Naharon – Or Cristal? The next favourite cave

Second day of MCEP project week, we were assigned to go to Naharon today! It was the first time I was diving with Yvonne, new dive buddy, I barely knew her before this dive, but as always, being GUE Cave 2 diver, we didn’t need that much of a talk regarding procedures, only about the plan, what did we wanted to do and where we would like to go, basically, where everybody recommended, this is one of the jewels of the GUE community, when a 3 hours dive with decompression, complex navigation and scientific tasks involved, only needs a GUE PLAN and a GUE EDGE on the cenote surface.  

Cenote Cristal – Entrance to Naharon on the back right side

Our task was fairly simple: have fun, and upon exit from the cave, take some algae and water samples from the cenote, so we could establish a baseline on the cenotes network of how is the status of the water. They wanted to compare both samples and the nutrients concentration on them, including the chemical components and water quality.  We took our twinset with Nitrox 32% and a stage tank (S80) with 32% as well, so we had enough gas to truly enjoy the cave.

Why is it called cristal? the cave actually is not even remotely similar or resembles anything related with a crystal; then I learned, that Cristal is just the cenote from where you entry Naharon cave. It is the same situation with cenote Escondido and Mayan Blue cave, which are connected through one of the tunnels.

Naharon cave map with our diving path

It was believed to belong to Sistema Naranjal, and then discovered that it is actually part of Ox Bel Ha system, the world’s largest underwater cave. Some local Maya history says that people used to threw their gold on this cenote to avoid being captured by the invading forces during the Caste war (1848 – 1902).

Cave entry from the inside, the first tie-offs are set up on the wooden sticks

Cenote Cristal, entrance to Naharon, is South of Tulum, on highway 307, on the right hand side as you are coming from town. There is a small parking lot at the entrance for snorkelers, swimmers and basically everyone who is not a diver. To entry you need to pass through the gate and pay the Mx $200 fee for the day. If you’re a diver, you can drive up to the cenote, which has a few papayas with toilets and picnic areas, including tables to gear up comfortably, and some platforms to get in the water.

STOP sign at the entrance of Naharon
One of the thousands of columns inside

The cave entry, is just opposite side of where you park, on the right hand side (North), so you need to swim across the cenote to find it. The main line is around 70 m into the cave, after the typical STOP sign, and it is on the right hand wall as you enter (North side), so you need a proper primary reel for it. There are some sticks placed on the entry for secondary tie-off and the rest are easy to place on the left wall. The cave is mainly fresh water, with the halo cline in 18 meters.

Going through one of the passages
A detail of the rock formations inside

We went through the main tunnel, taking the first T to the left, continuing through Desconocido Dome, jumping to The Jump Side, and then to the Dutch Connection. We continued towards the west, until we hit turn pressure on our back gas, leaving the stages just before jumping to the Dutch Connection tunnel. The Chac’s Room is an amazing area, bull of huge formations and a really big space, which will blow your mind wth the ceiling stalactites, all dark and pointing towards you. To get to this part, through our path, you will need five jump spools.

Detail of one of the cascades inside the cave
It has huge rock formations, all in dark colours
More speleothems with different rock composition

We took everything back on our return, coming through the same tunnels. It’s amazing how the cave changes with different perspectives. When we got to our stage tanks, we decided to continue on back gas for a little while on the previous line tunnel, as we still had some gas to explore, recalculate and go!

One of the passages full of stalactites, stalagmites and columns
Thousands of needles!!!!

Black or dark caves absorb the light tremendously, needing several sources along the way to iluminate the same area as you would do with other caves. Also, if there is too much light, you will have backscattering, due to the particles on the fresh water.


One of the tight passages

The area is more tight (red on the map), but is completely decorated with columns and other speleothems as well, completely incredible to be floating there. You can tell as well that this is not such as transited area, because of the amount of percolation on your way, specially yo can see the mist on the way back.
Our dive profile is shown below, having, where you can see where we turned back because of the symmetries, and also the depth profile of the cave.

Screen Shot 2017-12-14 at 17.38.05

On our exit, we cleaned the primary reel, and went to two different locations on the cenote to collect some algae and water samples.


Me, collecting algae samples
For each site, one water sample and one algae sample

Clean up, and have lunch at the cenote under the sun!!

And at the end, we had a special visitor from the jungle!!! they are actually really cute 😃

My new friend from the jungle!!!

 Dive Technicalities

  • Distance travelled: ~1200 meters
  • Upstream time: 53 minutes
  • Downstream time: 98 minutes (including excursion second branch)
  • Total diving time: 151 minutes
  • Maximum depth: 19 meters
  • Average depth: 13.8 meters
  • Gas: Nx 30.2 stage and Nx30.5 back gas
  • Tanks: 2 x S80 + S80
  • Temperature: 25ºC 
  • Dive base: Zero Gravity
  • Team: Yvonne & Belen

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