Where’s Ellen? Part Four…


Ellen is cave diving in Tulum 😉

Tulum might be on your bucket list for diving the beautiful cenotes where sunlight penetrates the sinkholes and creates stunning sceneries. Guides take people in these caverns the whole time but the exact definition of a cavern dive seems a bit stretched to me. In some areas daylight is 60 meters away, try swimming that distance in an ‘out of air’ scenario…

To feel safe entering the underworld and be there for my offspring in the future, I embarked on a RAID full cave course last year and once I mastered the skills I was allowed to enter this stunning underwater wonderland which literally sometimes takes my breath away, but…in a good way!

This year I returned to maintain my skills with UK cave instructor Garry Dallas (Simply Sidemount & Simply Tec) and after a few days I felt confident to go on a dive with Explorer Robbie Schmittner.

For decades Robbie’s been passionate discovering new cenotes, caves and passageways and his aim is to find the connection between the different systems discovered today and explore new ones, making the underwater world in the Yucatan the biggest cave system in the world. Last year he found the connection between Sac Actun and Dos Ojos and his quest for the near future is the connection to Ox Bel Ha.

Robbie spoiled me and our two days in the jungle will be hard to forget. The first day was pretty off the beaten track to Yab Yum for a stage dive which brought us to a giant pit where I felt like skydiving or soaring through space. (The image of a man in black signaling me to enter the dark side will be imprinted in my brain forever).

On the second day we were guided through one of his explorations from 1999: Dos Pisos. The diversity of speleothems and even underwater tree roots, some dissolved within the calcite drips, makes this a world where your imagination is tickled and it reminded me of an eerie fantasy world where nymphs were about to appear.

Cave diving is not for everyone but chances are that those who take that plunge are pretty hooked on it.

If you’d rather explore by the seat of your pants, you can follow Robbie on Instagram @Robbieschmittner. Explore through his eyes, it’s a stunning world!

Find out more about Ellen and her photographic adventures at www.ellencuylaerts.com.

Ellen Cuylaerts

Ellen Cuylaerts

As an underwater and wildlife photographer, Fellow of The Explorers Club and having a front seat in exploration being part of the Flag and Honours Committee, Ellen was also recently inducted in the Women Divers Hall of Fame. She travels the world and tries to make the most of every destination and the path that leads her there. Ellen acts as an ocean citizen and believes as divers we should all be ocean ambassadors and lead by example! She’s also a crazy cat lady and lives with her family in the Caribbean.

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