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bird watching flamigos and rare white pelicansRio Lagartos, Flamingo Heaven

Rio Lagartos Reserve is not a bad place to visit for the day, recommended as part of the Valladolid for the night, Chichen Itza and Rio Lagartos do it yourself tour. The village has little to offer, but one does not visit for the culture. This town is the home to Mexico's largest flamingo population. It estimated that over 8,000 pink flamingos live within the now protected canals and mangroves just up the river from Rio Lagartos. Another super place for birding is Holbox Island.

Take the Boat

Located about 100 km north of Valladolid and 50 km north of Tizimin it is easy to get to Rio Lagartos by bus or rental car. Follow the only road into town to the boat docks, park anywhere you like and find a fisherman / guide to take you out to see the birds. The going rate is $30 for up to 5 people, try to haggle if you like that sort of thing, but the unions are getting stronger and haggling is not in favor as it once was. The trip takes about 3 hours and you will see hundreds of flamingos, cormorants, gigantic white pelicans, seagulls, herons galore, egrets, and maybe a few spoonbills. If the wind is not too strong causing a few waves, ask to be taken out to the sea, you will get a longer trip and see more birds.

Not Exactly New

boat trips to watch birdsThough a little worse for wear, the fleet of fishing lanchas are reliable, and the water is pretty shallow anyway. Try to arrive in the morning, or early enough that you give yourself enough light to drive back to Valladolid for the night. There is really no decent lodging or eating in the area, so don't count on it, you might even want to pack a snack.

San Felipe on My Mind

Located about 15 km west of Rio Lagartos, San Felipe is known as a good place for camping, and has the only decent restaurant in the area. Ask any captain to take you over to the islands if you want to pitch your tent and stay the night. This is a good place to relax on the beach and watch birds, not much else to do.

Rio Lagartos, Mexico

Tropical Mexico: The Ecotravellers' Wildlife Guide
A guide to the flora and fauna of Southern Mexico.

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