Zipping Down the Zip-line, Plunging into the Cenote

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Sustainable tourism is a robust business and employs many people in places like the Yucatan. This afternoon I learned how one company has brought jobs and a lot of revenue by a simple formula. Selvatica offers American and Canadian tourists some adrenaline, a plunge in a natural pool, a simple meal, plus transportation from far-flung hotels up and down the Riviera Maya coast.
Selvatica got its start doing zip-lines in Costa Rica. Today I experienced their six-month-old zip-line operation here just down the highway from Puerto Moreles. Manager Alex Fuentes, 25, said that on a busy day, they’ll see up to 250 people come through their doors to take advantage of their packaged experiences. One includes a 12-stage treetops zip-line, a short bike ride through the jungle, and then a plunge into a cenote, or a deep sinkhole. Fuentes told me that between 60 and 80 local people have jobs taking tourists up the towers, driving, or cooking meals.
The road was just being finished when we visited today, with piles of yellow dirt being smoothed over. The company is about four years old, and most visitors are not Mexican. “They’re not an adventure type of culture, and the costs are sometimes too high,” he said. It costs $80 for the whole four-hour experience. They also offer a ropes course combined with dune buggy jaunts, and a trip to a plunge into another cenote.
What I like about this kind of business is that after they’ve paid to put up the zip-line, and bought a fleet of bikes and other equipment, they have an unlimited audience of new travelers who will eagerly pony up the $80 for this much fun. Plus, the participants buy photos and videos of themselves being wild and crazy.