cenotes

Better than swimming with dolphins...

Some great people all the way from Tuscaloosa spent their cruise ship stop time with us. Here is what they had to say about their experience:

I wanted our kids, ages 15 and 11, to see Mexico for more than the usual cruise shopping stop. Our guide, Pepe, picked us up and took us on the tour of a lifetime. We climbed Mayan ruins, swan in an amazing cenote, ate authentic Mexican food in a family home and toured Pregresso. It was the perfect combination of adventure, culture and education. Kids loved this excursion best of all, even better than swimming with dolphins.

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g668864-d7168699-r312421066-Lawson_s_Original_Yucatan_Excursions-Progreso_Yucatan_Peninsula.html#
— TripAdvisor

Angel was an amazing guide!

Marshall and Christy were here last week, on the Carnival cruise ship. Here's what they had to say about their private tour for two...

My wife and I took a private tour of the Progreso area with Angel as our guide. He was so great to talk to, knew the area and took us to 5 beautiful cenotes and a small Mayan temple. The entire trip was perfect, with us getting a great cooling swim in a gorgeous cenote and lots of pictures. Angel provided snacks and drinks for the car ride (in a great car, leather interior and good A/C!). One of the highlights of the trip was eating lunch in an open air restaurant where Angel ordered us Mayan Tamales and Panuchos. The Panuchos were amazing... the best food we ate on the entire trip, including the cruise ship dinners!

We were a little nervous at first about booking something not affiliated with the cruise ship, but we are so glad we did. Not only was this the highlight of our cruise this year, it was one of our best vacation experiences ever. I can’t say enough good things about Angel and how he made us feel welcome in the Yucatan.
— Lawsons Original Yucatan Excursions website

David and Roberto, beyond hospitable

Thank you to Tracy who sent in this wonderful comment on her recent excursion from Progreso, where she arrived on the Carnival cruise ship. David was the friendly guide and Roberto the professional driver who were in charge of making her day the best it could possibly be.

We really wanted a unique and private experience with our short time in port in Progreso. Our hopes were beyond met with our tour from Lawson’s Original Yucatan Excursions! Our group had 5 children ranging in age from 8 to 18, and every one of us was enthralled with David’s knowledge of the culture and history. He and Roberto, our driver, were beyond hospitable, and anticipated and met our needs before we even asked for anything! Everything was catered toward our pace too. If we wanted to stay a little longer at one place, they were very accommodating. We never felt rushed even though our debarking in Progreso was delayed due to fog. This excursion was everything that we had hoped for and more! I will recommend Lawson’s Original Yucatan Excursions to anyone going to the Yucatan for any reason! And we will definitely be returning to them if/when we return someday!!

(Sent via Lawsons Original Yucatan Excursions)
— website comment

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#

Do it right, do it with Lawson's

Randy and his crew joined Angel and had a most spectacular time. Read Randy's review of his trip!

I’ve been visiting the Yucatan since the seventies, have met some wonderful people there, and I actually really feel at home when I’m down there. Recently I was talked into going on my first ever cruise and it included Progreso as a port of call. While some cruisers have expressed disappointment with Progreso excursions, If anyone ever goes there and says that they didn’t like it, well they didn’t do it right. They didn’t do it with William Lawson’s. From my first communication with Adriana, I knew we made the right choice. Rather than advise me of our tour itinerary, she asked me about our interests and they sculpted our excursion around our desires. Our group (2 couples) were interested in seeing some ruins and more importantly experiencing cenotes. But I didn’t want to stand in line to visit crowded tourist attraction type places. In Progreso we were greeted and introduced to Angel, our guide /driver. Our excursion included a visit to a rustic but beautiful old church in Tecoh, the Mayapan ruins, and a very special visit to a magnificent cenote hidden in the jungle that we had all to ourselves. All very wonderful experiences that we will cherish the memories of forever. Our guide was very professional and knowledgeable. But what Angel is most is passionate. Passionate and proud of his heritage and very enthusiastic about sharing his knowledge of it and Mayan culture with us, as well as his love for family and our environment. On the way to the cenote we picked up Charly “The Lifeguard”. Charly was to be our escort for the wet part of our cenote experience. After the cenote we unexpectedly stopped back at Charly’s for the best part of our excursion and the most memorable part of my vacation. We were greeted by Charly’s happy family and his “Mommy” welcomed us into her humble “kitchen” where she showed how she prepared meals and even let us help make the best tortillas ever. Then they served us a moderate yet spectacular meal that we I’ll never forget. I can’t express how touched we were by the love this family has for each other and showed us. I am so grateful to Angel for introducing us, and to Charley for sharing them. We were introduced to Angel as our guide but we adios’d him as un buen amigo.
Thanks to Lawson’s Original Yucatan Excursion’s
Randy West
aka “Scott”
— https://www.facebook.com/randy.west.581/activity/10204752056193265

