It was the last day of the rental car and what better way to use it than to drive to Xplor Adventure Park. Again it was an adventure park that was owned by the same people as the Xel-Ha park we had visited a few days before. It was a little closer, taking us just over an hour to get there. As a result of it being quite early in the morning, when we got to the edge of the Hotel Zone, we noticed that there was nobody around the “Cancun” sign. Normally there was a large queue so we just had to stop and grab a few photos of it with the sun rising behind. It was only about 8am and it was already about 28 degrees!
Xplor is an adventure park that is situated in a jungle near the coast of Mexico. There are a number of things that you can participate in such as zip-lines, amphibious vehicles, rafts, swimming in underground rivers, spelunking and a hammock splash. To top it all off, the food and drink were all included in the £60 price tag per person. It was going to be a great day.
As we made it to the lobby, we joined the very long queue to get our tickets. There was a lot of people in the lobby also queuing which made me worry as to how packed the park was going to be. We made it to the front of the queue and were issued with a locker key on a wrist band. That went straight to Stef. I knew I would lose it even before we made it into the park! We were also supplied with two safety helmets that were to be worn the WHOLE time we were there. I don’t know how dangerous the park is but they made us sign waivers before we could enter!
After finding our locker and getting changed, we headed to our first activity. I knew Stef would like this park more than Xel-Ha as there weren’t any activities where you were submerged in water. We made it to the amphibious vehicles. Just before you started queuing there was a vehicle that you could have you’re your photo taken in. In Xel-Ha, you had to scan the barcode on your wrist band, however, they didn’t give us one here. We sat in the car and smiled for the camera. How did it know who to allocate the photo to? There must be hundreds of people in the park– what technology did it use? My inner geek was on overdrive trying to figure out. Anyway, after a few flashes of the camera, on we went. Despite the large amount of people getting to the park, there wasn’t a queue and we got straight in to a car. The park is so large, that the people are very spaced out.
Stef volunteered herself to drive which suited me fine as I’d driven everywhere else. The vehicle was small and resembled some sort of 4×4 golf buggy. It was very wet and muddy…on the inside! After a quick run-down by the staff on how to get it going, it was pedal to the floor; wheel spins and all.
There were two circuits of jungle trails, crossing suspended bridges and driving under the surface into mysterious caverns and caves. Each circuit was 5km each and covered most of the park. There were no rails. No guides. Just a path. If you crashed, you were responsible and the staff made you fully aware of that before you set off! As the small engine roared behind us, it felt like we were breaking the speed limit as the trees were zooming past. Stef said that the brakes were extremely rubbish which didn’t build me with confidence, but it sure made the adrenalin pump a bit quicker!
Every now and again we’d have to go through big muddy puddles. Stef floored it and the water went everywhere. It was fantastic. Maybe I should let her drive more often. She really got into it and I really enjoyed that. It was full of excitement and you did not know what was coming around the next corner!
Next on the list was the underground rafts. To get access to this, you had to enter via a cave. The cave was massive. It was filled with many passages with low ceilings. The place was covered in stalactites and stalagmites. It was a good job we were wearing the helmets as I would have sliced my head open a good few times!
After what felt like an hour of walking through the cave system, we made it to the rafts. You could either have a single or double. We opted for singles. There were two paths you could take along the underground caverns and caves, one longer than the other. Stef wanted to go for the longer one, which I’m sure she regretted after. Why? Because to power the rafts, we were given small hand paddles, just big enough to cover your hand. Oh, and Stef couldn’t quite get the grasp of controlling the raft. It was fun watching her steer into the wall.
As we paddled our way around the circuit, we were surrounded by amazing rock formations. It had taken millions of years for the stalactites and stalagmites to form. It was amazing. I’d never seen anything like it before.
The journey lasted for about 20 minutes. As we got off the rafts, although it was a brilliant experience, our arms were now paying the price – they were in aching quite badly. 20 minutes of nothing but arm paddling had really taking the steam out of them! I had taken my brand new Samsung S7 Edge which they claimed was water proof. It was the first time I had submerged it and was a bit scared at first. It ended up proving it’s claim and took some really good photos in the near dark adventure.
