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Under The Jungle - Review

Discussion in 'Mexico' started by Skulmoski, Oct 15, 2019.

  1. Skulmoski

    Skulmoski Barracuda

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Gold Coast, QLD
    I returned from 4 days of guided cenote cavern diving with Under The Jungle (Xpu-ha, Playa del Carmen) and would like to offer a review. I was a solo traveler and I attended a 3 day conference in Merida following these days of diving.

    I found this dive shop from reading Scubaboard.com including a private chat with The Chairman. I contacted Nat Gibb and make a booking for guided cavern diving. I placed a deposit through PayPal and I was on my way to bucket list diving with some of the best.

    I booked into one of their studios at a very reasonable rate (please check their website for costs as I will not include them here). The room had a queen size bed with a dining table for 2. There is a bathroom in the suite with a shower/bathtub. The suite had a single hot plate, microwave and refrigerator. There were pots and pans, cups and glasses, and a coffee maker. I brought a carrot peeler and was surprised to find this utensil in their kit! There is a charcoal BBQ outside and outdoor furniture that I was invited to use. Under the kitchen counter, there was a hand-pump, 20 l bottle of water for drinking and cooking. My booking with Rory was smooth and trouble-free. Rory took me to a large grocery story when I arrived and I purchased enough groceries to sustain me for the diving. I had eggs, juice, fruit and a few other healthy things each morning. Consider bringing a kitchen towel for dishes and other kitchen use. Staying onsite with a 15 minute walk to the beach was perfect for me.

    I brought my own gear and used a single tank with back plate and wing. My guide dived in back-mounted doubles. I used boots and a 3mm hood with my 5mm wetsuit. I was never cold. I did not bring any reels or spools, nor did I bring a DSMB (safety sausage). I did bring Light Monkey lights.

    I started my journey in Brisbane, Australia, so I had a long journey, with many connecting flights. I divided my gear among 2 checked and one carry on bag (e.g. one mask and Shearwater dive computer in my carry on bag). I booked a transfer with USA TRANSFERS and never received a confirmation. I did chat online and my booking was confirmed. However, my flight was delayed into Cancun, and my pickup was missed. I found the USA TRANSFER team outside the terminal, and within 5 minutes, I had another ride. Within an hour, I was at Under The Jungle, I checked in, took my gear to my room, and diving equipment to the Equipment Room. Then, Rory took me to pick up groceries.

    Under The Jungle has a nicely designed and functional equipment room to maintain your gear, charge batteries and store gear to dry. It is about 7 meters by 4 meters with work benches on two sides, and drying racks on the other long side. There are gas analysers and I used nitro 32 on all my dives. There is a large tub outside the equipment room to rinse gear.

    The next morning I met my guide - Marcelin - and he gave me a cenote and diving briefing (40 minutes) in their classroom (nice learning environment!). The briefing was on a tablet/TV and we covered topics like cavern geology, safety, procedures, signals, etc. Now it was time to dive!

    Each day started around 8:30, where I analysed my two cylinders, packed my dive gear into solid plastic crates, and then was driven to the cenote by my guide in his truck. At the Cenote entrance, I would pay around 300-400 pesos to access the cenote. Usually, we were the first or second into the water. There were no crowds since it was low season. The diving began with a safety check.
    Day 1 - Dos Ojos, check and fine tune buoyancy, two dives
    Day 2 - Le Pit, 2 dives
    Day 3 - Ponderosa and Tajma-ha, 1 dive each
    Day 4 - Dreamgate, 2 dives
    The diving is some of the best I have had despite diving in Thailand, Australia, Egypt, Philippines, UAE and Oman. The water was crystal clear; dare I say, perfect visibility! The diving is better than what you see in the videos and photos. My guide gave me positive feedback and my diving improved over the 8 dives. Thank you Marcelin. (Marcelin and the other instructors/guides, are multilingual so they accept international guests.)

    Each day, we stopped at small, family owned and operated, restaurants. I had tacos and a beer each day. I ate everything and after about 5 days in Mexico, I started a dose of Flagyl 500mg for suspected giardiasis. I purchased the Flaglyl 500mg at the pharmacy without a prescription.

    The Playa de Xpu-Ha beach is a 15 minute walk from Under The Jungle. I went there two times after diving to chill on the beach. There were a few people snorkelling and I was told you might see turtles. I instead had a Clamato juice with beer. Each time, there was a band playing and people were dancing on the beach. There is also a beach restaurant (fish and chips, chicken wings, burgers, etc.). The beach closes around sunset.

    The Under The Jungle team gave me a complete diving experience that was world class. They excelled at guided diving and would conclude that they would also excel at TDI courses. I wish Nat and her team continued success and I recommend Under The Jungle without reservation.

    Greg Skulmoski
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    paolobl65, jmb, Redfoot and 10 others like this.

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