Bacalar

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Bacalar: un pueblo magico.


Home to the the Lake of the Seven Colors.

 

Bacalar is a picturesque community where lovers of nature, adventure, history and cultural events find a perfect setting. With a potential for the development of adventure tourism, cultural and historical, today Bacalar is a small and authentique city, with a very limited amount of tourists. Bacalar has a rich history, was occupied by pirates, passing through from the Carribean, through a small canal, and hiding their ships in the amazingly beautiful green-blue lagoon. The city is surrounded by jungle, and the fauna and flora is incredibly beautiful. The Mayans have chosen this location for it’s magic, that you can actually feel, once you set foot in these amazing surroundings.

 

Bacalar is the municipal seat and largest city in Bacalar Municipality in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, about 40 kilometres north of Chetumal, and close to Belize. The name most likely derives from Mayan: b’ak halal, meaning “surrounded by reeds”, the name of the locality attested at the time of the 16th century arrival of the Spanish.  Bacalar is also the name of the lagoon, Bacalar lagoon on the east side of the town.  Bacalar was a city of the Maya civilization in Pre-Columbian times. This was the first city in the region which the Spanish Conquistadores succeeded in taking and holding in 1543. In 1545 Gaspar Pacheco established the Spanish town here with the name Salamanca de Bacalar. The region of the southern half of what is now Quintana Roo was governed from Bacalar, answerable to the Captain General of Yucatán in Mérida. After the town was sacked by pirates in the 17th century, the Fortress de San Felipe Bacalar was completed in 1729, and may still be visited today.  In 1848 Bacalar had a population of about 5,000 people. In 1848 during the Caste War of Yucatán rebellious Chan Santa Cruz Maya conquered the town. It was not retaken by the Mexicans until 1902.  Bacalar was named a “Pueblo Mágico” in 2006. This is what Bacalar has to offer you:

 

La laguna de los 7 colores.

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The lagoon’s seven colors occur thanks to the different depths of its waters. This place is incredibly beautiful, and with a length of some 50 miles from North to South it’s the second largest lake of Mexico. It seems like a wide turquoise river flowing through the jungle around. The water is very clear, and looks turquoise due to the white sand of the bottom. Bacalar´s turquoise waters are enhanced by the deep green tone of the mangroves and reed beds. Safe and peaceful , this breathtaking turquoise lagoon is the prefect getaway place to be in peace with nature. Located in the southern part of the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico just 15 mi from the state’s capital Chetumal and 3 hours from Cancun, it sits near the coast just before Belice and the river that divides Belize from Mexico. Bacalar lagoon is linked to the Rio Hondo by the Chaac canal, also known as the Pirates Canal. In addition to its seven-colored lagoon, rest and relaxation, hammocks, and straw huts surrounded by legendary jungles, this village of Mayan descent is also known for adrenaline and water sports. For hundreds of years it’s been the territory of travelers and treasure hunters such as ourselves. It recently gave its name to the movie Bacalar, a story about adventure and environmental conservation.

 

El pueblo Bacalar

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If you are looking for a destination where you can relax, go swimming, eat fresh seafood and get up close to Caribbean culture, you won’t regret visiting the picturesque town of Bacalar. In this Magical Village of Bacalar you can take part in the festivities that the cheerful nature of the locals gives rise to. This is the case for the fairs and festivals that are celebrated in the town in honour of saints and sporting competitions. The village is quiet, and the locals are friendly. There are many options for food, the streets are cosy, and it is the perfect place to just hang around.

 

Fuerte de San Felipe.

Although its lagoon is its main attraction, Bacalar offers cultural, fun and entertainment activities for all the family. For anybody wanting to get up close to Caribbean culture and history, one exciting option is a visit to the Fuerte de San Felipe (Fort of San Felipe), which is home to the Museum of Pirates. As well as having a collection of antique objects, this site gives a privileged view over the lagoon and its surrounding area. In the evening, locals and tourists alike head for the main square, where you can admire the town’s typical, colourful buildings, regional handicrafts and much more. You should not leave Bacalar without trying its fresh seafood and “rice and beans”, a Caribbean classic prepared with coconut oil.

 

El canal de los piratas and the Piracy Museum.

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This canal links the Caribbean Sea, River Hondo, Laguna Bacalar and is known as the Pirates Road due to the face that it used to transit these characters from the Caribbean Sea. Right in front of the canal is a fort that was built to “greet”. any unwanted visitors with canon fire and the canal faces from fearsome battles in the 17th century. These days it has become one of Mexico’s must-see destinations, combining the beauty of the lagoon with the history of Mayan life and pirates. As mentioned before, inside the Fort of San Felipe, you can find more information about the pirates that conquered the town.