After we’d grabbed some random bananas that were by the exit of the caves and our arms had recovered, we headed back to the underground rivers. However, this time, we would not be floating on the water on a raft, but bobbing along in floatation jackets. After another long walk through the caves, we made it to the underground river. As we walked down the steps into the water, it felt freezing! There were two routes. One that was about 20 minutes and another that was only 5. Again, we went for the longer one.
It was pretty much the same as the rafts, however, you had to swim it. I couldn’t stop shaking as it was so cold! Every now and again I would bang my legs or feet on the underground rock formations and it would kill. That being said, it was a fun experience. Especially when the cave opened out a bit and there were LOADS of bats flying around! We had seen some bats in the caves in Vietnam when we went to the caves in Ha Long Bay, but this was on another level. It wasn’t scary as they kept themselves to themselves. Thank god it wasn’t the fruit bats from Cambodia as them creatures were massive!
As we got to the end, it took us out into a big cylinder shaped room with water falling from around the edge. It looked really cool, however, I didn’t have any cameras! D’oh. As we got out, I just had to get my GoPro and do it again. Sure I was freezing down there, but I loved this end room and needed to capture it. Luckily, the lockers are central to all of the activities, however, I had to drag Stef though the maze of caves to get there and back. We chose to do the shorter route once we were back in the river. As we continued along the route for a few minutes, we turned a corner and were at the cylinder room. The short route was extremely short. It missed all the best parts of the underground river, including the bats. So after I managed to get my photo, we dried out and grabbed something to eat in the massive restaurant.
The choice of food was fantastic. There were rows and rows of different types of food and in true Barry style, I filled my plate. Whilst eating a fat burger I had created at the buffet, I saw one of the many TV screens around the park that was displaying customer’s photos. It was then that it clicked. People stood in front of the screen and it displayed their photos. I looked at the helmets we had been given. The answer was there. It had an NFC chip in it which gets picked up by nearby readers, therefore recording who it was taking a photo of! So much for the Mexican Magic I originally thought it was…
Second to last was the Hammock Splash. This was a short zip-line where you sat in a swing type harness. Stef was a bit hesitant at first but she ended up loving it. From a height, you would zip-line into a cenote in the refreshing waters at the other end. As you touched the water, you’d get thrown around and you got soaked. It was great fun and we ended up doing it a few times as there were literally no queues.
The last activity on the board for the day was zip-lining over the trees of Xplor. The last time we had zip lined was over the Palo Duro Canyon in Texas, USA. I know Stef does not like heights and I was in no way expecting her to join me, however, it would have been pretty amazing to do tandem lines! I was well up for it and to my surprise; Stef came with me and joined the queue. Brilliant! We were in the queue of about 30 people, slowly moving towards the preparation area where they fit you with your harness. After waiting about 10 minutes and having a member of staff talk to us all about what is going to happen, it was finally our turn to be kitted up. As the queue started moving, all of a sudden Stef stepped out. Her bottle had run out. She couldn’t do it. I had no choice but to carry on as the queue was moving me but she shouted that she would meet me back in the restaurant – It was too late for me to try and convince her.
Like with most of the activities, there were two routes you could take, each taking about 40 minutes. One had 7 Zip-lines, went from greater heights, longer but was slower, the other had 6, was faster, shorter but not as high. Not too bothered about the speed, I went for the higher one. (What Barry failed to mention was that this is the reason I stepped out the queue. I didn’t want to do the higher one but also didn’t want to go by myself so he gave me no choice! – Stef) I enjoyed all of the zip-lines. Each time, they got higher and higher. The highest one was a massive 45m high. It was a great view. Unfortunately, the zip-lines were the only activity that you couldn’t take your own camera on. However, I did manage to get a few snaps from the park’s cameras! Each time, I tried to let go of the harness and just hang there as I travelled through the air but I just couldn’t, I don’t know why I couldn’t. I am ashamed of myself.
Xplor is a brilliant park and like Xel-Ha, definitely worth visiting if you are in this part of Mexico. It has something for everyone and you won’t go home disappointed.