Location: In the Quintana Rao state of Mexico in the Yucatan Peninsula
Attraction Type: Biological Reserve
Significance: UNESCO World Heritage Site
Best Time to Visit: October to April
Visiting Hours: Daytime
How to reach: By road from Cancun
Nearest International Airport: Cancun International Airport
Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, unique for its wetlands, is the largest protected area of the Mexican Caribbean region. With 2300 years old archaeological remains, nearly 350 bird species, and more than a hundred varieties of mammals, Sian Ka’an in Mexico is a declared UNESCO World Heritage Site. This biosphere reserve, inhabited since Classical and Pre-Classical periods by Uaymil and Cohuah tribes, is presently occupied by 2000 inhabitants. With a total area of 1.3 million acres, it occupies almost one-third of Mexico’s Caribbean coast. In addition, another 200,000 acres stretching up to Uaymil was integrated into Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. Sian Ka’an or ‘gift from the sky’ in Mayan language is made up of three zones, viz., Uaymil, Cayo Culebrsas, and Muyil Zonas Nucleares. In the buffer zone, sustainable development efforts for human activities are noticeable. The 2000 inhabitants of this area are mainly engaged in fishing and other primary economic activities. Punta Herrero and Punta Allen are charming fishing villages located in the buffer zone of Mexico Sian Ka’an Reserve.
Activities in Sian Ka’an
You could enter this Mexican biosphere reserve through entrances at Santa Teresa, Chunyaxche, Pulticub, Chac Mool and Chumpon. Inside Sian Ka’an, kayaking and fishing are the more popular activities. The waters thrive in the permit, spiny lobster, tarpon, snapper, hammerhead, black-tipped and nurse sharks.
A canal tour through the reserve is an inspiring journey. Explore Mayan ruins spread out across the reserve, and also the early trade routes dating back 2000 years. The flora comprising orchids, mangrove trees, bromeliads and fauna on either side of these freshwater canals would leave you baffled. The canal tour ends at a post-Classic period Mayan temple featured by a well-preserved sanctum sanctorum and bright frescos.
From December to May you could undertake a bird watching tour during sunset hours.
Staying in Sian Ka’an
This reserve has comfortable accommodation with kitchen facilities. Individual campsites offer an excellent view of the lagoons and adjacent forests. The camps are totally furnished and offer plenty of shades from sun and rain.