We set aside our second full day in Celestún for the much-touted flamingo tour. This is what brings most tourists and locals alike to Celestún.
Naturally, we decided to walk into town from our guest house rather than take a taxi. It was a nice walk of a couple of miles, as the river and dock are past the town center.
On the way to the docks, we spied this gorgeous cache of birds right off the side of the main road. Flamingos, Egrets, Herons, and more at no charge!
This bridge painted in flamingo pink leads into town and provides a nice view of the tour boats that will take visitors out to see the birds.
This sign explained what we would see on our tour. Interesting that it is described as both a 1.5-hour tour and a 1-hour tour. To be honest, I can't recall how long our tour lasted, but it was long enough to see plenty of flamingos.
It took us quite a long time to get onto a boat. We came on a Monday, which must be the least busy day for tourists. A set price is charged per boat (around $115 USD), and that is divided among the passengers. So if we went as a party of two, we'd pay a lot more than if we could join some other folks to fill up a boat. For that reason we waited to see if anyone else would show up so we wouldn't have to bear the entire tour cost on our own. As I recall, we arrived in the mid-morning and waited for over an hour.
It was a slow day for flamingo tours! We'd read that these tours are packed on the weekend, and probably busier in the main breeding season of January through March, while we were there in early December. But finally, we were able to hop on with two men who showed up, cutting our cost in half. Here is our boat.
The flamingos were not as plentiful as they would be later in the season when there can be thousands at a time, but we still got to see plenty. They are so pretty and odd-looking! I didn't realize that they are born white but develop their rosy hue from the brine shrimp they feast on.
I played around with some camera settings to get a couple of different looks to my flamingo photos.
They are so interesting and so looooooong in flight!
In addition to Flamingos, we saw other birds, including ospreys, cormorants, and gulls,
The next phase of the tour took us through a mangrove tunnel.
The large, dark blob is a termite nest. We saw many of these in Belize.
Next, our boat zipped down to the Ojo de agua (eye of water, or a spring). This was an interesting and exotic spot, but the mosquitoes were ferocious! Make sure to take insect repellent if you ever take this tour!
We got to see a croc!
And this lovely Egret hunting....
The tour was excellent, and we highly recommend it if you ever have a chance to visit the charming fishing village of Celestún, on Mexico's Gulf coast. You can take a day trip from Merida or spend a night or two, as we did.
I'll have one more post covering the remainder of our time in Celestún, so please stop back soon!
On our first morning in Celestún, the primary order of business was finding breakfast. We had read good things about Restaurante Gutierrez Dolphin, so we took a stroll into town to try it for ourselves. We arrived a few minutes before the 8:30 opening time and had the place to ourselves.
The restaurant lived up to the reviews. Excellent French-press coffee, fresh fruit, and Eggs Miga fortified us for the day, and at a very reasonable cost.
We also enjoyed watching the hummingbirds having their breakfast as we ate ours!
Since we'd already planned on saving the flamingo tour for the following day, after breakfast we decided to pull out the bikes at the guest house, Celeste Vida, and explore the sandy road to the east, away from town.
This experience reminded me so much of our bike rides in Belize. No traffic, no pavement, no helmets or fancy cycling wear, just cruising along wondering what we'd find up ahead. Like being a kid again!
This sign surprised me. There's actually a hotel way down here, in the middle of nowhere.
Eventually we spied a natural pool to one side of the road so pulled off to take a look. We were surprised and delighted to have our first flamingo sighting! This guy (or gal) obviously didn't know where the tour was or was just a loner.
Before leaving this gorgeous, deserted spot, we noticed a large pile of sand off to the side. Coming closer, we realized it was salt! We didn't know it at the time, but Celestún is an important salt-producing area in Mexico. The salt from the pools is pink, like the more well-known Himalayan salt sold everywhere. It gets its color from the tiny brine shrimp that also give the flamingos their rosy hue. Here's a blog post with more information about the pink salt of Celestún: adventures-mexico.com/blog_/sal-rosa/.
The rest of the day was for relaxing, reading, and enjoying another seafood dinner on the beach at the same spot as the night before. There's not a lot of variety to eat in the small town of Celestún, which is, after all, a fishing village, but that didn't bother this seafood lover one bit!
Here are a few more photos, taken from the gulf shore behind the breakfast restaurant. Early December is not a busy time for tourists in Celestún, so everywhere we went, we had to ourselves, or nearly so. It was a welcome respite after the hustle and bustle of Playa del Carmen, which is fun but demands "recharge time" from now and then.
Stay tuned as our next day we finally take the much-anticipated flamingo tour....
To continue our on-again, off-again look back at the time we spent in the Yucatán peninsula of Mexico in late 2015, this post takes us back to the charming fishing village of Celestún on Mexico's Gulf Coast. This is the last new spot we visited before heading back to Florida in January of 2016 and buying our motorhome, Pearl.
The big draw of Celestún for the traveler is to see the flocks of hundreds (sometimes even thousands) of gorgeous pink flamingos in the Celestún Biosphere Reserve. Even though we didn't pick the very best time of year to go (i.e., when the flamingo population in this area peaks, in late January), we were excited to see as many flamingos as we could and to check out what appeared to be a quaint and quiet village, as a welcome break from busy Playa del Carmen, where we were living.
We had spent the previous couple of nights in Mérida and caught a second-class (but still nice) bus to Celestún in the morning. These buses run all day long, every hour or so. Although the drive takes only about an hour in a car, with the bus stopping here and there along the way, the ride ends up being about two hours. We were hungry when we arrived in the village so immediately headed to one of the several gulf-side seafood restaurants, Restaurante Los Pampanos, for some sustenance.
Thus fortified, we set off on foot to the guest house where we'd spend the next few nights. Just over a kilometer outside the village proper, the walk along a sandy road was a big change from the bustling concrete of Playa.
At last, we arrived at Celeste Vida and got settled in. What a lovely place! We had our own apartment downstairs, La Maravilla, while the owners lived upstairs. There were two other smaller apartments (Casita Brisa & Casita Flora) downstairs as well, but our unit was the largest and most comfortable, and the only one with a TV. While not fancy, it was comfortable and private and decorated with Mexican flair.
Since we'd done plenty of walking already, we spent the rest of that first day getting settled in and relaxing on the beach right behind the guest house,
The back yard of Celeste Vida is private and well-groomed yet lush, a real treat.
Here's the back of Celeste Vida as seen from the beach. It just disappears behind the tropical foliage.
This is as far as I got into the water. It was December so a bit nippy!
A storm out at sea passed us by but looked dramatic and urged us inside.
A couple of interesting sights from our time on the beach: a Horseshoe Crab shell and a fortress wall constructed of concrete and thousands of conch shells around the house next door to Celeste Vida. Not sure what the owners are protecting, but their tall fence and wall make a strong statement.
Since we didn't have a car, we strolled back into town for dinner. We ate at the same spot where we had lunch, Los Pampanos, and enjoyed more simple but delicious fresh seafood along with our sunset over the Gulf waters. Barry always enjoys his fish a la diabla, and I had the crab (jaiba), which was lip-smacking good!
Stay tuned for more from Celestún, including photos from the village and, of course, the flamingo tour!
Emily & Barry
We're a long-married, early-retired couple who are currently traveling as nomads with no fixed home base. After years of living in North Carolina (Emily's home state), we spent 18 months living oceanfront on Ambergris Caye, Belize, a year road-tripping the US in a Honda CR-V, a year in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and are now roaming North America in our 32' motorhome, Pearl, following warm weather whenever possible.
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