Where can you go in the Riviera Maya to see dolphins, crocodiles, turtles, and manatees in the wild, living in their natural environment?
In today’s blog we are going to tell you about the wonders and uniqueness of the natural paradise of the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. This is a place that you simply must visit at least once in your lifetime, but the main reason to visit now is that mass tourism has not reached Sian Ka’an.
It is one of the few places where you can get up close with the wildlife and nature of the Riviera Maya
The Sian Ka’an Biological Reserve is located on the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula in an area consisting of 5,280 square kilometers, a mixture of culture and nature. It was established in 1986 and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, thanks to the diverse amount of wildlife living in tropical forests, mangroves and marshes. One third of the property contains diverse and productive mangrove communities, which are very important to fisheries in the region.
In Sian Ka’an you will find over 300 species of birds, along with the Riviera Maya’s top five animal species: crocodiles, dolphins, turtles, rays and manatees. In addition there is the black-handed spider monkey, the Yucatan black howler monkey, jaguars, pumas and the Central American tapir. There are over 40 recorded species of amphibians and reptiles, including the American Crocodile and four turtle species.
One way of getting around the reserve and seeing the animals here is by taking a boat tour via through the mangrove canals and lagoons. There you can view the various types of tropical birds and the flora and fauna, such as exotic butterflies and native orchids.
The Mesoamerican Reef is home to dolphins, marine turtles and 500 species of fish. It is second only to the Great Barrier Reef in size, and is identified as one of the top 10 coral reef “Biodiversity Hotspots” in the world. It is made up of more than 84 species of coral, including the “brain coral” which can reach up to seven meters in diameter.
Sian Ka’an also has many cenotes, the deep, natural sinkholes which lead to the large and intricate cave system where the underground rivers of the Yucatan flow undisturbed.
Inside are many species which are local to the cenotes and evolved inside.
In addition to everything we have described so far, Sian Ka’an is also home to many archeological sites including Muyil, one of the earliest settlements on the Caribbean Coast. There are actually two sites, although only one is open to the public. It is not particularly large, but it does see much less visitors than other sites, so and you will enjoy having much of the place to yourself.
Like many Maya sites, it was used for religious purposes and many of the building were for civic-religious and residential use. Muyil’s architecture is quite different from other archaeological sites, with rounded edges on the pyramid and other buildings. The most impressive of the buildings here is the Castillo (Castle) pyramid, which stands 57 feet high. It is the largest intact structure in Muyil and the highest pyramid on the Riviera Maya Coast. Behind the main Castillo structure is a path that leads you to a trail into the actual Sian Ka’an area, and there is also an observation tower that provides a great view over the treetops and across the lagoon.
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