cenote

A classy company!

Splashdown at the cenote near Mayapan

Another happy family of cruisers enjoy Angel and a Lawson's tour!

Recently, my friends and I arrived in Progreso via a cruise ship. We have been regular cruisers for years, and always avoid the over-priced and crowded “excursions” through the cruise ship. After reading the reviews of Lawson’s on Trip Advisor, we decided to give them a try. What an amazing day! Angel was right there waiting for us at the cruise bus terminal, and escorted us right into a spacious air conditioned van to whisk us away. First we went to the Mayapan ruins, and we were the only people there! The ruins were amazing, with Angel giving us the history of the Mayan culture. We could even climb to the top for the gorgeous views of the country. Next we went to a cenote for swimming in crystal clear water, and once again, we were the only ones there. It felt like Angel reserved these locations exclusively for our small group. After some time swimming and cliff jumping, we were taken to a local home for a delicious traditional Mayan meal, made by a true Mayan family. We were even taught how to make tortillas over an open flame. We had just enough time left that Angel took us to an area to view flamingos in the wild.

This was truly a once in a lifetime experience. Angel and his crew catered to us the entire time, providing bottled water and adult drinks. If we wanted to see something or do something, Angel made it happen. If I am ever in Progreso again, I will take another tour with this classy company.

Visited September 2015
— TripAdvisor

Unforgettable experience!

Victoria had this to say about her cruise excursion to the ruins of Mayapan and the little town of Pixyah...

Subject: “Naya Cenote in the town of Pixyah has no words to describe its beauty!” “What an unforgettable experience to live with for the rest of your life”

Message: Very helpful individuals!! On my next trip I will make sure I book my excursion with you!! We were new to our cruise and not sure what we wanted to do. Feel grateful to have found your website!! Will definitely share your information with future friends and family. I can’t wait to have another opportunity to explore with your company!!! Thank you!!!!!
— website comment form

Most memorable experience...

Paul and his family also came to the area via Carnival and Progreso. Here is their take on the private tour we provided them.

I recently took my girlfriend and her children on a Carnival cruise. We were trying to plan some fun excursions while in Cozumel and Progreso. We looked through the cruise sponsored excursions, and nothing seemed to really jump out. Many of them had some positive reviews, but all of them also had their share of negative reviews. I happened to search Tripadvisor for things to do in the 2 ports, and that’s where I discovered Lawson’s. I knew that we were wanting to snorkel in Cozumel, and honestly I was way more excited about that originally. I thought we would do some amazing snorkeling in Cozumel, and it would be better to do some site seeing in Progreso, and so I clicked on “Things to Do,” and Lawson’s was number 1. Let me just say, it’s number 1 for a reason. While the snorkeling was fun... it didn’t touch our tour in Progreso.

I checked their website, and the photo of Cenote at Sotuta de Peon Hacienda blew me away. I sent an email to Ralf, and he asked what the 5 of us wanted to do while in Progreso. I said that we wanted to see some ruins and we 100% wanted to swim in a cenote. He was very upfront and honest, and told me that our scheduled time in port would not allow us to visit Cenote at Sotuta de Peon Hacienda, but he had some other ideas that would be perfect for us. I gave him free reign to plan our trip.

We left the port and boarded a bus down the 4 mile pier in Progreso. We were dropped off at the bus terminal (not the flea market thankfully), and were immediately greeted with someone holding a sign with my last name. Ralf introduced himself, and our tour guide David and our driver Roberto. And we were off. It was literally just 5 of us on the tour with them. It was OUR personal tour, just the 5 of us in a private van. David took us to a small village to walk around and have some local fruits and see what a typical village and market was like. We got to have some guaya and dragon fruit fresh at the market. The dragon fruit was an unreal neon pink, with small black seeds in the white flesh. We squeezed a little lime on it, dipped it in some chili salt, and enjoyed these local fruits.

After leaving the market, we went to our first planned stop, Mayan ruins. Most of the cruise lines go to Chichen Itza, but over 10,000 people visit that site a day, and no one is allowed to climb on the ruins. Next we passed signs for Dzibulchaltun, but we kept going. Then we saw signs for Uxmal, but again, we kept going. I had heard of these 3 sites during our trip planning, but hadn’t heard of our destination, Mayapan. David told us that it is a smaller, lesser known ruins, but well worth it. We arrived at the site to find a whirlwind of butterflies gathered around a puddle of water. As we walked up to them, they flew around us in a cyclone of yellow and white.

We then walked into the ruins, and had the entire site all to just ourselves. It was literally our ruins to explore. Seriously, there were only 6 people in the entire ruins! David told us about the culture and the temples, as iguanas ran and hid from us at every turn. When we got to the God Temple, David said that we could climb it if we liked. My girlfriend’s youngest son was already a quarter of the way up before he finished his sentence. I decided to join him, and the view was amazing! After spending a good 5-10 minutes on top, it was time to descend the frighteningly steep steps. There were definitely no building codes back then! As we left the site, David provided us some fresh mango to enjoy.

