If you are planning to visit Cancun and the Riviera Maya, you have to consider activities in nature as part of the things to do in your trip to the Mexican Caribbean.
Do you like to explore the jungle? Do you enjoy watching wild animals in their natural environment? Is exploring the nature and appreciating it respectfully one of your hobbies?
Then, the tours to discover the wild flora and fauna are the perfect fit for you!
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Have you ever imagined yourself going on an expedition to the heart of the jungle, walking through the lush vegetation in order to discover and witness all the secrets that are hidden in it? Yes, we know, it sounds like a movie adventure, but it is more real than you think.
Wild animals and, in this specific case, birds are one of the treasures that are jealously hidden among the foliage of the jungle in the Mexican Caribbean. So, get ready to enter a world of beauty, grace and colorful plumage!
So, get ready to enter a world of beauty, grace and colorful plumage!
A Bird Watching Tour: What is it?
Before telling you about the wonderful birds that you will find during your bird watching tour in Cancun and the Riviera Maya, let's start from the basics.
What is a bird watching tour?
Let’s be clear from the beginning, these tours have nothing to do with watching flocks of pigeons in city squares fighting for some breadcrumbs.
There is much more than what you initially thought about bird watching in Cancun and the Riviera Maya!
This outdoor activity has become popular due the new tourism trends, especially those related to conservation of the environment. More precisely, this type activity belongs to ecotourism.
Birdwatching is about exploring the nature and being able to get as closely as possible to the specimens of different bird species in their natural habitat without disturbing them.
👉 To learn more about ecotourism and the Yucatan Peninsula, do not hesitate to read our article: here.
What is an observation tour like?
These tours are done in many of the ecosystems and national parks located in the Mexican Caribbean. To have the best experience possible, most of these tours are in charge of professional guides with a vast experience in the region.
The tours can be done, both, in a collective or in a private format.
Usually, a birdwatching tour in Cancun and the Riviera Maya ca be from 1h30 to 2h long in a standard version.
The main rule of a bird watching tour is to minimize (almost erase) human footprints on the environment, never imposing human presence on animals. A quiet and discreet behavior is always requested to visitors so as not to scare wildlife.
If you want to go on a bird watching tour in Cancun and the Riviera Maya, get ready to leave your hotel early in the morning.
The best time for a bird watching tour is close to dawn.
What to expect in a bird watching tour?
A bird watching tour consists above all in discovering a wild and unspoiled nature.
In Cancun and the Riviera Maya, the bird watching tour takes place in the most beautiful ecosystems in the region: jungles, mangroves, lagoons, Caribbean islands, etc.
There you will learn everything you want about nature while being guided by professionals who have a vast knowledge of the animals and plants that inhabit the ecosystems in the Riviera Maya.
In a tour of this type you will be able to experience the following:
- You will learn to spot all kinds of birds, some of the species are kings of camouflage so it will be an interesting challenge.
- You will be able to identify each species through its plumage or its chirping.
- You will know what they eat, how they reproduce, their migratory routes, nesting places and more...
A bird watching tour is a fun and educational experience that will allow you to have a better knowledge of the secrets of Mother Nature.
It is also an experience that will allow you to spend some time with local communities and professional guides that are passionate about ornithology and are also responsible of watching over protected areas and nature reserves.
How is the bird watching tour done?
You can do a bird watching tour through a tour operator in the collective format or book a private tour.
In this case, your experience will include roundtrip transportation from your place of stay, an observation tour with the services of a bilingual specialist guide, a snack or lunch, and possibly another activity depending on the chosen package.
It is also possible to do this bird watching tour on your own. You will have to go by your own means (driving or by public transportation) and speak directly with the members of the local communities that offer this experience in nature reserves such as Isla Contoy, Sian Ka'an or at the Bacalar Lagoon. In this case, the experience would only include access to the reserve and the services of a guide.
A bird watching tour can be done in different ways:
- 🚤 On a boat trip in lakes or coastal areas.
- 🚶 Going on a hike through the jungle. 🌿
- 🚣 By kayak or rowing ride for the most sporty or the most ecological 🌿
👉 More information? about adventure activities: take a look to our article.
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Main reasons to go on a bird watching tour in Cancun.
Cancun and the Riviera Maya are known as beach and party destinations. It is true that white sand beaches and nightlife are the main attractions for many tourists when they travel to the Mexican Caribbean.
However, limiting these destinations to only that would be a big mistake. Cancun and the Riviera Maya are destinations surrounded by an amazing nature environment!
This region is a privileged place to discover an incredible diversity of flora and fauna. Going on a bird watching tour in Cancun and the Riviera Maya will give you the chance to explore some of the richest ecosystems on the planet.
The Mexican Caribbean and its islands
Regarding the sea that surrounds it, the Mexican Caribbean is a true natural reserve of underwater life, especially due to the coral barrier in Cancun.
👉 To learn more about the Cancun coral reef and the aquatic activities of the Riviera Maya: Para conocer más sobre el arrecife de coral de Cancún y las actividades acuáticas de la Riviera Maya: click here!