Since the beginning of the 17th century, Bacalar was a target of pirate attacks. Diego the Mulatto, a pirate of Cuban origin, who had been second in command to the Dutchman Cornelio Jol, better known as “Pegleg”, attacked and pillaged the town of Bacalar on several occasions. The pirates arrived by land or by going up the Río Hondo in small sloops, which owing to the shallow water could glide through the swamps that lead into the lagoon.

In the mid-17th century another pirate, called Abraham, raided Bacalar. Not content with just sacking the town, he also took the town’s women. The inhabitants retaliated, quickly rescuing the women. The skirmish was not forgotten by Abraham and in 1652 he attacked the town again, leaving it in such a state of devastation that only a few inhabitants stayed in it. The down did not manage to recover, since the population was decimated through hunger, diseases, attacks by rebel Indians and more assaults from pirates and smugglers.

Cenote Azul.

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Before leaving you must visit Cenote Azul. The cenote itself is an inviting crystalline lake. On one side of this lagoon, clearly identifiable by its circular appearance and with significantly darker tones, we find the natural wonder represented by the Blue Cenote, a magical place extremely attractive, mainly for divers and explorers of the region. By the entrance there’s a crafts shop that includes sculptures in stone and wood, embroidery, huipiles (traditional embroidered women’s dresses), figures made from reeds (figuras de carrizo), and hammocks. Look for ciricote-wood figures, a Bacalar tradition. There is a nearby restaurant and an overlook from which to view the lagoon’s surroundings. Before swimming you have to ask permission from the aluxes, the cenote’s water sprites. You can also make a wish here.

Sanctuary Bacalar.

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One of the best, or maybe even thé best place to experience the calmth and the magic of the lagoon, is Sanctuary Bacalar. This place is on the lagoon side where you can enjoy the beautiful view and go inside the crystal clear water, right after you wake up. It’s the ideal place to meditate or do some yoga, as the sunrise is one of the most impressing sunrises you will ever see! You can take the kayak any time you want, and go explore the lagoon or the mangroves by yourself. They make an amazing breakfast, as well as lunch, or they will be happy to advice you some nice places around to have dinner.

Except the private room you can rent,  you can also enjoy the several shared spaces ; the chill-out living room, outside and inside eating area, a big garden, or the chilling area in front of the lagoon, enjoying the sun and the water with its amazing views. Jose and Tamina, the owners, love to use their creativity on a daily base, expressing it with many different activities such as music, and are always open to hear your ideas and interests.

Bacalar is a magical natural place where you can enjoy stunning sunrises and sunsets.
Here at sanctuary you’ll get to come back home, to nature, to remember and enjoy the peace of mind, surrounded by the pure jungle. We choose to live our life here and now,and share the inspiration and calm with those people who seek it. We love to sail around the lagoon.

Feel free to eat well, express your creativity, laugh a lot and make music with us.

-José-

 

Another of their passions is sailing and exploring the lagoon, and they will be happy to show you around. Besides the lagoon, the Carribean Sea is one hour away, being the perfect spot for diving and relaxing at the beach. Their neighbors are the different species of colorful birds and the monkeys living in the jungle, surrounded with natures magical sounds at night.

Sanctuary Bacalar is about 10 km outside of the village of Bacalar, and accessible through a narrow path crossing the jungle, just off highway kilometer sign 29. A taxi from the village until here will cost you around 150 pesos, about 7 euros. Playa Del Carmen, Tulum and Mahahual are nearby, and can be reached by taxi or by bus. Visit the Facebook page or checkout Airbnb to stay in the Sanctuary and experience the beauty yourself!

 

How to get there?

From Chetumal take Highway 307 towards Cancun. Distance chart: To Chetumal – 45 km; To Cancun – 350 km; To Villahermosa – 580 km. ADO busses driving from all major cities around.

Picture credits to Moran Avni and Dolf Van Sprengel

Sources: Wikipidia.es, http://www.visitmexico.com, https://www.ado.com, chetumal.com/

Sanctuary Bacalar in airbnb

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Dolf Van Sprengel

chief executive wanderer

Dolf Van Sprengel is born and raised in Antwerp, and loves to travel to discover new cultures. Dolf loves nature and religion, amongst many other things. Since 2017 Dolf is the administrator of WANDERLUSTVLOG.

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