Next was the trip to the cenote. I don’t know the name of the cenote that we visited, nor the village that was nearby. If I ever went back to Progreso and could find that cenote, I could swim in it all day long. We met up with Charlie in the village, and he biked ahead of us with his snorkeling gear to the spot. There was a scuba diver at the cenote, and David apologized for us not having private access to the cenote, but we didn’t mind. The sun streamed down into the cave at just the right angle to illuminate the surface of the water. It was a good 40-50 feet (I think it was that far) from the surface to the water down below. We walked down a wooden staircase built into the wall of the sinkhole and got to a platform at the water’s edge. I didn’t even test the waters, I just dove in. There is about a 20 foot section that is open to the sky above, and then a good 100 foot radius going into and underneath the cave, though the roof of the cave is a good 40-50 feet above your head! As we were swimming, one of the locals jumped in from a landing on the wooden stairs, probably a good 20 foot drop. So we decided that we should participate as well. The 2 boys and myself each took turns jumping from the stone wall into the clear blue waters down below. Finally David said it was time to go. But as we started to leave the waters, the scuba diver’s headlamp started illuminating the water down below us, it was a pretty amazing site. We came up to dry off, and enjoyed some cucumber and jicama for a snack.

I mentioned Charlie because some of the other reviews talked about eating a home-cooked meal at his house. While we wanted to enjoy some local cooked food, we just didn’t have time with our time in port to do so. Maybe next time.

It was a sad 1.5 hour drive back to the pier, knowing that our amazing day in Progreso was over. I honestly couldn’t have conceived of a better way to spend our time in port. That night back on the cruise ship, our fellow table mates at dinner were jealous to hear of our extraordinary excursion, and were a little disappointed that they hadn’t done a little more research to be able to have a similar experience.

I can honestly say that our private excursion was about the same price as most of the other full day excursions offered by Carnival, but ours was just that... ours. It really was one of the best vacation highlights that I have experienced in my life, and I want to thank Ralf, Roberto, and especially David. If we are ever back in Progreso, there isn’t a moment’s hesitation that we won’t book another trip with Lawson’s. 100%. Absolutely.

Perfect.

Visited June 2015

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g668864-d7168699-r285189134-Lawson_s_Original_Yucatan_Excursions-Progreso_Yucatan_Peninsula.html#
— http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g668864-d7168699-r285189134-Lawson_s_Original_Yucatan_Excursions-Progreso_Yucatan_Peninsula.html#

Gener was FABULOUS!

Robert took a tour with us to Mayapan and the nearby spectacular cenote and his comments were most enthusiastic:

First Gener was FABULOUS! If you want to book the tour I would HIGHLY recommend you ask for Gener. He is a great guy and a pleasure to listen to. He loves his his Mayan culture and knows it and its history well. Anyone can take you to the ruins, but he tells you why the ruins are the way they are and why they were built the way they were. Mayapan was awesome with only one other group showing up after we had been there about an hour. We were the only ones at the cenote and he took us through a small town on the way there and described everything. He was extremely patient with us and our questions. The cenote was beautiful and the swim was awesome. We asked him to stop a place for lunch and he brought us where he and his family often eat. Brought I right to the boat to drop us off even though he only had to bring us to the bus station.
— email

Angel the best, Adriana very helpful

Mia brought her 18 (that's right, eighteen) friends and they enjoyed a private tour on their recent cruise stop at Progreso. Once again, Angel proved to live up to his name.

The magical hidden cenote near Mayapan

We thank you guys for an awesome experience . Angel was the best and so was Joseph and Jorge. We enjoyed our tour, they were very nice to us providing our needs even before we ask for it. The ruins were beautiful and the cenote was magical, the kids had a blast.
It was an experience that we will cherish forever and Angel and the guys made it all possible.
Please give our thanks again to Angel, he was the perfect guide very knowledgeable and very helpful, willing to do everything to make this a special experience for everyone. He even worries about my mother In law who has knee issues, he made sure she has somewhere to seat under the shade at the same time too, not missing out on what she could get from the tour.
We truly appreciate the guys, hopefully we’ll have a chance to go back someday soon. We will surely spread the word about William Lawson tours, highly recommended
— - email -

And Mia's lovely review on TripAdvisor:

“Our Progreso experience with the awesome Angel of William Lawson Tours”

5 of 5 stars

Reviewed September 2, 2014 NEW

Our 2014 family annual vacation for a group of 19 people, 8 teen agers, 8 adults in their mid 40s and three senior citizens 81 y.o, 72 and 71 year old was set for a cruise with Carnival Elation from New Orleans to Cozumel, Mexico and Progreso, Mexico.

