The snake skin reaches from the man’s outstretched arm all the way to the ground, more than five feet (1.5 m) in length. Long and deadly he points out. One bite and that’s it, you’re dead. He then quickly points out he’s been in the jungle hundreds of times and never been bitten. In fact thousands of people move through it all the time, without any danger. The odds of anything happening are just too remote.
There’s always a first time, a young tourist from Vancouver points out anxiously, and the rest of the group laughs nervously. The guide smiles full of confidence. You get the feeling no reptile would dare interfere with one of his jungle tours. A little more confident we head off into the bush.
For those looking for a change from the non stop partying, shopping, or lazing on the beach that are the hallmarks of a tropical Mexico, Puerto Morelos is the place to be. The sleepy little fishing village on the Mayan Riviera located half-way between Cancun and Playa del Carmen is home of “Goyo’s Custom Jungle Adventures.” The sole owner operator, chief jungle guide, and all around romantic adventurer is Goyo Morgan an American who came to Mexico from the North West in the 1970’s and never left.
Goyo offers two basic adventures, a half-day trip and a full day one. The first is the “Cenote Jungle Adventure.” You depart Puerto Morelos in the morning and spend about four hours in the nearby bush. While there, Goyo will give an introduction to some of the various flora and fauna that abound in the Yucatan Peninsula. You’ll be shown which plants can be dangerous and a little about the medicinal qualities of some of the others.
A visit to a small Mayan ranch of a chiclero (producer of chewing gum) is also included. Chicle is the natural ingredient in chewing gum and long before tourism came to this region it was the main industry here. Chicle was harvested and shipped all over the world to be turned into chewing gum.
Now only a few families remain and make a living amidst the overgrown workers huts and the remnants of the narrow gauge railway to the coast. A visit to a small working Mayan farm follows with an explanation of local farming techniques and crops.
For most, the highlight of the excursion is a visit to a cenote. This is a natural well fed by the numerous underground rivers that crisscross the peninsula. A refreshing swim in the cool clear waters and a chance to explore the caves that line the cenote’s wall is most welcome at this point in the trip.
There is even a rope slide over the cenote for those who have an urge to imitate Tarzan. Near the cenote is a traditional sweat lodge that Goyo has constructed and sometimes brings visitors to.
After the swim you return to the Mayan farm for a traditional, simple, and excellent lunch prepared by Delphina, a friend of Goyo’s and her family. Chicken and black beans with home made piping hot tortillas really hit the spot right about now. Trust me you’ll have worked up an appetite. Small, hand-embroidered crafts made by Delphina are available here for those looking for a souvenir of their adventure.
The whole trip lasts about four hours and you’ll be back in Puerto Morelos early enough in the afternoon to explore this quaint little village or head back to the beach or markets of Cancun or Playa del Carmen.
For those with more time to spare, or feeling more adventurous there is the all day Deep Jungle Adventure. This is about six hours and includes everything in the shorter tour, plus a few extras. You will trek a little farther into the jungle to unexcavated Mayan ruins.
Here you’ll be able to climb to the top of a pyramid and look out over the jungle. Goyo will share with you his vast knowledge of the Mayan people and their culture. You’ll also pick up a few tips on jungle survival ? not that you’ll need them, at least this time out, and a few pointers on how to use a machete. The swim and lunch are also included and well earned.
The cost for the first trip is US$ 40 and for the second longer one is US$ 80 if starting from Puerto Morelos. It is also possible to arrange pickups in either Cancún or Playa del Carmen for an additional charge. Reservations are required at least one day in advance depending on the season.
This is a good value for a half-day adventure that may well be the highlight of your vacation. The lunch and listening to Goyo’s take on life are worth the price alone. Good walking shoes, a swim suit, and of course your camera are essential. The Deep Jungle Adventure is restricted to adults in good physical condition and long pants are required as you will be moving through thick brush at times.
If You Go
Goyos Info Centre