The Parque San Felipe offers one of the most unspoiled and spectacular bird watching areas in the Yucatán – and much more. Formerly difficult to access, a local cooperative (Dzayachuleb) in the busy fishing village of Dzilam de Bravo has been recently established and now offers a wide range of boat tours into the preserve.
A small lagoon is one of the closest stops and allows incredible viewing of hundreds of flamingos. Herons, egrets and a myriad of other waterfowl also breed here.
Along the edges you may even see crocodiles! Early morning is best for viewing the flamingos, which may disperse to other feeding grounds later in the day.
If you decide to take one of the shorter tours, which lasts about 2 and a half hours, you will continue on a couple of kilometers to the fresh water spring Xbuya Ha, gushing a few hundred meters offshore in the middle of the salt water. Your boat driver will land the boat amidst tremendous numbers of pelicans and shorebirds, and you will walk down a boardwalk that takes you into the mangrove marsh. Damaged heavily by saltwater of the Hurricane Isidore storm surge in 2002, large areas of dead red mangrove trees initially look quite bleak, but signs of renewal – and tremendous numbers of small fish – are everywhere when one looks closer. At the end of the walk is the cenote Elepten, also teeming with fish.
A small fleet of sturdy new boats is used on all these trips. Each boat can take up to 8 passengers. Rudimentary – but adequate – toilet facilities and shady palapas are present at each on-land stop along the tour.
Longer tours will take you to the lagoon of Rio Angosto or to visit the Bocas islands, just a little way offshore. Overnight camping can also be arranged on the islands with tents and a 2-person kayak included. (Drinks and meals are not provided for the overnight camping trip.) The cooperative also offers fishing trips out of the port.
Prices are based on a boat trip, not the number of passengers, and run between $500 and $1000 pesos (about $50-$100 US) per boatload. (The overnight trip is $2,800 pesos or about $280 USD).
The co-op is located on the east end of town, next to the office of the Port Captain. In early 2006 a few dozen meters away and alongside the beach, a new complex including a restaurant, bathrooms, and a small store was under construction.
For more information, call the cooperative that organizes the tours:
Tel. (991) 912 2520
Email: [email protected]