The excursion choices for Cozumel was overwhelming because there’s just so much to choose from, but our family decided will do our own snorkeling adventure at Chankanaab National Park. It was a totally different story with the Progreso stop because there were very few choices for excursion and from the reviews they said Progreso is boring.

So I have decided to do some research and found all the good reviews for William Lawson private tours here on TripAdvisor. That was just the start. So I decided to research some more and decided will give them a try. I contacted William Lawson tours and started corresponding with Adriana (who had been so helpful right from the start in deciding what we should do in Progreso) We have decided to tour the Mayapan ruins and swim in a cenote.

August 26, 2014, we arrived in Progreso and got off the boat around 9:12 am , hop on a free shuttle bus to Auto Progreso terminal and there was Angel with my name boldly printed on a board, with his welcoming smile. I was so happy to have gotten him as a tour guide because I have read so many good reviews about him. We boarded our 15 seater van with Angel and our very friendly driver Joseph (they had two vans for our party of 19, the other driver was Jorge ) They have cold drinks, water, soda and native mexican flavored drinks for our 1 1/2 hour travel to the Mayapan ruins. Angel was sharing tons of information with us all throughout our travel, you can very well see his love of his culture and he is very knowledgeable too. We appreciated every little information he was able to share with us and we asked him the silliest questions too and he did not mind that at all.

The Mayapan ruins was more than what I imagined it would be, it was beautiful and serene. It was very peaceful there too (no vendors) it was just our party of 19 and three other tourists. Angel even set up a place for my mother in law to sit under the shades because her knee is bothering her and she can not walk far (That was very thoughtful of Angel) The kids and adults climbed every structure and took tons of photos. Angel was our personal photographer too (among his many talents). We explored the different structures and we also found some iguanas. It was very hot that day (felt like we are inside an oven) and we were all dripping with sweat and on our way back to the vans Joseph and Jorge has prepared some watermelons, bananas, frozen chocolate covered marshmallows and a whole lot of drinks for us thirsty tourist which was so nice after being exposed to the extreme heat.

On the way to the cenote, Angel stopped for some more fresh fruits (what a treat !) Next stop was the highlight of our trip. The cenote, was amazing, magical, breathtaking ...... awesome(from our kids mouths) !!! It was scary to look at, because it was a bottomless sinkhole after all, but as soon as the sun shone on the water, we were in love! and the steep descent did not bother me at all. The water was so refreshing and the kids explored to find hiding places in the cave. And to our surprise after the very refreshing swim, they had food prepared for us again (you are the best Angel !!) pumpkin seed dip for freshly made tortillas, chicharones and native chips. The mayan family that was taking care of the cenote prepared the meal, we were so grateful and appreciative of their hospitality. The kids had a blast, it was awesome food in a very beautiful setting, what more can we ask for. (They also provided life vests, and towels for all of us) I have to mention that the towels smelled lovely ... : )

On our way back to the port, the kids wanted to try authentic mexican tacos and burritos (can’t believe they want to eat some more ... teen agers LOL ) . Angel stopped at El Trompo, the food was really good (loved the beef taco)and nothing like the tacos we have here in the US just beware of the sauces, they are really spicy. Before we enter the port, Angel even bought custard apples for all of us that we devoured in few minutes (so good).

What can I say about Angel of William Lawson Tours ..... he is the best !!! He is not only very knowledgeable as a tour guide, he is kind, thoughtful and provides things even before we ask for it. I highly recommend him and the tour to everyone visiting Progreso. Hopefully we’ll get to visit again some day and explore more with William Lawson tours .

Visited August 2014
— http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g150811-d256079-r226357947-Progreso-Merida_Yucatan_Peninsula.html#REVIEWS

David... a fantastic tour guide!

Sally and her group to our excursion to magical and under-visited Mayapan and the now-famous hidden cenote, a Lawson's favorite. They were very pleased! Here's what they had to say:

I wanted to let you know how wonderful our experience with David (and our driver) was on our Mayapan/Cenote excursion. Everything went so smoothly, from the pickup to the driving - we found David immediately and he made us feel right at home. He’s a fantastic tour guide - so knowledgeable about culture, history, and flora and fauna of the area. We all enjoyed his information on the cities and areas we visited. The trip to the markets at Acanceh was a good way for the kids to see how life in semi-rural Mexico is lived and we all enjoyed the fruits and vegetables that David procured. We were pleased that part of our tour fees went to support the local towns and communities. The Mayapan tour was excellent - David knew so much about the architecture and history of the buildings, and was smart in directing the kids to safe places to climb and explore. The highlight was the trip to the cenote; what a lovely, magical place to swim. I think we all will remember the trip forever.

