An underwater river may seem like a contradiction, but there are a handful of places in the world where underwater rivers actually exist. A flooded cave in Chumkopo, Mexico, known as Cenote Angelita, is home to an eerie underwater river. This phenomenon occurs due to a variance in the salinity of the water and a cloud of hydrogen sulfide gas expelled from nearby decomposing trees and plant matter.
Cenote Angelita is located in the midst of a dense jungle. The ancient Mayans revered this body of water as sacred. They conducted various religious ceremonies near Cenote Angelita, including a few human sacrifices. The word “cenote” means sacred well. The Quintana Roo region of Mexico, where Chumkopo is situated, is known for its numerous cenotes, but Cenote Angelita stands out as one of the most mysterious and impressive sacred wells.
Accessing Cenote Angelita’s underwater river requires expertise in scuba diving. From the surface, Cenote Angelita appears as a relatively small pond, seemingly suitable for a cozy swim. However, its waters are actually over 200 feet deep. To reach the underwater river, divers must descend more than 80 feet below the surface. The dive is particularly challenging, as it involves navigating a dimly lit cavern brimming with twisted tree branches.
Divers who have explored Cenote Angelita describe the underwater river as both surreal and spooky. A cloud of hydrogen sulfide forms a murky river amidst decaying leaves and trees. It’s clear why the ancient Mayans viewed Cenote Angelita as a sacred pool inhabited by powerful spirits and gods.
Even for those who aren’t expert divers, exploring the area around Cenote Angelita is rewarding. Several hiking trails allow visitors to explore Chumkopo’s lush jungle. Additionally, Cenote Angelita is close to Tulum, a popular travel destination in Mexico. Tulum is known for its ancient Mayan ruins, stunning beaches, and several cenotes that make for refreshing swimming spots.
Becoming a skilled scuba diver takes time and effort, but witnessing a mesmerizing underwater river up close is a fantastic reward. Diving into waters once considered sacred by the ancient Mayans is undoubtedly one of the world’s most unforgettable and exhilarating travel experiences.