AMAZING Dive Master!

Our first diving experience! A group of cruisers included two who wanted to dive - yes, actually dive, in a cenote. That is with the fins, oxygen tanks and all that. So we got a divemaster and set that up for them and apparently it went quite well! Read on...

We had so much FUN!

We are going to try and come back on Dec 26th

Can you see if the AMAZING dive master you guys found is available? It will just be me diving. My hubby and daughter will be with me too.
— email

Mr. Vallejos (aka Gener)... awesome tour!

Yvonne and her cruising group stopped in at Progreso and chose us to show them around. It was Mom's birthday so we made it special.

My family and I have returned safely to our home. I wanted to thank you for your assistance in booking our Uxmal tour. Mr. Vallejos was an amazing guide and so knowledgeable about the ancient stories of the Mayans. My family enjoyed hearing the stories of the Mayans and their culture, games and lifestyle. The kids and my brother in law were fascinated with the Cenote and enjoyed swimming there. My mother is grateful for the wonderful gift and beautiful flowers which made her feel so special. A special thanks to Mr. Vallejos for introducing us to his mom and the corn tortilla making process. We all enjoyed watching how they make tortillas and tasting them. On behalf of my family and I please accept our most sincerest gratitude for the awesome tour.

Regards,
Yvonne
— - email -

The Yaxcopoil Hacienda - photo R. Hollmann

Angel was... amazing!

Lucas and his family took a tour to some Mayan ruins and followed that with a visit to a pretty, hidden cenote. Here's what they had to say...

Thank you for checking on us and I’m sorry for taking so long to respond... We had an absolutely great time!!! Angel, our guide, was amazing!!! Please keep him working with the company as he is awesome!!! The van he picked us up in was in great shape and air conditioned... We felt completely safe the entire time... The Mayan ruins were gorgeous and we had the place almost all to ourselves... I have taken the “boat tour” and this is trip was worlds better!!! We then headed to the cenote, and WOW... Again, almost all to ourselves... Only one other small family there... The was was super clear and soo refreshing!!! Angel had a small lunch prepared for us that was unexpected and very delicious!!! Angel was very cognizant of getting us back to the boat in plenty of time to board...

Please keep Angel working with your company as he is a huge asset!! We will be using William Lawson again and will be referring people to you... We will be adding a Trip Advisor comment as well... I am going to send you a few pics from our tour... I do not have the Mayan Ruin pics with me right now, but will send some of those soon as well....

Thank you, your company, and Angel for a great and unforgettable time!!!!
— - email -

Will always remember our day there...

Brent and his family visited us through Carnival and their stop at Progreso. Here is an excerpt from his really nice email:

... My family had the Mayapan and Cenote tour earlier this week. We wanted to thank you all for the experience in Progreso. We had a great time with Angel and Jorge. Angel was such a great and knowledgeable tour guide. We are so glad we decided to do that on our visit. My family will always remember our day there...
— - email excerpt -

Angel did a great job.

Susan and her group came to Progreso with Carnival and had this to say about their excursion with Lawson's:

Everyone in our group thought Angel did a great job. He had so much information and you could tell that he loved sharing that info about his home. We liked that he let us choose what to do and in what order. It was a very informative day and leisurely as well. We will definitely recommend this tour. Arturo was great also. Thanks so much!
— - email -

Exactly what we had hoped for...

Pete and Jim took a private tour from Merida to see Uxmal and the surrounding area. Here is what they had to say...

