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Cozumel canoe crossing 2013
Mayan canoe crossing.

The countdown has started for this year's Mayan canoe crossing from the mainland to Cozumel and back.

Some 300 paddlers in 30 canoes will take part in the 7th historic Travesía Sagrada Maya, or Mayan Sacred Journey, from May 23 to 25, 2013.

This celebrated three-day reenactment brings to life the ancient, mystical journey taken by the Maya in their quest to pay tribute to the goddess Ix Chel, whose sanctuary rests on the island.

To start off events, on May 23 a traditional Kii’wik market will be held at the Xcaret Mayan themed park on the mainland south of Playa del Carmen, followed by the official opening ceremony with traditional music and dance.

Cozumel Sacred Crossing 2013
Three-day reenactment brings to life the ancient, mystical journey.

The crossing itself starts early on the morning of May 24, as the canoers set off from Xel-Ha, a harbor close to Xcaret once known to the Mayans as Polé. They'll first canoe parallel with the coast towards Akumal before turning and heading across the channel.

Depending on sea conditions, the 30 mile paddle is expected to take 7 to 8 hours, after which they will arrive tired but happy to Chankanaab Park in Cozumel.

The following day, May 25, they have another early start. This time it's to paddle back from Chankanaab to Xcaret on a shorter and more direct 19 mile route that should take 4 to 6 hours.

Once back on the mainland they will be met by rapturous applause from the huge crowd that awaits them.

The modern Mayan Sacred Journey began in 2007 and sought to reawaken interest from locals and educate visitors about this ancient culture.

It relives a pilgrimage thought to have first been undertaken by the Maya thousands of years ago, before becoming a more established ritual some 500 years ago.

Travesia sagrada Maya Cozumel
Fascinating glimpse of the region's ancient history.

People from all around the Yucatan Peninsula used to cross to Cozumel once a year from harbors such as Polé and Xamanhá, today known as Xcaret and Playa del Carmen.

Once on the island, they would receive a message from the goddess Ix Chel, which was delivered by a priest and taken back to the mainland to guide how communities should live.

The modern representations of the sacred event provide not only a fascinating glimpse of the region's ancient history, but also an important economic boost for tourism.

Its success and importance are seen in the continuing increase in number of commercial sponsors for the event. Today they include such names as Pepsi and Avis.

Visit the Sacred Mayan Crossing website in English for more details or see our tourist information section for more about Cozumel events.

Related News:

Back To The Baktun In Cozumel Dec 6, 2012.

Journey Of Significance May 26, 2012.

Tough Paddling To Cozumel May 26, 2011.

Training For Sacred Canoe Journey Jan 27, 2011.

Goddesses, Chocolate And Canoes May 27, 2010.

A Sacred Mayan Journey May 13, 2009.

Feature: Sacred Mayan Journey Oct 16, 2008.

Pilgrims Paddle To Cozumel May 14, 2008.

Sacred Canoe Crossing June 6, 2007.

Magical Spring Clean May 23, 2007.