I won’t hesitate to recommend Lawsons to anyone traveling in the area. It was a 5 star experience and a great value. Thank you so much for all your efforts in making it happen.
— - email -

The largest pyramid at the site of Mayapan is very similar to the main pyramid at Chichen Itzá. Probably because it was constructed by the folks from Chichen Itza who left there and came to Mayapan around 1200 AD.

Sad to leave...

Melinda and her family took a tour to the cenotes. Here is what she said about her tour.

Just wanted to let you know that our family was very pleased with Angel and Jorge as our tour guides! We were sad to leave them when it was time to get on the boat.
— - email -

Best excursion... anywhere!

William and his group of 16 arrived via Carnival and we also took them to the Mayapan & cenote tour... here are William's comments:

Thank you so much. It was by far the highlight of our trip and easily one of the best excursions we had been on anywhere. Everyone was very pleased.
— - email -

The view from inside the cenote...

Really enjoyed our trip...

The magical cenote you visit after seeing the Mayan ruins at Mayapan...

Lori and her family came to Progreso on Carnival and we showed them Mayapan and a beautiful cenote. Here's what they had to say:

This is Lori and I just wanted to let you know that we really enjoyed our trip with your company. Angel was a great guide and was very nice. We really enjoyed the mexican fruit that he shared and he was very informative.
— - email -

Awesome Tour!!

Darwin and his group of Blues Cruisers arrived in Progreso and we had the pleasure of showing them just a tiny taste of the Yucatan during their brief stop here. Here is what he had to say! 

I arranged a tour with Ralf at William Lawson tours for our day in Progreso. We had 10 people in town for the day off the Holland America Maasdam on a blues cruise. Since our cruise was a charter, our times were a bit irregular. Ralf earned my business by being the only tour operator I traded emails with that actually paid attention to what I asked and offered to personalize a tour for us. We were supposed to be in port from noon to 6pm, so our time was limited. At first we were going to tour some ruins, but then we decided to lessen the time driving that we would visit a local cenote and eat an authentic Yucatan meal. As it turned out we arrived almost an our late. We had exact directions on where to meet our tour guide, and even though we were late, Angel was waiting for us. He whisked us out of town in a very nice Mercedes van. At our request he stopped just outside of Progresso at a market so we could sample some of the local beers. He helped us pick them out and when they didn’t accept US money he paid for the drinks himself (we reimbursed him in US). Soon we were at the Noc Ac cenote. Our first impression was...that’s it? It looked very small, but we were just looking at the entrance to a cool underground cavern; not huge, but large enough to enjoy and explore. We loved it! After some swim time, we toweled off, loaded up, and headed out for some lunch. Instead of spending time driving to and dining in a restaurant, Ralf suggested that we visit his house where he would have an authentic Yucatan meal catered for us. I was a bit apprehensive, but quickly agreed because I was comfortable with Ralf. He called Angel several times during out trip to the cenote to be sure we were comfortable and being well taken care of. Ralf’s home was beautiful and he had tables set up for us in his backyard garden area. We enjoyed local cervezas, teas, and non-alcoholic beverages and 4 kinds of dips. Then we enjoyed a variety of sandwiches and tacos indigenous to the local area. Our favorite was cochinita pibil, a kind of pulled pork sandwiches. We really liked the habanero sauces, one mild (which is an oxymoron for habanero) and one that tasted mild initially but then had a wicked after-burner kick. Ralf was a fabulous host and took the time to speak with each and everyone of us. To us, he is no longer a tour provider, but our friend and he and his family are welcome in our homes whenever he is in Houston, Seattle, or Connecticut. All too quickly, we had to head back to our ship, but Angel still made time for us to stop at a local grocery for sodas and Halloween masks (so we could participate in a contest onboard...we came in 2nd). All in all, one of the best day trips we have ever had...and we’ve had plenty. We heartily recommend Ralf, Angel, Jorge (driver) and William Lawson for all your Progreso needs.

Visited October 2013
— http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g150811-d256079-r182627293-Progreso-Merida_Municipality_of_Merida_Yucatan_Peninsula.html#REVIEWS

Fresh Fruit. Delicious Chicken. Angel Fabulous.

Marie visited Mayapan and the hidden cenote with our popular guide Angel and was delighted. Read her comments below.

Stairs lead down to the crystal clear water at the hidden cenote near Mayapan

Thank you for writing us. Angel was absolutely fabulous. He was very
knowledgeable of your beautiful country and very proud of the heritage. We
felt very well cared for. He stopped and got bug repellent for us, had
fresh fruit that he had just cut for us after the cenotes and then we
stopped and got the most delicious chicken on our way home. We so enjoyed our trip and will recommend it
to everyone else that is coming to your area. Also we will put something
on Trip Advisor.
God bless you all.
Marie