Less than 2 hours from Merida is Celestun, an untouched part of the Yucatan. There are no high-rises, no glitzy restaurants, and no nightclubs.
It is an area to come and chill out with nature and spend awhile wandering the long beach or doing a few excursions in the neighboring territory.
Rising early is not our preference, but if something intriguing is happening we heed the call and get ourselves out of bed and on our way in record time.
Here we had booked a mangrove tour of the Ria (not Rio) Celestun Biosphere Reserve. After we booked through our hotel, we found out we had to be at the dock before sunrise. Gulp, nodding to each other we thought, sure we could do this.
We were thrilled we chose this tour, it turned out to be a wonderful morning with sublime weather.
We chose a punt boat, which means no loud motor to startle birds or anything else in the water. Gliding along with our guide and his pole through the hushed and stunning mangroves that edge Celestun we felt this is eco-tourism at its finest.
Please use this inobtrusive mode of transportation if visiting.
When we first started out from the dock we slid into a canopy and it was like skimming through a picturesque green-tinged tunnel. Birds were strolling or flitting through, and we tried to spot an alligator on the “shore” to no avail. We saw lovely Cormorants, Egrets, and a Kingfisher. And the stillness a background for their cries.
We spent an hour in the mangroves and then docked to walk to a small lagoon with one of our favorite birds, flamingoes. They are so graceful that we could have sat for another hour watching. It would seem that all they ever do is feed themselves, but it’s enough to capture our attention.
There are several signs about how the mangroves are now being cared for and what they looked like in disrepair about 10 years ago when a hurricane came through. The people of Celestun take care of the region surrounding their town and established a wonderful means to do so while making some money at the same time. Their prime goal remains preservation.
We returned to the boat and made our path back to the rendezvous and traveled by car to a second lagoon with, yes, more flamingoes, they were much closer here.
We passed through a harbor with fishermen removing from their nets the small fish used as bait for the evening’s catch.
Flamingo season in Celestun is November to April, the best time to visit is December – February. If you travel Celestun, don’t miss an opportunity to see the Mangroves.
If staying for a night or two, or perhaps even longer, consider staying at the welcoming Playa 55 Beach Escape. See our post Playa 55, A Little Slice Of Heaven In Celestun for a glowing review.