trees whereas at Xplor they
essentially cut down most of the trees, and you are traveling above the tree
tops. For at least an hour you do not touch ground, but rather take off
and land on sturdy make-shift tree forts, and even traverse 2 suspended
bridges. At every stage we were securely attached to a cable to prevent
an accidental personnel plummet.
the first one or two zip lines required some encouragement and prodding on the
part of my employees, by the end of the 6th zip line, people were becoming more
adventurous – going backwards and even upside down. We enjoyed seeing
these humble yet hardworking people open up and expand their experiences and
test their courage. Our maintenance man Luis commented that he didn’t
want to come back to work – that he was going to work at the park. Very
funny, I mused.
last part of the adventure involved a 10 minute drive into the jungle to a
below ground cenote with spectacular ceiling views of the jagged rocks
above. The water, although cold, was this pristine blue color, that made
the whole cave sparkle. We brought our own snorkel equipment (you can
rent it there), and were forced to wear life jackets. I probably should
also mention they sprayed us with a cold hose before entering the water to wash
off any sweat and sunblock. The cenote is definitely worth it, especially
as a way to cool down after a long but enjoyable day.
Although Aktun Chen is a ways from Playa del Carmen compared to Xplor, it is
less expensive as does offer a more authentic experience, as Xplor is more like
a theme park (albeit an amazing one). Furthermore Aktun Chen is also part
zoo, allows you to become familiar with the native wildlife and offers a guided
cave tour. I would definitely say this employee field trip was a success,
and is certainly a step up from our employee party last year which involved my
pool and a BBQ. Aktun Chen will definitely make it on my list of
activities provided to our Playa del Carmen
rental guests. Akthn Chen can be found at http://www.aktunchen.com/HOME_ing.htm.