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A Journey Into Paradise

Sustainable Tourism in Mexico’s Riviera Maya

02 September, 2014

Situated along the Caribbean coast in the state of Quintana Roo on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula,the Riviera Maya is one of the world’s most beautiful and culturally significant destinations,where indigenous Mayan people live happily alongside international travelers,locals and expats. 

Maya Ka’an

Now,the region’s Maya Ka’an tourism project provides a wealth of unique experiences,promoting community and regional development,as well as the continued conservation of the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site.

“Imagine a vacation that takes you into the humble palm-thatched hut of a Mayan elder,a 96-year-old abuelo,who recounts glorious tales of battles and trickery between the Mexican and Mayan armies in the early 20th century,” writes the Yucatan Times. “Picture visiting the peaceful rainforest of a center for alternative medicine,where wise Mayan women teach about the healing power of plants.”

What is Sustainable Tourism?

These are just a few examples of the many sustainable and community-based tourism initiatives now available through Maya Ka’an,providing adventure seekers with a new range of experiences that are educational,authentic and will directly benefit a local community. Slightly different than “eco-tourism,” which brings people into closer contact with nature,sustainable and community-based offerings have an emphasis on connecting people and having a positive (not to mention minimal) impact.

“Tourists learn there’s a lot more to Cancun’s surrounding area than just beaches,and get to support grassroots tourism that’s run by locals who truly care for,and take care of,the places visited,” writes the Yucatan Times. “Local Mayans receive a much-needed part of the income that tourism brings without going to work in hotels; they can show off the beautiful and unusual sights where they live; and they preserve age-old traditions through talking with tourists,since the centuries-old taboo on sharing information has been lifted.”

With more than 8 million visitors coming to Cancun and the Riviera Maya each year,not to mention an additional 3 million cruise ship passengers,there is plenty of room for growth in Mexico’s sustainable tourism sector. For example,Maya Ka’an encourages sustainable productive projects in Mayan communities,including handicrafts,medicinal arts and cooking techniques.

Plan a Trip!

There are currently a variety of different packages available,each offering its own blend of local flavor,natural wonders,outdoor activities,ancient archaeological sites and – of course – relaxation!

For example,the 7 day,6-night “Immersion” experience begins with exploring the seaside pyramid at the ancient town of Tulum and ends with observing fossils and marine life within a cenote (underground limestone cavern).  Travelers can also witness a traditional Mayan welcoming ceremony officiated by the shaman at Tihosuco in the 6 day,5-night “Maya Wisdom” experience,or journey into ancient times with the 5 day,4-night “Travel to the Past” experience,which takes visitors on a journey through some of Mexico’s most emblematic archaeological sites. 

A number of day tours are also available through Maya Ka’an,including a bicycle adventure,a bird watching experience,kayaking in the Black Lagoon,fly fishing,a healing tour,a gastronomic tour and cultural tours,to name only a few. In addition to Tulum and Tihosuco,other destinations include Muyil,Punta Allen,Punta Herrero,Noh-Bec and Chunhuhub.

Maya Ka’an is supported by the Meso-American Reef Tourism Initiative (MARTI),the Rainforest Alliance and Amigos de Sian Ka’an.

Click here to learn more about Mexico’s Riviera Maya from our local experts at Investment Properties Mexico!