Location: (Near) Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico
Visited: January 3-7 2011
Background and Opinion:
In a few words, Sian Ka’an is the Amazon of North America. No amount of praise can do justice to the beauty that is Sian Ka’an. This Biosphere Reserve is on the Yucatan Peninsula and is home to so many species of animals, including mammals like pumas, jaguars, dolphins, and manatees. In addition, development within this area is strictly regulated making for a pristine and truly natural environment. If nature isn’t enough, on the western side, there are some fairly untouched Mayan ruins, so go fulfill your need to act the part of Indiana Jones just this once.
Sian Ka’an is a fairly large reserve, so it was not possible to explore all of it. I took the east most route into the reserve, which is a very thin peninsula that goes from Tulum to Punta Allen, 50 km inside Sian Ka’an. The drive has thus far, been the single most memorable one in my life, surpassing the route between the Angkor Temples, along Pacific Coast Highway, or along the Okinawan coast in Japan.
Imagine this: You are driving along a single dirt road. You don’t see people or cars for the next two hours after entering the ‘Arco’ (Gateway). Then suddenly you hear noises in the dense forest next to you. When you stop to investigate, you see some large eyes and what looks like a monkey. He scurries away. As you try to find it again, you see it and about five of its family members cross the single dirt road. Or, imagine that you finally reach a small town deep inside a forest, and the first person you talk to asks “want to go see some dolphins?” Final scenario: You reach the ‘welcome center’ 10 km inside of Sian Ka’an, and are told there is an observation deck up some stairs. While you are up there, you look in all directions and see nothing but palm trees, a huge lagoon, and the Caribbean Sea as far as the eye can see, without a human in sight. If all three of these excite you, Sian Ka’an is for you.