WE KIT UP ON a small wooden bench at the back of the pick-up truck, enclosed on all sides by the impenetrable green wall of the jungle. There is no view of water; our destination is just a wooden staircase leading down into a crack in the earth.
These are certainly surreal surroundings for scuba, but I am about to experience one of diving’s freshest experiences.
The steps lead down into a pool of smooth, dark water. I slip in and dip my head into El Pit cenote.
Suddenly I feel much smaller. This tiny plunge pool is the opening to a huge world, both underwater and underground.
Looking down, I can see about 30m, but I can’t see the bottom; in front this
T-shaped cavern extends away into the darkness. Welcome to the world of cenote diving!
Any of us looking to expand our photographic horizons should place a trip to Mexico’s cenotes at the top of our list. The cenotes offer two types of diving. Cavern-diving is open to all, and takes place always in view of the light from an entrance, although this still means going into some very dark spaces.
Cave-diving is the technical discipline that requires special training and equipment, but allows divers to explore the fully dark and much less visited parts of the cenotes.
Full-blown cave-diving gives a photographer access to the best cave formations, but the photographic potential of caverns should not be under-estimated. All the images in this and next month’s columns are taken during cavern-dives that any open-water-qualified diver can experience with a guide.
Cavern areas still have attractive speleothems (stalactites, stalagmites etc) and have the big advantage that the beams of sunlight that penetrate through openings make the most attractive subject of all.