Hi Mr. Lawson:

We made it back to Wisconsin! We drove home in a snowstorm from Milwaukee and said to ourselves, “We are really going to miss the Yucatan!”.

Thank you so much for being our guide on the Puuc Route and choosing so many wonderful things to see along the way. The tour was exactly what we had hoped for…a little glimpse into the culture and people of the Yucatan, a little history and a LOT of fun! Your knowledge of and sensitivity to the people, culture and environment of the Yucatan clearly was the highlight of our trip.

Jim keeps telling friends and family about swimming in the cenotes and I tell them about the monkeys at the cacao farm and feeding the iguanas those fragrant yellow blossoms at the Uxmal ruins. We also stopped by and tried your wife’s cookies and carrot cake too! It was so very nice to meet you…if you’re ever in Green Bay, we’ll take you on an Original Green Bay Excursion! Deep-fried cheese curds, a tour of the Packer Hall of Fame and a swing up to Door County for a swim at Cave Point!

Take care and thanks again!

Pete & Jim
— - email -

Blown away by Lawson's!

Candice, a professional photographer who took some stunning photos that she has generously offered to share (gallery below) on her excursion with us, had this to say about her tour:

I just wanted to say that my boys and I were blown away by your team. We enjoyed our tour SO much. I really can’t express how amazing our guide Jose was.

It’s not easy being in a different country alone, with two small children, but he made us feel so safe and well cared for. I’ve never experienced a tour this tailored to just us and should I ever return to the area (which I may make a priority), we will absolutely book through you again.

Progreso is not highly regarded amongst travelers online, but it was the highlight of our trip thanks to Jose.

By comparison, Cozumel was boring!

Candice K
— - email -

Wonderful day!

We took Diana and friends to Ek Balam and the area recently. Here is what she had to say: 

Chilling in the Xcanché cenote near Ek Balam

Buenos dias,

Thank you for the pictures and for the wonderful day we spent with you seeing some of the great things the Yucatan has to offer. Without your help we would never have experienced your special restaurant in Temozon and its amazing smoked meats. Truly yummy!! Also the beautiful custom furniture. Bob is thrilled with his new case, it was exactly what he has been looking for??

Hope to see you again soon and see more of your special places,
Diana
— - email -

Lawson's Tour Far Better...

Elizabeth and her family chose Lawson's Original Yucatan Excursions for their day trip when they visited Progreso with Carnival las summer. Here is what she has to say:

The cenote at Dzibilchaltun - refreshing on a hot day!

The cenote at Dzibilchaltun - refreshing on a hot day!

Tour Review for Lawson’s Original Yucatan Excursions
Jan 05, 2014, 4:24 PM
Last July (Yes, it has taken me this long to get this posted...) my family went on a cruise to Progreso, Mexico and booked a tour with Lawson for our day on shore. I had been to Progreso before and taken the ship’s tours and without a doubt, taking a tour with Lawson was by far better.
I corresponded with Ralf before the trip to plan our excursion and he developed a tour that was perfect for our family. We decided to visit a local marketplace, a couple of cenotes and a small Mayan ruin. Our family consisted of our parents which are in their late sixties and our four children which ranged in age from eighteen to eleven, my husband and myself.
We took the free shuttle to meet Ralf and Angel at AutoProgreso (there is a front and a back to the building with a small market between them, if you get there and can’t find your tour guide, walk through the market to the other side where the taxi drivers park, we made this mistake and Angel had to come find us)
We drove to a local market and got to walk around and sample some of the local fruits and vegetables, drinks and food. We felt safe the entire time which was important to us because of a previous trip and tour that had given us a few causes for alarm. We ate pork sandwiches and drank local made juices (there were about four different types that we sampled) then we visited a couple of different local vendors in the market square. We visited a turn of the century church and was serenaded by a local farmer.
As we drove to our first cenote, Ralf was able to handle our multitude of questions and Angel stopped here and there to gather samples of leaves and fruit from local trees and bushes. We were able to sample and handle some of the most interesting and delicious vegetation.
The first cenote we visited was basically just a large hole in the ground filled with crystal clear water that looked like a filled cave once you were in it. There was a latter and ropes strung across the top of the water. There were divers there to dive into the caverns below. Our children had the best time jumping into the cenote and swimming. Our parents sat on a rock wall and enjoyed visiting with Ralf and Angel and a few other local people that were there to enjoy the day. I appreciated the fact that this cenote was secluded and not crowded as we were able to enjoy ourselves without dodging the multitudes that seem to congregate at such beautiful sites.
Ralf brought towels for us and had cold drinks to share as we climbed back into the van to head to a small Mayan ruin, Dzibilchaltun. I just began a new teaching job that included covering the Mayan culture and Angel was like a lifeline for me as we toured this ancient settlement because my questions were never - ending. Angel patiently answered EVERY one of them and Ralf was generous enough to herd our four adventurous children on to the cenote within the settlement that had little fish that liked to exfoliate the dead skin from your body which tickles tremendously. We joined them to cool off from the heat and relax for a while. Our parents took the opportunity to do some photo taking because the scenery is beautiful there.
We loaded back into the van, stocked with cold drinks and headed back into the city for a little shopping time before we had to get back on the ship.
If you are looking for an interesting, fun tour where someone else takes great care of you and all you have to do is go along for the ride, then book with Lawson. Our children are still talking about the great time they had and all the interesting things they learned without realizing it.
— by email

