>> Thursday, September 11, 2008
From the Web site of the Mexico Tourism Board:
Campeche is surrounded by important ecological reserves where you can observe diverse types of plant and animal life. Many of them are protected areas in order to sustain the survival of such endangered species as the hawksbill sea turtle and the jaguar.
Ria Celestun Biosphere Reserve – Located 145 km (90 mi) from Campeche along the state highway. This reserve has one of the largest mangrove areas on the Gulf Coast. It’s a great place to relax and is also the breeding grounds of the pink flamingo and the hawksbill sea turtle. This reserve has coastal dunes and petenes (small floating island formations with vegetation). The animals inhabiting this area include manatees, octopuses, crown conches, horseshoe crabs, seagulls, white herons, diving ducks, Yucatan quails, wildcats, Jabiru storks and boa constrictors, among other species.
Calakmul Biosphere Reserve – Located 210 km (130 mi) southeast of the capital. This protected tropical reserve is the largest in Mexico, with 723,185 hectares (more than 1.7 million acres). It’s an ideal place to observe flora and fauna, as it has lowland jungle vegetation and animal species such as jaguars, ocelots, wildcats, spider monkeys, howler monkeys, anteaters, great curassows, harpy eagles and tapirs.
Laguna de Terminos – Located 181 km (112 mi) southwest of Campeche, off Highway 180, in Ciudad del Carmen. This protected area, which covers 705,000 hectares (1.7 million acres), forms part of Mexico’s most important delta. In addition, it is the largest and most voluminous estuary-lagoon system in the nation. This area is ideal to observe a wide variety of coastal and aquatic plant species.
Zona de los Petenes – Located 90 km (56 mi) north of the capital. This zone includes the cities of Calkini, Hecelchakan, Tenabo and Campeche. It has small floating island formations that develop in the mangroves. The sinkhole here plays a key role in sustaining life in this ecosystem, as it maintains a natural equilibrium between the freshwater on the surface and the salt water on the bottom. Here you’ll see diverse flora, including red, black and white mangroves near the ocean, and buttonwood mangroves in the lowland jungle areas.
La Estacion de la Vida Silvestre en Hampolol – Located 15 km (9 mi) from the city of Campeche, off the Campeche-Tenabo Highway. This 100-hectare (247-acre) area provides ideal conditions for lowland flora. The region has swamp zones, which are the habitat of various reptiles, amphibians, mammals and songbirds, making it one of the state’s important ecological areas, largely because of its key water sources.