A sunny day is the ideal way to begin a trip along a coast which is not commonly explored in Yucatán: Dzilam de Bravo. I had heard of the water pools before – the fresh water springs that sprout from the sea – and “Las Bocas” – the place where the ocean meets the estuary. However, it was just recently that I had the fortune of discovering the wealth of Dzilam’s wildlife, mostly birds and flamingos, and its tranquility, composed of orange sunsets and the sounds of nature.
Ecotourism has become a secondary activity for the inhabitants of Dzilam de Bravo since it’s mainly a fishing port. You can usually catch a glimpse of different sized boats returning from a fishing trip or many days at sea. The image of a sailor returning home with a backdrop that looks like it comes straight out of a painting is fairly common around here.
The Flamenco Day Care
Some trips lead to self-discovery; while others lead you to corners that I’m sure will turn into one of your happy places. Along with my guide, Darwin, who fell in love with this port and has lived here for several years, I covered around 10 kilometers from the dock all the way to the birds’ nesting area. My guide calls this site the “flamenco day care” because you can find a community of young birds who are still not strong enough to fly long distances. You’ll see them eating and hanging out with cormorants and Canadian pelicans who come to spend winter down south. You can take a closer look, but remember to follow instructions so you do not to disturb this small island’s different species.
Fresh Water Pools in the Sea
We head to the well-known water pools. These are pools of fresh water that are constantly moving with pressure. They formed due to the water of a nearby cenote called Elepetén. Let me remind you that in Yucatán water flows beneath the surface in an interconnected system.
This water maze, or Xbuya Há, is so important that in October 2003 divers from National Geographic traveled to discover its depths. Take a dip and feel how the warm salt water from the Gulf, and cold fresh water from the cenote contrast on your skin. This is full sensory experience that reminds you that life is a continuous ying and yang.
The cenote is our next stop. The fiddler crabs sense your arrival as you cross the wooden bridge to reach the crystal clear water of the cenote. You can cool down, dive into the water, or jump from the platform with a Tarzan rope.
Las Bocas: Sand, Fishing, and Camping
Farther away from the port the sea meets the estuary. It has a beach area where you can camp, sail, go kayaking, or practice sport fishing.
The point of departure is the co-op Sayachuleb (bird from the water spring in Maya), next to the lighthouse by the restaurant “El Fortín de San Juan.” This co-op’s guides have ample experience taking care and protecting the wildlife of this place. With their help, you can take an ecotour, go kayaking, camp, fish, dive, and go on a birding or night tour. All prices are by boat (eight people maximum).
Short tour: fresh water spring, bird nesting area, and cenote. 2 hours, $900 pesos
Regular tour: fresh water spring, bird nesting zone, narrow river, and cenote. 2.5 hours, $1,400 pesos
Long tour: fresh water spring, bird nesting zone, narrow river, cenote, and Las Bocas beach. 3.5 hours, $1,700 pesos.
For more information:
Tel. 9991 41 2532
How to Get There
Via the coast: Take the Mérida-Progreso highway, then follow the signs to Telchac until you reach Dzilam de Bravo.
Via Motul: At the junction in Cansahcab, head to Dzidzantún until you reach Dzilam González. A few minutes away you’ll find Dzilam de Bravo.
By public transport: Take the Mérida-Dzilam González route at the Noreste bus terminal (Calle 67 x 50 x 52) and then take a cab or van to Dzilam de Bravo.
Where to Stay
Oxwatz, a Natural Park
Pair this weekend getaway with a visit to the Oxwatz natural park located in Tekal de Venegas. Here you’ll find cenotes, lagoons, swamps, hiking paths, and much more so you can have an adventure in a space where nature is protected. Get there early to make the most of your trip.
In the fall and winter you can hike to the Baxaatún archeological site, swim in the Kukulá cenote, kayak in the bodies of water, or visit the swamps and a cenote in the conservation. You can also snorkel, dive, and camp. All activities are for a minimum of four people with previous reservation. It is suitable for adults, but not recommended for children or the elderly.
From Dzilam de Bravo to Oxwatz
Take the highway to Dzilam González going through Temax until you reach Tekal. It’s best to take a Colectivo or rent a van in Oxwatz.
For more information on Oxwatz:
Editorial by Violeta H. Cantarell
Photography by Natalia Bejarano for use in Yucatán Today
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