The Celestun Biosphere is a wildlife retreat, with fantastic bird watching
Less than two hours from Merida, the capital of Mexico’s Yucatan state, is the Celestun Biosphere, a protected reserve brimming with winter migrating birds. Far from Cancun’s crowded beaches and ruins, Celestun is a relatively undiscovered luxury wildlife retreat, with fantastic bird watching opportunities and environmentally focused luxury lodging.
Spanning two states and 146,000 acres, the biosphere is home to mangrove forests, crocodiles and more than 300 bird species. Awarded protected status in 1979, the biosphere’s main attraction is the colony of flamingos that end their winter migration on its muddy salt flats. The best time to visit is during the winter months between November and March, but small numbers of flamingos can be seen year round.
The heart of the reserve is a wide saltwater estuary that winds past small, shrubby islands on its way to the Gulf of Mexico. Guided boat trips can be picked up in Celestun. As soon as you set off, kingfishers, cormorants, hummingbirds and pelicans can be spotted on all sides. Farther upstream, the horizon turns pink and the boat punts towards hundreds of squawking flamingos, hopping in and out of the water as they forage for lunch or fly off to the riverbanks.
The water is full of darting and jumping fish, and the mangrove roots — some the height of a double-decker bus — tower over the boat. Park authorities built a raised walkway through the forest, so you can leave the boat and wander through the trees or go for a dip in one of the freshwater springs.
A boat tour takes between two to four hours and the guides, available in English or Spanish, make great efforts to point out all of the birds.
If the thought of becoming lunch for the lurking crocodiles puts you off, an aerial flyover of the landscape is also spectacular. MayAir, Southeastern Mexico´s most successful charter airline flies low over the flamingoes and often the birds take off in pursuit of the light aircraft and happily fly alongside. MayAir shuttles are available for private tours to take you on this beautiful journey and depart from Merida airport. Reservations are available from the website www.mayair.com.
In order to respect the native wildlife tours to the biosphere are limited and need to be organized through an authorized travel agent. Do not miss this amazing opportunity to get up close with nature in the Yucatan. Contact us today at www.lomastravel.com to book this amazing experience.