M: Welcome to Travel Radio Podcast. Today is a first time guest but almost my longest listener ever KATHY SEIFERT! Welcome to the podcast KATHY!
C: Thank you for having me on the show Megan.
M: I can't believe it's taken us so long to get you on here! You are a trooper listening to all my blunders, etc. Thank you for your support! I really mean it!
C: I'm so happy to be here. You're an absolute delight.
M: Now, you recently transitioned from travel planner to travel writer. Where can people find your writing and what do you focus on?
C: Yes. Thank you. I've worked for over 20 years in travel and after COVID hit, I did a lot of soul searching and decided it was time to for me to serve the industry in a different role going forward. I'm very excited about the change. I focus on creating luxury travel and lifestyle content. I recently started a blog and I'm pursuing a freelance career as well. My website is https://theluxurylifestyleblog.com/. Also, you can find me on IG @theluxurylifestyleblog, Facebook - The Luxury Lifestyle Blog, and Twitter @luxury_lifeblog
M: Now, let's tell people where we are headed to today!
C: The Tankah Ecological Adveture Park, Cenote Swim, and Mayan Village in Tulum in QR, Mexico. There are hundreds if not thousands in The Yucatan Peninsula. Most of them are on private or government controlled land but some have been turned into ecological adventure parks. It is widely known that the Cenotes were used by the Mayan's to offer sacrifices to the Gods and to bury their dead.
M: This is part of the off-resort property, culture vulture, Mexico series I'm developing for Travel Radio Podcast. When I put this casting call out why did you choose this attraction?
C: There is no shortage of fun adventure parks in the Cancun and Riviera Maya areas, but Tankah stands out for me because it is much less commercialized than the other parks. Don't get me wrong, the other parks, such as Xel-ha make for a great day of fun but a visit to Tankah adds an extra cultural element to the day because there is an actual Mayan village located on the property. Also, they keep the crowds to a minimum only allowing 100 people per day.
M: Will you open the discussion with your favorite Tankah Mayan Village story?
C: I visited in the summer of 2016 with my family. My husband and our two kiddos who were 17 and 18 at the time. And although the whole day was amazing, I've got four things that really stand out for me; the traditional Mayan food experience, the beekeeping (they keep bee hives in tree trunks), the canoe experience, and of course...the bats. When I first heard we were going to swim with bats...I thought "no thanks" "I'm out". But after listening to our guide Cesar talk more about the experience on our bus ride, I was more relaxed and figured "what's the worst that could happen"? They allowed about 20 or so people in the cave at a time and there you are swimming in the clear water of a half covered cave with bats flying all around you. But they are so spot on with their echolocation skills that they don't touch you. They come close, but they don't actually touch you. It's a great exercise in learning to release fear. I want to mention that I think they might be changing this up and having you swim with the Garra Ruga fish, which will do an exfoliating treatment on your skin while you swim.
M: To orient listeners, if we orient Mexico like a mermaid's tail kicking off to the right, we are in the top flipper, very near to the resort region on Tulum. Is this a fair description Kathy?
C: Yes. Tankah is about 20 minutes from the Mayan Ruin site at Tulum.
M: Now what can people expect from Tankah Mayan Village? What activities and facilities are on site?
C: Because this is a protected ecological park and Mayan living area, they keep all of the groups together with the guides. It's not a place where you can go off on your own and they keep to a rotating schedule: You'll have the opportunity to do a small zip line and jump into a cenote, then swim with the bats, then do a traditional zip line, then hop in a canoe for a paddle in of the larger cenotes, then it's off to swim in a crystal, bright blue cenote. You'll then have a traditional Mayan meal served buffet style by the villagers. The mean consists of corn tortillas, chicken, rice and salad all cooked in an outdoor kitchen. It was very tasty. They also serve a special Mayan hot chocolate. Then you'll have the opportunity to walk through the village and visit with they Mayan people who live there. They still live in very primitive, simple conditions in tiny thatched houses. You can purchase some goods and honey from them, so I would definitely bring some pesos with you. You'll also see their outdoor church and other common areas of the village. After that, your visit is complete and your life has been changed a bit.
M: Who is the ideal visitor here? Are there any restrictions or people you might caution when considering the Tankah Mayan Village?
C: Anyone looking for a cultural activity who is also looking for an adventure. Families, couples, multi-gen groups, solo travelers. You are never alone while in the park, so a solo traveler would be comfortable. I would caution anyone with mobility challenges that there is terrain that might be difficult to maneuver with assistive equipment. Also, there are restrooms located on site, however they are more primitive than what you might find at a resort or more commercial eco-adventure park. If you do have anyone with challenges, I would talk with your travel advisor ahead of time to find out what accommodations can be made. Oh I should mention that if at any time you decide you would rather watch from the sidelines, you are not obligated to participate in any of the activities. You can do one or none or all. It's up to you. The guides are all so good about that and they are happy to answer your questions. They want you to feel comfortable and safe.
M: How far is this from the resort areas?
C: It's located about 45 min from the resorts in Riviera Maya, about 20 min from the Tulum Mayan Ruins site and about 1 hour 45 min south of the Cancun hotel zone
M: How long would you expect to be at Tankah Mayan Village?
C: About 5-6 hours. Keep in mind transportation time from Cancun or the Riviera Maya resort area can add a few hours on each end of your day depending on traffic. And you will be tired from the activities, so keep this in mind when scheduling out the rest of your day.
M: Is this an activity people combine with other tours?
C Yes, I think adding a visit to the Tulum Mayan ruins is definitely doable with this activity. I know that Get Your Guide has an option for this. Or you might want to talk to your travel advisor for options. https://www.getyourguide.com/playa-del-carmen-l308/tulum-ruins-tour-tankah-ecological-park-from-riviera-maya-t3601/ COST IS ABOUT $240 PER PERSON.
M: What else should people know about Tankah Mayan Village? This is your time to share anything we missed or I glossed over to quickly.
C: It is a long day of physical activity in the intense heat, you'll want to make sure that you prepare accordingly. Be sure to get proper rest the night before, arrive well hydrated and bring water with you. Also be sure to have well-fitting waterproof footwear, a backpack, hats and sunglasses with you. You will be bringing all of your belongings with you to each stop in the park, there are no locker facilities. And very important wherever you are traveling throughout this region, be sure to use eco-friendly sunscreens and bug sprays. You can find several options at Coral Safe. https://coralsafe.com/ And of course be sure to get familiar with and follow all local health and safety protocols such as mask wearing. You are swimming in natural springs that are not part of a commercial facility. These springs are not chlorinated or altered. IMPORTANT: you are swimming at your own risk and you are engaging in physical activities that are not risk free.
M: That concludes the questions I had about Tankah Mayan Village. I'm really thankful you took the time and had patience with my technical issues to get this recorded!
C:Thanks so much Megan. I hope your listeners have a chance to visit Tankah on their next trip to the Cancun region.
M: I hope we can find another topic to record on again!
C: Me too!
This podcast is part of the Mexico Cult Vulture Series. Find the rest of the episodes and more on this playlist: https://player.captivate.fm/collection/84584948-19bf-4d3a-b36e-c2bc8a320d4a