After a couple days on the Ruta Puuc, I returned to Merida.  I planned to visit the flamingo estuary at Celestun, along the Gulf of Mexico.   You can see on the map that there is only one way to get there – and that’s from Merida – so I spent the night in Merida.

   Celestun is 56 miles west of Merida.   The name means "painted stone". It is described as “a picturesque coastal traffic port where its 4,600 inhabitants still preserve the traditions and folklore of the Mayan fisher folk.”   Actually, as you can see, it’s kind of a dingy dusty little town – but the coastline is beautiful and the Wildlife Refuge is enormous.


Merida Wildlife Refuge Uxmal Kabah Sayil Labna LolTun Caves Beach Western Yucatan Map with clickable hotspots
Street Street
Streets in the town of Celestun
Boats Satellite view
Boats on the beach

(this is one of my favorite photos)

Satellite View
Merida is in the northeast.  The wildlife refuge is the coastal and the green areas all along the western coast.

   Celestun Wildlife Refuge

   The Celestun federal Wildlife Refuge is 146,000 acres, shared by the states of Yucatan and Campeche.  It is one of the “Special Biosphere Reserves” which are representative zones of one or more ecosystems that haven't been altered by men. These areas are the habitat to endemic, and/or species threatened with extinction.

   I took a trip in a very shallow skiff through the salt water flats and into the mangrove forest.  The water is very shallow here.   There are supposedly up to 18,000 flamingos at Celestun.   I didn’t see quite that many – but you get a little idea from the photos how many there were.


Flamingos Flamingos
Flamingos Flamingo
   The area consists of coastal dune scrub, estuary, mangrove forest (59%), and marshes.   Mangroves are resistant to salt water, and prosper where other plants can't.
Mangrove forest Mangrove forest
Mangrove forest
Sap Bird
Premature Amber Unknown bird

   Deserted Beach

   Leaving Celestun, I drove along the beach road (for a very, very long way), along bumpy, deserted sand roads, until I stumbled across the Hotel EcoParaiso.  Here are their directions:  “Once in Celestún take the road that runs parallel to the sea shore to the right and drive 6 miles to the North of the village until you reach our resort. There are many signs along this road, so you can't miss us”.  I’ll let you judge from the photos of their remote location whether you could miss them.   Ha!  There isn’t anything else there.  

    I had a pretty darn good hamburger for lunch, climbed the lookout tower, decided I wasn’t brave enough to try to find an unpaved coastal “shortcut” road to Merida, and hence backtracked the long route back to the city.

    Next adventure …  Mexico City.

Road Chris
The so-called "road" Atop the lookout
Hotel EcoParaiso
Barren as far as the eye can see
Beach Beach

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