Imagine flying through a ring of fire on zip lines, driving an amphibious vehicle through rough terrain in the dead of night or gliding through dark underground rivers that are over a million years old. Sound too adventurous? Don’t worry, it’s family-friendly fun.
Xplor Fuego (fire) is the new attraction at Xplor, one of several eco-archaeological parks on the Riviera Maya in Mexico. Visitors can experience the park after dark with torches to light their way and bonfires with traditional hot Mexican drinks to cozy up with.
This park requires a fair amount of energy to swim, climb, paddle and well, fly through all the circuits. Although most enjoyed by families who like robust activities, you can go at your own pace and there are plenty of opportunities to relax and rejuvenate before heading to the next activity, ending with a hardy buffet. What I like best about these parks is that you are experiencing natural phenomena rather than the over-chlorinated plasticized structures you find in most tourist water parks.
The Activities at Xplor Fuego
While the setting is natural, the park promotes a safety-first attitude. There are guides to assist all visitors throughout the activities, so if you get stuck or have a problem someone will be nearby to help. As a first-time zip line user, I was happy to see that the staff, although friendly, took their jobs very seriously and our fastenings were double checked by two different employees. My 10 year-old was very nervous at first (as was her mom) so she was able to zip attached to me until she became more comfortable. With a sense of pride she zipped on her own for the last two runs and now describes the ring of fire as no big deal.
The underground river has two circuits: in the first you swim and in the second you paddle on a raft. In both activities you can go at your own pace but people tend to move more quickly through the paddle portion. If you have never experienced underground caves and rivers then you will be in awe of the beautiful ancient stalactites and stalagmites and enjoy the crisp clear water. Although you’d imagine that the temperatures would be cold (I don’t like cold) the air was warm and it was actually quite relaxing and pleasant.
The amphibious vehicle drive was my daughter’s favorite activity as she urged her father to drive faster and faster over the rocky terrain and through the mysterious caverns. We had a great time and plan to return and experience all the other Xcaret parks as well.
History of the Parks
Back in 1984, Architect Miguel Quintana Pali purchased 12 acres land in the Mayan Riviera in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo with the idea of building his dream house. As he began to clear the land, he started uncovering ancient Mayan cenotes, sinkholes and beautiful underground rivers. Lucky for us he decided that it would be better to create a park open to the public so that everyone could enjoy its magnificent beauty and learn about the historical significance of the region. Grupo Xcaret now has seven eco-archaeological parks and excursions where visitors can experience the natural and cultural richness of Mexico.
Practical Tips for visiting Xplor Fuego
- Consider your order of activities: I recommend zip lining first because you will see the beautiful sunset and you will end up wet as you go through the falls so it makes for a perfect transition to the underground swim.
- Bring an extra t-shirt to wear when riding the vehicles in case it starts to get chilly. You can keep everything in your locker, which is in a centralized location for easy access.
- You must bring your own towels.
- Children must be 7 or older for Xplor Fuego.
- If you are deathly afraid of bats, don’t go in the underground rivers (we enjoyed seeing a few flying around but no need to worry they don’t come near you).
- The helmets have a chip in them so photos are taken throughout the park and you don’t have to end up with 10 bracelets, cards or worry about losing your camera.
- You must be at least 18 years old with a valid driver’s license to drive the amphibious vehicles.
- You can get a shuttle from the resorts but they are not direct so we rented a car. It was an easy hour’s drive from Cancun and much more comfortable.