Yucatan Ecology – Exploring Nature and Wildlife

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Whether it is your first time to the Yucatan Peninsula, or you have been here many times before, there are always new places and things to see, new adventures to have and new wildlife species to observe.

If you are interested in learning as much as possible about Yucatan ecology, joining one of the guided trips is a good idea. The experienced guides will have a lot to tell you about nature and wildlife and you will learn many interesting facts.

Yucatan Adventure Tours

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There are adventure tours available for the entire Yucatan, with most of them starting from Playa del Carmen or Cancun. These two cities are located in convenient proximity to many Mayan ruins, biosphere reserves, coral reefs and water sport locations. If you want to see as much of Yucatan as you possibly can, starting your adventure from one of these two cities will open many possibilities for you.

The Yucatan Eco-System

Mexico has a very diverse and rich eco-system; deserts and mountains, tropics, forests and wetlands, marshes and mangroves, canyons, cenotes, gorges and anything else you can think of.

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Most of the Yucatan Peninsula is covered by semi-tropical forest, which most people know simply as ‘jungle’. It is almost completely inaccessible, except in some areas where a road has been built or there are trails which you can take on foot. The coastline has many well-developed towns and highways, while on the Peninsula the settlements are small and mostly home to hunters, who live in small communities.

If you choose to explore it alone, you could get into danger, which is why it is always advisable to use an experienced guide who knows the area very well and can take you to the places you would like to see.

There are several commercial ventures where tourists can experience and see the Mayan way of life. Xcarel and Xel-Ha are two such eco-friendly parks, where the beauty of the natural coastline is accessible for everyone. In these eco-friendly parks tourists can see people dressed in traditional Maya costume, showing how different crafts and agricultural work was done in the past.

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In Yucatan most of the rivers run underground, and there are many caves, caverns and also the so-called cenotes. Some of them are only known to the people who live in the area and you would need a local guide to take you there; others are well-explored and mapped and suitable for diving. It is said that some of these caves and waterfalls were once used by the Mayan kings and queens, and you can take a mud bath with terracotta clay and wash it off under a waterfall the way they used to.

Abundance of Life

Many lagoons and small lakes remain untouched by civilization, with very few cabins, cottages or small fishing villages built around them. A great deal of marine life can be seen in all lagoons and lakes, as well as the ocean surrounding the Yucatan Peninsula.

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When it comes to flora and fauna, the state of Quintana Roo comes to mind. This state has more than 20% of its territory covered by some sort of reserve, biosphere environmental protection area or specific rules and regulations to protect its wildlife.

The Sian Ka’an biosphere reserve is definitely worth mentioning. It is a very good example of how a solid effort to protect nature and all its resources can turn into something magnificent. This reserve is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, and its name in the Mayan language means “he who is born under the sun”. Over 1.3 million acres of forest, jungles, bays, lagoons, cenotes and coral reefs are home to thousands of species of insects, reptiles, mammals and underwater life.

Other zones in Yucatan are also memorable, and provide an unmatched experience when it comes to eco-tourism. Cozumel Island, Punta Laguna, Isla Contoy and Chinchorro Reef are only some of the places that are well worth visiting if you are interested in observing different species in their natural habitat.