Eco-tourism, where travel focuses on an exploration of the natural environment and our interactions with it, includes a minimization of tourism’s impact on the very environment we seek to explore. Here in Yucatán we are faced with a growing population and a growing tourist presence. Our already fragile ecology, struggling with a lack of potable water and infrastructures for waste management, has been greatly impacted by this growth. As visitors who love the area, there are steps we can take to minimize our negative effects on Yucatán.
So, how can we “take only pictures and leave only footprints?”
The United States and Canada have the highest average energy usage per person in the world. We’re accustomed to appliances always at the ready, lights burning all night long, etc. Even though your hotel bill includes your energy use, try to conserve this expensive resource so that everyone can enjoy it. Turn off lights, keep the air conditioner running only when necessary, turning it off when you’re going out for the day. Don’t leave doors and windows open if the air conditioner is running. These simple steps will help the region with its ever-increasing energy demands.
Water is a scarce resource in Yucatán. Taking quicker showers, not leaving taps running, and generally being mindful of water consumption will help alleviate our impact. Wash off insect repellent and sunblock before swimming, snorkeling, or diving in cenotes. The office of the San Crisanto Mangrove Trips, which culminate in a refreshing swim, sells natural neem tree oil products which won’t adversely affect the ecology of the cenote.
For many great tips on water conservation while touring, check out our H2OME article.
There are many non-impact sports available to you in the area. Kayaking allows you to enjoy our lagoons and coastline without adversely affecting the water or wildlife. Paseos Ecoturísticos La Ría is just to the east of Progreso on the lagoon. They have kayaks, canoes, water tricycles, and non-impact mangrove trips.
Coming in to Progreso from Mérida, turn east at the Pemex towards Yucalpetén Harbor. They’re just past the intersection, on the lagoon. They’re open Monday to Sunday from 8 am – to 6 pm. 999 199 3816.
Bicycling is another great way to explore without adding to pollution and traffic. Mérida’s Bicycle Route on Sundays is a great event! Also, check out a report on one couple’s personal bicycling adventures, Bicycling the Yucatan.
Hiking around the pyramids, and in our colonial towns, allows you to interact first-hand with the environment around you. The Calle 60 Stroll and a walk along Paseo de Montejo make great city hikes in Mérida.
Remember to take only photographs! Over 300 varieties of orchids grow in Yucatán, but these are protected, and collection is illegal. Never buy products made from endangered sea turtles. And, yes, that little piece of Maya pottery you find while hiking around one of our great archaeological sites is not yours! It belongs to the people of Mexico – please hand it over to a park ranger.
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