It doesn’t sound likely, does it, that you can successfully go bird-watching with noisy kids? WelI, I decided that living through a pandemic in a foreign country just wasn’t challenging enough, so to spice things up I thought I’d take my very boisterous and opinionated children on the quietest outdoor activity I could find. I asked Co’ox Mayab if they could help me and, after they’d stopped laughing (kidding), they pointed me towards their excellent community project based in the village of Tzucmuc and the Amazili Reserve, not too far from Valladolid.
Before we met up with our guide I gave my kids a quick lecture about the importance of being quiet when we were in the jungle. I guess you can absolutely imagine how they felt about that. Instead of being quiet, they were full of fun things I just had to know about, like new bedroom decoration plans and the latest Minecraft build (yawn).
But then we stopped because our guide spotted an owl high up in the trees. We crept closer and pulled out our binoculars, and all fell a little bit in love with the teeny tiny owl we saw. After that, we managed a good few hours without too much chatter, complaining, or whining.
The kids felt like intrepid explorers in the jungle. They ran ahead where it was safe to do so and at one point they even called us over to show us a tiny tortoise they found. It turns out that they might have even found a species of tortoise not seen before in this region, so they were very proud of themselves and even more enthusiastic to continue the adventure.
We walked for almost three hours and Ismael, our guide, really took the time to talk to the children. Not only did he enthuse about their tortoise discovery, but he explained things to them and listened to their chatter. At one point he was well ahead with the kids and I came upon them to find him down on his knees explaining exoskeletons to them with a dead moth in his hand. He talked to us about the trees, the history of the area, and the animals found there. As always, we all asked a lot of questions and we learned a great deal as well as seeing cool birds. We were most excited by the Trepatroncos (woodcreeper), a relative of the woodpecker, whose presence signifies a healthy jungle, and the Coa Violácea (gartered trogon), a beautiful relative of the famous Quetzal (found in Chiapas and Guatemala).
I love to go exploring with Co’ox Mayab because their guides are local and they are always so passionate about what they’re doing. The first thing Ismael said to me was that he feels relief and peace whenever he’s in the jungle and surrounded by nature. He clearly knew his stuff. Ismael could tell us all about the birds and he had all the calls down, and for every bird we spotted, he brought it up on his phone so we could see a close-up and marvel again. The kids appreciated the introduction of screens and technology into the nature walk for sure!
What you need to bring:
- Insect repellent
Binoculars are provided.
What you need to know:
- COVID measures: We were asked (and of course did) to keep our face masks on when we were in the community, but when we were walking in the jungle we were able to take them off since we were just the four of us. Our guide kept his mask on.
- The area is famous for Poc Chuc, so be sure to stop off to enjoy a delicious meal. We went to La Tía de Cuncunul in Cuncunul and everything was delicious.
- You could also add a cenote to your day as there are many fabulous options nearby.
- It’s possible to do the tour in a day or you can make a weekend of it and stay overnight in Valladolid or in a nearby village such as Ebtún where there are a few wonderful Airbnb options.
Cel. 9994 47 83 95
FB: Co’ox Mayab
Birds we saw during our hike:
- Trepatroncos cabeza gris (olivaceous woodcreeper)
- Golondrinas (swallows)
- Tortolita Canela (ruddy ground dove)
- Loros (parrots)
- Tecolote Bajeño (ferruginous pygmy owl)
- Coa Violácea Norteña (gartered trogon)
- Chipe Encapuchado (hooded warbler)
- Chara Yucateca (Yucatán jay)
- Tinamu Canelo (thicket tinamou)
- Mosquero Atila (bright-rumped attila)
Editorial by Cassie Pearse
Freelance writer and blogger, born in the UK. Cassie has a BA from Oxford University and an MA from SOAS, University of London. She lives in Mérida and loves exploring Yucatán with her family.
Photography by Cassie Pearse for its use in Yucatán Today.
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