Everything was Amazing!

Jessica and her hubbie came in on the Carnival cruise ship and visited the cenotes. Here are her comments!

IMG_3836.jpg
Everything was amazing, we were totally blown away. It was a culture shock to see the village of Cuzama, but overall it was a great experience that made us very grateful for what we have in life. And the cenotes.. OH MY GOSH!! Amazing, so unique and just right up our alley of what we love to explore. They were just breath taking, words just can’t describe how special the cenotes are. And Jorge was wonderful, a true joy and just so nice. Shepard jokes around a lot so I hope Jorge didn’t think we were silly Americans :)
Thank you again for everything, your business really made our trip special and priceless. The balloons were so thoughtful, that was very sweet of you, thank you so very much. We are definitely going to spread the word of your awesome business and review you as much as possible online. Thank you again for everything, we will for sure contact you if we are in the area again.

-Jessica
— email

Y'all are the best!!!

Jen, who visited for a day from the cruise ship, booked a tour for her family to the cenotes (https://william-lawson.squarespace.com/the-chunkanancuzama-cenotes/) and had this to say about her day:

Horse-drawn rail platform called a "truck" takes people into the cenote at Chunkanan

The trip was amazing! Angel is an awesome guide! He totally put us at ease and we could tell he really wanted us to see the non-tourist view of the Yucatan! Angel went out of his way throughout our time with him. From making note that my daughter had mentioned she had ridden a horse before and putting her on a mini ride with one of the the horses at the cenote, taking pictures for us of our family as we played in the water, to explaining the culture and life of the towns we went through. It was great going through an actual Mercado.

We will definitely tell everyone about our excursion using William Lawson Guides! Y’all are the best!!!
Thanks so much and God Bless!
Jen
San Antonio, TX
— email

We absolutely loved all of it!

Carol from Texas and her hubby Steve took a private tour when they sailed in last month on the Carnival cruise ship. The two of them went to Uxmal and also did part of the Yaxcopoil hacienda experience, complete with a totally private cenote! Here's what they had to say: 

Thank you again for designing our tour for us. We absolutely loved all of it. We enjoyed the unique feel to the tour and thought that our guide (Gener) and driver (Jorge) were excellent. It was very nice of everyone to surprise Steve with a “birthday tortilla”. We appreciate everything and will recommend your company to others. I have already recommended you to someone on the ship that is a frequent cruiser.



I hope we get a chance to do it again.



Carol

We enjoyed ourselves so much!

Jessica and her family opted for the Chunkanan and Homun cenote excursion on their recent visit off the Carnival cruise ship. Here is what they had to say...

Getting ready to take the horse-drawn rail platform into the Yucatan underbrush to see the Chelentun cenote in Chunkanan

Hi. We enjoyed ourselves so much. It was such a private experience. We didn’t have to share or wait in line. It was great. Thank you so much. Our tour guide Gener, was really great also. He took lots of pictures and was able to beam them to my phone right then and there. I didn’t have to worry about taking pictures. Yay! Thanks again.