The Mexican Caribbean has many other treasures. Among them are paradisiacal islands, which are places of rest and reproduction for seabirds and other species that fly from the North to a warmer weather.
Therefore, the islands in the Riviera Maya are ideal places for a bird watching tour. Among these islands, Isla Contoy stands out.
Isla Contoy is a National Park and a protected area since 1988. It is mostly a bird sanctuary where many species of birds fly every year to nest.
The Natural reserves in the Riviera Maya
The Yucatan Peninsula is famous for its biodiversity.
The State of Quintana Roo can be proud of having one of the most beautiful and important biosphere reserves in the world: the Sian Ka'an Reserve.
This reserve has 1.6 million acres of jungle, mangroves and semi-submerged lands that are home to flora and fauna of extraordinary diversity.
Sian Ka'an is the perfect place to carry out a bird watching tour if you are spending some time in Cancun and Riviera Maya.
These tours are done by some tour operators, but also by members of the local Mayan communities.
booking a bird watching tour in the Sian Ka'an reserve with the Mayan communities is a responsible and solidary gesture.
👉 Looking for other ecotourism activities with local communities? to reado our article on the subject, click here!
Mangroves and lagoons
Other ecosystems you must consider when thinking about booking a bird watching tour are lake areas and semi-submerged lands.
In Cancun and the Riviera Maya, you will find nature reserves with this type of ecosystems: the Ría Lagartos Natural Reserve further north or Holbox Island, which is also famous for its colonies of migratory birds. Thousands of flamingos fly to these regions year after year, painting the landscape with their pink feathers through the sparkling bodies of water.
The Nichupte Lagoon that surrounds the city of Cancun is a perfect place for a kayak or boat trip to watch the birds that inhabit the mangroves.
The Bacalar lagoon, in the south of the Riviera Maya, is also home to a wide diversity of birds that nest in its surroundings. Exploring this area is an unforgettable experience, especially contemplating the different species in the lagoon of the seven colors.
Finally, Punta Laguna, located deep in the jungle and close to Coba ruins, is a haven of peace for bird watching. It is also a sanctuary where it is possible to find spider monkeys to the delight of children and adults.
Five species you can find in a bird watching tour in Cancun and Riviera Maya.
The pelican, the intrepid diver
Pelicans are among the most majestic birds that can be found along the coast of the Riviera Maya. You can see them all over the beaches in the Mexican Caribbean: either floating in the wind before heading directly to the waves looking for fishes; letting themselves be carried away by the current, or just standing on the boats tied to the docks.
Early in the morning, the pelicans perform magnificent group formation flights, soaring through the sky among the rays of the rising sun. Imagine all the amazing photos you could take!
The hummingbird, the aerial Speedy Gonzales
Here's a bird that can't be easily photographed! Unless it stops on a branch, you will have to draw faster than Lucky Luke to wait for an instant capture of this stealthy bird.
The hummingbird is one of the icons of this region.
This tiny and exceptionally fast bird thrives on the Yucatan peninsula. There are more than 33 species of hummingbirds in all of Mexico!
This bird was also a symbol in the Mayan culture. For Mayas, an encounter with a hummingbird was a sign of good omen. Finding one meant that a loved one sent you good wishes.
The toucan, the colorful king of the rainforest
The keel-billed toucan is the most famous of its kind due to its incredible flashy colorful bill.
Also known as the rainbow toucan, the keel toucan is not the only species in Mexico, there are 5 different species found in the south of the country!
If you go deep into the tropical jungle on your bird watching tour, you may be lucky enough to see a toucan leaping from branch to branch looking for the berries they love to eat.
The flamingo, lord of the lagoons
The flamingo is a migratory bird that can be found in its natural habitat on the coast of Ria Lagartos in the north of the Yucatan Peninsula.
If you want to go on a bird watching tour in this reserve, you will not be disappointed, as it is home to more than 300 different species. However, the flamingos are the true kings of the lagoon.
Its presence in Ría Lagartos corresponds to its nesting period. They come to make their nests and raise their chicks before their migration resumes.
You can take advantage of your flamingo watching excursion to visit the charming fishing village of las Coloradas and its pastel-colored marshes.
👉 More excursion not to be missed in the Riviera Maya?
We got you covered, right here!
The Magnificent frigatebird, Islay Contoy's iconic bird
To close this list, let’s talk about the magnificent frigatebird, Isla Contoy's iconic bird. This slender-shaped bird could almost resemble a Japanese origami or kite, floating peacefully in the air.
The males are known for their huge blood-red feathers on their chest. During mating seasons, the chest of these birds tends to look bigger.
Frigates are a protected bird species that can be found in large groups at Isla Contoy. So, if you go to this island don’t forget to look for them.
There you have it dear reader, now you know all about bird watching tours in Cancun and the Riviera Maya.
So, take out your binoculars and long-range lenses! It's time to go explore the Riviera Maya and live an adventure as close to wildlife as possible.
👉 Looking to discover more in Cancun and the Riviera Maya?
👀 Read our section ecoturism to learn everything about nature, adventure and solidarity tourism activities in this region.