With its 6th-century Mayan ruins overlooking crystal blue waters, Tulum has long been a hidden gem for backpackers and hippies alike. But in recent years, this has changed. Hotels, each more extravagant than the last, are multiplying. The once-sleepy Mayan town now attracts nearly 2 million visitors per year. And in Tulum, as in the rest of Mexico, powerful drug cartels impose their rules…
In a jungle treehouse, high above the ground, Benjamin is settling into his new hotel room. Forget about showers, air conditioning or even light bulbs. Here, it’s all about reconnecting with nature. But this simple life is reserved for only the wealthy. A room at this hotel costs $1,000 a night. Supper at the restaurants runs to $600 per person.
Niki and her friends have come to Tulum to party. The Day Zero festival, which takes place in the jungle, attracts people from all over the world. But the arrival of these partygoers has seen an increase in drug trafficking. As a result, turf wars between gangs have grown year on year. In 2020, there were over 30 shootings.
And the arrival of mass tourism in Tulum has had other devastating, consequences. The main forest that surrounds it is home to one of the richest biodiversities in the world. Now this jungle is under threat, cleared to make room for new developments.
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